Detect click outside element?

Similar to this question, but taking it a step further. I would like to detect clicks outside of a set of items, which I am handling in the following way:

$('#menu div').live('click', function() {
    // Close other open menu items, if any.
    // Toggle the clicked menu item.

    $('body').one('click', function(event) {
        // Hide the menu item.

This works like a charm, unfortunately, when another menu item is open and a second is clicked, it requires two clicks to open the second item. The first click hides the first menu item that was open, the second shows the second menu item.

The "correct" behavior works in the following way:

  • Clicking a menu item opens it.
  • Clicking the same menu item (or it's children) closes it.
  • Clicking another menu item closes the first, opens the second.
  • Clicking away from (open) menu items closes them.

I have tried the following in place of the above $('body').one() order to ignore clicks on menu items with little success:

// Captures click on menu items in spite of the not.
$('*').not('#menu *').one('click', function() { // Hide menu }
$('*:not(#menu)').one('click', function() { // Hide menu }

As always, thanks for any help!



Just move the body click handler outside and do something like this:

$('body').bind('click', function(e) {
    if($('#menu').length == 0) {
        // click happened outside of menu, hide any visible menu items

It was incorrectly pointed out in the comments that does not work in IE; this is not true as jQuery's Event object fixes these inconsistencies where necessary (IE, Safari).


I wrote this a long time ago, before the glory days of jQuery...

function clickedOutsideElement(elemId) {
  var theElem = getEventTarget(window.event);
  while(theElem != null) {
    if( == elemId)
      return false;
    theElem = theElem.offsetParent;
  return true;

function getEventTarget(evt) {
  var targ = ( ? : evt.srcElement;
  if(targ != null) {
    if(targ.nodeType == 3)
      targ = targ.parentNode;
  return targ;

document.onclick = function() {
    alert('Outside the element!');
    alert('Inside the element!');


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