Identifying elements in the page | Inspect attributes like id, class, name etc of an element

  In the Previous Tutorial, we wrote and run our very first Selenium script. In this tutorial, we will explore different ways of identifying elements in a web page. We’ll try to uniquely identify elements in the page using its one of the following attributes –

  • id attribute
  • name attribute
  • class attribute

What is a UI element in a web page?

A webpage consists of different UI items – buttons, links, inputs boxes, drop-down lists, checkboxes, radio buttons, plain texts etc. These are called WebElements or Objects in Test Automation world.

In order to perform any action (like click, type, select etc) on these elements, Selenium needs to locate them uniquely on the page. To help Selenium locate these UI elements, we need to find their properties on the page.

In this website, we’ll use Google Chrome’s developer tool to inspect properties of UI elements. The developer tools is in-build with the Chrome browser. You are free to use other tools like Firepath for Mozilla Firefox or IE’s developer tools.

Inspecting a UI element

Let us take an example of the Google homepage. In this page, we will try to find the attributes of the ‘Google Search Box’ element.

  • Let us launch the Google Chrome browser and navigate to
  • Right-Click on the ‘Google Search Box’ and select ”Inspect Element’
  • The above operation should display the HTML source code snippet for that element (Google Search Box)
  • The HTML source code snippet displayed in the above screenshot contains the attributes or properties for the ‘Google Search Box’ element.
  • Let us look closely at it. I have omitted most of the attributes so that we can focus on the required attributes.
<input class="gsfi" id="lst-ib" name="q"

As we can notice the ‘tag name’ for the element is input. It has the following attributes – class, id, name and some more. Selenium WebDriver provides means through which we can use these attributes to locate that element.

Here is a catch. We must use the attribute that can uniquely identify any element.

What do you mean by uniquely identifying the element?

Well, it may happen that there are multiple elements on the page that have the same value of a particular attribute. Like, they all have class attribute whose value is email. If we use this attribute/value pair with Selenium, it will act on the first matching element on the web page while ignoring the rest of the matching elements. And it may be the case that we actually wanted the second element.

How to search for an element on the page?

We can use the search functionality of the Chrome developer tools. Click the Elements tab in the inspect window and use Ctrl+f or Cmd+f to open the search window. You can search for the attribute value and check if it appears in the search result.

That is impressive. It means we can locate all elements on the page so easily.

No, my dear. You are not that much lucky always. Sometimes none of the properties can be able to identify that element uniquely. In that case, we will use XPath and CSS selectors. 

What is that?

We have covered it in the Next Tutorial.

7 thoughts on “Identifying elements in the page | Inspect attributes like id, class, name etc of an element”

  1. Hi Dan, In that case you can use id=searchText… Although I checked Google US through proxy and the properties were same as I posted in this tutorial. Can you please double check… Are you inspecting the search box of any custom Google homepage like the ones comes as default in Firefox. In that case you may see different properties.. I believe you inspected

  2. Hi Shadab,

    Please specify, that "Inspect Element(Q)" option is available only when Selenium IDE is already launched.

    Thank you for great tutorials!


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