jQuery Horizontal Tooltips Menu Tutorials

Written by Kevin Liew on 21 Aug 2009
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Last week, we have gone through How to make a Lava Lamp Menu Tutorial, now, we're doing something a little bit similar - Tooltips menu.

You will need jQuery easing plugin for the animated transition. This is how it looks like:

Tooltips Menu


As usual, it's a good practise to use UL List for menu. For the menu images, you need to put the caption in the ALT attribute, because jQuery will look at the ALT for it.

For #box div, we're creating a self-expandable tooltips, the length of the tooltip will expand according to the size of the content. This is the chart to show how we're going to achieve it.

Create a self-expandable tooltips
<div id="menu">

<li><a href="#"><img src="user.png" width="32" height="32" alt="My Profile" title=""></a></li>
		<li><a href="#"><img src="photo.png" width="32" height="32" alt="Photo Gallery" title=""></a></li>
		<li><a href="#"><img src="bookmark.png" width="32" height="32" alt="Social Bookmarking Tools" title=""></a></li>

		<li><a href="#"><img src="rss.png" width="32" height="32" alt="RSS" title=""></a></li>
		<li><a href="#"><img src="search.png" width="32" height="32" alt="Search" title=""></a></li>		
		<li class="selected"><a href="#"><img src="setting.png" width="32" height="32" alt="Control Panel" title=""></a></li>

<!-- If you want to make it even simpler, you can append these html using jquery --><div id="box"><div class="head"></div></div>

2. CSS

I have added inline comment in the following CSS code. If you want to learn more about CSS, read my previous post 15 CSS Tips and Tricks.

	body {
	a {
	img {
	#menu {
		/* you must set it to relative, so that you can use absolute position for children elements */
	#menu ul {
		/* remove the list style and spaces*/
		/* position absolute so that z-index can be defined */
		/* center the menu, depend on the width of you menu*/
	#menu ul li {
		/* give some spaces between the list items */
		margin:0 5px; 
		/* display the list item in single row */
	#menu #box {
		/* position absolute so that z-index can be defined and able to move this item using javascript */

		/* image of the right rounded corner */
		background:url(tail.gif) no-repeat right center; 

		/* add padding 8px so that the tail would appear */
		/* set the box position manually */
	#menu #box .head {
		/* image of the left rounded corner */
		background:url(head.gif) no-repeat 0 0;
		/* force text display in one line */

		/* set the text position manually */

3. Javascript

Javascript is pretty straight forward, the calculation isn't that hard either. So, once it's executed, it does the following things:

  1. Calculate the left value
  2. Grab the default value from the selected item
  3. Set the left, top and the caption to the box

On mouse over:

  1. Calculate the left value
  2. Grab the current item caption
  3. Set the left, top and the caption to the box

On mouse leave:

  1. Calculate the left value
  2. Grab the default value from the selected item
  3. Set the left, top and the caption to the box
$(document).ready(function () {

	//for more transition, goto
	var style = 'easeOutExpo';
	var default_left = Math.round($('#menu li.selected').offset().left - $('#menu').offset().left);
	var default_top = $('#menu li.selected').height();

	//Set the default position and text for the tooltips
	$('#box').css({left: default_left, top: default_top});
	$('#box .head').html($('#menu li.selected').find('img').attr('alt'));				
	//if mouseover the menu item
	$('#menu li').hover(function () {
		//get the left pos	
		left = Math.round($(this).offset().left - $('#menu').offset().left);

		//Set it to current item position and text
		$('#box .head').html($(this).find('img').attr('alt'));
		$('#box').stop(false, true).animate({left: left},{duration:500, easing: style});	

	//if user click on the menu
	}).click(function () {
		//reset the selected item
		$('#menu li').removeClass('selected');	
		//select the current item

	//If the mouse leave the menu, reset the floating bar to the selected item
	$('#menu').mouseleave(function () {

		//get the left pos
		default_left = Math.round($('#menu li.selected').offset().left - $('#menu').offset().left);

		//Set it back to default position and text
		$('#box .head').html($('#menu li.selected').find('img').attr('alt'));				
		$('#box').stop(false, true).animate({left: default_left},{duration:1500, easing: style});	


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Henrique C├ęsar 6 years ago
Just one quick fix for people having trouble with IE (as i was)


left = Math.round($(this).offset().left - $('#menu').offset().left);


var left = Math.round($(this).offset().left - $('#menu').offset().left);
designer85 6 years ago
I'm doing this to a table and got it working but wanted to know the best way to add space between the images. I was able to do this by adding a defined width to each cell, but now the tooltip starts to the far left of the cell width which makes the pointer off. Is there a better way to do this or is there a way to tell the tooltip to point toward the center of the cell? Everything works fine with no width specified for the cells, but the images are way too close to each other. Any ideas?
Kevin Liew Admin 5 years ago
you can add margin-right or padding-right for more spaces.
patrioticcow 5 years ago
i am wondering how to add different text to each image... through appending a different <div> to each image...
any ideas?
dag 5 years ago
can it be used in multiple row because I get problem when the row is more than one. Th tool tip image does not move to the next row.
nyam 5 years ago
I have problems using it in multiple rows as the tooltip image does not move down (vertical position). Is it possible to move vertically?
Kevin Liew Admin 5 years ago
This is a horizontal menu, not meant to use it vertically. because it only assign left value. For top value, which I haven't tested it, should be like this:

left = Math.round($(this).offset().left - $('#menu').offset().left);
top = Math.round($(this).offset().top - $('#menu').offset().top);
Kha 5 years ago

Nice one!

But I have problems with selected link, when I add link to menu and clicking the next link the text go back again to same selected where is used the selected in HTML, but when I use Number sign # the selected works good,

Hover works good.

Sorry about my english

I have used it joomla 1.5

Could you help me please
radd 5 years ago
hi. can this work on the li or anchor tag instead of the img tag? i don't have images in the li's.
Kevin Liew Admin 5 years ago
Yes, it's possible. You will need to change all of these:


to, if you're using anchor


instead of looking for img, just look for the anchor tag title attribute.
Ed 5 years ago
Excellent stuff. I am a hopeless newbie to javascript but I managed to set this up and make it work.... sort of.

The problem is that the tooltip caption does not move to each specific image. When I hover over an image the tooltip indeed changes caption to display the correct alt attribute but the tooltip remain at the default selected class="selected" position defined on the li.

Please help
Ed 5 years ago
I have found why this does now work on my site. I have a JQuery Nivo Slider on my page and after some trial and error I have discovered that removing this code (which stops slider working) will allow this tooltip to work on my site.

<script type="text/javascript" src="scripts/jquery-1.4.3.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="jquery.nivo.slider.pack.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
$(window).load(function() {

Is there anything I can do to solve this problem. Many thanks in advance.
Kevin Liew Admin 5 years ago
maybe you've included jquery framework twice?
Ed 5 years ago
You are right my good man! Many thanks
yacahuma 4 years ago
I wish the code only display the tooltip while on mouse over. The way it is, the tooltip is always displayed, which is kind of weird.
Kundan 4 years ago
informative post.