For-each over an array in JavaScript

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Top 5 Answer for For-each over an array in JavaScript

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  • Your best bets are usually

    • a for-of loop (ES2015+ only; spec | MDN) - simple and async-friendly
      for (const element of theArray) {     // ...use `element`... } 
    • forEach (ES5+ only; spec | MDN) (or its relatives some and such) - not async-friendly (but see details)
      theArray.forEach(element => {     // ...use `element`... }); 
    • a simple old-fashioned for loop - async-friendly
      for (let index = 0; index < theArray.length; ++index) {     const element = theArray[index];     // ...use `element`... } 
    • (rarely) for-in with safeguards - async-friendly
      for (const propertyName in theArray) {     if (/* an array element property (see below)...*/) {         const element = theArray[propertyName];         // ...use `element`...     } } 
  • Some quick "don't"s:

    • Don't use for-in unless you use it with safeguards or are at least aware of why it might bite you.
    • Don't use map if you're not using its return value.
      (There's sadly someone out there teaching map [spec / MDN] as though it were forEach — but as I write on my blog, that's not what it's for. If you aren't using the array it creates, don't use map.)
    • Don't use forEach if the callback does asynchronous work and you want the forEach to wait until that work is done (because it won't).

But there's lots more to explore, read on...

JavaScript has powerful semantics for looping through arrays and array-like objects. I've split the answer into two parts: Options for genuine arrays, and options for things that are just array-like, such as the arguments object, other iterable objects (ES2015+), DOM collections, and so on.

Okay, let's look at our options:

For Actual Arrays

You have five options (two supported basically forever, another added by ECMAScript 5 ["ES5"], and two more added in ECMAScript 2015 ("ES2015", aka "ES6"):

  1. Use for-of (use an iterator implicitly) (ES2015+)
  2. Use forEach and related (ES5+)
  3. Use a simple for loop
  4. Use for-in correctly
  5. Use an iterator explicitly (ES2015+)

(You can see those old specs here: ES5, ES2015, but both have been superceded; the current editor's draft is always here.)


1. Use for-of (use an iterator implicitly) (ES2015+)

ES2015 added iterators and iterables to JavaScript. Arrays are iterable (so are strings, Maps, and Sets, as well as DOM collections and lists, as you'll see later). Iterable objects provide iterators for their values. The new for-of statement loops through the values returned by an iterator:

const a = ["a", "b", "c"]; for (const element of a) { // You can use `let` instead of `const` if you like     console.log(element); } // a // b // c

It doesn't get simpler than that! Under the covers, that gets an iterator from the array and loops through the values the iterator returns. The iterator provided by arrays provides the values of the array elements, in order beginning to end.

Notice how element is scoped to each loop iteration; trying to use element after the end of the loop would fail because it doesn't exist outside the loop body.

In theory, a for-of loop involves several function calls (one to get the iterator, then one to get each value from it). Even when that's true, it's nothing to worry about, function calls are very cheap in modern JavaScript engines (it bothered me for forEach [below] until I looked into it; details). But additionally, JavaScript engines optimize those calls away (in performance-critical code) when dealing with native iterators for things like arrays.

for-of is entirely async-friendly. If you need the work in a loop body to be done in series (not in parallel), an await in the loop body will wait for the promise to settle before continuing. Here's a silly example:

function delay(ms) {     return new Promise(resolve => {         setTimeout(resolve, ms);     }); }  async function showSlowly(messages) {     for (const message of messages) {         await delay(400);         console.log(message);     } }  showSlowly([     "So", "long", "and", "thanks", "for", "all", "the", "fish!" ]); // `.catch` omitted because we know it never rejects

Note how the words appear with a delay before each one.

It's a matter of coding style, but for-of is the first thing I reach for when looping through anything iterable.

2. Use forEach and related

In any even vaguely-modern environment (so, not IE8) where you have access to the Array features added by ES5, you can use forEach (spec | MDN) if you're only dealing with synchronous code (or you don't need to wait for an asynchronous process to finish during the loop):

const a = ["a", "b", "c"]; a.forEach((element) => {     console.log(element); });

forEach accepts a callback function and, optionally, a value to use as this when calling that callback (not used above). The callback is called for each element in the array, in order, skipping non-existent elements in sparse arrays. Although I only used one parameter above, the callback is called with three arguments: The element for that iteration, the index of that element, and a reference to the array you're iterating over (in case your function doesn't already have it handy).

Like for-of, forEach has the advantage that you don't have to declare indexing and value variables in the containing scope; in this case, they're supplied as arguments to the iteration function, and so nicely scoped to just that iteration.

Unlike for-of, forEach has the disadvantage that it doesn't understand async functions and await. If you use an async function as the callback, forEach does not wait for that function's promise to settle before continuing. Here's the async example from for-of using forEach instead — notice how there's an initial delay, but then all the text appears right away instead of waiting:

function delay(ms) {     return new Promise(resolve => {         setTimeout(resolve, ms);     }); }  async function showSlowly(messages) {     // INCORRECT, doesn't wait before continuing,     // doesn't handle promise rejections     messages.forEach(async message => {         await delay(400);         console.log(message);     }); }  showSlowly([     "So", "long", "and", "thanks", "for", "all", "the", "fish!" ]); // `.catch` omitted because we know it never rejects

forEach is the "loop through them all" function, but ES5 defined several other useful "work your way through the array and do things" functions, including:

  • every (spec | MDN) - stops looping the first time the callback returns a falsy value
  • some (spec | MDN) - stops looping the first time the callback returns a truthy value
  • filter (spec | MDN) - creates a new array including elements where the callback returns a truthy value, omitting the ones where it doesn't
  • map (spec | MDN) - creates a new array from the values returned by the callback
  • reduce (spec | MDN) - builds up a value by repeatedly calling the callback, passing in previous values; see the spec for the details
  • reduceRight (spec | MDN) - like reduce, but works in descending rather than ascending order

As with forEach, if you use an async function as your callback, none of those waits for the function's promise to settle. That means:

  • Using an async function callback is never appropriate with every, some, and filter since they will treat the returned promise as though it were a truthy value; they don't wait for the promise to settle and then use the fulfillment value.
  • Using an async function callback is often appropriate with map, if the goal is to turn an array of something into an array of promises, perhaps for passing to one of the promise combinator functions (Promise.all, Promise.race, promise.allSettled, or Promise.any).
  • Using an async function callback is rarely appropriate with reduce or reduceRight, because (again) the callback will always return a promise. But there is an idiom of building a chain of promises from an array that uses reduce (const promise = array.reduce((p, element) => p.then(/*...something using `element`...*/));), but usually in those cases a for-of or for loop in an async function will be clearer and easier to debug.

3. Use a simple for loop

Sometimes the old ways are the best:

const a = ["a", "b", "c"]; for (let index = 0; index < a.length; ++index) {     const element = a[index];     console.log(element); }

If the length of the array won't change during the loop, and it's in highly performance-sensitive code, a slightly more complicated version grabbing the length up front might be a tiny bit faster:

const a = ["a", "b", "c"]; for (let index = 0, len = a.length; index < len; ++index) {     const element = a[index];     console.log(element); }

And/or counting backward:

const a = ["a", "b", "c"]; for (let index = a.length - 1; index >= 0; --index) {     const element = a[index];     console.log(element); }

But with modern JavaScript engines, it's rare you need to eke out that last bit of juice.

Before ES2015, the loop variable had to exist in the containing scope, because var only has function-level scope, not block-level scope. But as you saw in the examples above, you can use let within the for to scope the variables to just the loop. And when you do that, the index variable is recreated for each loop iteration, meaning closures created in the loop body keep a reference to the index for that specific iteration, which solves the old "closures in loops" problem:

// (The `NodeList` from `querySelectorAll` is array-like) const divs = document.querySelectorAll("div"); for (let index = 0; index < divs.length; ++index) {     divs[index].addEventListener('click', e => {         console.log("Index is: " + index);     }); }
<div>zero</div> <div>one</div> <div>two</div> <div>three</div> <div>four</div>

In the above, you get "Index is: 0" if you click the first and "Index is: 4" if you click the last. This does not work if you use var instead of let (you'd always see "Index is: 5").

Like for-of, for loops work well in async functions. Here's the earlier example using a for loop:

function delay(ms) {     return new Promise(resolve => {         setTimeout(resolve, ms);     }); }  async function showSlowly(messages) {     for (let i = 0; i < messages.length; ++i) {         const message = messages[i];         await delay(400);         console.log(message);     } }  showSlowly([     "So", "long", "and", "thanks", "for", "all", "the", "fish!" ]); // `.catch` omitted because we know it never rejects

4. Use for-in correctly

for-in isn't for looping through arrays, it's for looping through the names of an object's properties. It does often seem to work for looping through arrays as a by-product of the fact that arrays are objects, but it doesn't just loop through the array indexes, it loops through all enumerable properties of the object (including inherited ones). (It also used to be that the order wasn't specified; it is now [details in this other answer], but even though the order is specified now, the rules are complex, there are exceptions, and relying on the order is not best practice.)

The only real use cases for for-in on an array are:

  • It's a sparse array with massive gaps in it, or
  • You're using non-element properties on the array object and you want to include them in the loop

Looking only at that first example: You can use for-in to visit those sparse array elements if you use appropriate safeguards:

// `a` is a sparse array const a = []; a[0] = "a"; a[10] = "b"; a[10000] = "c"; for (const name in a) {     if (Object.hasOwn(a, name) &&       // These checks are         /^0$|^[1-9]\d*$/.test(name) &&  // explained         name <= 4294967294              // below        ) {         const element = a[name];         console.log(a[name]);     } }

Note the three checks:

  1. That the object has its own property by that name (not one it inherits from its prototype; this check is also often written as a.hasOwnProperty(name) but ES2022 adds Object.hasOwn which can be more reliable), and

  2. That the name is all decimal digits (e.g., normal string form, not scientific notation), and

  3. That the name's value when coerced to a number is <= 2^32 - 2 (which is 4,294,967,294). Where does that number come from? It's part of the definition of an array index in the specification. Other numbers (non-integers, negative numbers, numbers greater than 2^32 - 2) are not array indexes. The reason it's 2^32 - 2 is that that makes the greatest index value one lower than 2^32 - 1, which is the maximum value an array's length can have. (E.g., an array's length fits in a 32-bit unsigned integer.)

...although with that said, most code only does the hasOwnProperty check.

You wouldn't do that in inline code, of course. You'd write a utility function. Perhaps:

// Utility function for antiquated environments without `forEach` const hasOwn =; const rexNum = /^0$|^[1-9]\d*$/; function sparseEach(array, callback, thisArg) {     for (const name in array) {         const index = +name;         if (hasOwn(a, name) &&             rexNum.test(name) &&             index <= 4294967294            ) {   , array[name], index, array);         }     } }  const a = []; a[5] = "five"; a[10] = "ten"; a[100000] = "one hundred thousand"; a.b = "bee";  sparseEach(a, (value, index) => {     console.log("Value at " + index + " is " + value); });

Like for, for-in works well in asynchronous functions if the work within it needs to be done in series.

function delay(ms) {     return new Promise(resolve => {         setTimeout(resolve, ms);     }); }  async function showSlowly(messages) {     for (const name in messages) {         if (messages.hasOwnProperty(name)) { // Almost always this is the only check people do             const message = messages[name];             await delay(400);             console.log(message);         }     } }  showSlowly([     "So", "long", "and", "thanks", "for", "all", "the", "fish!" ]); // `.catch` omitted because we know it never rejects

5. Use an iterator explicitly (ES2015+)

for-of uses an iterator implicitly, doing all the scut work for you. Sometimes, you might want to use an iterator explicitly. It looks like this:

const a = ["a", "b", "c"]; const it = a.values(); // Or `const it = a[Symbol.iterator]();` if you like let entry; while (!(entry = {     const element = entry.value;     console.log(element); }

An iterator is an object matching the Iterator definition in the specification. Its next method returns a new result object each time you call it. The result object has a property, done, telling us whether it's done, and a property value with the value for that iteration. (done is optional if it would be false, value is optional if it would be undefined.)

What you get for value varies depending on the iterator. On arrays, the default iterator provides the value of each array element ("a", "b", and "c" in the example earlier). Arrays also have three other methods that return iterators:

  • values(): This is an alias for the [Symbol.iterator] method that returns the default iterator.
  • keys(): Returns an iterator that provides each key (index) in the array. In the example above, it would provide "0", then "1", then "2" (yes, as strings).
  • entries(): Returns an iterator that provides [key, value] arrays.

Since iterator objects don't advance until you call next, they work well in async function loops. Here's the earlier for-of example using the iterator explicitly:

function delay(ms) {     return new Promise(resolve => {         setTimeout(resolve, ms);     }); }  async function showSlowly(messages) {     const it = messages.values()     while (!(entry = {         await delay(400);         const element = entry.value;         console.log(element);     } }  showSlowly([     "So", "long", "and", "thanks", "for", "all", "the", "fish!" ]); // `.catch` omitted because we know it never rejects

For Array-Like Objects

Aside from true arrays, there are also array-like objects that have a length property and properties with all-digits names: NodeList instances, HTMLCollection instances, the arguments object, etc. How do we loop through their contents?

Use most of the options above

At least some, and possibly most or even all, of the array approaches above apply equally well to array-like objects:

  1. Use for-of (use an iterator implicitly) (ES2015+)

    for-of uses the iterator provided by the object (if any). That includes host-provided objects (like DOM collections and lists). For instance, HTMLCollection instances from getElementsByXYZ methods and NodeLists instances from querySelectorAll both support iteration. (This is defined quite subtly by the HTML and DOM specifications. Basically, any object with length and indexed access is automatically iterable. It doesn't have to be marked iterable; that is used only for collections that, in addition to being iterable, support forEach, values, keys, and entries methods. NodeList does; HTMLCollection doesn't, but both are iterable.)

    Here's an example of looping through div elements:

const divs = document.querySelectorAll("div"); for (const div of divs) {     div.textContent = Math.random(); }
<div>zero</div> <div>one</div> <div>two</div> <div>three</div> <div>four</div>

  1. Use forEach and related (ES5+)

    The various functions on Array.prototype are "intentionally generic" and can be used on array-like objects via Function#call (spec | MDN) or Function#apply (spec | MDN). (If you have to deal with IE8 or earlier [ouch], see the "Caveat for host-provided objects" at the end of this answer, but it's not an issue with vaguely-modern browsers.)

    Suppose you wanted to use forEach on a Node's childNodes collection (which, being an HTMLCollection, doesn't have forEach natively). You'd do this:, (child) => {     // Do something with `child` }); 

    (Note, though, that you could just use for-of on node.childNodes.)

    If you're going to do that a lot, you might want to grab a copy of the function reference into a variable for reuse, e.g.:

    // (This is all presumably in a module or some scoping function) const forEach =;  // Then later... forEach(node.childNodes, (child) => {     // Do something with `child` }); 
  2. Use a simple for loop

    Perhaps obviously, a simple for loop works for array-like objects.

  3. Use an iterator explicitly (ES2015+)

    See #1.

You may be able to get away with for-in (with safeguards), but with all of these more appropriate options, there's no reason to try.

Create a true array

Other times, you may want to convert an array-like object into a true array. Doing that is surprisingly easy:

  1. Use Array.from

    Array.from (spec) | (MDN) (ES2015+, but easily polyfilled) creates an array from an array-like object, optionally passing the entries through a mapping function first. So:

    const divs = Array.from(document.querySelectorAll("div")); 

    ...takes the NodeList from querySelectorAll and makes an array from it.

    The mapping function is handy if you were going to map the contents in some way. For instance, if you wanted to get an array of the tag names of the elements with a given class:

    // Typical use (with an arrow function): const divs = Array.from(document.querySelectorAll(".some-class"), element => element.tagName);  // Traditional function (since `Array.from` can be polyfilled): var divs = Array.from(document.querySelectorAll(".some-class"), function(element) {     return element.tagName; }); 
  2. Use spread syntax (...)

    It's also possible to use ES2015's spread syntax. Like for-of, this uses the iterator provided by the object (see #1 in the previous section):

    const trueArray = [...iterableObject]; 

    So for instance, if we want to convert a NodeList into a true array, with spread syntax this becomes quite succinct:

    const divs = [...document.querySelectorAll("div")]; 
  3. Use the slice method of arrays

    We can use the slice method of arrays, which like the other methods mentioned above is "intentionally generic" and so can be used with array-like objects, like this:

    const trueArray =; 

    So for instance, if we want to convert a NodeList into a true array, we could do this:

    const divs ="div")); 

    (If you still have to handle IE8 [ouch], will fail; IE8 didn't let you use host-provided objects as this like that.)

Caveat for host-provided objects

If you use Array.prototype functions with host-provided array-like objects (for example, DOM collections and such provided by the browser rather than the JavaScript engine), obsolete browsers like IE8 didn't necessarily handle that way, so if you have to support them, be sure to test in your target environments. But it's not an issue with vaguely-modern browsers. (For non-browser environments, naturally it'll depend on the environment.)

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Note: This answer is hopelessly out-of-date. For a more modern approach, look at the methods available on an array. Methods of interest might be:

  • forEach
  • map
  • filter
  • zip
  • reduce
  • every
  • some

The standard way to iterate an array in JavaScript is a vanilla for-loop:

var length = arr.length,     element = null; for (var i = 0; i < length; i++) {   element = arr[i];   // Do something with element } 

Note, however, that this approach is only good if you have a dense array, and each index is occupied by an element. If the array is sparse, then you can run into performance problems with this approach, since you will iterate over a lot of indices that do not really exist in the array. In this case, a for .. in-loop might be a better idea. However, you must use the appropriate safeguards to ensure that only the desired properties of the array (that is, the array elements) are acted upon, since the will also be enumerated in legacy browsers, or if the additional properties are defined as enumerable.

In ECMAScript 5 there will be a forEach method on the array prototype, but it is not supported in legacy browsers. So to be able to use it consistently you must either have an environment that supports it (for example, Node.js for server side JavaScript), or use a "Polyfill". The Polyfill for this functionality is, however, trivial and since it makes the code easier to read, it is a good polyfill to include.

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If you’re using the jQuery library, you can use jQuery.each:

$.each(yourArray, function(index, value) {   // do your stuff here }); 


As per question, user want code in javascript instead of jquery so the edit is

var length = yourArray.length;    for (var i = 0; i < length; i++) {   // Do something with yourArray[i]. } 
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Loop backwards

I think the reverse for loop deserves a mention here:

for (var i = array.length; i--; ) {      // process array[i] } 


  • You do not need to declare a temporary len variable, or compare against array.length on each iteration, either of which might be a minute optimisation.
  • Removing siblings from the DOM in reverse order is usually more efficient. (The browser needs to do less shifting of elements in its internal arrays.)
  • If you modify the array while looping, at or after index i (for example you remove or insert an item at array[i]), then a forward loop would skip the item that shifted left into position i, or re-process the ith item that was shifted right. In a traditional for loop, you could update i to point to the next item that needs processing - 1, but simply reversing the direction of iteration is often a simpler and more elegant solution.
  • Similarly, when modifying or removing nested DOM elements, processing in reverse can circumvent errors. For example, consider modifying the innerHTML of a parent node before handling its children. By the time the child node is reached it will be detached from the DOM, having been replaced by a newly created child when the parent's innerHTML was written.
  • It is shorter to type, and read, than some of the other options available. Although it loses to forEach() and to ES6's for ... of.


  • It processes the items in reverse order. If you were building a new array from the results, or printing things on screen, naturally the output will be reversed with respect to the original order.
  • Repeatedly inserting siblings into the DOM as a first child in order to retain their order is less efficient. (The browser would keep having to shift things right.) To create DOM nodes efficiently and in order, just loop forwards and append as normal (and also use a "document fragment").
  • The reverse loop is confusing to junior developers. (You may consider that an advantage, depending on your outlook.)

Should I always use it?

Some developers use the reverse for loop by default, unless there is a good reason to loop forwards.

Although the performance gains are usually insignificant, it sort of screams:

"Just do this to every item in the list, I don't care about the order!"

However in practice that is not actually a reliable indication of intent, since it is indistinguishable from those occasions when you do care about the order, and really do need to loop in reverse. So in fact another construct would be needed to accurately express the "don't care" intent, something currently unavailable in most languages, including ECMAScript, but which could be called, for example, forEachUnordered().

If order doesn't matter, and efficiency is a concern (in the innermost loop of a game or animation engine), then it may be acceptable to use the reverse for loop as your go-to pattern. Just remember that seeing a reverse for loop in existing code does not necessarily mean that the order irrelevant!

It was better to use forEach()

In general for higher level code where clarity and safety are greater concerns, I previously recommended using Array::forEach as your default pattern for looping (although these days I prefer to use for..of). Reasons to prefer forEach over a reverse loop are:

  • It is clearer to read.
  • It indicates that i is not going to be shifted within the block (which is always a possible surprise hiding in long for and while loops).
  • It gives you a free scope for closures.
  • It reduces leakage of local variables and accidental collision with (and mutation of) outer variables.

Then when you do see the reverse for loop in your code, that is a hint that it is reversed for a good reason (perhaps one of the reasons described above). And seeing a traditional forward for loop may indicate that shifting can take place.

(If the discussion of intent makes no sense to you, then you and your code may benefit from watching Crockford's lecture on Programming Style & Your Brain.)

It is now even better to use for..of!

There is a debate about whether for..of or forEach() are preferable:

  • For maximum browser support, for..of requires a polyfill for iterators, making your app slightly slower to execute and slightly larger to download.

  • For that reason (and to encourage use of map and filter), some front-end style guides ban for..of completely!

  • But the above concerns is not applicable to Node.js applications, where for..of is now well supported.

  • And furthermore await does not work inside forEach(). Using for..of is the clearest pattern in this case.

Personally, I tend to use whatever looks easiest to read, unless performance or minification has become a major concern. So these days I prefer to use for..of instead of forEach(), but I will always use map or filter or find or some when applicable. (For the sake of my colleagues, I rarely use reduce.)

How does it work?

for (var i = 0; i < array.length; i++) { ... }   // Forwards  for (var i = array.length; i--; )    { ... }   // Reverse 

You will notice that i-- is the middle clause (where we usually see a comparison) and the last clause is empty (where we usually see i++). That means that i-- is also used as the condition for continuation. Crucially, it is executed and checked before each iteration.

  • How can it start at array.length without exploding?

    Because i-- runs before each iteration, on the first iteration we will actually be accessing the item at array.length - 1 which avoids any issues with Array-out-of-bounds undefined items.

  • Why doesn't it stop iterating before index 0?

    The loop will stop iterating when the condition i-- evaluates to a falsey value (when it yields 0).

    The trick is that unlike --i, the trailing i-- operator decrements i but yields the value before the decrement. Your console can demonstrate this:

    > var i = 5; [i, i--, i];

    [5, 5, 4]

    So on the final iteration, i was previously 1 and the i-- expression changes it to 0 but actually yields 1 (truthy), and so the condition passes. On the next iteration i-- changes i to -1 but yields 0 (falsey), causing execution to immediately drop out of the bottom of the loop.

    In the traditional forwards for loop, i++ and ++i are interchangeable (as Douglas Crockford points out). However in the reverse for loop, because our decrement is also our condition expression, we must stick with i-- if we want to process the item at index 0.


Some people like to draw a little arrow in the reverse for loop, and end with a wink:

for (var i = array.length; i --> 0 ;) { 

Credits go to WYL for showing me the benefits and horrors of the reverse for loop.

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Some C-style languages use foreach to loop through enumerations. In JavaScript this is done with the loop structure:

var index,     value; for (index in obj) {     value = obj[index]; } 

There is a catch. will loop through each of the object's enumerable members, and the members on its prototype. To avoid reading values that are inherited through the object's prototype, simply check if the property belongs to the object:

for (i in obj) {     if (obj.hasOwnProperty(i)) {         //do stuff     } } 

Additionally, ECMAScript 5 has added a forEach method to Array.prototype which can be used to enumerate over an array using a calback (the polyfill is in the docs so you can still use it for older browsers):

arr.forEach(function (val, index, theArray) {     //do stuff }); 

It's important to note that Array.prototype.forEach doesn't break when the callback returns false. jQuery and Underscore.js provide their own variations on each to provide loops that can be short-circuited.

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