JavaScript: Check if the current document is loaded inside an iframe

Updated: February 14, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment

In modern web development, iframes are commonly used for embedding content from one site into another. However, certain functions or styles may need to be adjusted based on whether the content is viewed within an iframe or as a standalone page. This tutorial provides a detailed guide on how to determine if the current document is loaded inside an iframe using JavaScript, covering basic checks, security considerations, and practical examples.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the technical details, it’s important to understand what an iframe is. An iframe (Inline Frame) is an HTML document embedded inside another HTML document on a web page. This feature allows web developers to insert content from another source into their webpage, which can range from videos, maps, to even other web pages.

To detect if a page is loaded within an iframe in JavaScript, the primary property to check is window.parent and These properties reference the parent and topmost browser window objects, respectively. If a document is loaded directly in the browser (not in an iframe), window.parent and will be equal to window.self, which refers to the current window.

Simple Check

Here’s a basic example to check if the current document is inside an iframe:

function isInsideIframe() {
  return window.parent !== window.self;

console.log(isInsideIframe()); // Output: true or false

This simple check can effectively tell you whether your document is being displayed inside an iframe. However, there might be security implications or restrictions, especially with cross-origin iframes, that need additional consideration.

Cross-Origin Frame Detection

When dealing with iframes that load content from a different origin (domain, protocol, or port), browsers employ security measures to prevent potentially malicious interactions. This is where things get a bit more complex due to the Same Origin Policy.

To safely check for an iframe from a different origin without causing any security errors, you can use a try-catch block to detect access to window.parent.location.href:

function isCrossOriginIframe() {
  try {
    return !!window.parent.location.href;
  } catch (e) {
    return true;

console.log(isCrossOriginIframe()); // Output: true if cross-origin

This method works because if the iframe is from a different origin, attempting to access window.parent.location.href will throw an error, which you can catch to determine that the iframe is cross-origin.

Practical Applications

Knowing whether your document is inside an iframe can offer several practical benefits. For instance, you can conditionally apply styles or execute certain JavaScript functions based on this knowledge:

if(isInsideIframe()) {
  // Apply iframe-specific JavaScript or CSS here
} else {
  // Apply regular styles or scripts

This flexibility allows for optimized user experiences regardless of how your content is being viewed.

Security Implications

While detecting if your content is loaded inside an iframe can be useful, it’s also essential to be aware of and implement security measures. Utilize the X-Frame-Options HTTP header to control whether your site can be framed by others, potentially preventing clickjacking attacks.

Here are the possible values for X-Frame-Options:

  • DENY: The page cannot be displayed in a frame, regardless of the site attempting to do so.
  • SAMEORIGIN: The page can only be displayed in a frame on the same origin as the page itself.
  • ALLOW-FROM uri: The page can only be displayed in a frame on the specified origin.


Detecting if your document is loaded inside an iframe is a valuable skill that can enhance the usability and security of your web applications. By understanding and utilizing the different techniques outlined in this tutorial, developers can ensure their content behaves appropriately in various contexts. Moreover, incorporating proper security measures when dealing with iframes is crucial for protecting your site and users.

Whether you’re optimizing your site’s layout for embedded content or implementing enhanced security features, the ability to detect if your document is loaded inside an iframe using JavaScript is an invaluable tool in your web development arsenal.