The FileReader object enables asynchronous reads on individual File or Blob objects by firing progress events as the read occurs to event handler methods attached to the FileReader object. Because of the asynchronous reading, it is possible to catch errors, know when a load is complete, and monitor the read progress.

FileReader is able to read files four different ways:

Method Description
readAsBinaryString Reads the contents of a Blob or File as raw binary.
readAsText Reads a File, Blob, or MSStream object into memory as a text string.
readAsDataURL Reads a File or Blob object into memory as a data URL string.
readAsArrayBuffer Reads a File, Blob, MSStream into memory as an ArrayBuffer object.


A drag and drop(dnd) feature is an easy to use method for gathering local files from a user.

See this example for how to select text files and display their contents using FileReader. Using Windows Explorer (or similar), select one or more text files (directories are not allowed), and then drag them to the drop box below. The contents of the selected text files will be displayed in alerts:

See this example by Microsoft Edge Docs on CodePen.

The code is broken down into 6 steps:

  1. If the specific file API feature is not present, replace all prior markup with HTML that alerts the user that the necessary File API feature is not available. Otherwise, add two DnD event listeners to the DnD box: <div id="fileDropBox">Drop files here.</div>
  2. When a user drags files from a Windows Explorer window (or similar) to the DnD box, the drop event fires and executes the handleFileSelection function. The event (evt) passed to handleFileSelection contains the file(s) the user selected.
  3. handleFileSelection then loops through each file it was handed (via evt.dataTransfer.files), does some basic error checking, and fires off an asynchronous read request for the given file via startFileRead(file). When the file has successfully been read into memory, an event handler is invoked to do something useful with the file data, as discussed next.
  4. The startFileRead(fileObject) function creates a new FileReader object for each file passed to it. This per file FileReader object (i.e., reader in the code) exposes properties intended to contain function pointers (i.e., event handlers). reader also exposes a number of file reading methods, in particular reader.readAsText. When the readAsText method successfully (and asynchronously) loads the file’s content into memory, the function pointer contained in reader.onloadend is invoked. That is, the displayFileText event handler is executed.
  5. The event object passed to displayFileText contains the results of the read (as instigated by reader.reasAsText). More precisely, contains the results of the requested read, in the form of a string, for the associated text file. We then display this string (that is, the file’s textual contents) as follows: alert(sanitizeHTML(fileString), {width: 40, tile: true}); In case the user selects one or more HTML or HTML-like files, santizeHTML is called to replace "<" with "<", ">" with ">", etc.
  6. Moving back to the startFileRead function, if a file read error should occur or if the user cancels a read operation, the handleFileReadError and handleFileReadAbort event handlers, respectively, are invoked.

API reference



File API