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A responsive image polyfill for <picture>, srcset, sizes, and more
JavaScript HTML CSS
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A Responsive Images approach that you can use today, that mimics the proposed picture element using divs, for safety sake.

  • Author: Scott Jehl (c) 2012
  • License: MIT/GPLv2

Demo URL:

Note: Picturefill works best in browsers that support CSS3 media queries. It includes (externally) the matchMedia polyfill which makes matchMedia work in media-query-supporting browsers that don't have matchMedia, or at least allows media types to be tested in most any browser. matchMedia and the matchMedia polyfill are not required for picturefill to work, but they are required to support the media attributes on picture source elements.

Size and delivery

Currently, picturefill.js compresses to around 498bytes (~0.5kb), after minify and gzip. To minify, you might try these online tools: [Uglify]:(, [Yahoo Compressor]:(, or Closure Compiler. Serve with gzip compression.

Markup pattern and explanation

Mark up your responsive images like this. The data-media attribute on each div[data-src] element accepts and and all CSS3 media queries, such as min or max width, or even min-device-pixel-ratio for HD (retina) displays.

    <div data-picture data-alt="A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia">
        <div data-src="small.jpg"></div>
        <div data-src="medium.jpg" data-media="(min-width: 400px)"></div>
        <div data-src="large.jpg" data-media="(min-width: 800px)"></div>
        <div data-src="extralarge.jpg" data-media="(min-width: 1000px)"></div>

        <!-- Fallback content for non-JS browsers. Same img src as the initial, unqualified source element. -->
        <noscript><img src="external/imgs/small.jpg" alt="A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia"></noscript>


Notes on the markup above...

  • The div[data-picture] element's alt attribute is used as alternate text for the generated img element.
  • The div[data-picture] element can have any number of source elements. The above example may contain more than the average situation would call for.
  • Each div[data-src] element must have a data-src attribute specifying the image path.
  • It's generally a good idea to include one source element with no media qualifier, so it'll apply everywhere.
  • Each data-src element can have an optional media attribute to make it apply in different media settings. Both media types and queries can be used, like any media attribute, but support for media queries depends on the browser (unsupporting browsers fail silently).
  • The matchMedia polyfill (included in /external) is necessary to support the media attribute across browsers, even in browsers that support media queries, although it is becoming more widely supported in new browsers.
  • The noscript element wraps the fallback image for non-JavaScript environments, and including this wrapper prevents browsers from fetching the fallback image during page load (causing unnecessary overhead). Generally, it's a good idea to reference a small image here, as it's likely to be loaded in older/underpowered mobile devices.


Picturefill supports a broad range of browsers and devices (there are currently no known unsupported browsers), provided that you stick with the markup conventions provided.

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