HTML “overlay” which allows clicks to fall through to elements behind it [duplicate]

I'm trying to overlay a element on top of a webpage (to draw arbitrary graphics), and I've come to the point where I can stack it inside of a element on top of everything, but this prevents the user from clicking on any links/buttons/etc. Is there a way to have its content float on top of everything (it's semi-transparent, so you can still see what is behind) and have the user interact with the layer below it?

I've found a lot of information on the DOM event model, but none of it addresses the problem where the buttons and other "native" controls never seem to get the clicks in the first place.



A silly hack I did was to set the height of the element to zero but overflow:visible; combining this with pointer-events:none; seems to cover all the bases.

.overlay {
    background:none !important;

Add pointer-events: none; to the overlay.

Original answer: My suggestion would be that you could capture the click event with the overlay, hide the overlay, then refire the click event, then display the overlay again. I'm not sure if you'd get a flicker effect though.

[Update] Exactly this problem and exactly my solution just appeared in this post: "Forwarding Mouse Events Through Layers". I know its probably a little late for the OP, but for the sake of somebody having this problem in the future, I though I would include it.


For the record an alternative approach might be to make the clickable layer the overlay: you make it semi-transparent and then place the "overlay" image behind it (somewhat counterintuitively, the "overlay" image could then be opaque). Depending on what you're trying to do, you might well be able to get the exact same visual effect (of an image and a clickable layer semi-transparently superimposed on top of each other), while avoiding clickability problems (because the "overlay" is in fact in the background).


My team ran into this issue and resolved it very nicely.

  • add a class "passthrough" or something to each element you want clickable and which is under the overlay.
  • for each ".passthrough" element append a div and position it exactly on top of its parent. add class "element-overlay" to this new div.
  • The ".element-overlay" css should have a high z-index (above the page's overlay), and the elements should be transparent.

This should resolve your problem as the events on the ".element-overlay" should bubble up to ".passthrough". If you still have problems (we did not see any so far) you can play around with the binding.

This is an enhancement to @jvenema's solution.

The nice thing about this is that

  • you don't pass through ALL events to ALL elements. Just the ones you want. (resolved @jvenema's argument)
  • All events will work properly. (hover for example).

If you have any problems please let me know so I can elaborate.


You can use an overlay with opacity set in order to the buttons/anchors in the back stay visible, but once you have that overlay over an element, you can't click it.


Generally, this isn't a great idea. Taking your scenario, if you had evil intentions, you could hide everything underneath your "overlay". Then, when a user clicks on a link they think should take them to, instead it triggers the hidden link which takes them to

That said, event bubbling works, and if it's within an application, it's not a big deal. The following code is an example. Clicking the blue area pops up an alert, even though the alert is set on the red area. Note that the orange area does NOT work, because the event will propagate through the PARENT elements, so your overlay needs to be inside whatever element you're observing the clicks on. In your scenario, you may be out of luck.

    <div id="outer" style="position:absolute;height:50px;width:60px;z-index:1;background-color:red;top:5px;left:5px;" onclick="alert('outer')"> 
        <div id="nested" style="position:absolute;height:50px;width:60px;z-index:2;background-color:blue;top:15px;left:15px;">
    <div id="separate" style="position:absolute;height:50px;width:60px;z-index:3;background-color:orange;top:25px;left:25px;">

How about this for IE?:

onmousedown: Hide all elements which could overlay the event. Because display:none visibility:hidden not realy works, push the overlaying div out of the screen for a fixed number of pixels. After a delay push back the overlaying div with the same number of pixels.

onmouseup: Meanwhile this is the event you like to fire.

     var allclickthrough=[];         
     function hidedivover(){
                allclickthrough=getElementsByClassName(document.body,"clickthrough");// if so .parentNode
              for(var i=0;i<allclickthrough.length;i++){
    function showdivover(){
             for(var i=0;i<allclickthrough.length;i++){
    <span onmouseup="Dreck_he_got_me()">Click me if you can.</span>
    <div  onmousedown="hidedivover()" style="position:absolute" class="clickthrough">You'll don't get through!</div>

In case anyone else is running in to the same problem, the only solution I could find that satisfied me was to have the canvas cover everything and then to raise the Z-index of all clickable elements. You can't draw on them, but at least they are clickable...


I was having this issue when viewing my website on a phone. While I was trying to close the overlay, I was pretty much clicking on anything under the overlay. A solution that I found working for myself is to just add a tag around the entire overlay


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