Detect the current CSS3 media query rule with Javascript

  • CSS
  • Javascript

Ever needed to test some Javascript code that only is supposed to be triggered when in “mobile” view in a responsive layout ? Or to detect if we're in portrait or landscape mode, but always based on the CSS media queries ?

Here's a Quick'n'Dirty® trick to get the job done.


  • You are using CSS3 media queries to adapt your layout and design to the screen resolution and want your Javascript to follow these CSS rules.
  • You have some kind of generic classes (like hide-on-tablet, show-on-phone, portrait-view, etc) to easily toggle the display of certain elements in your page (many CSS responsive grids provide these).


Just insert the following HTML at the very end of the <body>:

<span id="mobile-layout-switch" class="show-on-phone"></span>

This can be adapted with any class, obviously.

Now, for the above example, when we're in “mobile” layout, this little fellow will get a display: block; setting. When in any other mode, it gets a display: none;.

This is won't mess up our design, because the span is empty and won't take up any space.

Now, in Javascript, we can very easily detect in wich view we are by detecting the display of our span. Using jQuery:

if ($('#mobile-layout-switch').css('display') === 'block') {
  // We're in mobile view !

Tadah ! We can now easily detect what mode we're in, and it will always match our CSS rules. This is much faster and much easier than detecting the screen size and aspect ratio. Plus, it will scale with your CSS rules.

An added bonus to this is that it's much easier to test our Javascript in our desktop browser when developing: just resize the window.

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