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The tooltip or infotip or a hint is a common graphical user interface element. It is used in conjunction with a cursor, usually a pointer. The user hovers the pointer over an item, without clicking it, and a tooltip may appear—a small "hover box" with information about the item being hovered over.[1] [2]Tooltips do not usually appear on mobile operating systems, because there is no cursor (though tooltips may be displayed when using a mouse).

A web browser tooltip displayed for a hyperlink


A common variant, especially in older software, is displaying a description of the tool in a status bar. Another system, on old Mac OS versions, that aims to solve the same problem, but in a slightly different way, is balloon help. Microsoft invented another term, "ScreenTip", and uses it in its end-user documentation.[citation needed]


Demonstrations of tooltip usage are prevalent on web pages. Many graphical web browsers display the title attribute of an HTML element as a tooltip when a user hovers the pointer over that element; in such a browser you should be able to hover over Wikipedia images and hyperlinks and see a tooltip appear. Some browsers, notably Microsoft's Internet Explorer (prior to version 7), will also display the alt attribute of an image as a tooltip in the same manner if an alt attribute is specified and a title attribute is not. This is an incorrect behaviour of the alt attribute according to the W3C specification.[3] If a title attribute is also specified, it will override the alt attribute for tooltip content.[citation needed]

CSS, HTML, and JavaScript allow web designers to create customized tooltip.


The term tooltip originally came from older Microsoft applications (like Microsoft Word 95), which had a toolbar where moving the mouse over the buttons (the Toolbar icons) displayed these tooltips, a short description of the function of the tool in the toolbar.[citation needed] More recently, these tooltips are used in various parts of an interface, not only on toolbars.

Hiding tooltips[edit]

Some software and applications, such as [GIMP], provide an option for users to turn off some or all tooltips. However, such options are left to the discretion of the developer, and are often not implemented.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tooltip Definition". Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Microsoft website of tooltip
  3. ^ "HTML img alt Attribute". W3Schools. Retrieved 6 September 2014.