Useful and Practical jQuery Image ToolTips Tutorial

Written by Kevin Liew on 25 Feb 2010
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Greeting, I haven't posted jQuery tutorial for quite a while now because I have been busy sketching and working on the redesign of Queness and other projects. Yep, something exciting is coming soon :)

Anyway, in this tutorial, we will learn how to create a thumbnail image tooltip with jQuery. It displays a tooltip image when user hover on the thumbnail with fadein and out effect. It's quite a useful script for your website. The following is a screenshot of the script, make sure you look at the demo to see the whole idea.


I have been thinking of using UL list, but then I think it's not really appropriate because it would be quite difficult to style. Therefore, we will be using a DIV instead. The following image depicts the structure of the html

The structure is pretty simple, a DIV.thumbnail-item has two children - the thumbnail image and the tooltip.

Inside the DIV.tooltip we have an image and SPAN.overlay. The SPAN.overlay has the png image as the background image and it's moved to the top of the image.

<div class="thumbnail-item">
	<a href="#"><img src="images/small1.jpg" class="thumbnail" /></a>
	<div class="tooltip">
		<img src="images/big1.jpg" alt="" width="330" height="185" />
		<span class="overlay"></span>

2. CSS

As usual, I have put comments on every important CSS styling. If you want to learn more about CSS, you can read my following post :)

.thumbnail-item { 
	/* position relative so that we can use position absolute for the tooltip */
	position: relative; 
	float: left;  
	margin: 0px 5px; 

.thumbnail-item a { 
	display: block; 

.thumbnail-item img.thumbnail {
	border:3px solid #ccc;	
.tooltip { 
	/* by default, hide it */
	display: none; 
	/* allow us to move the tooltip */
	position: absolute; 
	/* align the image properly */
	padding: 8px 0 0 8px; 

	.tooltip span.overlay { 
		/* the png image, need ie6 hack though */
		background: url(images/overlay.png) no-repeat; 
		/* put this overlay on the top of the tooltip image */
		position: absolute; 
		top: 0px; 
		left: 0px; 
		display: block; 
		width: 350px; 
		height: 200px;

3. Javascript

We will be using mouseenter, mousemove and mouseleave events in this tutorial.

  • Mouse Enter : Calculate the position of the tooltip based on the mouse pointer's axis. After that, set the z-index so that it has the highest z-index among the rest of the thumbnails and then set the position of the tooltip and display it.
  • Mouse Move : Everytime you move and hover on the top of the thumbnail, the script will calculate the position of the tooltip based on the mouse pointer's axis and update the tooltip position.
  • Mouse Leave : Reset the z-index and hide the tooltip
// Load this script once the document is ready
$(document).ready(function () {
	// Get all the thumbnail
	$('div.thumbnail-item').mouseenter(function(e) {

		// Calculate the position of the image tooltip
		x = e.pageX - $(this).offset().left;
		y = e.pageY - $(this).offset().top;

		// Set the z-index of the current item, 
		// make sure it's greater than the rest of thumbnail items
		// Set the position and display the image tooltip
		.css({'top': y + 10,'left': x + 20,'display':'block'});
	}).mousemove(function(e) {
		// Calculate the position of the image tooltip			
		x = e.pageX - $(this).offset().left;
		y = e.pageY - $(this).offset().top;
		// This line causes the tooltip will follow the mouse pointer
		$(this).children("div.tooltip").css({'top': y + 10,'left': x + 20});
	}).mouseleave(function() {
		// Reset the z-index and hide the image tooltip 
		.animate({"opacity": "hide"}, "fast");




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Leonard 4 years ago
This is not working on IE. but thanks, maybe we can Improve this :) Good Job!
Meisam - Iran 3 years ago
Hi, This is very useful for me. thank you so much.