Locators for Selenium

Selenium webdriver uses 8 locators to find the elements on web page. The following are the list of object identifier or locators supported by selenium.

We have prioritized the list of locators to be used when scripting.

id Select element with the specified @id attribute.

Name Select first element with the specified @name attribute.

Linktext Select link (anchor tag) element which contains text matching the specified link text

Partial Linktext Select link (anchor tag) element which contains text matching the specified partial link text

Tag Name Locate Element using a Tag Name .

Class name Locate Element using a Tag Name ..

Css Select the element using css selectors. You can check here for Css examples and You can also refer W3C CSS Locatros

Xpath Locate an element using an XPath expression.

Locating an Element By ID:
The most efficient way and preferred way to locate an element on a web page is By ID. ID will be the unique on web page which can be easily identified.
IDs are the safest and fastest locator option and should always be the first choice even when there are multiple choices, It is like an Employee Number or Account which will be unique.
Example 1:

<div id="toolbar">.....</div>

Example 2:

<input id="email" class="required" type="text"/>

We can write the scripts as

WebElement Ele = driver.findElement(By.id("toolbar"));

Unfortunately there are many cases where an element does not have a unique id (or the ids are dynamically generated and unpredictable like GWT). In these cases we need to choose an alternative locator strategy, however if possible we should ask development team of the web application to add few ids to a page specifically for (any) automation testing.

Locating an Element By Name:
When there is no Id to use, the next worth seeing if the desired element has a name attribute. But make sure there the name cannot be unique all the times. If there are multiple names, Selenium will always perform action on the first matching element

<input name="register" class="required" type="text"/>
WebElement register= driver.findElement(By.name("register"));

Locating an Element By LinkText:
Finding an element with link text is very simple. But make sure, there is only one unique link on the web page. If there are multiple links with the same link text (such as repeated header and footer menu links), in such cases Selenium will perform action on the first matching element with link.


<a href="http://www.seleniumhq.org">Downloads</a>
WebElement download = driver.findElement(By.linkText("Downloads"));

Locating an Element By Partial LinkText:
In the same way as LinkText, PartialLinkText also works in the same pattern.

User can provide partial link text to locate the element.

<a href="seleniumhq.org">Download selenium server</a>
WebElement download = driver.findElement(By.PartialLinkText("Download"));

Locating an Element By TagName:
TagName can be used with Group elements like , Select and check-boxes / dropdowns.
below is the example code:

Select select = new Select(driver.findElement(By.tagName("select")));

Locating an Element By Class Name:
There may be multiple elements with the same name, if we just use findElementByClassName,m make sure it is only one. If not the you need to extend using the classname and its sub elements.

WebElement classtest =driver.findElement(By.className(“sample”));

CSS Selector:
CSS mainly used to provide style rules for the web pages and we can use for identifying one or more elements in the web page using css.
If you start using css selectors to identify elements, you will love the speed when compared with XPath. Check this for more details on Css selectors examples

We can you use Css Selectors to make sure scripts run with the same speed in IE browser. CSS selector is always the best possible way to locate complex elements in the page.


WebElement CheckElements = driver.findElements(By.cssSelector("input[id=email']"));

XPath Selector:
XPath is designed to allow the navigation of XML documents, with the purpose of selecting individual elements, attributes, or some other part of an XML document for specific processing

There are two types of xpath

1. Native Xpath, it is like directing the xpath to go in direct way. like

Here the advantage of specifying native path is, finding an element is very easy as we are mention the direct path. But if there is any change in the path (if some thing has been added/removed) then that xpath will break.

2. Relative Xpath.
In relative xpath we will provide the relative path, it is like we will tell the xpath to find an element by telling the path in between.
Advantage here is, if at all there is any change in the html that works fine, until unless that particular path has changed. Finding address will be quite difficult as it need to check each and every node to find that path.

Example Syntax to work with Image

    xpath=//img[@alt='image alt text goes here']

Example syntax to work with table


Example syntax to work with anchor tag

    xpath=//a[contains(@href,'href goes here')]

Example syntax to work with input tags

    xpath=//input[@name='name2' and @value='yes']

We will take and sample XML document and we will explain different methods available to locate an element using Xpath
Click here detailed information on XPath selectors

Selenium Tutorials: 


very clear explanation

agree with u..

Very good explanation. Simple laguage.helps beginners

Excelllent information about identification of elements, but can u give more examples on 'CSS Selector'

And making intrest to learn


Thanks for the detailed explanation! This really helps.

One question that I have is that will there be any web elements without attributes or locators?

Thank you!

Potentially every element on web page needs to have itself associated with a class or a potential identifier. If it doesnt have a clear identifier property ... we generally use different methods to locate the object.


Captcha element

we can not locate this webelement in webpage.We have to test this element manually.

Nice explation

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