jQuery UI MultiSelect Dropdown


This version inherits all the benefits from the jQuery UI widget factory that are not available in the plugin version. The most requested feature was the ability to call methods on instances after initialization (e.g., statefullness), and now there are 10 to choose from! Also present are eight events you can bind to, which in the previous version, had fewer and limited support. Finally, there is support for effects. Just include the jQuery UI effects dependency and specify the name of the opening or closing effect to use (and speed, if you wish!)

Usage :

Using this widget is simple. First, include the following files:

  • jQuery 1.4.2+
  • jQuery UI 1.8 widget factory and effects (if you’d like to use them)
  • A jQuery UI theme
  • This widget: jquery.multiselect.js
  • The CSS file: jquery.multiselect.css


Next construct a standard multiple select box. Do not forget the multiple attribute:

<select id="example" name="example" multiple="multiple">
<option value="1">Option 1</option>
<option value="2">Option 2</option>
<option value="3">Option 3</option>
<option value="4">Option 4</option>
<option value="5">Option 5</option>


Finally, initialize the widget on the select box once the document is ready:



Multiselect Options:

To further customize multiselect, pass in a object with one or more of the options below.

// example:
 header: "Choose an Option!"


Option Description Default
header Either a boolean value denoting whether or not to display the header, or a string value. If you pass a string, the default “check all”, “uncheck all”, and “close” links will be replaced with the specified text. true
height Height of the checkbox container (scroll area) in pixels. If set to “auto”, the height will calculate based on the number of checkboxes in the menu. 175
minWidth Minimum width of the entire widget in pixels. Setting to “auto” will disable. 225
checkAllText The text of the “check all” link. Check all
uncheckAllText The text of the “uncheck all” link. Uncheck All
noneSelectedText The default text the select box when no options have been selected. Select options
selectedText The text to display in the select box when options are selected (if selectedListis false). A pound sign (#) will automatically replaced by the number of checkboxes selected. If two pound signs are present in this parameter, the second will be replaced by the total number of checkboxes available. Example: “# of # checked”.This parameter also accepts an anonymous function with three arguments: the number of checkboxes checked, the total number of checkboxes, and an array of the checked checkbox DOM elements. See examples for usage. # selected
selectedList A numeric (or boolean to disable) value denoting whether or not to display the checked opens in a list, and how many. A number greater than 0 denotes the maximum number of list items to display before switching over to the selectedText parameter. A value of 0 or false is disabled. false
show The name of the effect to use when the menu opens. To control the speed as well, pass in an array: ['slide', 500] empty string
hide The name of the effect to use when the menu closes. To control the speed as well, pass in an array: ['explode', 500] empty string
autoOpen A boolean value denoting whether or not to automatically open the menu when the widget is initialized. false
multiple If set to false, the widget will use radio buttons instead of checkboxes, forcing users to select only one option. true
New in 1.5!

Additional class(es) to apply to BOTH the button and menu for further customization. Separate multiple classes
with a space. You’ll need to scope your CSS to differentiate between the button/menu:

/* button */
.ui-multiselect.myClass {}
/* menu */
.ui-multiselect-menu.myClass {}
empty string
New in 1.5! Requires jQuery 1.4.3+, jQuery UI position utility

This option allows you to position the menu anywhere you’d like relative to the button; centered, above, below (default), etc. Also provides collision detection to flip the menu above the button when near the bottom of the window. If you do not set this option or if the position utility has not been included, the menu will open below the button.

Requires the jQuery UI position utility and jQuery 1.4.3+. Please see this demo for usage instructions.

empty object




Hook into any of the events below by either binding to the event name, or passing in the name of the event during initialization:

// bind to event
$("#multiselect").bind("multiselectopen", function(event, ui){
 // event handler here
// or pass in the handler during initialization
 open: function(event, ui){
 // event handler here


Event Description
Requires jQuery UI Widget Factory 1.8.6+

Fires when the widget is created for the first time.

beforeopen Fires right before the menu opens. Prevent the menu from opening by returning false in the handler.
open Fires after the widget opens.
beforeclose Fires right before the menu closes. Prevent the menu from closing by returning false in the handler.
close Fires after the widget closes.
checkAll Fires when all the options are checked by either clicking the “check all” link in the header, or when the “checkall” method is programatically called (see next section).
uncheckAll Fires when all the options are all unchecked by either clicking the “uncheck all” link in the header, or when the “uncheckall” method is programatically called (see next section).
optgroupToggle Fires when an optgroup label is clicked on. This event receives the original event object as the first argument, and a hash of values as the second argument:

$("#multiselect").bind("multiselectoptgrouptoggle", function(event, ui){
	event: the original event object, most likely "click"
	ui.inputs: an array of the checkboxes (DOM elements)
        inside the optgroup
        ui.label: the text of the optgroup
        ui.checked: whether or not the checkboxes were
        checked or unchecked in the toggle (boolean)
click Fires when a checkbox is checked or unchecked.

$("#multiselect").bind("multiselectclick", function(event, ui){
	event: the original event object
	ui.value: value of the checkbox
	ui.text: text of the checkbox
	ui.checked: whether or not the input was checked
        or unchecked (boolean)


JQuery MultiSelect Methods

After an instance has been initialized, interact with it by calling any of these methods:

// example:


Method Description
open Opens the menu.
close Closes the menu.
New in 1.8!

Reloads the checkbox menu. If you’re dynamically adding/removing option tags on the original select via AJAX or DOM manipulation methods, call refresh to reflect the changes in the widget.

disable Disable the entire widget.
enable Enable the entire widget.
checkAll Check all checkboxes.
uncheckAll Uncheck all checkboxes.
isOpen Returns a boolean denoting if the widget is currently open or not.
getChecked Returns an array of all the checked checkboxes.
widget Returns the menu container (all checkboxes inside).
option Set or get one of the options after the widget has been initialized. If changing an option, the new option setting will take affect immediately.
destroy Destroy the widget, and revert back to the original select box.


JQuery Multiselect Filter Plugin

A filtering widget is available which, once initialized on a multiselect instance, will insert a text box inside the widget header. Typing in the input will filter rows and return matches in real time.


Set default options for all multiselect instances?

The options object is located in $.ech.multiselect.prototype.options. To configure options that all new instances will inherit, it’s easier to set them in this object instead of on an instance-by-instance basis.

$.ech.multiselect.prototype.options.selectedText = "# of # selected";

Retrieve all selected values?

The easiest way is to call val() on the select box:

var values = $("select").val();

The same can be accomplished using the multiselect API. Call the getChecked method and map a new array:

var array_of_checked_values = $("select").multiselect("getChecked").map(function(){
 return this.value; 


Retrieve values on the server?

Depends on your server-side language. In PHP et. al., you may need to name your select with square brackets on the end so the values can be captured as an array. I will probably wind up implementing this as an option at some point so it’ll degrade a bit better.


Prevent the selectedList option from increasing the button’s height?

Open up the CSS file and edit the .ui-multiselect declaration.

.ui-multiselect { height:25px; overflow-x:hidden; padding:2px 0 2px 4px; text-align:left }

The height you’ll need to set depends on the font size and padding you use, so it may need adjusting


Manually check or uncheck a checkbox?

The checkboxes can be accessed after calling the “widget” method. Simply manually trigger the NATIVE click event on them:

// manually check (or uncheck) the third checkbox in the menu:

The native click event must be used (trigger('click') will not work) due to this bug in jQuery’s core.

All necessary events and actions, like updating the button value, will automatically fire.

Alternatively, you could give the original option tag the selected attribute, and then call MultiSelect’s refresh method.


Tutorial Source:


.ui-multiselect { height:25px; overflow-x:hidden; padding:2px 0 2px 4px; text-align:left }

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