Altcademy - a Forbes magazine logo Best Coding Bootcamp 2023

How to use document.addeventlistener in ReactJS

Understanding Event Listeners

Event listeners are like your personal assistants who are always ready and waiting to perform a specific task whenever you want them to. In the world of programming, these tasks are often triggered by user interactions such as clicking a button, pressing a key, or moving the mouse. JavaScript provides us with a method called addEventListener() that allows us to create these event listeners.

In ReactJS, we have to use a slightly different approach to work with event listeners. This is due to the synthetic event system that ReactJS uses. But don't fret, it's not as complex as it may sound. Synthetic events are simply React's way of ensuring events work consistently across different environments (like different browsers). Let's dive into how we can use event listeners in ReactJS.

Using document.addEventListener in ReactJS

ReactJS doesn't support using document.addEventListener directly in the components. However, it provides us with a similar and more efficient way to handle events. Here’s a basic example:

class MyApp extends React.Component {
  handleClick() {
    console.log('Button clicked!');

  render() {
    return <button onClick={this.handleClick}>Click me!</button>;

In the above example, we are creating a button that logs 'Button clicked!' to the console every time it is clicked. We are handling the click event directly on the button element using the onClick prop provided by ReactJS. This onClick prop is similar to addEventListener but is a part of React's synthetic event system.

Adding Event Listeners to the Document

Sometimes, you might need to add an event listener to the entire document. For example, you might want to perform an action when a key is pressed, irrespective of where the focus is on the page. In such cases, you can use document.addEventListener in the lifecycle methods provided by ReactJS. Here's an example:

class MyApp extends React.Component {
  componentDidMount() {
    document.addEventListener('keydown', this.handleKeyDown);

  componentWillUnmount() {
    document.removeEventListener('keydown', this.handleKeyDown);

  handleKeyDown(event) {
    console.log('Key pressed: ', event.key);

  render() {
    return <div>Press any key!</div>;

In this case, we are adding the event listener in the componentDidMount method, which is called immediately after a component is mounted or added to the DOM. Similarly, we are removing the event listener in the componentWillUnmount method, which is called just before the component is unmounted and destroyed. This is essential to prevent memory leaks.

Understanding Event Handlers

Events are like triggers. When a specific action occurs, they fire off. But for an event to do something, it needs an event handler. Think of it like a game of catch. The event is the ball being thrown, and the event handler is the person catching and doing something with the ball.

In our examples, handleClick and handleKeyDown are event handlers. They are functions that are called when the event occurs.


Learning to use event listeners in ReactJS is like learning to conduct an orchestra. The event listeners are your musicians, each waiting for their cue to play their part. With the conductor (that's you, the developer) in control, the symphony of interactivity comes to life on your webpage.

Remember, ReactJS has its unique way of managing events through synthetic events, but the core concept remains the same - waiting for specific user interactions and responding accordingly. Whether it's a button click or a key press, understanding and using event listeners is vital to make your web application interactive and dynamic.

So, go ahead and conduct your orchestra, and don't worry about hitting a wrong note. Like in music, in programming too, practice makes perfect.