Version: Next

Element selectors

Selectors are strings that point to the elements in the page. They are used to perform actions on those elements by means of methods such as, **kwargs), page.fill(selector, value, **kwargs) and alike. All those methods accept selector as their first argument.

Quick guide#

  • Text selector"text=Log in")
  • CSS selector"button")"#nav-bar .contact-us-item")
  • Select by attribute, with css selector"[data-test=login-button]")"[aria-label='Sign in']")
  • Combine css and text selectors"article:has-text('Playwright')")"#nav-bar :text('Contact us')")
  • Element that contains another, with css selector".item-description:has(.item-promo-banner)")
  • Selecting based on layout, with css selector"input:right-of(:text('Username'))")
  • Only visible elements, with css selector".login-button:visible")
  • Pick n-th match":nth-match(:text('Buy'), 3)"
  • XPath selector"xpath=//button")

Basic text selectors#

Text selectors locate elements that contain text nodes with the passed text."text=Log in")

Matching is case-insensitive and searches for a substring. This means text=Login matches <button>Button loGIN (click me)</button>. Matching also normalizes whitespace, for example it turns multiple spaces into one, turns line breaks into spaces and ignores leading and trailing whitespace.

Text body can be escaped with single or double quotes for full-string case-sensitive match instead. This means text="Login" will match <button>Login</button>, but not <button>Login (click me)</button> or <button>login</button>. Quoted text follows the usual escaping rules, e.g. use \" to escape double quote in a double-quoted string: text="foo\"bar". Note that quoted match still normalizes whitespace.

Text body can also be a JavaScript-like regex wrapped in / symbols. This means text=/^\\s*Login$/i will match <button> loGIN</button> with any number of spaces before "Login" and no spaces after.

Input elements of the type button and submit are rendered with their value as text, and text engine finds them. For example, text=Login matches <input type=button value="Login">.

Selector string starting and ending with a quote (either " or ') is assumed to be a text selector. For example, Playwright converts '"Login"' to 'text="Login"' internally.

Basic CSS selectors#

Playwright augments standard CSS selectors in two ways:

  • css engine pierces open shadow DOM by default.
  • Playwright adds a few custom pseudo-classes like :visible."button")

Selecting visible elements#

The :visible pseudo-class in CSS selectors matches the elements that are visible. For example, input matches all the inputs on the page, while input:visible matches only visible inputs. This is useful to distinguish elements that are very similar but differ in visibility.


It's usually better to follow the best practices and find a more reliable way to uniquely identify the element.

Consider a page with two buttons, first invisible and second visible.

<button style='display: none'>Invisible</button>
  • This will find the first button, because it is the first one in DOM order. Then it will wait for the button to become visible before clicking, or timeout while waiting:"button")
  • This will find a second button, because it is visible, and then click it."button:visible")

Use :visible with caution, because it has two major drawbacks:

  • When elements change their visibility dynamically, :visible will give unpredictable results based on the timing.
  • :visible forces a layout and may lead to querying being slow, especially when used with page.waitForSelector(selector[, options]) method.

Selecting elements that contain other elements#

The :has() pseudo-class is an experimental CSS pseudo-class. It returns an element if any of the selectors passed as parameters relative to the :scope of the given element match at least one element.

Following snippet returns text content of an <article> element that has a <div class=promo> inside.


Selecting elements matching one of the conditions#

The :is() pseudo-class is an experimental CSS pseudo-class. It is a function that takes a selector list as its argument, and selects any element that can be selected by one of the selectors in that list. This is useful for writing large selectors in a more compact form.

# Clicks a <button> that has either a "Log in" or "Sign in" text.':is(button:has-text("Log in"), button:has-text("Sign in"))')

Selecting elements by text#

The :has-text pseudo-class matches elements that have specific text somewhere inside, possibly in a child or a descendant element. It is approximately equivalent to element.textContent.includes(textToSearchFor).

The :text pseudo-class matches elements that have a text node child with specific text. It is similar to the text engine.

:has-text and :text should be used differently. Consider the following page:

<div class=nav-item>Home</div>
<div class=nav-item>
<span class=bold>New</span> products
<div class=nav-item>
<span class=bold>All</span> products
<div class=nav-item>Contact us</div>

Use :has-text() to click a navigation item that contains text "All products".'.nav-item:has-text("All products")')
# Wrong, will match many elements including <body>':has-text("All products")')
# Correct, only matches the navigation item'.nav-item:has-text("All products")')

Use :text() to click an element that directly contains text "Home".':text("Home")')

Both :has-text() and :text() perform case-insensitive match. They also normalize whitespace, for example turn multiple spaces into one, turn line breaks into spaces and ignore leading and trailing whitespace.

There are a few :text() variations that support different arguments:

  • :text("substring") - Matches when a text node inside the element contains "substring". Matching is case-insensitive and normalizes whitespace.
  • :text-is("string") - Matches when all text nodes inside the element combined have the text value equal to "string". Matching is case-insensitive and normalizes whitespace.
  • :text-matches("[+-]?\\d+") - Matches text nodes against a regular expression. Note that special characters like back-slash \, quotes ", square brackets [] and more should be escaped. Learn more about regular expressions.
  • :text-matches("value", "i") - Matches text nodes against a regular expression with specified flags.

Selecting elements in Shadow DOM#

Our css and text engines pierce the Shadow DOM by default:

  • First it searches for the elements in the light DOM in the iteration order, and
  • Then it searches recursively inside open shadow roots in the iteration order.

In particular, in css engines, any Descendant combinator or Child combinator pierces an arbitrary number of open shadow roots, including the implicit descendant combinator at the start of the selector. It does not search inside closed shadow roots or iframes.

If you'd like to opt-out of this behavior, you can use :light CSS extension or text:light selector engine. They do not pierce shadow roots.":light(.article > .header)")

More advanced Shadow DOM use cases:

<div>In the light dom</div>
<div slot='myslot'>In the light dom, but goes into the shadow slot</div>
<div class='in-the-shadow'>
<span class='content'>
In the shadow dom
<li id='target'>Deep in the shadow</li>
<slot name='myslot'></slot>
  • Both "article div" and ":light(article div)" match the first <div>In the light dom</div>.
  • Both "article > div" and ":light(article > div)" match two div elements that are direct children of the article.
  • "article .in-the-shadow" matches the <div class='in-the-shadow'>, piercing the shadow root, while ":light(article .in-the-shadow)" does not match anything.
  • ":light(article div > span)" does not match anything, because both light-dom div elements do not contain a span.
  • "article div > span" matches the <span class='content'>, piercing the shadow root.
  • "article > .in-the-shadow" does not match anything, because <div class='in-the-shadow'> is not a direct child of article
  • ":light(article > .in-the-shadow)" does not match anything.
  • "article li#target" matches the <li id='target'>Deep in the shadow</li>, piercing two shadow roots.

Selecting elements based on layout#

Playwright can select elements based on the page layout. These can be combined with regular CSS for better results, for example input:right-of(:text("Password")) matches an input field that is to the right of text "Password".


Layout selectors depend on the page layout and may produce unexpected results. For example, a different element could be matched when layout changes by one pixel.

Layout selectors use bounding client rect to compute distance and relative position of the elements.

  • :right-of(inner > selector) - Matches elements that are to the right of any element matching the inner selector.
  • :left-of(inner > selector) - Matches elements that are to the left of any element matching the inner selector.
  • :above(inner > selector) - Matches elements that are above any of the elements matching the inner selector.
  • :below(inner > selector) - Matches elements that are below any of the elements matching the inner selector.
  • :near(inner > selector) - Matches elements that are near (within 50 CSS pixels) any of the elements matching the inner selector.
# Fill an input to the right of "Username".
page.fill('input:right-of(:text("Username"))', 'value')
# Click a button near the promo card.'button:near(.promo-card)')

XPath selectors#

XPath selectors are equivalent to calling Document.evaluate. Example: xpath=//html/body.

Selector starting with // or .. is assumed to be an xpath selector. For example, Playwright converts '//html/body' to 'xpath=//html/body'.


xpath does not pierce shadow roots

id, data-testid, data-test-id, data-test selectors#

Attribute engines are selecting based on the corresponding attribute value. For example: data-test-id=foo is equivalent to css=[data-test-id="foo"], and id:light=foo is equivalent to css:light=[id="foo"].

Pick n-th match from the query result#

Sometimes page contains a number of similar elements, and it is hard to select a particular one. For example:

<section> <button>Buy</button> </section>
<article><div> <button>Buy</button> </div></article>
<div><div> <button>Buy</button> </div></div>

In this case, :nth-match(:text("Buy"), 3) will select the third button from the snippet above. Note that index is one-based.

# Click the third "Buy" button":nth-match(:text('Buy'), 3)"

:nth-match() is also useful to wait until a specified number of elements appear, using page.wait_for_selector(selector, **kwargs).

# Wait until all three buttons are visible
page.wait_for_selector(":nth-match(:text('Buy'), 3)")

Unlike :nth-child(), elements do not have to be siblings, they could be anywhere on the page. In the snippet above, all three buttons match :text("Buy") selector, and :nth-match() selects the third button.


It is usually possible to distinguish elements by some attribute or text content. In this case, prefer using text or css selectors over the :nth-match().

Chaining selectors#

Selectors defined as engine=body or in short-form can be combined with the >> token, e.g. selector1 >> selector2 >> selectors3. When selectors are chained, next one is queried relative to the previous one's result.

For example,

css=article >> > .baz >> css=span[attr=value]

If a selector needs to include >> in the body, it should be escaped inside a string to not be confused with chaining separator, e.g. text="some >> text".

Intermediate matches#

By default, chained selectors resolve to an element queried by the last selector. A selector can be prefixed with * to capture elements that are queried by an intermediate selector.

For example, css=article >> text=Hello captures the element with the text Hello, and *css=article >> text=Hello (note the *) captures the article element that contains some element with the text Hello.

Best practices#

The choice of selectors determines the resiliency of automation scripts. To reduce the maintenance burden, we recommend prioritizing user-facing attributes and explicit contracts.

Prioritize user-facing attributes#

Attributes like text content, input placeholder, accessibility roles and labels are user-facing attributes that change rarely. These attributes are not impacted by DOM structure changes.

The following examples use the built-in text and css selector engines.

# queries "Login" text selector'text="Login"')'"Login"') # short-form
# queries "Search GitHub" placeholder attribute
page.fill('css=[placeholder="Search GitHub"]')
page.fill('[placeholder="Search GitHub"]') # short-form
# queries "Close" accessibility label'css=[aria-label="Close"]')'[aria-label="Close"]') # short-form
# combine role and text queries'css=nav >> text=Login')

Define explicit contract#

When user-facing attributes change frequently, it is recommended to use explicit test ids, like data-test-id. These data-* attributes are supported by the css and id selectors.

<button data-test-id="directions">Itinéraire</button>
# queries data-test-id attribute with css'css=[data-test-id=directions]')'[data-test-id=directions]') # short-form
# queries data-test-id with id'data-test-id=directions')

Avoid selectors tied to implementation#

xpath and css can be tied to the DOM structure or implementation. These selectors can break when the DOM structure changes.

# avoid long css or xpath chains'#tsf > div:nth-child(2) > div.A8SBwf > div.RNNXgb > div > div.a4bIc > input')'//*[@id="tsf"]/div[2]/div[1]/div[1]/div/div[2]/input')