min-width vs max-with in Media Queries

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TIL a succinct way to remember the difference between using min-width and max-width in a media query.

I spent part of today fixing up the mobile view of a few of my site’s components. I wound up needing to write a media query for the pagination component at the bottom of my homepage: a simplified version of the pagination component renders when the screen is below 600px, and a more complex version renders at larger widths.

The queries I wound up using look like this:

$small : 600px;

.show-on-mobile {
  @include breakpoint(min-width $small + 1) {
    display: none;
  }
}

.hide-on-mobile {
  @include breakpoint(max-width $small) {
    display: none;
  }
}

Note: the breakpoint mixin makes writing media queries less verbose and more semantic.

Here are english translations of min-width and max-width:

min-width: applies styles at screen widths greater than or equal to the specified pixel value. In other words, this represents the minimum screen width at which a style is applied. Elements with the class .show-on-mobile will have the style display: none; applied at screen widths greater than or equal to 601px.

max-width: applies styles at screen widths less than or equal to the specified pixel value. In other words, this represents the maximum screen width at which a style is applied. Elements with the class .hide-on-mobile will have the style display: none; applied at screen widths less than or equal to 600px.

Notice that .show-on-mobile is set to apply at screen widths 601px and greater… initially I had both of these set to 600px, but since min and max width both apply at values equal to the specified pixel width, both MQs were applying at exactly 600px and the pagination buttons were disappearing.

Changing .show-on-mobile to 601px makes the mobile view show at 600px, then hide at 601px when the non-mobile view is unhidden (and .hide-on-mobile no longer takes effect).

The behaviors of min-width and max-width were reversed in my head when I started writing my MQs. i.e. it is somewhat counter intuitive to me that a min-width query represents styles that will be applied at widths greater than the specified pixel value. Thinking about these properties in terms of “min width at which a style is applied” and “max-width at which a style is applied” makes more logical sense to me.

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