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How to upload and process an image file with vanilla JS

On Friday, we looked at how to upload and process a JSON file with vanilla JS. Today, we’re going to learn how to upload an image file with JavaScript instead.

Let’s dig in!

(If you haven’t yet, go read Friday’s article or today’s won’t make much sense.)

Updating our form

For this article, we’re going to change the type of files our [type="file"] input accepts.

We want to upload image files, so we’ll use image/* as our allowed value. You could, if you prefer, instead specify specific file extensions as a comma-separated list, such as .png, .jpg.

<form id="upload">
	<label for="file">File to upload</label>
	<input type="file" id="file" accept="image/*">


For the demo, I also want to display the image in the UI, so I’m going to add an #app element we can render the image into.

<div id="app"></div>

You can download the source code for this lesson on GitHub.

Uploading an image with JavaScript

First, we’re going to update our handleSubmit() function.

Instead of using the FileReader.readAsText() method, we’ll use the FileReader.readAsDataURL() method, again passing in the file. This will process the file as a base64 encoded data URL.

 * Handle submit events
 * @param  {Event} event The event object
function handleSubmit (event) {

	// Stop the form from reloading the page

	// If there's no file, do nothing
	if (!file.value.length) return;

	// Create a new FileReader() object
	let reader = new FileReader();

	// Setup the callback event to run when the file is read
	reader.onload = logFile;

	// Read the file


Next, we’ll use the document.querySelector() method to get the #app element and save it to a variable.

let app = document.querySelector('#app');

In the logFile() event handler function, the is a data URL string for the image file. You could save it to localStorage, send it to a server, and so on.

Because we want to show it in the UI, we’ll use the document.createElement() method to create an img element. Then, we’ll set the returned from the FileReader.readAsDataURL() method as the src attribute.

Finally, we’ll use the Node.append() method to inject it into the DOM.

 * Log the uploaded file to the console
 * @param {event} Event The file loaded event
function logFile (event) {
	let str =;
	let img = document.createElement('img');
	img.src = str;

And that’s it!