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shift() in JavaScript – How to Remove First Array Element

Whenever you use shift() on an array, the method does the following:

  1. It removes its calling array's first item.
  2. It returns the removed item.
note

A calling array is an array on which you used shift(). So, in bestColorsList.shift(), bestColorsList is the calling array.

Syntax of the shift() Method

shift() accepts no argument. Here is the syntax:

callingArray.shift();

Example 1: Remove an Array's First Item

const numbersArray = [1, 2, 3, 4];

console.log(numbersArray.shift());

// The invocation above will return: 1

// Check the numbersArray's current content:
console.log(numbersArray);

// The invocation above will return:
[2, 3, 4];

Try it on StackBlitz

You can see that shift() removed and returned numbersArray's first item (1).

Also, note that shift() changed the original array's length.

Example 2: Remove an Array's First Item

const fruitsArray = ["Mango", "Apple", "Orange"];
const removedFruit = fruitsArray.shift();

console.log(removedFruit); // returns "Mango"
console.log(fruitsArray); // returns ["Apple", "Orange"]

Try it on StackBlitz

The snippet above used shift() to shift away fruitsArray's first item.

note
  • To remove an array's last item, use pop().
  • To remove an item at a specific index position, use the splice() method.

Overview

This article discussed what JavaScript's shift() method does. We also used examples to see how it works.