Getting Started with Selenium in Python

I just spent a day doing some browser automation with Selenium in Python, and man-oh-man is it fun! I was surprised at how quickly I was able to get setup and productive, and I thought I’d put together a quick getting started guide to celebrate.


If you’re starting from scratch (no Python), then the first thing you’ll want to do is install Python. Head on over to and grab a copy. If you install Python 2, you’ll also want to install pip. (Python 3 ships with pip, so it is not necessary to install it yourself.)

With Python and pip, installing Selenium is done with a single command:

pip install selenium

That’s it, now you’re ready to get to automatin’!

Hello World

Open your favorite text editor and create a new file. The first thing you’ll do is import the selenium.webdriver module. Then, you’ll instantiate a webdriver. And then you’ll automate whatever you want!

Here is a script that goes to google and types “hello world” into the box.

from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import Keys

driver = webdriver.Firefox()
driver.find_element_by_id("gbqfq").send_keys("hello world")


I only have one day’s worth of knowledge as I’m writing this, but what I’ve found to work well is to use Chrome’s right-click > Inspect element function for each element that I need to find or interact with and type it into my Python script.

For example, if I wanted to automate entering data into a form, I’d inspect the element to find its id or other identifiable trait (name, css), then type it into my script.

Here’s how you might automate logging into a website:

    <input id="username" type="text"></input>
    <button id="login-submit" type="submit">Submit</button>

And here’s how you might validate that the login was successful:

<div class="banner">
    <span>Welcome, admin</span>
assert "Welcome, admin" in driver.find_element_by_css_selector("div.banner span").text

Super easy, super fun! Want to learn more? Start here!


Author: Adam Prescott

I'm enthusiastic and passionate about creating intuitive, great-looking software. I strive to find the simplest solutions to complex problems, and I embrace agile principles and test-driven development.

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