Create Pop-up Windows in Your WordPress Blog with Thickbox

One simple way of enabling pop-up windows right from your WordPress posts, is by using the Thickbox javascript library that comes with WordPress.

You can link the pop-up window to a HTML input element such as a button, or you can simply link the pop-up window to a HTML hyperlink. Below we show examples of both –

How to Add Pop-up Windows to Your WordPress Posts

Step 1

You need to add thickbox to your WordPress post. You can do this by adding the add_thickbox function to the ‘init’ function of your theme. In particular, add the code below to your theme functions.php file.

add_action('init', 'init_theme_method');

function init_theme_method() {

Step 2

Now we can just add the button right in our post and link it to thickbox by specifying class=thickbox. Click on the HTML tab in your post editor and paste the HTML code below into your post.

<div style="text-align:center;padding:20px 0;"> 
<input alt="#TB_inline?height=300&amp;width=400&amp;inlineId=examplePopup1" title="add a caption to title attribute / or leave blank" class="thickbox" type="button" value="Show Thickbox Example Pop-up 1" />  

Step 3

Finally, we specify the content that goes into our pop-up window by creating a div with id=examplePopup1.

<div id="examplePopup1" style="display:none">
<h2>Example Pop-up Window 1</h2>
<div style="float:left;padding:10px;">
<img src=""  width="150" height = "168"/>
I was born at DAZ Studio. They created me with utmost care and that is why I am the hottie that you see today. My interests include posing, trying out cute outfits, and more posing.

<select name=""><option>test</option></select>

<strong>Just click outside the pop-up to close it.</strong>

And just like that, we have our pop-up window.

There are a variety of other thickbox options including using iframes, displaying image galleries, and using AJAX content.

Only Include Thickbox as Necessary

While the example above works, it is not the most efficient because you are including the thickbox library into all of your WordPress posts, whether you are using it or not.

Ideally, you only want to include thickbox in those posts that actually require it.

One way to achieve this is by using the is_single or is_page WordPress functions to include thickbox on a post by post basis.

add_action('template_redirect', 'add_scripts');

function add_scripts() {
	if (is_single('2794')) {

Line 1 – Instead of tying the add_thickbox function to the init action hook, we tie it to the template_redirect action hook instead. This will allow us to properly use the is_single and is_page commands in our hook function.

Lines 4-6 – Only add thickbox to this post which has an id of 2794.

Include Thickbox Based on Post Tags

The solution above works well if you want to include pop-up windows to a small set of posts and pages. However, if you later decide to use pop-ups on a large set of posts, using is_single may quickly become unwieldy.

While you can pass in an array of posts to the is_single function, you will still need to list out the title or id of each and every post that uses thickbox.

A more elegent solution, is to include the thickbox libraries based on post tags.

function add_scripts() {
	global $wp_query;
	if (!is_singular() || !$wp_query->post) return;
	// Get post tags
	$tags = wp_get_object_terms($wp_query->post->ID, 'post_tag');
	foreach ($tags as $tag) {
		if ($tag->name == "thickbox") {

Line 4 – We only add thickbox for single posts, pages, or attachments.

Line 6 – Get the post tags for the current post.
*Note*, we cannot used WordPress Loop functions at this point because the template_redirect action hook is called before the Loop is fully instantiated. However, query_vars has already been called, so the $wp_query global variable contains the values that we need.

Lines 7-12 – Check for the thickbox tag. If we find it, we add the thickbox library.

Now all we need to do is add the thickbox tag to posts that use the thickbox library and we are done.

Have Fun with Pop-up Windows!

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  1. says

    do you know if there is a plugin to open in lightbox when you click the post permalink in the homepage or in the archive page ?

    …useful anyway


  2. danis says

    haloo.. how can I make the box size in percent? not in px.. because it’s not really good if it’s opened by mobile phone..

  3. Nancy says

    I would like to know how I can have the pop up window open up another site’s url. Please let me know if there’s a solution

  4. love says

    Hey excuse me ,my custom page could not catch the contens() on custome template page but on the homePage run smothly as your tutorial. Could you tell me.What wrong with my tempage page.

  5. Bnpositive says

    I’m working on a project where this is working. In the pop-up div I’ve embedded a Gravity Form. How can I make the form submission button close the pop-up?

  6. Safaa says

    thanks a lot for the helpful information.
    but I was wondering what if I want to add the button in multiple page hierarchy?

  7. Jane Adams says

    Hi, Unfortunately, ThickBox is beyond my skills et.

    I dont understand steps 1-3. I thought I did, but all I end up with is a button but no pop up. Instructions for a total newbie would be great.

  8. says

    Can I just say…you are SAVING my life right now! Though I need help with a minor tweak. The link provided above is to the dev site where I am testing this. It resides within a feed of 28 posts. When I click it…it is only grabbing the information (Image and Title) of the first post and not that of the button under the specific post I clicked.

    How do I change this?

    Thanks you in advance!!

    AGAIN…life saver

      • Anonymous says

        Not entirely what I was looking for…but to where I’m ok with it. But I have a related question,
        Using the thick box code in the link as I have to iFrame content….do you know of a way (possibly css) to hide the header of the page being iFramed?
        I tried going the route of single templates based on the cat slug, but when the same post was accessed via other means (not Thickbox) it looked all wonky.

        • ShibaShake says

          Hmmm, perhaps you could try limiting the scope of the CSS to just TB iframes, e.g.

          #TB_window .post-title or #TB_iframeContent .post-title

      • reza says

        hello, i have the same problem with Jeffrey, but can’t seem to find the answer here. is there a solution to this? much appreciated

        • reza says

          oops, i was referring to the “it is only grabbing the information (Image and Title) of the first post and not that of the button under the specific post I clicked.” part. thanks

  9. Faisal Sarfraz says

    I am trying this, entering the step 1 code in functions.php and then all other stuff but i am unable to see this working, πŸ™
    It is showing button but not displaying the content

  10. says

    Hi, your solution worked for me. I have one issue, though, my site uses the wordpress jetpack to enable the mobile theme and when I click the link to popup it doesn’t do anything. Is there a way to make this work on a mobile device?

    • says

      Where did you include the thickbox code? If you are including it in the theme functions.php file, you will also need include it in the mobile theme’s functions.php file.

  11. Peter says

    Your code for this works but it messes up my template (Video from templatic) The Sidebar shows beneath the post page with this code in it. Do you know what I might do to fix this?


    • Peter says

      I had a missing . I must have not copied and pasted correctly. Thanks for this great script. Works like a charm.


  12. says

    I have tried everything and I can not seam to get this to work? Do I have to put anything in my theme file to get thinkbox to show up? Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • says

      To get thickbox to work we first need to call the add_thickbox function. I give an example of this in Step 1 on the post above. This adds the relevant styles and javascript for thickbox.

  13. Gen says

    Hi again, I’ve try and Its work the way It is. Thanks a lot, I’ve been looking for 3 weeks for a post like this 😐

  14. Azle says

    hello Shibashake,

    I am newbie, and I tried to put the code as you tells above, but it doesnt work on my web, when I click the button, the pop up box didnt show up, only the grey transparant cover shows.

    did I miss something?

    thank you

  15. Erik says

    Sweet trick!
    I’m trying to implement it back-end in a plugin.
    Is it possible to send a php variable along with it to make the content dynamic? My guess is that I need to pass the post id to grab the rest of the data in the thickbox?

    I render a list/table of db entries and I want to place the button on each row. On click I want that specific row content to display in my thickbox. Perhaps for printing it on paper or just for showing the content a little bit different.

    Sincerely, Erik

  16. says

    Thanks for the reply. I looked into JQuery Ready after your suggestion and glossed over a bit. Sounds like the onload event would be easier. Do you have a example I could follow that would work with your previous example? I have the page loading while clicking the button but just need it when the page loads… Thanks!

  17. says

    Thanks for the tip on popups. I got our example to work without problems, but I wonder how I could invoke this popup when the page loads rather than clicking on a button?

  18. Debby says

    Hi Shibashake

    I am trying to implement this on my site and it is not working. It’s on my localhost at present so i cant send link. I also noticed that the button and link on this page don’t work. is it just me?

  19. says

    Hey ShibaShake,

    I found your site a little while back and I’ve got to say, you must be one of the most talented folks I’ve come across when it comes to being both a designer and a tutor. Thanks for this site.

    I have a question about using thickbox and using init to call it. I’ve seen a lot in the WP codex about using wp_enqueue_script to avoid duplicate calls of jquery or whatever might be needed to run a function or plugin. Is there a reason that you do it this way? I’m still very much a newbie, so trying to get all this info sorted out in my head.


    • ShibaShake says

      Hello Dion,
      Thanks for your very kind works.

      You are definitely right about wp_enqueue_script, it is a good function to use to avoid duplicate loads of the same js or css files. In fact the add_thickbox function uses both wp_enqueue_script and wp_enqueue_style to add the relevant thickbox script and style.

      add_thickbox is a shorthand way to add the relevant scripts and styles. It also runs any extra WP hooks that are deemed necessary. If there are plugins that hook into those actions, then using add_thickbox will automatically include those plugin calls as well.

  20. ShibaShake says

    I would just set up a timer using the javascript setTimeout command and then use that to call the thickbox Javascript function tb_show directly. Something like this –

    <script type="text/javascript">
    function autobox() {
    tb_show("automatic thickbox", "#TB_inline?height=300&width=400&inlineId=examplePopup1", false);
    setTimeout( "autobox()", 5000 );
  21. says

    That’s a great tutorial! I have a question: IS there a way to make it so that the popup comes up without the user doing anything, on a timer? Essentially, my client needs a landing page that will display a popup if the user stays on the page for 20 seconds or so. So I would need this to come up automatically and on a delay. Any advice you could give me?

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