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Playwright Guide: How To Take Screenshots

Taking screenshots is a fundamental aspect of web scraping and testing with Playwright. Screenshots not only serve as a valuable tool for debugging and analysis but also document the state of a webpage at a specific point in time.

In this guide, we will focus on how to take screenshots of web pages using Playwright and we'll walk you through:

How To Take Screenshots With Playwright

To take screenshot of a web page, you can use the page.screenshot() method. The screenshot() method accepts an object with different properties that control various aspects of the resulting image:

PropertyDescriptionDefault value
pathThe file path to save the image. If no path is provided, the image won't be saved to the disk.-
typeSpecifies the format of the screenshot. Can be png or jpeg.png
qualityQuality of the image, between 0-100. Not applicable to png images.-
fullPageWhen true, takes screenshot of the full page.false
clipSpecifies the area of the page to clip. The area is specified by the x, y, width and height parameters.-
omitBackgroundHides the default white background and allows capturing screenshots with transparency.false

These properties offer flexibility in capturing screenshots tailored to your specific needs, whether it's capturing the entire page, a specific region, adjusting image quality, or enabling transparency.

Before you start writing code, make sure that you have installed NodeJS on your machine. For installing Playwright, you can use this command:

npm i playwright playwright-chromium

The above command also installs playwright-chromium package which allows you to use chromium browser with playwright.

Now, let's capture screenshot of the home page of QuotesToScrape:

const playwright = require('playwright');

(async () => {
const browser = await playwright.launch({headless: "new"});
const page = await browser.newPage();
await page.goto('https://quotes.toscrape.com');

await page.screenshot({ path: 'example.png' });

await browser.close();
})()

Quotes to Scrape Homepage Screenshot

In the code above, we created a simple Playwright script that automates a headless browser to navigate to a webpage, take a screenshot, and then close the browser.


Use Cases For Taking Screenshots of Web Pages

Here are several use cases for capturing screenshots of web pages:

  • Automated Testing

    • Visual Regression Testing: Capture screenshots to detect visual changes in a web page over time.
    • UI Testing: Verify that user interfaces display correctly and consistently.
    • Cross-Browser Testing: Ensure web pages look and function as expected across different browsers.
  • Web Scraping and Monitoring

    • Data Extraction: Use screenshots to gather visual data from dynamic or interactive web content.
    • Content Monitoring: Monitor web pages for changes and capture screenshots to track content updates.
  • Headless Browser Interactions

    • Capturing State Changes: Take screenshots during headless browser interactions to document different states.
    • Debugging: Use screenshots as part of the debugging process to visually inspect page behavior.
  • Documentation and Reporting

    • Documentation: Include screenshots in documentation to provide visual context or step-by-step guides.
    • Reporting: Use screenshots for visual reporting, showcasing specific web page states or issues.

How to Take Screenshot of the Full Page

To take screenshot of the full page, pass the fullPage: true flag to the screenshot() method. Here is an example:

const { chromium } = require('playwright');

(async () => {
const browser = await chromium.launch();
const page = await browser.newPage();

await page.goto('https://quotes.toscrape.com');
await page.screenshot({ path: 'full-page.png', fullPage: true });

await browser.close();
})()

Quotes to Scrape Full-Page Screenshot


How to Take Screenshot of a Specific Area or ViewPort

Viewport is the portion of web page that a user can see in their browser window without scrolling. To take screenshot of a specific viewport, you first need to set the viewport size with the setViewportSize() method.

const { chromium } = require('playwright');

(async () => {
const browser = await chromium.launch();
const page = await browser.newPage();

await page.setViewportSize({ width: 1920, height: 1080 });
await page.goto('https://quotes.toscrape.com');
await page.screenshot({ path: 'viewport.png' });

await browser.close();
})()

Capturing screenshot of a specific area within the viewport is done by passing the clip flag. It takes an object with x, y, height, and width properties. You can use these properties to specify the exact area you want to capture.

const playwright = require('playwright');

(async () => {
const browser = await playwright.launch({ headless: "new" });
const page = await browser.newPage();
await page.setViewportSize({ width: 1920, height: 1080 });
await page.goto('https://quotes.toscrape.com');

await page.screenshot({ path: 'clip.png', clip: {
x: 0,
y: 0,
width: 1920,
height: 400
}});

await browser.close();
})()

Quotes to Scrape Clip


How to Take Screenshot of a Specific DOM Element

To take screenshot of a specific element, you first need to select that element using the page.locator() method, which takes a CSS selector as a parameter.

Once you have selected an element, you can use the screenshot() method on it, just like we did with the page. Let's capture screenshot of the first quote from QuotesToScrape website:

const { chromium } = require('playwright');

(async () => {
const browser = await chromium.launch();
const page = await browser.newPage();

await page.goto('https://quotes.toscrape.com');

const element = await page.locator("div.quote:nth-child(1)");
await element.screenshot({ path: 'element.png' });

await browser.close();
})()

Quotes to Scrape First Quote Screenshot

Avoid using fullPage and clip flags, when using screenshot() method on elements. Otherwise you will get a 'clip' and 'fullPage' are exclusive error.


How to Take Multiple Screenshots

You might want to capture multiple screenshots of different web pages for comparison or documentation purposes. To do this, create an array containing the URLs of the desired web pages. Traverse through the array, accessing each page and capturing the screenshot.

We will put all the screenshots in a folder named "screenshots".

mkdir screenshots

Here is an example code to compare how home pages of different browsers appear on screen, by using a single Playwright script:

const { chromium } = require('playwright');

(async () => {
const browser = await chromium.launch();
const page = await browser.newPage();

await page.setViewportSize({ width: 1920, height: 1080 });

const urls = [
'https://www.google.com',
'https://www.bing.com',
'https://www.opera.com'
];

let id = 1;
for (const url of urls) {
console.log(`Capturing screenshot of ${url}`)
await page.goto(url);
await page.screenshot({ path: `screenshots/IMG_0${id++}.png` });
}

await browser.close();
})()

How to Manage the Screenshot Quality?

To adjust the quality of the screenshot, you can use the quality option in the screenshot() method. You can specify a value between 0 and 100 for the quality option, where 100 is the highest quality.

await page.screenshot({ path: 'screenshot.jpg', quality: 50 });

Note that quality option is only supported for jpeg screenshots.


How to Manage the Screenshot Resolution?

The resolution of screenshot in Playwright is determined by the viewport size. If you need a higher resolution screenshot, you would set the viewport to a larger width and height. This simulates a larger screen and captures more pixels.

await page.setViewportSize({ width: 1920, height: 1080 });
await page.screenshot({ path: 'screenshot.png' });

How to Capture into buffer?

Rather than writing into a file, you can get a buffer with the image and post-process it or pass it to a third party pixel diff facility.

const buffer = await page.screenshot();
console.log(buffer.toString('base64'));

Generate PDFs Of Web Pages

While both PDFs and screenshots serve as visual representations of web content, there are specific scenarios where opting for PDFs is more advantageous:

  • Textual Content and Readability: PDFs maintain the integrity of textual content, ensuring that it remains selectable and searchable. This is particularly useful when preserving the readability of textual information is crucial.

  • Print-Friendly Format: PDFs are inherently designed for print, making them an ideal choice when users may need to print or share documents in a format that retains the intended layout and structure.

  • Multi-Page Content: When web pages contain lengthy or multi-page content, generating a PDF provides a more concise and organized way to capture the entire content flow.

  • Interactive Elements: PDFs can embed interactive elements, such as hyperlinks and form fields, providing a more immersive and functional representation of web content.

The PDF generation is accomplished using the page.pdf() method. This method accepts an object with options, controlling margins, page count, formats, etc. You can explore these options here. Here is an example code for generating PDF of the QuotesToScrape website in "A4" format.

const playwright = require('playwright');

(async () => {
const browser = await playwright.launch({headless: "new"});
const page = await browser.newPage();
await page.goto('https://quotes.toscrape.com');
await page.pdf({ path: 'file.pdf', format: 'A4' });
await browser.close();
})();

Fixing Common Errors While Using page.screenshot() Method

Let's explore some common errors that might occur while taking screenshots with Playwright's screenshot() method and understand how to fix them.

  • Invalid Selector Error: When you’re capturing screenshot of an element and the selector does not match any elements on the page, Playwright will throw an error. To fix this, check the browser's inspect tab, and make sure that the selector is correct and matches an element on the page.

  • Timeout Error: If the page takes too long to load, Playwright may throw a timeout error. You can increase the timeout limit by passing a timeout option to the page.goto() method. Here is how to set the timeout to 5 seconds:

await page.goto('https://quotes.toscrape.com', { timeout: 5000 });
  • File Path Issues: If you’re having trouble saving the screenshot to a file, make sure that the file path is correct and that you have write permissions to the directory. You can also try using an absolute file path instead of a relative file path.

  • Resource Load Issues: If the screenshot is not loading or is incomplete, it may be because the page contains dynamic content that takes time to load. To fix this, you can pass the waitUntil: networkidle flag to the page.goto() method. networkidle consider navigation to be finished when there are no network requests for at least 500 milli-seconds.

await page.goto(url, { waitUntil: 'networkidle' });
await page.screenshot({ path: 'screenshot.png' });
  • Image Not Loading You can use page.waitForSelector() method to wait for a specific element to appear on the page before capturing screenshot. Here’s an example code that demonstrates how to wait for all the images to render before taking screenshot:
await page.waitForSelector('img', {
visible: true
});
await page.screenshot({ path: 'screenshot.png' });

The visible flag will ensure that all the images are available and loaded.

  • Slow Screenshot Times: If the screenshot is taking too long to capture, you can try reducing the quality of the screenshot by using the quality option. For example, you can reduce the quality of image to 50%.
// quality option is only supported for jpeg format
await page.screenshot({ path: 'screenshot.jpeg', quality: 50 });

Alternatively, you can try reducing the size of the viewport to capture fewer pixels. Try setting the viewport to a smaller size like 800x600.

await page.setViewportSize({ width: 800, height: 600 });
await page.screenshot({ path: 'screenshot.png' });

Conclusion

In this guide, we explored how to capture web page screenshots efficiently. Playwright proves versatile, from basic usage to advanced techniques like capturing full-page and specific element screenshots.

We highlighted the use cases of screenshots and PDFs in testing, monitoring, and documentation. The guide concludes with some tips to resolve most common errors that might occur while taking screenshots, ensuring a smooth experience. Mastering Playwright's screenshot and PDF generating capabilities enhances web development workflows and user communication.

More Web Scraping Tutorials

If you would like to learn more about Web Scraping with Playwright, then be sure to check out The Playwright Web Scraping Playbook.

Or check out one of our more in-depth guides: