Quirks of height of viewable area in mobile Safari

One of my web projects requires the top section of the page to have a window’s height. Normally I use a CSS rule height: 100vh to do this if I don’t consider IE 8 or before because it is fast and easy. It works fine in most desktop browsers, but in mobile Safari the section is cut off the bottom (around 20px).

When playing with Safari, I found that mobile Safari has a very weird feature (looks cool though): it hides the tab bar in the bottom, and shrinks the address menu bar in the top when the user scrolls the page, causing the CSS rule fails.

As we can see from the following figures, the height of the viewable area before the bars are hidden is window.innerHeight. The return value is also 100vh in desktop browsers because most desktop browser won’t hide address bar when scrolling. The 100vh in mobile Safari, however, equals to the screen height minus the menu bar and the minified address bar (with 20px height).

In order to get that number in JavaScript, there is a window.screen.availHeight, which is not actually the available height because it still counts the minified address bar (20px). Therefore, the 100vh in mobile Safari should be window.screen.availHeight - 20 or window.screen.height - 40. This is a ugly hack because we don’t know when Apple will change the height of the address bar to 24px or other.

Since there are a lot of users using mobile Safari today, this quirk practically makes 100vh useless, especially in the top section.

One solution is to set the height of the section using window.innerHeight in JavaScript, causing repaints, or set the height only in mobile Safari by adding a device detector (e.g.).

CURRENTLY

Software Engineer at Yahoo!

PREVIOUSLY

Full Stack Engineer at Prosper Marketplace

PREVIOUSLY

Front End Engineer at BillGuard (Acquired by Prosper)