How do I move focus from JTextArea using TAB key?

The default behavior when pressing the tabular key in a JTextArea is to insert a tab spaces in the text area. In this example you’ll see how to change this to make the tab key to transfer focus to other component forward or backward.

The main routine can be found in the key listener section. When the tab key is pressed we will tell the text area to transfer to focus into other component. Let’s see the code snippet below.

package org.kodejava.example.swing;

import javax.swing.JFrame;
import javax.swing.JPasswordField;
import javax.swing.JScrollPane;
import javax.swing.JTextArea;
import javax.swing.JTextField;
import javax.swing.SwingUtilities;
import javax.swing.WindowConstants;
import java.awt.BorderLayout;
import java.awt.event.KeyAdapter;
import java.awt.event.KeyEvent;

public class TextAreaTabMoveFocus extends JFrame {
    public TextAreaTabMoveFocus() {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SwingUtilities.invokeLater(() -> new TextAreaTabMoveFocus().setVisible(true));

    private void initialize() {
        setSize(500, 200);
        setTitle("JTextArea TAB DEMO");
        setLayout(new BorderLayout());

        JTextField textField = new JTextField();
        JPasswordField passwordField = new JPasswordField();
        final JTextArea textArea = new JTextArea();
        JScrollPane scrollPane = new JScrollPane(textArea);

        // Add key listener to change the TAB behavior in
        // JTextArea to transfer focus to other component forward
        // or backward.
        textArea.addKeyListener(new KeyAdapter() {
            public void keyPressed(KeyEvent e) {
                if (e.getKeyCode() == KeyEvent.VK_TAB) {
                    if (e.getModifiersEx() > 0) {
                    } else {

        getContentPane().add(textField, BorderLayout.NORTH);
        getContentPane().add(scrollPane, BorderLayout.CENTER);
        getContentPane().add(passwordField, BorderLayout.SOUTH);

The output of the code snippet above is:

JTextArea Move Focus Using Tab


  1. The method getModifiers() from the type InputEvent is deprecated since version 9.

    And when I press the key after refocusing on the field before jumping it creates a tab within the JTextArea when I exit the JFrame I have a function that if the JTextArea is empty it returns true and it should return false since the JTextArea field is not empty because tabs were created.

    Any solution?


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