The simplest possible modal for jQuery
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A simple & lightweight method of displaying modal windows with jQuery.

You probably want a demo, don't you?

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" />

As of version 0.3.0, jQuery 1.7 is required. If you're using an earlier version of jQuery you can use the v.0.2.5 tag.


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.


You can also invoke modal() on links.

<a href="#ex5"> Open modal by getting the dom id from href</a>
<a href="ajax.html"> Open modal by making an AJAX call</a>

$(a).click(function(event) {

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 manually resize 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:

$.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.
  spinnerHtml: null,      // HTML appended to the default spinner during AJAX requests.
  showSpinner: true       // Enable/disable the default spinner during AJAX requests.


The following events are triggered on the modal element at various points in the open/close cycle (see below for AJAX events). Hopefully the names are self-explanatory.

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

$('#purchase-form').on($.modal.BEFORE_CLOSE, function(event, modal) {


Basic support

jQuery Modal uses $.get for basic AJAX support. A simple spinner will be displayed by default (if you've included modal.css) and will have the class modal-spinner. If you've set the modalClass option, the spinner will be prefixed with that class name instead.

You can add text or additional HTML to the spinner with the spinnerHtml option, or disable the spinner entirely by setting showSpinner: false.


The following events are triggered when AJAX modals are requested.

$.modal.AJAX_SEND = 'modal:ajax:send';
$.modal.AJAX_SUCCESS = 'modal:ajax:success';
$.modal.AJAX_FAIL = 'modal:ajax:fail';

The handlers receive no arguments. The events are triggered on the <a> element which initiated the AJAX modal.

More advanced AJAX handling

It's a good idea to provide more robust AJAX handling -- error handling, in particular. Instead of accommodating the myriad $.ajax options jQuery provides, jquery-modal makes it possible to directly modify the AJAX request itself.

Simply bypass the default AJAX handling (i.e.: don't use rel="modal")

<a href="ajax.html" rel="ajax:modal">Click me!</a>

and make your AJAX request in the link's click handler. Note that you need to manually append the new HTML/modal in the success callback:

$('a[rel="ajax:modal"]').click(function(event) {

    url: $(this).attr('href'),
    success: function(newHTML, textStatus, jqXHR) {
    error: function(jqXHR, textStatus, errorThrown) {
      // Handle AJAX errors
    // More AJAX customization goes here.

  return false;


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.