Question: Why isn't z-index working?

Question

Why isn't z-index working?

Answers 5
Added at 2016-12-29 20:12
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I am trying to understand how z-index works. In order to do that, I have created a simple example which consists of five divs. Each one is a child of the previous, except for the first. My objective is to make the first div, the parent container of all other divs, be shown on top of all of the others, effectively hiding them.

In order to achieve my goal, I have put z-index properties on all the divs and on the parent div I have put an exaggerated value of a 100 to make sure it is higher than all the others but it does not seem to be working.

I have read many different documentations regarding the z-index and have read lots of answers here on Stack Overflow. So far I have tried the following:

  • Adding position properties to all the divs.
  • Adding opacity with a value of 0.99 to the divs I want to hide.
  • Applying different value combinations of the position attribute (eg. relative, fixed, absolute).

Still, I have not had any success in making the parent div appear on top of all the other divs. What am I doing wrong?

I have created a JSFiddle with the example I have just described: https://jsfiddle.net/y8jfdz7w/15/.

.first {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 100;
  width: 500px;
  height: 500px;
  background-color: grey;
}
.second {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 2;
  width: 450px;
  height: 450px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: orange;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.third {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 3;
  width: 400px;
  height: 400px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: yellow;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fourth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 20;
  width: 350px;
  height: 350px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: green;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fifth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 5;
  width: 300px;
  height: 300px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: pink;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
<div class="first">
  <div class="second">
    <div class="third">
      <div class="fourth">
        <div class="fifth">
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </div>
</div>

Answers
nr: #1 dodano: 2016-12-29 20:12

The z-index will be calculated relative to the parent, so once you increase the parent's z-index all children will be affected implicitly. There is no way a child can be hidden behind its parent using z-index. z-index mostly affect siblings or HTML elements in different parents.

nr: #2 dodano: 2016-12-29 20:12

Practical answers:

Depending on what you want to achieve (visually) you either have to place the elements to be hidden inside a sibling of their current top level parent or you have to rely on visibility to hide them.

Here is the parent sibling solution:

body{
  overflow: hidden;
  display: flex;
  align-items: center;
  justify-content: center;
}

.first {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 1;
  width: 500px;
  height: 500px;
  background-color: grey;
  animation: toggleOpacity 3s infinite;
}
.another-first {
   z-index: 0;
}
.second {
  position: relative;
  z-index: 2;
  width: 450px;
  height: 450px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: orange;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.third {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 3;
  width: 400px;
  height: 400px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: yellow;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fourth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 20;
  width: 350px;
  height: 350px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: green;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fifth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 5;
  width: 300px;
  height: 300px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: pink;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
@-webkit-keyframes toggleOpacity {
  0%   { -webkit-transform: translateX(-150px); transform: translateX(-150px); }
  50% { -webkit-transform: translateX(150px); transform: translateX(150px); }
  100% {-webkit-transform: translateX(-150px);transform: translateX(-150px);}
}
@-moz-keyframes toggleOpacity {
  0%   { -moz-transform: translateX(-150px); transform: translateX(-150px); }
  50% { -moz-transform: translateX(150px); transform: translateX(150px); }
  100% {-moz-transform: translateX(-150px);transform: translateX(-150px);}
}
@-o-keyframes toggleOpacity {
  0%   { -o-transform: translateX(-150px); transform: translateX(-150px); }
  50% { -o-transform: translateX(150px); transform: translateX(150px); }
  100% {-o-transform: translateX(-150px);transform: translateX(-150px);}
}
@keyframes toggleOpacity {
  0%   { -webkit-transform: translateX(-150px); -moz-transform: translateX(-150px); -o-transform: translateX(-150px); transform: translateX(-150px); }
  50% { -webkit-transform: translateX(150px); -moz-transform: translateX(150px); -o-transform: translateX(150px); transform: translateX(150px); }
  100% {-webkit-transform: translateX(-150px);-moz-transform: translateX(-150px);-o-transform: translateX(-150px);transform: translateX(-150px);}
}
<div class="first"></div>
<div class="another-first">
  <div class="second">
    <div class="third">
      <div class="fourth">
        <div class="fifth">
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </div>
</div>


Using Vals' solution and your original markup, it is possible to bring any of the divs in front by applying z-index:auto to itself and a negative z-index to its immediate child. The limitation here is that it can only be applied to one level. You can't completely reverse the stack with it (if we disable the reset line in JS and click on level 2 and 4, level 4 comes above level 3 but not above level 2). Here's the snippet, click on any div:

window.ziToy = {
  reset: true,
  updateIndexes : function(){
    $('div span').each(function(){
      $(this).text($(this).parent().css('z-index'));
    })
  },
  toggleReset : function () {
    this.reset = !this.reset;
  },
  values:['-1','auto','1']
  
}
$('div').on('click', function(e){
  console.log(e.target);
  if (window.ziToy.reset) {
    $('div').css({'z-index':'auto'}); /*reset all divs*/
     $(this).css({'z-index':'auto'});
     $(this).children().css({'z-index':'-1'})
  } else {
    var currentZ = $(this).css('z-index'),
        toy = window.ziToy,
        next = toy.values.indexOf(currentZ) + 1;
    $(this).css('z-index', toy.values[next % 3])
  };
  e.stopPropagation();
 
  window.ziToy.updateIndexes();
})

window.ziToy.updateIndexes();
body {
  color: white;
  font-weight: bold;
  font-family: sans-serif;
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column;
  align-items: center;
  justify-content: center;
  min-height: 100vh;
  box-sizing: border-box;
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
}

section {
  width: 0;
  height: 0;
  overflow: visible;
  left: -240px;
  top: -160px;
  position: relative;
  z-index: 1;
}
button {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 1;
  top: 15px;
  left: 15px;
  padding: 15px;
}
div {
  position: absolute;
  height: 150px;
  width: 300px;
  top: 30px;
  left: 30px;
  background-color: grey;
  padding: 5px;
  cursor: pointer;
}

div>div {
  background-color: orange;
}
div>div>div {
  background-color: darkred;
}
div>div>div>div {
  background-color: green;
}
div>div>div>div>div {
  background-color: pink;
}
div>span {float: right;}
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<section>

  <div><span></span>
    <div><span></span>
      <div><span></span>
        <div><span></span>
          <div><span></span>
          </div>
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </div>
  
</section>
<button onclick="javascript: window.ziToy.toggleReset()">Toggle<br />Reset</button>

  • Updated toy: now you can disable the z-index reset on divs and toggle through values of -1, auto & 1 for each by clicking on them.

Stacking contexts principle:

Each parent with a set position (other than static) and a set z-index (other than auto), creates a stacking context at that particular z-index for all its children. Picture it as an infinity of z-index for its children. That infinity is placed entirely at the z-index of the parent.

Let's consider the reference item A. Regardless of z-index on any children of A, if you set z-index on B (sibling of A) higher than A's z-index, B (and any children of B) will be rendered above A and above all the children of A.

When comparing z-index of children from different parents, the browser will always decide based on z-index of parents, not of children.

If you want to send a child below its parent, set z-index:auto on the parent and a negative z-index on the child.


Important note: When applying transforms (especially 3d) on elements with negative z-index not all browsers behave the same and you might experience bugs and inconsistencies. For example, see this un-aswered question.

nr: #3 dodano: 2016-12-29 20:12

The child elements always inherit the z-index from its parents as mentioned by another answer!

However, there is a workaround.. set a negative z-index for the child elements, and remove the one set on the parent element to achieve your goal.

Hope this helps!

nr: #4 dodano: 2016-12-29 20:12

You can hack your way around to make child elements disappear behind the parent element with z-index. Here are a few methods:

But generally speaking, you can't use z-index to position a child element behind the root element of the stacking context.

If you can alter the HTML structure, however, to make the divs siblings, then you're all set:

.first {
  z-index: 5;
  width: 500px;
  height: 500px;
  position: absolute;
  left: 50%;
  top: 50%;
  transform: translate(-50%, -50%);
  background-color: grey;
}
.second {
  z-index: 4;
  width: 450px;
  height: 450px;
  position: absolute;
  left: 50%;
  top: 50%;
  transform: translate(-50%, -50%);
  background-color: orange;
}
.third {
  z-index: 3;
  width: 400px;
  height: 400px;
  position: absolute;
  left: 50%;
  top: 50%;
  transform: translate(-50%, -50%);
  background-color: yellow;
}
.fourth {
  z-index: 2;
  width: 350px;
  height: 350px;
  position: absolute;
  left: 50%;
  top: 50%;
  transform: translate(-50%, -50%);
  background-color: green;
}
.fifth {
  z-index: 1;
  width: 300px;
  height: 300px;
  position: absolute;
  left: 50%;
  top: 50%;
  transform: translate(-50%, -50%);
  background-color: pink;
}
<div class="first"></div>
<div class="second"></div>
<div class="third"></div>
<div class="fourth"></div>
<div class="fifth"></div>

nr: #5 dodano: 2016-12-29 22:12

I am not sure if this has been already said, there are lots of answers and comments.

You can do it with a z-index: auto on the parent and a negative value on the immediate child

Here on the first level:

body {
  background-color: bisque;  
}

.first {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: auto;
  width: 500px;
  height: 500px;
  background-color: grey;
  animation: togglePosition 3s infinite;
}
.second {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: -1;
  width: 450px;
  height: 450px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: orange;
  opacity: 0.99;
  animation: togglePosition 3s infinite -1.5s;
}
.third {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 3;
  width: 400px;
  height: 400px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: yellow;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fourth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 20;
  width: 350px;
  height: 350px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: green;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fifth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 5;
  width: 300px;
  height: 300px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: pink;
  opacity: 0.99;
}

@keyframes togglePosition {
  0%   {  left: -150px; }
  50%  {  left: 150px; }
  100% {  left: -150px;}
}
<div class="first">
  <div class="second">
    <div class="third">
      <div class="fourth">
        <div class="fifth">
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </div>
</div>

And here on the second level. Here, the opacity needs to be removed. Just to demonstrate that it's not all the document that is above the child, just the relevant parts (if I understand the comment ok)

.first {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 100;
  width: 500px;
  height: 400px;
  background-color: grey;
}
.second {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: auto;
  width: 450px;
  height: 300px;
  top: 80px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: orange;
}
.third {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: -1;
  width: 400px;
  height: 400px;
  top: -50px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: yellow;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fourth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 20;
  width: 350px;
  height: 350px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: green;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
.fifth {
  position: absolute;
  z-index: 5;
  width: 300px;
  height: 300px;
  top: 25px;
  left: 25px;
  background-color: pink;
  opacity: 0.99;
}
<div class="first">
  <div class="second">
    <div class="third">
      <div class="fourth">
        <div class="fifth">
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </div>
</div>

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