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How to find a single item in an array with vanilla JS

The Array.find() method is a super useful ES6 method that returns the first item an array that matches some criteria you specify. If not match is found, it returns undefined.

How it works

In the callback function, you define an argument variable that you’ll use as the current item as it iterates.

var sandwiches = ['turkey', 'tuna', 'chicken salad', 'pb&j'];

// Find the "tuna" entry
var tuna = sandwiches.find(function (sandwich) {
	return sandwich === 'tuna';

// logs "tuna"

Why would you use this over other options?

You may be wondering why you’d use this over Array.indexOf(), which returns the index of the item in an array, or -1 if there’s no match.

var tuna = sandwiches.indexOf('tuna');

// logs 1

// logs "tuna"

The Array.find() method really shines with more complex arrays.

var sandwiches = [
		filling: 'turkey',
		topping: 'tomato',
		mayo: true
		filling: 'tuna',
		topping: 'pickles',
		mayo: true
		filling: 'pb&j',
		topping: null,
		mayo: false

// Find the item with a filling of tuna
var tuna = sandwiches.find(function (sandwich) {
	return sandwich.filling === 'tuna';

// logs {filling: "tuna", topping: "pickles", mayo: true}

Browser Compatibility

The Array.find() method works in all modern browsers including MS Edge, but has no IE support at all. A polyfill pushes support back to IE6.

Alternative to a polyfill: a helper method

If you don’t want to include the polyfill, you can use Array.filter() instead.

The Array.filter() method works back to IE9, and returns a new array containing only items that match some criteria. You can check if there are any matches, and grab the first one.

// Filter the sandwiches array
var tunaFilter = sandwiches.filter(function (sandwich) {
	return sandwich.filling === 'tuna';

// If there's no matches, use null, otherwise, grab the first one
var tuna = tunaFilter.length < 1 ? null : tunaFilter[0];

And if you might do this often, here’s a little helper method you can use instead.

 * Find the first matching item in an array
 * (c) 2018 Chris Ferdinandi, MIT License,
 * @param  {Array}    arr      The array to search in
 * @param  {Function} callback The callback to run to find a match
 * @return {*}                 The matching item
var find = function (arr, callback) {
	var matches = arr.filter(callback);
	if (matches.length < 1) return null;
	return matches[0];

You would use it like this.

var tuna = find(sandwiches, function (sandwich) {
	return sandwich.filling === 'tuna';