CSS3 Background Size

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This specifies the size of the background within an element.



The default value is background-size: auto auto, which tells the browser to keep the original size of the image.

As with other CSS properties, we can set the width and height simultaneously: background-size: auto.

cover and contain

The key word cover tells the browser to cover the whole area of an element. contain, on the other hand, tells the browser to show the whole image.

background-size: cover/contain

background-size: cover is typically used to make sure an image covers the whole website background – see an example at alistapart.com/d/supersize-that-background-please/index3.html

background-size: contain is typically used when placing an icon as the background of an element that resizes according to various screen resolutions and when you want to use double or triple the size of an image for high-resolution displays. See studiopress.com/design/css-background-size-graphics.htm

Tip: If you intend to work with icons this way, consider using a vector solution (SVG or font icons). css-tricks.com/icon-fonts-vs-svg/.

Size in px or Percentage

The vertical_size and horizontal_size values can be defined in standard CSS units: px, em etc.

When using percentage, the values are relative to the width or height of the element to which the property is applied. For example, stretching a gradient background to the full width and one-half of the height of an element would look like this:

  linear-gradient(to bottom, transparent, black)
  no-repeat bottom;

Take a look at a live example at cdpn.io/e/cmpjE.

And do not forget that background width and height are based on how the background-origin property is set. Thus, by default the padding-box and background-size properties are calculated either from the inner edge or from the content of the element.

Multiple Background Images

If you are using multiple background images, simply use a comma-separated list of values:

background-size: 50% auto, auto;

Browser Support

The background-size property is supported by all contemporary browsers except IE8. See caniuse.com/background-img-opts.

background-size in IE8

There is no universal solution to this problem, however, depending on the particular situation, you can choose from one of four approaches:

Do nothing. If you choose the image well, you will not have to bother with the fact that it will not be resized in IE8 and lower. This does not apply to all situations.

Detect properties and supply the browser with alternative styles using Modernizr: .no-backgroundsize .element { … }.

Use the filter parameter. This can be only used if the background image has equal aspect ratio and if it’s the same size or larger than the parent element:

.element {
  background-size: contain;
  filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader(
    src='images/image.jpg', sizingMethod='scale');

Use a polyfill. Just be careful - the polyfill is using .htc files so it may lower the website’s performance. See github.com/louisremi/background-size-polyfill.




On today’s frontend UI development

UI development transformations

Tools, technologies and workflows

Fallback strategies

CSS3 reference guide


Text properties

Background properties

Border properties

Box properties

Media Queries

CSS transforms

CSS animations

CSS3 Layout

Another CSS3 Properties

Non-standard properties



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