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10 Best Free Open-Source JavaScript Lightbox Widgets and Plugins

Read Time: 7 mins

Images are crucial, whether you're running an e-commerce or portfolio website. How many sales you make or new clients you get depends a lot on the quality of the images you use to showcase your products and services.

So it makes sense to highlight your images with a lightbox. Lightboxes make your image pop out while the rest of the website fades into the background.

You should consider adding a lightbox to your website if showcasing images to your visitors is important for your business. Luckily, you don't have to spend a lot of time building one from scratch since there are a lot of free JavaScript lightbox widgets and plugins out there that you can just start using today.

I'll save you even more time by reviewing some of the best free and open-source JavaScript-based lightbox widgets and plugins in this post. Let's get started.

1. Basic Lightbox

The Basic Lightbox is perfect for people who want to use something very lightweight for their projects. It has no dependencies and works with all modern browsers starting from IE11 with the use of some polyfills.

The lightbox has a very simple API, making it easy to use. You can have multiple instances of a lightbox using the create() method. All these instances can be changed independently, and you have full control over showing or hiding the ligthbox, making changes to the content, and displaying all kinds of elements like videos, images, or iframes.

It is also relatively easy to customize the appearance of the lightbox because it doesn't ship with a lot of predefined themes or custom classes. The lightboxes can be stacked over one another or made unclosable. Or you can use callbacks to determine what happens when the lightbox is opened or closed.

2. Lightbox2

Lightbox2 is one of the most popular free JavaScript lightbox plugins. The plugin does require you to provide attribution, but it doesn't have to be user-facing. Captions become available with the use of the data-title attribute.

Lightbox2Lightbox2Lightbox2

It works with all major browsers. You get browser support back to IE9 when using it with jQuery v2.x and down to IE6 with jQuery v1.x. The plugin loads four images to create its UI with arrows, a close button, etc. You can replace these with your own images. There is an option to use the data-lightbox attribute in order to create image groups for loading within the lightbox.

The plugin also lets you control things like fitting images within the viewport, wrapping around after users navigate to the last image, and fade duration.

3. Colorbox

Colorbox is a jQuery-based, lightweight, easily customizable lightbox plugin. You can also install it as an NPM package. Its browser support goes as far back as IE7.

Colorbox jQuery PluginColorbox jQuery PluginColorbox jQuery Plugin

A few more things that you will like about the plugin include the ability to completely change the appearance of the lightbox using CSS, extending the functionality with event hooks and callbacks, and preloading upcoming images. And all this works with no changes to your existing HTML.

You can pass an object with key-value pairs to the plugin during initialization to create your customized lightbox. The lightbox supports the loading of all types of content such as inline HTML, iframes, and videos, as well as populating content with AJAX requests.

Take a look at all the examples posted on the plugin homepage for some inspiration.

4. VenoBox

The VenoBox plugin is a lightweight alternative for people who want a lightbox that doesn't rely on other libraries like jQuery. Initially, VenoBox was also a jQuery plugin, but it was later updated to work without any third-party libraries.

VenoBox LightboxVenoBox LightboxVenoBox Lightbox

One unique feature of the plugin is the ability to preserve the height of images that are taller than the window on which the users are viewing your website. This allows people to scroll up and down to see the entire content of the image without everything being scaled down—possibly to illegibility.

This plugin also allows you to load any kind of content within the lightbox such as iframes, inline HTML, or AJAX content. You also have control over the aspect ratio of these iframes, videos, and other elements.

It is easy to set up, and you can pass key-value pairs during initialization to change the appearance and behavior of the lightbox. Similar modifications can also be made directly within the HTML using data-attributes to get the same result.

5. Magnific Popup

The Magnific Popup plugin allows you to quickly add a responsive lightbox to your website. It focuses on providing a great user experience and impressive performance. You can use it either with jQuery or with Zepto.js, depending on how your website is set up.

Magnific PopupMagnific PopupMagnific Popup

There are lots of subtle ways in which you can change how the lightbox behaves. For example, you can scale the images such that they fit both horizontally and vertically or only horizontally. Similarly, you have full control over the position of captions, image animations, etc.

The lightbox allows you to load all types of content like images, videos, and AJAX requests. It also supports the handling of loading errors in situations where an image doesn't load or an AJAX request fails for some reason.

6. Chocolat

Chocolat is a free, lightweight, and responsive lightbox plugin. It looks great on screens of all sizes, and you can also specify your own breakpoints to control how it looks on different devices.

ChocolatChocolatChocolat

Unlike other lightbox plugins, Chocolat gives you the option to show images either in fullscreen mode or inside a container. The images can also be resized to make them fit inside different container sizes. Among other values, you can set the image size to either contain or cover. This is similar to the behavior of the background-size property in CSS.

The plugin also supports keyboard navigation and image looping to start from the beginning once you have reached the last image in the gallery.

7. Swipebox

Swipebox is yet another jQuery-dependent lightbox plugin which works great on mobiles, tablets, and desktops. The developer of the project wants the plugin to be easy to use, without any fancy features like social media buttons. The priority is to keep it bug-free and lightweight.

Swipebox LightboxSwipebox LightboxSwipebox Lightbox

It still comes with a decent set of features like support for dynamic loading of images, keyboard-based navigation for desktops, swipe gestures for mobile devices, and CSS-based animations with jQuery fallback. You can pass an object with key-value pairs during the initialization call of the function to make changes to the lightbox appearance or behavior.

8. React Native Lightbox

This React Native Lightbox component is useful for anyone who is planning to create apps for mobile devices using React Native. The repository provides code to guide you on how to integrate the lightbox within your iOS or Android apps.

You can control the behavior and appearance of the lightbox using a bunch of properties. For example, you can assign a background color to the lightbox or use a callback function to determine what happens when someone opens or closes the lightbox.

9. React Image Lightbox

The React Image Lightbox component is ideal for people who want a simple lightbox that works well with React. It comes with some nice features like keyboard-based navigation, image zooming capabilities, image preloading for a better user experience, and mobile-friendly behavior with support for pinch-to-zoom and swipe gestures.

React Image LightboxReact Image LightboxReact Image Lightbox

You also don't need to load any external CSS. The image src values can be assigned dynamically, making the lightbox very flexible and powerful. Keyboard navigation is rate-limited so that accidental long pressing of keys doesn't update the lightbox images too fast.

10. Vue Easy Lightbox

This one is a tiny lightbox component which works with Vue.js. The 1.x version of the component works with Vue.js 3.0, while the 0.x version of the component works with Vue.js 2.0.

Vue Easy LightboxVue Easy LightboxVue Easy Lightbox

The UI is very simple and well designed. You get some common functionality like the ability to zoom in and out and to drag or rotate images. You can modify the default behavior of the lightbox by making changes to the value of different props or using callback functions when certain events are emitted after user interaction, like clicks on the previous and next buttons.

Final Thoughts

In this post, we gave you a brief overview of some of the most popular free and open-source JavaScript lightbox plugins and scripts that you can use in your projects. Some of them offer unique features that you might find useful. For example, you can use VenoBox to show very tall images or Chocolat to load the lightbox within a container.

You can also browse through other open-source Lightbox projects on GitHub if nothing here meets all your needs.

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