How do add a checkbox to items in a JList?

Java, Swing, Tip 30.6.2015 1 Comment

We often get asked about how to implement a list of checkboxes using Swing. Using a JList filled with JCheckbox’s seems the obvious solution, however JList does not support cell editors so this does not work.

One possible solutions is to use a single column JTable and store boolean’s as the cell value (the default editor used by a JTable for booleans is a JCheckbox). (Let us know if you would like to see an example)

The other solution is to use a JList with a few customisations to make it work as required. We basically need to add 3 things:

  1. Use a JCheckbox as the list cell renderer
  2. Use a MouseListener to change the state of the list item when clicked
  3. Ensure you list items have a property that indicates whether they are selected
package com.learnjava.swing;

import java.awt.Component;
import java.awt.event.MouseAdapter;
import java.awt.event.MouseEvent;

import javax.swing.JCheckBox;
import javax.swing.JFrame;
import javax.swing.JList;
import javax.swing.JScrollPane;
import javax.swing.ListCellRenderer;
import javax.swing.ListSelectionModel;

public class CheckboxList {

	public static void main(String args[]) {
		JFrame frame = new JFrame();

		// Create a list containing CheckboxListItem's

		JList<CheckboxListItem> list = new JList<CheckboxListItem>(
				new CheckboxListItem[] { new CheckboxListItem("apple"),
						new CheckboxListItem("orange"),
						new CheckboxListItem("mango"),
						new CheckboxListItem("paw paw"),
						new CheckboxListItem("banana") });

		// Use a CheckboxListRenderer (see below)
		// to renderer list cells

		list.setCellRenderer(new CheckboxListRenderer());

		// Add a mouse listener to handle changing selection

		list.addMouseListener(new MouseAdapter() {
			public void mouseClicked(MouseEvent event) {
				JList<CheckboxListItem> list =
					(JList<CheckboxListItem>) event.getSource();

				// Get index of item clicked

				int index = list.locationToIndex(event.getPoint());
				CheckboxListItem item = (CheckboxListItem) list.getModel()

				// Toggle selected state


				// Repaint cell

				list.repaint(list.getCellBounds(index, index));

		frame.getContentPane().add(new JScrollPane(list));

// Represents items in the list that can be selected

class CheckboxListItem {
	private String label;
	private boolean isSelected = false;

	public CheckboxListItem(String label) {
		this.label = label;

	public boolean isSelected() {
		return isSelected;

	public void setSelected(boolean isSelected) {
		this.isSelected = isSelected;

	public String toString() {
		return label;

// Handles rendering cells in the list using a check box

class CheckboxListRenderer extends JCheckBox implements
		ListCellRenderer<CheckboxListItem> {

	public Component getListCellRendererComponent(
			JList<? extends CheckboxListItem> list, CheckboxListItem value,
			int index, boolean isSelected, boolean cellHasFocus) {
		return this;

One Response to “How do add a checkbox to items in a JList?”

  1. Douglas V. Pasqua

    Thanks for the solution example!

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