The CSS background-image property sets one or several background images for an element. The images are drawn on stacking context layers on top of each other. The first layer specified is drawn as if it is closest to the user.

The borders of the element are then drawn on top of them, and the background-color is drawn beneath them. How the images are drawn relative to the box and its borders is defined by the background-clip and background-origin CSS properties.

If a specified image cannot be drawn (for example, when the file denoted by the specified URI cannot be loaded), browsers handle it as they would a none value.

Note: Even if the images are opaque and the color won't be displayed in normal circumstances, web developers should always specify a background-color. If the images cannot be loaded—for instance, when the network is down—the background color will be used as a fallback.


background-image: none;
background-image: url(;

background-image: inherit;


Is a keyword denoting the absence of images.
Is an <image> denoting the image to display. There can be several of them, separated by commas, as multiple backgrounds are supported.

Formal syntax


<bg-image> = none | <image>


Transparent and opaque images

View the live example

Multiple backgrounds and transparency

Note that the star image is partially transparent and is layered over the cat image.

HTML Content

    <p class="catsandstars">
        This paragraph is full of cats<br />and stars.
    <p>This paragraph is not.</p>
    <p class="catsandstars">
        Here are more cats for you.<br />Look at them!
    <p>And no more.</p>

CSS Content

pre, p {
    font-size: 1.5em;
    color: #FE7F88;
    background-color: transparent;

div {
  background-image: url("");

p {
  background-image: none;

.catsandstars {
  background-image:  url(""), 
  background-color: transparent;


Specification Status Comment
CSS Backgrounds and Borders Module Level 3
The definition of 'background-image' in that specification.
Candidate Recommendation From CSS2 Revision 1, the property has been extended to support multiple backgrounds and any <image> CSS data type.
CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of 'background-image' in that specification.
Recommendation From CSS1, the way images with and without intrinsic dimensions are handled is now described.
CSS Level 1
The definition of 'background-image' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support 1.0 1.0 (1.7 or earlier)[1] 4.0 3.5 1.0
Multiple backgrounds 1.0 3.6 (1.9.2) 9.0 (Yes) 1.3
Gradients 1.0-webkit 3.6 (1.9.2)-moz 10 11-o 4.0-webkit
SVG images 8.0 4.0 (2.0) 9.0 9.5 5.0 [2]
element ? (Yes)-moz Not supported Not supported Not supported
image-rect Not supported (Yes)-moz Not supported Not supported Not supported
Any <image> value. ? Not supported ? ? ?
Feature Safari Mobile Opera Mini Opera Mobile Android
Basic support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)
Multiple backgrounds (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)
Gradients (Yes) -webkit
? ? (Yes) -webkit [4]
SVG images (Yes) [2] (Yes) (Yes) Not supported
element (Yes)-moz ? ? ?
image-rect (Yes)-moz Not supported Not supported Not supported
Any <image> value Not supported ? ? ?

[1] If the browser.display.use_document_colors user preference in about:config is set to false, background images will not de displayed.

[2] Support of SVG in CSS background is incomplete in the current version of iOS Safari (5.0). The same for Safari prior 5.0.

[3] Old webkit syntax for iOS 4.2 and older

[4] Old webkit syntax

See also