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Version: 1.23

Debugging tools

Playwright scripts work with existing debugging tools, like Node.js debuggers and browser developer tools. Playwright also introduces new debugging features for browser automation.

Playwright Inspector

Playwright Inspector is a GUI tool that helps authoring and debugging Playwright scripts. That's our default recommended tool for scripts troubleshooting.

Playwright Inspector

Playwright Trace Viewer

Playwright Trace Viewer is a GUI tool that helps troubleshooting test runs in a post-mortem manner.

Playwright Trace Viewer

Run in headed mode

Playwright runs browsers in headless mode by default. To change this behavior, use headless: false as a launch option. You can also use the slow_mo option to slow down execution and follow along while debugging.

chromium.launch(headless=False, slow_mo=100) # or firefox, webkit

Browser Developer Tools

You can use browser developer tools in Chromium, Firefox and WebKit while running a Playwright script in headed mode. Developer tools help to:

  • Inspect the DOM tree and find element selectors
  • See console logs during execution (or learn how to read logs via API)
  • Check network activity and other developer tools features
Chromium Developer Tools

Using a page.pause() method is an easy way to pause the Playwright script execution and inspect the page in Developer tools. It will also open Playwright Inspector to help with debugging.

For Chromium: you can also open developer tools through a launch option.


For WebKit: launching WebKit Inspector during the execution will prevent the Playwright script from executing any further.

Run in Debug Mode

Set the PWDEBUG environment variable to run your scripts in debug mode. Using PWDEBUG=1 will open Playwright Inspector.

Using PWDEBUG=console will configure the browser for debugging in Developer tools console:

  • Runs headed: Browsers always launch in headed mode
  • Disables timeout: Sets default timeout to 0 (= no timeout)
  • Console helper: Configures a playwright object in the browser to generate and highlight Playwright selectors. This can be used to verify text or composite selectors.
PWDEBUG=console pytest -s

Selectors in Developer Tools Console

When running in Debug Mode with PWDEBUG=console, a playwright object is available in Developer tools console.

  1. Run with PWDEBUG=console
  2. Setup a breakpoint to pause the execution
  3. Open the console panel in browser developer tools
  4. Use the playwright API
    • playwright.$(selector): Highlight the first occurrence of the selector. This reflects how page.$ would see the page.
    • playwright.$$(selector): Highlight all occurrences of the selector. This reflects how page.$$ would see the page.
    • playwright.inspect(selector): Inspect the selector in the Elements panel.
    • playwright.locator(selector): Highlight the first occurrence of the locator.
    • playwright.clear(): Clear existing highlights.
    • playwright.selector(element): Generate a selector that points to the element.
Highlight selectors

Visual Studio Code debugger (Node.js)

The VS Code debugger can be used to pause and resume execution of Playwright scripts with breakpoints. The debugger can be configured in two ways.

Use launch config

Setup launch.json configuration for your Node.js project. Once configured launch the scripts with F5 and use breakpoints.

Use the JavaScript Debug Terminal

  1. Open JavaScript Debug Terminal
  2. Set a breakpoint in VS Code
    • Use the debugger keyword or set a breakpoint in the VS Code UI
  3. Run your Node.js script from the terminal

Verbose API logs

Playwright supports verbose logging with the DEBUG environment variable.

DEBUG=pw:api pytest -s