How To Check If Canvas Is Empty

When using HTML5 canvas, a frequently asked question is how to verify if the canvas is blank. Unlike other HTML elements, canvas does not have an innerHTML property that can give immediate confirmation. Nonetheless, there are several techniques you can use to determine if a canvas is empty.

Understanding a Canvas

The HTML5 canvas is essentially a grid of pixels. The contents of the canvas are stored as color values in this grid. Therefore, to determine whether a canvas is empty, you need to check the color values of all its pixels.

Using getImageData Method

The getImageData method of the CanvasRenderingContext2D interface can be used to get the image data of the pixels in a canvas. This method returns an ImageData object representing the underlying pixel data for a portion of the canvas.

We can use this method to check all the pixels of the canvas and then determine if it is empty.

Here is an easy way to do it:

  function isCanvasEmpty(canvas) {
    var blank = document.createElement('canvas');
    blank.width = canvas.width;
    blank.height = canvas.height;

    return canvas.toDataURL() == blank.toDataURL();

In the function `isCanvasEmpty`, we compare the data URL of the current canvas with that of a fresh, blank canvas. If they match, the canvas is empty.

Using a Loop to Check Pixels

Another approach to determine if a canvas is empty is to loop through the pixel data. With this strategy, you iterate through the pixel data and check if each pixel’s RGBA values are all 0 (indicating a transparent pixel).

Here’s a function that does exactly that:

  function isCanvasEmpty(canvas) {
    var ctx = canvas.getContext('2d');
    var pixelBuffer = new Uint32Array(
      ctx.getImageData(0, 0, canvas.width, canvas.height).data.buffer

    for (var i = 0; i < pixelBuffer.length; i++) {
      if (pixelBuffer[i] !== 0) {
        return false;

    return true;

This function uses the same getImageData method to get the image data from the canvas. It then checks every pixel in the canvas. If it finds a pixel that isn’t transparent, it immediately returns false, indicating the canvas isn’t empty.


While there’s no built-in method to check if a canvas is empty, these two functions can do the job perfectly. Depending on your specific needs and the size of your canvas, you might prefer one over the other.