Which lightbox to use?

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A lightbox opens your images when you click a thumbnail. It's a technique to isolate the photo in a larger view, without navigating away from the page. Most major sites use some form of lightbox. The area around and behind the photo is usually darkened. Several extra features can make the lightbox experience better, such as social sharing or video capabilities. This page helps you gain insight of the differences between lightbox solutions and help you decide which lightbox to use for your gallery.

Compare lightbox features

Justified Image Grid includes several free lightboxes prepared for your use, these are labeled as bundled. You may choose to get extra features by purchasing a compatible lightbox separately. Their current price tag is indicated below.

  • lightboxes

  • price

  • Deeplinking
  • JIG Smart Deeplinking
  • Social sharing
  • Responsive
  • Themes
  • Commenting
  • Videos / Iframes
  • Captions
  • Groups
  • Customized by/for JIG
  • Lightweight
  • PrettyPhoto

  • bundled

  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • no
  • yes
  • no
  • yes
  • 2
  • yes
  • yes
  • no
  • PhotoSwipe

  • bundled

  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • no
  • no
  • 2
  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • Magnific Popup

  • bundled

  • no
  • no
  • no
  • yes
  • no
  • no
  • yes
  • 2
  • yes
  • no
  • yes
  • ColorBox

  • bundled

  • no
  • no
  • no
  • no
  • yes
  • no
  • no
  • 1
  • yes
  • no
  • yes
  • Social Gallery

  • $28

  • no
  • no
  • yes
  • no
  • yes
  • yes
  • no
  • Does not accept HTML.1
  • no
  • yes
  • no

Choosing a lightbox

With the wide variety of lightboxes available to use with Justified Image Grid, you'll likely find one that suits your needs. They are selected to be quite different and can appeal to various users.

How do I choose a lightbox?

  1. Identify what features you need to have in a lightbox. The glossary on the right helps with that.
  2. Check out the comparison table above, in light of these.
  3. See the demo pages for those that sound interesting.
  4. Pick a responsive lightbox that will fit desktops and mobiles - or pick any for desktop and then a responsive for mobile.

Lightboxes are assorted in a way that you do not need to pay extra just to have a feature - there are free, bundled alternatives for everything. Also there is no need to install a lightbox plugin separately. The choice is yours, there is no right or wrong here.

The default lightbox for desktop is PrettyPhoto, and the responsive counterpart for mobile is the PhotoSwipe. It's perfectly fine to keep using them as they are customized for JIG in a way that they complement each other.

Lightbox features glossary

Each lightbox has a way to show corresponding text. It can be above, below or on the photo. The number indicates the different positions they can place captions. Most can show two captions at once, which is preferred. For example, a title and a description for each photo. This is controlled by link title and image alt attributes which is also used for SEO.
The ability to have user comments on each photo individually is a good way to engage your visitors with your content.
Where indicated, bundled lightboxes have been heavily customized/tailored just for JIG. It is to ensure smooth operation and zero conflicts with JIG features. Lightboxes that are marked with a price are purchased separately. They have JIG-specific code added to them, with the corresponding compatibility from JIG's side. When both plugins are installed they recognize each other and work together nicely.
It enables you to have a unique link for each photo in a gallery. So when shared, the gallery can re-open at the exact image as if it was clicked.
Lightbox groups create on-page straight to lightbox albums that form single thumbnails where each contains an entire gallery. Instead of navigating away to a separate page for each gallery, they all open in place.
A unique, JIG feature that takes Deeplinking to the next level. It generates short URLs, and is tailored especially for social sharing. When liked, shared, +1'd, the photo thumbnail shows up, along with associated captions. The likes and shares are always counted towards your page URL the lightbox opens on, including a unique suffix. The JIG Smart Deeplinking URL indicates which image to re-open upon visiting the URL. This is absolutely not how normal deeplinking works, but it is how people expect deeplinking to behave, in general. JIG Smart Deeplinking meets your expectations.
None of the lightboxes are bloat, but some are much more compact and simple than the others. If performance is of utmost importance to you, choose a lightweight lightbox. Note that they often show photos instantly, and less or no animations mean a snappier experience.
A responsive lightbox is made with mobile use in mind, as they adapt to various screen sizes. They also look cool on dekstops. If you prefer to have one lightbox cover all devices just choose a responsive lightbox.
It's the ability to share a photo on various social networks. Works best when combined with JIG Smart Deeplinking. Refer to the demo of each lightbox with social sharing for more information.
Themes are built-in styles, the skins of a lightbox. It's most useful when you have a dark colored site so you can choose a lightbox with a dark frame too. But they also change how navigation arrows and other colored assets look.
Videos or pages (e.g. forms) can be played/opened in the lightbox, provided it supports them. Example: Video gallery support. If there is a mismatch between your two selected lightboxes e.g. dekstop lightbox supports and plays videos, but mobile lightbox isn't, then they will just open on a new tab. It's often better to let the device handle videos with its native app anyway.

What lightbox settings can I use and how do they work?

Learn more about the various settings that allow you to control the behavior of your selected lightbox.

  • You can choose a different lightbox for desktop and for mobile devices.
  • Choose the image size that opens in the lightbox.
  • Choose what text shows up in lightboxes regardless of thumbnail captions. Use any WordPress image metadata field or custom field!
  • Alternatives to lightbox: WordPress attachment page; open by the browser (same tab or new tab); or disable click on the thumbnails.
  • Download link for the photo, with a browser dialog to save the image.
  • Several extra settings that are for a specific lightbox.
  • Optionally, only show the lightbox for logged in, registered users. This prevents easy access to the large view.

How do lightboxes work with Justified Image Grid?

  • You can bypass the lightbox using custom links.
  • Lightbox files are only loaded when actually used, to reduce clutter.
  • Show just a few thumbnails and the rest only in the lightbox. This is used by the hidden limit (example: Preset 10), max rows and hidden incomplete last row settings. Also used for Load more, Straight to lightbox albums and similar views.
  • The lightboxes bundled with Justified Image Grid can only be used with galleries created by JIG.
  • Use multiple different lightboxes, even on the same page.
  • You can choose any lightbox with any presets.

Custom lightbox choice

It's possible to use your own lightbox which is not listed here. Maybe it exists is your theme, or added by a 3rd party plugin. You can choose to utilize them only on desktop or mobile. Justified Image Grid is equipped with advanced settings for this. You can set link class, link rel, custom attribute name and value that is set on all thumbnail links. These are often required by lightboxes. Connect your custom lightbox to features such as Filtering or Load More using a Custom JavaScript call setting that runs your lightbox script whenever needed by JIG.

Other lightboxes known to work with JIG

How do the settings look like?