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The JavaScript FAQ
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Ctrl, Alt, Shift Keys

Question: How do I detect mouse events with Ctrl, Alt, and Shift keys?

Answer: In modern browsers, your script can check whether a mouse event occurred while the user was pressing any of the Ctrl, Alt, Shift keys. In the example below, this is accomplished for the MouseDown and MouseUp events. For other mouse events, a similar strategy may or may not work, depending on the browser.

To implement the Ctrl / Alt / Shift detection, you can use the properties event.ctrlKey, event.altKey, event.shiftKey and the deprecated Navigator-specific property event.modifiers. Click anywhere on this page while pressing any combination of Ctrl, Alt, and Shift keys, and the key combination will be detected by the following script (that resides in the <HEAD> section of the page). Every time you click the mouse, you'll see the event.ctrlKey, event.altKey, event.shiftKey or event.modifiers properties on the browser's status bar.

<script language="JavaScript">
function mouseDown(e) {
 var ctrlPressed=0;
 var altPressed=0;
 var shiftPressed=0;

 if (parseInt(navigator.appVersion)>3) {

  var evt = navigator.appName=="Netscape" ? e:event;

  if (navigator.appName=="Netscape" && parseInt(navigator.appVersion)==4) {
   var mString =(e.modifiers+32).toString(2).substring(3,6);
   ctrlPressed =(mString.charAt(1)=="1");
   altPressed  =(mString.charAt(2)=="1");
   self.status="modifiers="+e.modifiers+" ("+mString+")"
  else {
   altPressed  =evt.altKey;
   ctrlPressed =evt.ctrlKey;
    +  "shiftKey="+shiftPressed 
    +", altKey="  +altPressed 
    +", ctrlKey=" +ctrlPressed 
  if (shiftPressed || altPressed || ctrlPressed) 
   alert ("Mouse clicked with the following keys:\n"
    + (shiftPressed ? "Shift ":"")
    + (altPressed   ? "Alt "  :"")
    + (ctrlPressed  ? "Ctrl " :"")
 return true;
if (parseInt(navigator.appVersion)>3) {
 document.onmousedown = mouseDown;
 if (navigator.appName=="Netscape") 
The properties event.ctrlKey, event.altKey, event.shiftKey are self-explanatory. Their values are true if the corresponding keys are pressed, and false otherwise. The Netscape 4 property event.modifiers is more tricky. Depending on the actual key combination, this property has the following values:
Alt only              modifiers=1 (001)
Ctrl only             modifiers=2 (010)
Ctrl+Alt              modifiers=3 (011)
Shift only            modifiers=4 (100)
Shift+Alt             modifiers=5 (101)
Shift+Ctrl            modifiers=6 (110)
Shift+Alt+Ctrl        modifiers=7 (111)
None of these keys    modifiers=0 (000)
Thus, in the binary representation of the event.modifiers value:
  • the least significant (right) bit is 1 if Alt is pressed
  • the second bit is 1 if Ctrl is pressed
  • the third bit is 1 if Shift is pressed Copyright © 1999-2006, Alexei Kourbatov

    The JavaScript FAQ
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      Mirrored with kind permission of Alexei Kourbatov Design by Interspire