Clear prompt text in JavaFX TextField only when user starts typing


The default behaviour is that the prompt text in the field is erased as the field is being focused. That is when the marker is in the field.

Is it possible to configure the textfield so the prompt text is only erased when the user have started typing?

Otherwise I need to add a label beside/over each textfield for description of the value in it.

8/4/2014 6:51:33 PM


This example will allow TextFields in JavaFX whose prompt behaviour is to show the prompt when the field is empty, even if the field has focus. The solution is a combination of custom CSS and a custom TextField class, which manipulates the css styles of the TextField.



.persistent-prompt:focused {
    -fx-prompt-text-fill: derive(-fx-control-inner-background,-30%);
.no-prompt {
    -fx-prompt-text-fill: transparent !important;

import javafx.scene.control.TextField;

public class PersistentPromptTextField extends TextField {
    PersistentPromptTextField(String text, String prompt) {

        textProperty().addListener(observable -> refreshPromptVisibility());

    private void refreshPromptVisibility() {
        final String text = getText();
        if (isEmptyString(text)) {
        } else {
            if (!getStyleClass().contains("no-prompt")) {

    private boolean isEmptyString(String text) {
        return text == null || text.isEmpty();

import javafx.application.Application;
import javafx.geometry.Insets;
import javafx.scene.Scene;
import javafx.scene.control.TextField;
import javafx.scene.layout.VBox;
import javafx.stage.Stage;

public class PromptChanger extends Application {
    public void start(Stage stage) throws Exception {
        TextField textField1 = new PersistentPromptTextField("", "First name");
        TextField textField2 = new PersistentPromptTextField("", "Last name");

        VBox layout = new VBox(
        layout.setPadding(new Insets(10));

        Scene scene = new Scene(layout);

    public static void main(String[] args) {

How prompt handling is currently implemented in JavaFX 8

Default CSS for JavaFX 8 (modena.css) for controlling the prompt text is as follows:

.text-input {
    -fx-prompt-text-fill: derive(-fx-control-inner-background,-30%);
.text-input:focused {
    -fx-prompt-text-fill: transparent;

This will make the prompt text transparent whenever a field is focused, even if the field has no data in it.

In Comparison to HTML

HTML input has a placeholder, which is specified as follows:

User agents should present this hint to the user . . . when the element's value is the empty string or the control is not focused (or both).

You can try this functionality in your browser at this test link.

I think the argument against this behaviour for JavaFX "Prompt text should be cleared when focus is grabbed to signal readiness to receiving user input" is moot because focused text fields get a clearly visible focus ring, so the user knows that the control is ready to receive input even when the prompt text is displayed.

I think JavaFX should by default operate the same way as most HTML user agents in this respect. Feel free to create a Tweak request in the JavaFX issue tracker to request that the input prompt in JavaFX work similarly to HTML implementations (if there isn't an issue created for this already).


The third party Gluon Glisten has a custom TextField control can have the following attributes:

  • Float Text- A place holder text inside a TextField which is transitioned to the top of the TextField when focus is received by it.

The nice thing about the Glisten based TextField is that the prompt text is always visible, whether or not the user has typed anything into the control.

gluon rest

gluon active

12/5/2016 6:43:36 PM

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