Compare Lightbox, Shadowbox, Slimbox and many more JavaScript pop up windows

So you want to add a JavaScript pop up window effect to your website, but which one do you choose? There are many different modal window pop ups which have different levels of functionality. Some only support the display of single images while others support the display of image sets, movies, flash files, iframes and inline elements. In this post we’ll go through a few things you should consider when deciding which JavaScript modal pop up window script to use.

In a nutshell these pop up windows all use JavaScript along with some stylish CSS to animate a pop up window effect when a user clicks on a certain link on your website. The most popular use of these pop up effects is for displaying images (e.g. Lightbox 2)  but it’s also becoming more popular to use this effect on videos and inline divs on your page. So what do we need to be aware of when choosing a pop up script to use on our website?

JavaScript Library

Different pop up window scripts use different JavaScript libraries including jQuery, MooTools, Prototype and YUI. If you are already using the MooTools library on your website then you would best stick with a pop up that also uses MooTools (e.g. MultiBox). Shadowbox is quite flexible as it actually allows you to choose the library you would like to use.

File Size

The file size of the JavaScript files is also important as you don’t want your pop up windows to slow down your website. You should aim for a small file size to minimize the load on your server. Litebox is one pop up option that aims to minimise file size.


The most basic feature of a pop up is to display an image and there are many that do this well while maintaining a small file size. But some of you may need to group images into sets, display inline elements, display iframes, fetch content via Ajax, display flash or even display video. So you will need to find a pop up script that supports the features you are looking for. Shadowbox and Multibox support all of these features for those of you that need them all.

Compare them all!

Hopefully you now have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for, now it’s time to choose one. Compare over 50 different JavaScript pop up window scripts and find the one that suits you. Have fun!

Adham Dannaway

Web Designer and Front End Developer with a passion for web design, coding, blogging, WordPress and chewing gum. Check out my web design portfolio and follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

  1. Will on February 14, 2010

    This is awesome! It helps me lots! Thanks man!

  2. DaveJuno on March 7, 2010

    I have been looking for a sexy popup for some time and Multibox is the closest I have seen. In your view what is the Macdaddy of the popup world in terms of the visual and the function?

  3. Cre8ive Commando on March 8, 2010

    Yeh, Multibox is great as it has a high level of functionality, looks great and is also quite a low file size.

    I think Shadowbox is also a very good option as it has everything Multibox does however it is customizable to the point where you can choose the functionality you want as well as the Javascript library you want to use. (The file size is higher though).

    All in all I don’t really think it really matters too much which one you use as long as you get what you need out of it. You can always customise the style of your popup window anyway to pimp it out. 😀

  4. Chris Roane on March 18, 2010

    This is a great find. Thanks for sharing this link. I will have to take a look.

    I personally am a big fan of JQuery.

  5. Tanveer Hayat on August 4, 2010

    hey adham, I always face issues, using prototype.js in light box or multibox with the other JS scripts used on the same page. It works fine without prototype.js (thickbox). Any solution ?

  6. Wordpress Web Design on May 25, 2011

    Great post, it’s a really valuable read!
    Thanks for sharing.


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