Published Nov 12, 2023Updated Jan 3, 2024
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The useRef() hook in React is used to create mutable references to elements or values within functional components. It enables direct access and interaction with DOM elements, allowing the persistence of data across renders without triggering re-renders.


In the useRef() hook, the initialValue is an optional parameter that can be provided when creating a new ref object.

initialValue allows the initialization of the .current property of the ref object with an initial value.

This hook can be utilized as follows :

import React, { useRef } from 'react';

const myRef = useRef(initialValue);

When useRef() is called, it returns a ref object, and this ref object has a .current property.

If no initialValue is provided, myRef.current will be null by default.

Example 1

In this example, the useRef() hook is used to store the previous value of the count state, allowing the display of the current and previous count values without triggering re-renders.

import React, { useState, useRef, useEffect } from 'react';
function PreviousValue() {
const [count, setCount] = useState(0);
const prevCountRef = useRef();
useEffect(() => {
prevCountRef.current = count;
return (
<p>Current Count: {count}</p>
<p>Previous Count: {prevCountRef.current}</p>
<button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Increment</button>

In the code example, useRef is used to create the prevCountRef reference to store and access the previous value of the count state variable.

To store the previous count value in a state variable (using useState()), each time the Increment button is clicked and the count changes, it would trigger a re-render. Because changing state variables causes components to re-render.

There is no need to re-render the component just to track the previous value; it’s only necessary to update the value without causing a re-render. So the useRef() hook is used.

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