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A jQuery plugin that creates hover tooltips.
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jQuery PowerTip

A jQuery plugin that creates hover tooltips.


PowerTip features a very flexible design that is easy to customize, gives you a number of different ways to use the tooltips and supports adding complex data to tooltips. It is being actively developed and maintained, and provides a very fluid user experience.

Unique Features

  • Checks for hover intent

    Testing for hover intent makes it so that tooltips don't open the moment your mouse happens to cross an element with a tooltip. Users have to hover over the element for a moment before the tooltip will open. This provides a much smoother user experience.

  • Tooltip queuing

    The tooltip queue makes it a fundamental rule of the system that there will only ever be one tooltip visible on the screen. When the user moves their cursor to another element with a tooltip, the last tooltip will close gracefully before the next tooltip opens.


  • Straightforward implementation
  • Simple configuration
  • Supports static tooltips as well as tooltips that follow the mouse
  • Ability to let users mouse on to the tooltips and interact with their content
  • Mouse follow tooltips are constrained to the browser viewport
  • Easy customization
  • Works with keyboard navigation
  • Smooth fade-ins and fade-outs
  • Smart placement that (when enabled) will try to keep tooltips inside of the view port
  • Multiple instances
  • Works on any type of element
  • Supports complex content (markup with behavior & events)
  • Small footprint (only 6kb minified)
  • Actively maintained


  • jQuery 1.7 or later


Design Goals

  • Tooltips that behave like they would in desktop applications

    Tooltips should not flicker or be difficult to interact with. Only one tooltip should be visible on the screen at a time. When the cursor moves to another item with a tooltip then the last tooltip should close gracefully before the new one opens.

  • Fade-in and fade-out

    The tooltips will have smooth fade-in and out cycles instead of abruptly appearing a disappearing. The fade effects will not conflict with any other effects in the document.

  • Check for hover intent

    Tooltips should not suddenly appear as soon as your mouse happens to cross the object. They should only open when the cursor hovers over an element for a moment indicating that the user is actively focused on that element.

  • Support multiple instances

    Have various kinds of tooltips in one document, each with their own settings and content, even with different tooltip divs and styling. All while still preserving the one-tooltip rule and behaving like one instance.

  • Totally portable

    The plugin does not require any other plugins or extensions to function. There will be no dependencies other than the core jQuery library. The plugin does not require any images, all layout will be entirely CSS based.

  • Easy to use

    Despite all of the complexity involved (timers, animations, multiple instances) the plugin will be dead simple to use, requiring little to no configuration to get running.

  • Easy to customize

    Tooltip layout and functionality should be simple to modify for your own personal touch. Layout should be done entirely with CSS and the plugin will not attach any inline styles other than to control visibility and positioning.


Running the plugin is about as standard as it gets.


Where options is an object with the various settings you want to override (all defined below).

For example, if you want to attach tootips to all elements with the "info" class, and have those tooltip appear above and to the right of those elements you would use the following code:

    placement: 'ne' // north-east tooltip position

Setting tooltip content

Generally, if your tooltips are just plain text then you probably want to set your tooltip text with the HTML title attribute on the elements themselves. This approach is very intuitive and backwards compatible. But there are several ways to specify the content.

Title attribute

The simplest method, as well as the only one that will continue to work for users who have JavaScript disabled in their browsers.

<a href="/some/link" title="This will be the tooltip text.">Some Link</a>


Basically the same as setting the title attribute, but using an HTML5 data attribute. You can set this in the markup or with JavaScript at any time. It only accepts a simple string, but that string can contain markup.

$('#element').data('powertip', 'This will be the <b>tooltip text</b>.');


<a href="/some/link" data-powertip="This will be the &lt;b&gt;tooltip text&lt;/b&gt;.">Some Link</a>


This is a data interface that will accept a jQuery object. You can create a jQuery object containing complex markup (and even events) and attach it to the element via jQuery's .data() method at any time.

var tooltip = $('<div>This will be the tooltip text. It even has an onclick event!</div>');
tooltip.on('click', function() { /* ... */ });

$('#element').data('powertipjq', tooltip);


You can specify the ID of an element in the DOM to pull the content from. PowerTip will replicate the markup of that element in the tooltip without modifying or destroying the original.

<div id="myToolTip">
    <p><b>Some Title</b></p>
    <p>This will be the tooltip text.</p>
    <p><a href="#">This link will be in the tooltip as well.</a></p>
$('#element').data('powertiptarget', 'myToolTip');


The tooltip behavior is determined by a series of options that you can override. You can pass the options as an object directly to the plugin as an argument when you call it. For example:

    option1: 'value',
    option2: 'value',
    option3: 'value'

The settings will only apply to those tooltips matched in the selector. This means that you can have different sets of tooltips on the same page with different options. For example:

$('.tips').powerTip(/** options for regular tooltips **/);

$('.specialTips').powerTip(/** options for special tooltips **/);

You can change the default options for all tooltips by setting their values in the $.fn.powerTip.defaults object before you call powerTip(). For example:

// change the default tooltip placement to south
$.fn.powerTip.defaults.placement = 's';

$('.tips').powerTip(); // these tips will appear underneath the element

Of course those defaults will be overridden with any options you pass directly to the powerTip() call.

List of options

Name Default Type Description
followMouse false Boolean If set to true the tooltip will follow the users mouse cursor.
mouseOnToPopup false Boolean Allow the mouse to hover on the tooltip. This lets users interact with the content in the tooltip. Only works if followMouse is set to false.
placement 'n' String Placement location of the tooltip relative to the element it is open for. Values can be n, e, s, w, nw, ne, sw, or se (as in north, east, south, and west). This only matters if followMouse is set to false.
smartPlacement false Boolean When enabled the plugin will try to keep tips inside the browser view port. If a tooltip would extend outside of the view port then its placement will be changed to an orientation that would be entirely within the current view port. Only applies if followMouse is set to false.
popupId 'powerTip' String HTML id attribute for the tooltip div.
offset 10 Number Pixel offset of the tooltip. This will be the offset from the element the tooltip is open for, or from from mouse cursor if followMouse is true.
fadeInTime 200 Number Tooltip fade-in time in milliseconds.
fadeOutTime 100 Number Tooltip fade-out time in milliseconds.
closeDelay 100 Number Time in milliseconds to wait after mouse cursor leaves the element before closing the tooltip.
intentPollInterval 100 Number Hover intent polling interval in milliseconds.
intentSensitivity 7 Number Hover intent sensitivity. The tooltip will not open unless the number of pixels the mouse has moved within the intentPollInterval is less than this value. These default values mean that if the mouse cursor has moved 7 or more pixels in 100 milliseconds the tooltip will not open.


There are times when you may need to open or close a tooltip manually. To make this possible PowerTip exposes a couple of API methods on the $.powerTip object.

Method Description
showTip(element) This function will force the tooltip for the specified element to open. You pass it a jQuery object with the element that you want to show the tooltip for. If the jQuery object you pass to this function has more than one matched elements then only the first element will show its tooltip.
closeTip() Closes any open tooltip. You do not need to specify which tooltip you would like to close (because there can be only one).


// run powertip on submit button

// open tooltip for submit button

// close (any open) tooltip


  • Remember that one of the rules for PowerTip is that only one tooltip will be visible at a time, so any open tooltips will be closed before a new tooltip is shown.
  • Forcing a tooltip to open via the showTip() method does not disable the normal hover tooltips for any other elements. If the user moves their cursor to another element with a tooltip after you call showTip() then the tooltip you opened will be closed so that the tooltip for the user's current hover target can open.

PowerTip Events

PowerTip will trigger several events during operation that you can bind custom code to. These events make it much easier to extend the plugin and work with tooltips during their life cycle. Using events should not be needed in most cases, they are provided for developers who need a deeper level of integration with the tooltip system.

List of events

Event Name Description
powerTipPreRender The pre-render event happens before PowerTip fills the content of the tooltip. This is a good opportunity to set the tooltip content data (e.g. data-powertip, data-powertipjq).
powerTipRender Render happens after the content has been placed into the tooltip, but before the tooltip has been displayed. Here you can modify the tooltip content manually or attach events.
powerTipOpen This happens after the tooltip has completed its fade-in cycle and is fully open. You might want to use this event to do animations or add other bits of visual sugar.
powerTipClose Occurs after the tooltip has completed its fade-out cycle and fully closed, but the tooltip content is still in place. This event is useful do doing cleanup work after the user is done with the tooltip.

Using events

You can use these events by binding to them on the element(s) that you ran powerTip() on, the recommended way to do that is with the jQuery on() method. For example:

    powerTipPreRender: function() {
        console.log('powerTipRender', this);

        // generate some dynamic content
        $(this).data('data-powertip' , '<h3 class="title">Default title</h3><p>Default content</p>');
    powerTipRender: function() {
        console.log('powerTipRender', this);

        // change some content dynamically
        $('#powerTip').find('.title').text('This is a dynamic title.').
    powerTipOpen: function() {
        console.log('powerTipOpen', this);

        // animate something when the tooltip opens
        $('#powerTip').find('.title').animate({ opacity: .1 }, 1000).animate({ opacity: 1 }, 1000);
    powerTipClose: function() {
        console.log('powerTipClose', this);

        // cleanup the animation
        $('#powerTip').find('.title').stop(true, true);

The context (the this keyword) of these functions will be the element that the tooltip is open for.

About smart placement

Smart placement is a feature that will attempt to keep non-mouse-follow tooltips within the browser view port. When it is enabled PowerTip will automatically change the placement of any tooltip that would appear outside of the view port, such as a tooltip that would push outside the left or right bounds of the window, or a tooltip that would be hidden below the fold.

Without smart placement:

Example without smart placement

With smart placement:

Example with smart placement

It does this by detecting that a tooltip would appear outside of the view port, then trying a series of other placement options until it finds one that isn't going to be outside of the view port. You can define the placement fall backs and priorities yourself by overriding them in the $.fn.powerTip.smartPlacementLists object.

These are the default smart placement priority lists:

$.fn.powerTip.smartPlacementLists = {
    n: ['n', 'ne', 'nw', 's'],
    e: ['e', 'ne', 'se', 'w', 'nw', 'sw', 'n', 's', 'e'],
    s: ['s', 'se', 'sw', 'n'],
    w: ['w', 'nw', 'sw', 'e', 'ne', 'se', 'n', 's', 'w'],
    nw: ['nw', 'w', 'sw', 'n', 's', 'se', 'nw'],
    ne: ['ne', 'e', 'se', 'n', 's', 'sw', 'ne'],
    sw: ['sw', 'w', 'nw', 's', 'n', 'ne', 'sw'],
    se: ['se', 'e', 'ne', 's', 'n', 'nw', 'se']

As you can see, each placement option has an array of placement options that it can fall back on. The first item in the array is the highest priority placement, the last is the lowest priority. The last item in the array is also the default. If none of the placement options can be fully displayed within the view port then the last item in the array is the placement used to show the tooltip.

You can override these default placement priority lists before you call powerTip() and define your own smart placement fall back order. Like so:

// define custom smart placement order
$.fn.powerTip.smartPlacementLists.n = ['n', 's', 'e', 'w'];

// these tips will use the custom 'north' smart placement list
    placement: 'n',
    smartPlacement: true

Smart placement is disabled by default because I believe that the world would be a better place if features that override explicit configuration values were disabled by default.

Change Log

v1.1.0 - August 8, 2012

  • Added smart placement feature.
  • Added API with showTip() and closeTip() methods.
  • Added custom events.
  • Added support for keyboard navigation.
  • Added support for jsFiddle.
  • Fixed mouse-follow constraint.

v1.0.4 - July 31, 2012

  • Fixed problems with Internet Explorer 8.

v1.0.3 - July 31, 2012

  • Added mouse position tracking to scroll events.
  • Fixed rare issue that would make fixed placement tooltips follow the mouse.

v1.0.2 - July 26, 2012

  • Added placement class to tooltip element.
  • Added CSS arrows to tooltips.
  • Add nw, ne, sw, and sw placement options.
  • Changed default closeDelay to 100ms.
  • Changed default fadeOutTime to 100ms.
  • Changed default placement to north.
  • Fixed error when there is no tooltip content.
  • Fixed rare error when moused entered a tooltip during its fadeOut cycle.

v1.0.1 - July 11, 2012

  • Fixed rare issue that caused tooltips to become desynced.

v1.0.0 - July 1, 2012

  • Initial release.

Similar Projects

There are many other great JavaScript tooltip projects that are worth taking a look at and may better suit your needs. Here is a list of some of my favorite jQuery tooltip plugins:


(This project is released under the MIT license.)

Copyright (c) 2012 Steven Benner,

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.


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