Get text from hidden elements using Selenium WebDriver

Published: by Creative Commons Licence (Last updated: )

Recently Updated - January 16, 2017

As defined in WebDriver spec, Selenium WebDriver will only interact with visible elements, therefore the text of an invisible element will always be returned as an empty string.

However, in some cases, one may find it useful to get the hidden text, which can be retrieved from element's textContent, innerText or innerHTML attribute, by calling element.attribute('attributeName') or injecting JavaScript like return arguments[0].attributeName.

  • innerHTML will return the inner HTML of this element, which contains all HTML tags inside.
    For example, innerHTML for <div>Hello <p>World!</p></div> would be Hello <p>World!</p> instead of Hello World!.
  • textContent and innerText will only retrieve all text content of its descendants without any HTML tags.
    • textContent is a W3C-compliant textContent property[1], but sadly is not supported by IE[2].
    • innerText is not part of the W3C DOM specification and not supported by Firefox.

Here is a brief demonstration on how to get text from hidden elements using Selenium WebDriver .NET, Ruby and Python bindings.

Ruby

Environment Tested:
Mac OS Sierra, Ruby 2.3.1p112, Selenium 3.0.5, ChromeDriver 2.26, GeckoDriver 0.13
Chrome 55, Firefox 50.1, PhantomJS 1.9.8

require 'selenium-webdriver'

DEMO_PAGE = <<-eos
    data:text/html,
    <p>Demo page for how to get text from hidden elements using Selenium WebDriver.</p>
    <div id='demo-div'>Demo div <p style='display:none'>with a hidden paragraph inside.</p><hr /><br /></div>
eos

driver = Selenium::WebDriver.for :phantomjs
driver.navigate.to(DEMO_PAGE)

demo_div = driver.find_element(:id, 'demo-div')

puts demo_div.attribute('innerHTML')
puts driver.execute_script("return arguments[0].innerHTML", demo_div)

puts demo_div.attribute('textContent')
puts driver.execute_script("return arguments[0].textContent", demo_div)

driver.quit

C#

Environment Tested:
Windows 7, Selenium 2.40.0, PhantomJS 1.9.7

using System;
using OpenQA.Selenium;
using OpenQA.Selenium.PhantomJS;
using OpenQA.Selenium.Support.Extensions;

namespace GetHiddenText {

    internal class Program {

        private const string DEMO_PAGE = @"data:text/html,
            <p>Demo page for how to get text from hidden elements using Selenium WebDriver.</p>
            <div id='demo-div'>Demo div <p style='display:none'>with a hidden paragraph inside.</p><hr /><br /></div>";

        internal static void Main(string[] args) {
            IWebDriver driver = new PhantomJSDriver();
            driver.Navigate().GoToUrl(DEMO_PAGE);

            IWebElement demoDiv = driver.FindElement(By.Id("demo-div"));

            Console.WriteLine(demoDiv.GetAttribute("innerHTML"));
            Console.WriteLine(driver.ExecuteJavaScript<string>("return arguments[0].innerHTML", demoDiv));

            Console.WriteLine(demoDiv.GetAttribute("textContent"));
            Console.WriteLine(driver.ExecuteJavaScript<string>("return arguments[0].textContent", demoDiv));

            driver.Quit();
        }
    }
}

Python

Environment Tested:
Windows 7, Python 2.7.5, Selenium 2.41.0, PhantomJS 1.9.7
Linux Mint 16, Python 2.7.5+, Selenium 2.41.0, PhantomJS 1.9.7

from selenium import webdriver

DEMO_PAGE = '''data:text/html,
    <p>Demo page for how to get text from hidden elements using Selenium WebDriver.</p>
    <div id='demo-div'>Demo div <p style='display:none'>with a hidden paragraph inside.</p><hr /><br /></div>'''

driver = webdriver.PhantomJS()
driver.get(DEMO_PAGE)

demo_div = driver.find_element_by_id("demo-div")

print demo_div.get_attribute('innerHTML')
print driver.execute_script("return arguments[0].innerHTML", demo_div)

print demo_div.get_attribute('textContent')
print driver.execute_script("return arguments[0].textContent", demo_div)

driver.quit

Output

Demo div <p style="display:none">with a hidden paragraph inside.</p><hr><br>
Demo div <p style="display:none">with a hidden paragraph inside.</p><hr><br>

Demo div with a hidden paragraph inside.
Demo div with a hidden paragraph inside.


[1]: W3C-compliant textContent property

[2]: W3C DOM Compatibility#textContent