How to Save Data with Local Storage in React

January 26, 2020

As a library, React is great for displaying data on the front end. This data will not persist when the page refreshes however, so we will need to setup a data store of some kind. Modern web browsers allow us to store and retrieve strings of data using the browser’s built in setItem and getItem methods.

Store data in the browser

The setItem method on the localStorage object receives two arguments: name and content strings.

localStorage.setItem("message", "saved in browser storage");
// sets the value of "message" to be "saved in browser storage"

>> saved in browser storage

localstorage only works with strings, so we will need to convert more complex data into JSON or Javascript Object Notation. We can store arrays and objects in localStorage once they have been converted to string or JSON values.


Using these methods we can directly imitate more complicated or involved data stores such as a database. localStorage is local to your machine, so whatever data you save to the browser will not be visible to other users of your application. This doesn’t necessarily help us for building full production apps, but for learning and development it is a very useful.


In this tutorial, we will be building a basic note taking app which can add, delete, and edit notes. This app will give us some interesting cases for when and how we might use localStorage in React.

React Tutorial Start

To get started, we will make a new application with create-react-app. Make sure you have Node installed (if not download it).


To build the project files, type the following command in your terminal:

npx create-react-app note-taking-demo

Once our project is built we can do some quick cleanup of App.js so it looks like this:

import React, { useState, useEffect } from "react";
import "./App.css";

const App = () => {
  return (
    <div className="App">
      <h1>localStorage Demo</h1>

export default App;

You’ll notice we imported useState and useEffect at the top of this file. We will be using these hooks to store our state, and update the browser’s local storage. You can learn more in this Hooks basics tutorial.

Adding Notes

In order to add notes we will need:

  • an input box for the user to type in
  • submit button to add new notes
  • some methods which update our state

Form Inputs

In our return JSX we can add the following below our h1 tag:

<form onSubmit={addNote}>
  <input type="text" name="note" />
  <input type="Submit" />

Hooks and Methods

To get the inputs working, we will need to use the useState hook to store our notes along with creating the addNote function. Add the following state hooks to your App component just below the class declaration.

const [notes, setNotes] = useState([]);
const [noteEditing, setNoteEditing] = useState("");
  • notes: an array of our notes, each note will be an object
  • noteEditing: the id string of the note we are editing

Also add a addNote method below the hooks

const addNote = (e) => {
  const newNote = {
    id: Math.random().toString(36).substr(2, 9),
  setNotes([...notes, newNote]); = "";

This method wil be called by the onSubmit handler on our form. It will create a newNote object with an id and text properties. We can add this object to the current list of notes using the spread operator and Math.random. We then call setNotes to update our notes variable. We also reset the input after the submit logic has occured by setting to "".


We’ve now set up our adding notes functionality. You can start the server to test it out with the command

npm start

If you open the React devtools in your browser, you can see that the notes array in our application state stores our input data.

Displaying Notes

To show the data in browser, we can simply map the notes array from our state in our return jsx below our submit button:

{ => <div key={}>{note.text}</div> )

Deleting Notes

Before we set up localStorage it would also be nice to add some delete functionality for our notes. We can use the following method in our component to delete notes, based on their index:

const deleteNote = (idToDelete) => {
  const filteredNotes = notes.filter((note) => !== idToDelete);

In this method we filter the note with the index of idToDelete out of our notes array and save the result using the setNotes hook. We can also connect it to a button in our notes mapping inside our return method. Our new map statement will have an added button with an onClick that triggers our deleteNote function, passing in the index from the map function. Replace the map statement from earlier with:

{ => (
  <div key={}>
    <button onClick={() => deleteNote(}>delete</button>

Try out the application now, we are able to add and delete notes. This is a good time to use localStorage to store our notes array in the browser!

Saving and Loading Notes

Before we jump into the code lets look at a few methods we will be using in our localStorage calls:

  • JSON.parse converts JSON data from localStorage into a javscript variable
  • JSON.Stringify converts javascript variables we want to save into JSON
  • useEffect hook to trigger our save and load functions

Saving to localStorage

Each time a note is added or deleted, we would like to save our changes to the browser’s localStorage. We can do this by using the useEffect hook to compare our application’s previous state with its current state. Add the following lifecycle method below your state declaration:

useEffect(() => {
  const json = JSON.stringify(notes);
  localStorage.setItem("notes", json);
}, [notes]);

This hook will automatically run only when the notes variable in state changes. First we will turn our notes into a string with JSON.stringify, then we will use setItem to set the notes to their new value.

Loading from localStorage

Loading notes will be very similar. Any data that was persisted to the browser’s localStorage when we saved, needs to be loaded when the page refreshes. In order to achieve this, we can add another useEffect hook

useEffect(() => {
  const json = localStorage.getItem("notes");
  const savedNotes = JSON.parse(json);
  if (savedNotes) {
}, []);

Here the empty array [] we are passing as the second argument to our hook indicates that this function should only run on the first render of this component. This hook doesn’t run again after that because it is listening for no state variables to change. Inside the function, we are using getItem to retrieve the JSON notes data we stored. Next, we parse the data into a notes array variable. Lastly, we must check if there are any notes in the browser, as we only want to set the state if so.

Editing Notes

Editing notes is going to be slightly more tricky then adding or deleting notes. We need to display a text box for the user to edit the note in, and we should also add a button for the user to indicate when they are finished. Add the following submitEdits function to your component

const submitEdits = (event, idToEdit) => {
  const updatedNotes = => {
    if ( === idToEdit) {
      return {
    } else {
      return note;

This method will fire when the user clicks submit after editing a note. This will map the notes array, returning every note except the one to be updated, which it changes the text content of. The notes array will be updated with the setNotes hook, and setNoteEditing will be reset to "" since we are no longer editing once submitted.

Conditional Editing Form

For the display portion of our editing feature, we will be conditionally rendering an text area if the note is selected for edit, and the note otherwise. Replace our previous notes mapping from above with the following code:

{ => (
  <div key={}>
    { !== noteEditing ? (
      ) : (
      <form onSubmit={(e) => submitEdits(e,}>
        <textarea name="note" defaultValue={note.text}></textarea>
        <button type="Submit"> Submit Edits</button>
    <button onClick={() => deleteNote(}>delete</button>
    <button onClick={() => setNoteEditing(}>edit</button>

Here we call setNoteEditing when the edit button is clicked beside a note, passing in the event and index. This method will set noteEditing to be the note’s index which will display an input box instead of the note’s contents.

Adding Styles

Lastly, we can add some basic styles to round out the application. Add your own styles or replace the contents of App.css with the following:

.App {
  text-align: center;

We did it! localStorage is working, and we now have a fully featured note taking app that behaves very similarly to if it had been built with a database. The best part about localStorage is the code is very easy to reuse. As long as you have a variable to save and load you can copy the useState hooks from one project to the next, changing variable names and conditional logic. Understanding localStorage is also useful because many authentication methods utilize it to hold session tokens for login.

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