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JavaScript Resize Observer Ultimate Guide

January 31, 2022

Resize Observer is one of 3 observer based JavaScript APIs with the other two being Intersection Observer and Mutation Observer. While I do not think Resize Observer is as useful as something like Intersection Observer it is still useful to know. Right now Resize Observer is the only way to detect element size changes and makes changing content/styles on a page based on resizing so much easier.

If you prefer to learn visually, check out the video version of this article.

Your First Resize Observer

Creating a Resize Observer is actually quite simple since all you need to do is pass a function to the ResizeObserver constructor.

const observer = new ResizeObserver(entries => {

In the above example we created a brand new Resize Observer and in the function we passed to it we are just logging out the entries parameter. This entries parameter is the only argument that the function accepts and it just outputs the information related to each element when it changes size. That may sound confusing but let’s take a look at a simple example.

const observer = new ResizeObserver(entries => {
  entries.forEach(entry => {
    const isSmall = entry.contentRect.width < 150
    entry.target.style.backgroundColor = isSmall ? "blue" : "orange"


In the above code we are calling the observe method on our Resize Observer and telling it to observe size changes for the element with the id test. These size changes can occur in many ways such as the window size changing, elements being added/removed from the page, user interaction, and much more. Essentially, any time an element you are observing changes size it will trigger the function passed to ResizeObserver.

In our code we are looping through all the elements in the entries array. This array just lists all the elements we are observing that have had their size change. We are then looping through those entries and for each one we are checking the contentRect property. This property contains information such as the width, height, top, left, bottom, right, etc. of our element. Finally, we are using the target property of our entry to get the current element that is being observed and changing its background to the appropriate color.

Resize Observer Options

Unlike the other observer APIs, Resize Observer has very limited options you can configure. There is actually only one option you can configure which is the box model that is used to determine resize changes. This option is passed as a second parameter to the observe function.


The box property allows you to change which box model is used to determine size changes. By default the content-box is used, but you can also use the border-box, and the device-pixel-content-box. The border-box option takes into account things like border and padding changes, while the content-box only includes the actual content of the element. The device-pixel-content-box is similar to the content-box option but it takes into account the actual pixel size of the device it is rendering too. This means that the device-pixel-content-box will change at a different rate than the content-box depending on the pixel density of the device.

const observer = new ResizeObserver(changeColor)

observer.observe(document.getElementById("test"), { box: "border-box" })

Resize Observer Entry

The entries array in the Resize Observer callback contains lots of useful information about the element. The most important properties are the target and contentRect since they tell you the majority of the information you need to know about which element is resizing and what its new size is. There are also 3 additional properties that all provide additional information about the width/height of the element.

These properties are borderBoxSize, contentBoxSize, and devicePixelContentBoxSize, and they perfectly line up with the 3 different box model types discussed earlier. Each of these properties will be an array that will almost always contain just one value which is an object with a blockSize and inlineSize property. The blockSize property defines the height of the element while the inlineSize defines the width. If the writing mode of your document is vertical, though, the blockSize will define the width while the inlineSize will define the height. Each of these values will be calculated for the box size specified by the property being accessed.

const observer = new ResizeObserver(entries => {
  entries.forEach(entry => {


Advanced Resize Observer

This covers all the basic use cases and options for Resize Observers, but there are a few additional things you should know.

Second Callback Parameter

The callback you pass to new Resize Observers actually has two parameters. The first parameter is the entries parameter we have talked a bunch about. The second parameter is simply the observer that is observing the changes.

const observer = new ResizeObserver((entries, o) => {
  console.log(o === observer)
  // True

This parameter is useful when you need to do something with the observer from within the callback since you may not always have access to the observer variable from the callback depending on where the callback is defined.

Unobserve and Disconnect

It is important to stop observing elements when they no longer need to be observed, such as after they are removed from the page in order to avoid memory leaks or performance issues. This can be done with the unobserve method or the disconnect method which are both methods on the Resize Observer. The unobserve method takes a single element as its only parameter and it stops observing that single element. The disconnect method takes no parameters and will stop observing all elements.

new ResizeObserver((entries, observer) => {
  entries.forEach(entry => {
    if (entry.contentRect.width < 150) {


The Resize Observer is a very simple API to understand and has limited use cases, but it can be incredibly powerful in specific situations.

If you want to learn more about the other observer based APIs you can check out my Intersection Observer Ultimate Guide.