jQuery Select Option Example

The aim of this example is to explain and use various jQuery selectors and methods related to manipulation the select dropdown element of HTML. The <select> element is used to create a drop-down list. The <option> tags inside the element define the available options in the list. These basic HTML elements are the ones we’ll apply special selector and/or methods to make them fit our every need.

So, why do we need to manipulate the select dropdown? Well, in many cases, the information stored in this element needs to be dynamic, meaning depended on some other action taken beforehand. Also, in other cases, the user may have interacted with the dropdown and we need to reset it when a new user accesses the page.

1. Document Setup

To begin, create a new HTML document and add the basic syntax inside, including the jQuery library link:

<!DOCTYPE html>
	<title>jQuery Select Option Example</title>

<!-- HTML SECTION  -->

<script src="jquery-1.11.3.min.js"></script>

<script type="text/javascript">



Just to illustrate the idea of having a select dropdown in our page, this is an example:

<!-- HTML SECTION  -->
    <option>Option 1</option>
    <option>Option 2</option>
    <option>Option 3</option>

Well, this is the most basic example, because normally the select and option also have their respective attributes applied to make them more dynamic and accessible. For now, it would have this simple view in the browser:

The select element of HTML
The select element of HTML

2. Cases and Examples

In the following section, we’re having a look at the various cases we can use jQuery with the select element.

2.1 Get selected text from the select box

In this example, we’ll get the text of the selected option:

<select id="box">
    <option>First Text</option>
    <option>Second Text</option>
    <option selected="selected">Third Text</option>


As you can see, we added a new id and a selected attribute and also an empty paragraph where we’ll store the text we got from the select box:

<script type="text/javascript">
    var boxText = $("#box option:selected").text(); // get the text
    $('p').text(boxText);   // place the boxText in a paragraph

In this case the result would be “Third Text” because that is the option currently pre selected:

Getting the text from the select box!
Getting the text from the select box!

2.2 Select option using the value attribute

In this example we’ll get the text of a specific value on an option:

<select name="box">
    <option value="1">First Text</option>
    <option value="2">Second Text</option>
    <option value="3">Third Text</option>

In this case, we used the name attribute inside the select element. Additionally, options now have a unique value identifier. In jQuery, we’ll be selecting using the name attribute and applying the .val() method we’ll choose to display only the option we want as the default selected in the select box:

<script type="text/javascript">
    $('[name=box]').val( 2 ); // this will select the second text

As expected, the view in the browser would be:

Selecting an option by its value
Selecting an option by its value

2.3 Select option using the option text

In this third example, we’ll be selecting and displaying an option in a rather professional way.

<script type="text/javascript">
    $('[name=box] option').filter(function() {  // applied the filter method
        return ($(this).text() == 'Third Text');  // select 'Third Text'
    }).prop('selected', true);  // change selected property to true

So, after selecting the right select element, we apply the filter method (seems like we need to filter options) and give it a function as a parameter, which then leads to (returns) this element we’re selecting the text of which is equal to ‘Third Text’. But that just returns it, we don’t see anything. To display what is returned we add the .prop() method to all of this and define the selected attribute to true. In this case, the third option will be selected like so:

Select option using the option text
Select option using the option text

Setting the selected attribute to true is the same as setting it to 1 or selected.

3. Best jQuery Select Plugins

There are quite a lot of jQuery plugins out there to help you with a nice a smoothly animated select box/dropdown that you may want to use. Below, we introduce some of the best plugins that you can use.

3.1 jQuery Nice Select

jQuery Nice Select is a lightweight jQuery plugin that replaces native select elements with customizable dropdowns.

jQuery Nice Select Plugin
jQuery Nice Select Plugin

3.2 jQuery Selectbox plugin

Custom select box replacement inspired by jQuery UI source. Requires jQuery 1.4.x or higher.

jQuery Selectbox plugin
jQuery Selectbox plugin

You can find this plugin here: Source + Demo

3.3 jQuery Selectbox plugin

Good dropdown plugin, adds images and description to otherwise boring drop downs.

ddSlick jQuery Plugin
ddSlick jQuery Plugin

You can find this plugin here: Source + Demo

4. Conclusion

To conclude, there are many ways we can use and play with the select dropdown element. Use jQuery to either manipulate behaviour or animate the dropdown box. While using jQuery to get or set values/text for the options is important based on what you want to achieve, animation will always be an enhancement towards a better user experience, so just try to make it look as good as possible.

5. Download the Source Code

This was an example about jQuery Select Option.

Download You can download the full source code of this example here: jQuery Select Option

Fabio Cimo

Fabio is a passionate student in web tehnologies including front-end (HTML/CSS) and web design. He likes exploring as much as possible about the world wide web and how it can be more productive for us all. Currently he studies Computer Engineering, at the same time he works as a freelancer on both web programming and graphic design.
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