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Mobile First Approach with SASS
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Mobile First Approach with SASS

Anyone who has used the Mobile First approach to build a website has discovered, sooner or later, that IE prior to 9 serve the mobile version. This is because IE < 9 ignores everything inside the @media-query blocks.

There are already a number of solutions for this problem, such as:

Jake Archibald
Jeremy Keith

I came up with my own solution which is based on what Jake suggests.

The problem I found with Jake's solution is that you need to have a mixin for min-width and a mixin for max-width. I wanted one mixin where I could define my media query however I wanted.

So here's my solution:

File Structure:




<!--[if lte IE 8]>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="path/oldie.css">
<!--[if gt IE 8]><!-->
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="path/all.css">


@import '_utils';
@import '_global';


$old-ie: true;
$mq-ie: desk;

@import 'all';


// Here we define that by default our users are not using an old browser
// The use of !default allow us to override this variable before this point
$old-ie: false !default;

// Here we define some breakpoints - This can be whatever you want/need
$desk-start: 1000px !default;

// This is where the magic happens
// Our media-query mixin takes one argument, which is the media-query type
@mixin media-query($media-query) {

    // If $old-ie is false, carry on...
    @if $old-ie == false {

        // Here we check for the argument we passed when we included the media query
        // If our argument is 'mobile', then go ahead and create our media query
        // The media query can be anything you want.
        @if $media-query == mobile {
            @media only screen and (max-width: $desk-start) {

        // If our argument is 'desk', then go ahead and create our media query for desktop
        @if $media-query == desk {
            @media only screen and (min-width: $desk-start) {


        // If our argument is 'print', we can also set a print media query. win!
        @if $media-query == print {
            @media print {

    // Now, if $mq-ie ($mq-ie is defined in oldie.scss) is the same as what we passed
    // Then go ahead and use that block of code.
    // On all.scss we defined $mq-ie as equals to 'desk', so basically what this is doing is
    // Checking for every include of the media-query mixin that uses 'desk' as the argument
    // And using this code as default
    @else if $mq-ie == $media-query {

_global.scss (example)

* { margin: 0; padding: 0; }

body {
    background: #737E8C;
    color: #ffffff;
    font-size: 20px;
    line-height: 26px;
    padding: 60px 0 0;

    // This is an example of how to use the media-query mixin
    // Styles in this declaration will only show on desktop
    @include media-query(desk) {
        background: #8C7D73;


a {
    color: #333333;
    font-weight: bold;

p {
    display: block;
    clear: both;
    padding: 60px 15%;
    text-align: center;

.code-sample {
    margin: 3%;

    @include media-query(desk) {
        float: left;
        width: 47%;
        margin: 0 1.5%;

pre {
    background: #999999;
    font-size: 16px;
    padding: 0 0 0 20px;

I also created a Demo page so you can see it in action.

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