Features for adaptive input handling

The pointer event model in Internet Explorer 10 allows you to gracefully handle all mouse, pen, touch, and multi-touch input by writing to a single set of events. Similar to mouse events, pointer events fire on down, move, up, over, and out for each pointer. Basic touch support for most sites should "just work" with no changes required due to a couple reasons:

  • Internet Explorer 10 provides common default handling for basic touch interactions, such as panning for scrollable regions, double-tap and pinch zooming, touch selection, and press-and-hold context menus. These features work automatically so that sites and apps have a great touch experience by default.
  • After firing pointer events, Internet Explorer 10 fires mouse events for the primary contact (for example, the first finger on the screen). This enables existing websites that are based on mouse events to continue to function.

For basic touch-friendly design strategies and troubleshooting, check out Quickstart: Make your site touch-ready. When you're ready to optimize your site for touch while still providing seamless mouse and keyboard support, Internet Explorer 10 provides the features for adaptive input handling described in this article.

Detecting touch

Internet Explorer 10 provides the msMaxTouchPoints property to check for touch and multi-touch hardware support from the client side:

if (navigator.msMaxTouchPoints > 1) {
  // Supports multi-touch

To detect touch capability from the server side, Internet Explorer 10 provides the user-agent string "Touch" token. After touch support is confirmed, you can check the pointerType of the MSPointerDown event to detect when your user is using touch:

function handleDown(event) {
  if(event.pointerType == event.MSPOINTER_TYPE_TOUCH) {
    // Do something for touch input only
    // Do something for non-touch input

Simulating mouse hover for touch

With touch-based browsing, there is no equivalent to hovering the cursor over a webpage element. Therefore, any actions or content that are activated by hovering are potentially inaccessible to touch-based users. A common scenario with this problem is hover-activated submenus. The best practice for avoiding this problem is to not use hover to hide content that a user can interact with. Instead, consider using the onclick event to toggle the visibility. Alternatively, Internet Explorer 10 adds new behavior to the existing aria-haspopup property to simulate hover on page elements with hidden interactive content:

<style type="text/css">
#menu .cssSubMenu {
  display: none;
#menu:hover .cssSubMenu {
  display: block;

<div id="menu" aria-haspopup="true">
  <a>CSS Hover Menu</a>
    <div aria-haspopup="false" class="cssSubMenu">
      <a>Sub menu item 1</a> </div>
    <div aria-haspopup="false" class="cssSubMenu">
      <a>Sub menu item 2</a> </div>
    <div aria-haspopup="false" class="cssSubMenu">
      <a class="cssSubLink">Sub menu item 3</a> </div>

For more info, see Using aria-haspopup to simulate hover on touch-enabled devices.

Specifying and overriding touch behaviors

By default, Internet Explorer 10 consumes touch moves, pinches, and double-taps and doesn't send events for these interactions. You can use the -ms-touch-action Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) property to override these defaults and specify the allowable touch action behaviors for your site. The following table describes the possible values.



Initial value. The browser determines the behavior for the element.


The element permits no default touch behaviors.


The element permits touch-driven panning on the horizontal axis.


The element permits touch-driven panning on the vertical axis.


The element permits pinch-zooming.


The element permits touch-driven panning and pinch-zooming. (Shorthand equivalent of "pan-x pan-y pinch-zoom").


The element permits zooming on double-tap.


The element inherits the value of -ms-touch-action from its parent.


For fine-grain control of touch-enabled element zooming and panning/scrolling, there are a number of new properties that enable you to do things like set zoom and scroll limits, set zooming and scrolling snap points, and lock the axis of panning motion or allow for free-form panning. And for controlling which elements are selectable on the page, you can use -ms-user-select, which works the same for all input types.

Developer Guide Panning and zooming, Specifying selectable text
SamplesScrolling, panning, and zooming with touch input sample, CSS User selection sample
Reference Touch: Zooming and Panning, -ms-user-select


Pointer events model

Internet Explorer 10 provides a pointer events model that enables you to easily handle all mouse, pen, touch, and multi-touch input in an abstracted form called a pointer. The events for capturing generic pointer input and the properties of those events look a lot like the ones you're used to for mouse (such as down, move, up, over, and out), with extra goodness for other forms of input and multiple pointers added in. For suggestions on handling multi-touch and mouse input in other browsers, check out the IEBlog.

A conceptual diagram illustrating the pointer events model: Three balls ("Pen," "Touch" and "Mouse") enter a funnel, coming out the bottom as "Pointer"
Developer Guide Pointer and gesture events
DemosTouch Effects, Lasso Birds, Love is in the Air, Irish Spring
Sample How to use canvas, SVG, and multi-touch to create a tiled puzzle game
Reference Events


Gesture events model

For building more advanced touch experiences, Internet Explorer 10 provides the gesture events model, which enables you to handle more complex user interactions.

Developer Guide Pointer and gesture events
DemosBrowser Surface, Touch Effects, Lasso Birds, Love is in the Air, Irish Spring
Sample How to use canvas, SVG, and multi-touch to create a tiled puzzle game
Reference Events


Touch-friendly HTML5 Forms

Internet Explorer 10 introduces support for HTML5 input controls, all of which are touch optimized. Here are just a few of the touch enhancements:

  • Select control carousels through all options, allowing continuous scrolling
  • Text input boxes provide a clear-all button
  • Scrollable sub areas of the page work with touch
  • Range control provides continuous feedback of the selected value
  • Buttons and links allow for canceling a click with touch by moving off the target
  • Radio buttons and check boxes are easy to target with touch, and touching their labels activates them as well
  • Tooltips are larger and placed further away when you touch a link than when you use a mouse

For text input, you can further improve your users' touch experiences by identifying specific input types such as email, telephone, or URL—Internet Explorer 10 will show a tailored touch keyboard layout for that input type on Windows 8.

Developer Guide HTML5 Forms
DemosTouch First Controls
SamplesForm controls sample


Related topics

Design adaptive websites
Features for adaptive layout



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Build date: 9/24/2013