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A simple & lightweight method of displaying modal windows with jQuery.

Why another modal plugin?

Most plugins I've found try to do too much, and have specialized ways of handling photo galleries, iframes and video. The resulting HTML & CSS is often bloated and difficult to customize.

By contrast, this plugin handles the two most common scenarios I run into

  • displaying an existing DOM element
  • loading a page with AJAX

and does so with as little HTML & CSS as possible.


Include jQuery and jquery.modal.min.js scripts:

<script src="jquery.min.js" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script>
<script src="jquery.modal.min.js" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script>

Include the jquery.modal.css stylesheet:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="jquery.modal.css" type="text/css" media="screen" />


Method 1: Manually

Basic usage is to embed your modal's HTML (with the 'modal' class) directly into the document.

<form id="login-form" class="modal">

and then invoke modal() on the element.


Method 2: Automatically attaching to links

An even simpler way is to add rel="modal:open" to links. When the link is clicked, the link's href is loaded into a modal.

Open an existing DOM element:

<a href="#login-form" rel="modal:open">Login</a>

Load a remote URL with AJAX:

<a href="login.html" rel="modal:open">Login</a>

You should apply a width to all your modal elements using normal CSS.

#login-form.modal { width: 400px; }

The modal doesn't have a fixed height, and thus will expand & contract vertically to fit the content.


Because there can be only one modal active at a single time, there's no need to select which modal to close:


TODO: this should be changed so that when called on a specific element, the element is returned (normal jQuery fashion).

Similar to how links can be automatically bound to open modals, they can be bound to close modals using rel="modal:close":

<a href="#close" rel="modal:close">Close window</a>

(Note that modals loaded with AJAX are removed from the DOM when closed).


There's really no need to modals, since the default styles don't specify a fixed height; modals will expand vertically (like a normal HTML element) to fit their contents.

However, when this occurs, you will probably want to at least re-center the modal in the viewport:



These are the supported options and their default values:

$.fn.modal.defaults = {
  overlay: "#000",        // Overlay color
  opacity: 0.75,          // Overlay opacity
  zIndex: 1,              // Overlay z-index.
  escapeClose: true,      // Allows the user to close the modal by pressing `ESC`
  clickClose: true,       // Allows the user to close the modal by clicking the overlay
  closeText: 'Close',     // Text content for the close <a> tag.
  showClose: true         // Shows a (X) icon/link in the top-right corner
  modalClass: "modal",    // CSS class added to the element being displayed in the modal.


The following events are triggered on the modal element at various points in the open/close cycle. Hopefully the names are self-explanatory.

$.fn.modal.BEFORE_BLOCK = 'modal:before-block';
$.fn.modal.BLOCK = 'modal:block';
$.fn.modal.BEFORE_OPEN = 'modal:before-open';
$.fn.modal.OPEN = 'modal:open';
$.fn.modal.BEFORE_CLOSE = 'modal:before-close';
$.fn.modal.CLOSE = 'modal:close';

The first and only argument passed to these event handlers is the modal object, which has three properties:

modal.elm;        // Original jQuery object upon which modal() was invoked.
modal.options;    // Options passed to the modal.
modal.blocker;    // The overlay element.

So, you could do something like this:

$('#purchase-form').bind('modal:before-close', function(event, modal) {


I would love help improving this plugin, particularly with:

  • Performance improvements
  • Making the code as concise/efficient as possible
  • Bug fixes & browser compatibility

Please fork and send pull requests, or create an issue.