Mobile support for the CSS toggle switches

Update December 2012

The latest version of the toggle switch has full mobile support and easy integration with Twitter Bootstrap or ZURB Foundation.

See the latest demos: CSS Toggle Switch.

Update October 2012

After some testing it turns out that the Android 2.3 browser, and possibly other older Webkit browsers, are affected by this older WebKit Adjacent/General Sibling and Pseudo Class Bug, which was causing issues with the toggle switches.

The fix I added is based on the one described in the article above, but applied only to the containers, not the whole body, for performance reasons.

Another issue was that, on older iOS versions the input was not selected, when tapping the label. The work-around for this was to add an empty onclick handler. This handler also makes Opera Mini re-render the page, with the right input selected.

These changes completely remove the need for the JavaScript functionality that was previously adding mobile support.

Latest demos: CSS Toggle Switch.

While testing the CSS toggle switches from my last article, I noticed they had issues, or didn’t work at all, in various mobile browsers. The only mobile browsers which seemed to properly support the switches were Firefox Mobile and Opera Mobile.

For both the radio and checkbox-based versions, the switches looked alright but the behavior wasn’t working; the toggle buttons didn’t move when selected.

The only version that worked properly was the one where the checkbox input was placed inside the label.

After some digging, I ended up on The CSS Ninja, who also had similar problems with custom radio and checkbox inputs. His latest solution to the iOS issue was to make sure the input is topmost, and set it’s opacity to zero.

When applying this technique on the basic checkbox-based example, after taping the switch, the background, border, and text colors where changing, but the position of the button wasn’t.

The .toggle input:checked + label:after rule was working, while the .toggle input:checked ~ span rule, supposed to change the position of the toggle button, wasn’t.

Also, it wasn’t working at all for the radio input-based switch.

Mobile Webkit

After some more digging, it turns out that most mobile Webkits try to prevent reflows, and don’t trigger them when checking/selecting radios or checkboxes. I’m guessing this is mostly for performance reasons.

That’s why, to get mobile support, you have to force a reflow when toggling the switch. The only way to do this is to use JavaScript.

Opera Mini

Since Opera Mini is one of the most used mobile browsers, supporting it is big plus. And, even though it’s a proxy browser, it does have some support for JavaScript. Still, using the same technique to trigger a reflow as on the other mobile browsers, isn’t working.

But, it turns out that setting the checked property on the input with JavaScript, does trigger a sort-of-reflow. It will reload the page, with the new option selected. It’s probably the best solution we can get for Opera Mini, since it doen’t have any “real” interactions on the page.

The Script

The script I put together is pretty straight forward, except for a couple of things.

/* Minimal Touch support test.
* You should probably use Modernizr.
var touchSupport = ('ontouchstart' in window),
  mobile = (screen.width <= 1024);

// Utility function, needed to get the input elements next to labels
Object.prototype.previousObject = function() {
  var p = this;
  do p = p.previousSibling;
  while (p && p.nodeType != 1);
  return p;

/* Manualy check the input, for Opera Mini/proxy browsers
function checkRadio(e) {
  var input =,
    inputType = input.getAttribute('type');

  if(inputType === 'checkbox') {

    if(input.getAttribute('checked')) {
    } else {
      input.setAttribute('checked', true);

  } else if(inputType === 'radio') {

    input.setAttribute('checked', true);


/* Force reflow
function forceReflow(e) {
  /* There's a delay between taping a label, and checking the input.
  * That's why we have to
  if( {
    // force reflow
    document.body.className = document.body.className;
  } else {
    // if the input is not checked yet, try again
    setTimeout(function() { forceReflow(e) }, 100);

/* Get all labels on the page.
* You should use a more specific selector on your page.
var labels = document.querySelectorAll('label');

if(touchSupport) {
  // Mobile Webkit(Android, iOS, BB, WebOS, etc.), and others with Touch support
  for(var i = 0; i < labels.length; i++ ) {
    labels[i].ontouchstart = forceReflow;

} else if(mobile) {
  // Non-touch browsers, Opera Mini and other proxy-browsers
  for(var i = 0; i < labels.length; i++ ) {
    labels[i].onclick = checkRadio;


I’m using the timeout because there seems to be a delay between taping the label, and the input actually getting checked. If we trigger the reflow too early, before the input is checked, it still won’t change it’s position. So we have to wait until the input is checked, before the reflow.

The reflow is triggered using:

document.body.className = document.body.className

These solutions should also work on other “checkbox-hack” experiments.

The demos are on Github: css-toggle-switch.