Use AJAX Upload to upload multiple files without refreshing the page and style upload button as you wish.
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Browsers force us to use file inputs (<input type="file" />) for uploads, which are impossible to style. Moreover, form-based uploads look obsolete in modern web applications. We can use flash to solve this problem, but JavaScript works nice too.

AJAX Upload allows you to easily upload multiple files without refreshing the page and use any element to show file selection window. It works in all major browsers and doesn't require any library to run. AJAX Upload doesn't pollute the global namespace, and is tested with jQuery, Prototypejs.


Here is an example for AJAX Upload used with jQuery.

Supported browsers

IE6 - IE8, FF2 - 3.5, Safari4, Chrome3, Opera 9.64 - 10

How to use it?

Creating the uploader

First, you should create button. (You can use any element).

<div id="upload_button">Upload</div>

Next, you should create ajax upload instance. In it’s simplest form, you can create it using the following code:

// Do it after the DOM is ready for manipulations
// Use $(document).ready - jquery
// document.observe("dom:loaded" - prototype
new AjaxUpload('upload_button_id', {action: 'upload.php'});

Configuring ajax upload

new AjaxUpload('upload_button_id', {
  // Location of the server-side upload script
  // NOTE: You are not allowed to upload files to another domain
  action: 'upload.php',
  // File upload name
  name: 'userfile',
  // Additional data to send
  data: {
    example_key1 : 'example_value',
    example_key2 : 'example_value2'
  // Submit file after selection
  autoSubmit: true,
  // The type of data that you're expecting back from the server.
  // HTML (text) and XML are detected automatically.
  // Useful when you are using JSON data as a response, set to "json" in that case.
  // Also set server response type to text/html, otherwise it will not work in IE6
  responseType: false,
  // Fired after the file is selected
  // Useful when autoSubmit is disabled
  // You can return false to cancel upload
  // @param file basename of uploaded file
  // @param extension of that file
  onChange: function(file, extension){},
  // Fired before the file is uploaded
  // You can return false to cancel upload
  // @param file basename of uploaded file
  // @param extension of that file
  onSubmit: function(file, extension) {},
  // Fired when file upload is completed
  // @param file basename of uploaded file
  // @param response server response
  onComplete: function(file, response) {}

Note: Do not use the data parameter to attach dynamic data, like this "data: {txt: textfield.value}", because it will assign data when the instance of the AJAX Upload is created and will not change later. If you want to pass additional data from textfields use setData method in a onSubmit callback.

Instance methods

  • submit - Submits file to the server (useful when autoSubmit is disabled)
  • disable - Disables upload button
  • enable - Enables upload button
  • setData(data) - Overwrites data parameter

You can use these methods, to configure AJAX Upload later.

var upload = new AjaxUpload('div_id',{action: 'upload.php'});
//For example when user selects something, set some data
upload.setData({'example_key': 'value'});

//Or you can use these methods directly inside event function
new AjaxUpload('div_id', {
  action: 'upload.php',
  onSubmit: function() {
    // allow only 1 upload

How do I access the uploaded files?

For the server-side code it looks like the file is uploaded with the simple upload form, because of that you can use any language you want.

You can access the uploaded file with:

  • PHP: $_FILES['userfile']
  • Rails: params[:userfile]

Note that "userfile" is the default value for the option 'name'.

You can access the additional data with:

  • PHP: $_POST['yourkey']
  • Rails: params[:yourkey]

Server-side script

If you are using php, here is a simplest example that I got straight from php manual

$uploaddir = '/var/www/uploads/';
$uploadfile = $uploaddir . basename($_FILES['userfile']['name']);

if (move_uploaded_file($_FILES['userfile']['tmp_name'], $uploadfile)) {
  echo "success";
} else {
  // Otherwise onSubmit event will not be fired
  echo "error"; 

ColdFusion based file upload. (Default barebones solution)

<cffunction name="uploadFile" access="remote" output="false">
  <cfargument name="userFile">
  <cffile action="upload" fileField="userFile" destination="directory/path/on/server/">
  <cfreturn "whatever">

And here is an ASPX handler, please modify it to suit your needs: using System; using System.Web; using System.IO;

public class FileHandler : IHttpHandler

    public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
        string strFileName = Path.GetFileName(context.Request.Files[0].FileName);
        string strExtension = Path.GetExtension(context.Request.Files[0].FileName).ToLower();
        string strSaveLocation = context.Server.MapPath("Upload") + "" + strFileName;

        context.Response.ContentType = "text/plain";

    public bool IsReusable
            return false;

How to allow only certain file types?

The best way is to check the file type of selected function in a onSubmit callback function and return false to cancel upload if invalid file is selected. But don't forget to add a server-side check for security.

new AjaxUpload('button2', {
    action: 'upload.php',
    onSubmit : function(file , ext){
        if (! (ext &amp;&amp; /^(jpg|png|jpeg|gif)$/i.test(ext))){
            // extension is not allowed
            alert('Error: invalid file extension');
            // cancel upload
            return false;

How it works?

Plugin creates invisible file input on top of the button you provide, so when user clicks on your button the normal file selection window is shown. And after user selects a file, plugin submits form that contains file input to an iframe. So it isn't true ajax upload, but brings same user experience.

Licensing & Terms of Use

Ajax upload plugin is completely free and licensed under MIT license