Once you start playing around with Selenium, sooner or later you’re gonna face the problem of handling file uploads. It’s like a rite of passage every Selenium programmers must go through. The problem with file upload is, once you click the upload button, the select file dialog box which opens up is a owned by the OS, not the browser, so you cannot control it using Selenium, meaning we have to find our way around it. There are different ways this can be accomplished.

Directly passing file-path to the input element

In this approach, we are going to bypass the “select file” dialog box completely, passing the file-path to the webpage without ever opening it. We know that if the webpage is handling a file-upload, it must be having an input tag with type=file in it. Firstly you should check if Selenium can access this input tag and modify it. For that, try the following code —

fileinput = driver.find_element_by_id('theFileInputElement')

As you can see, we are selecting the input element, and then passing the path of the file to it using the send_keys method. An example page on which this approach would work is the image upload page of Imgur. It contains a input tag like the below mentioned HTML snippet —


Which can be handled by —


But this approach doesn’t always work. Sometimes this code will throw an error stating that the element is not accessible. Usually this happens when the webpage handles file upload through some JavaScript sorcery, instead of going the usual way. In that case, you’ll have to first modify the input element and make it accessible to Selenium. Check the following code —

fileinput = driver.find_element_by_css_selector('input.dz-hidden-input')
driver.execute_script('arguments[0].style = ""; arguments[0].style.display = "block"; arguments[0].style.visibility = "visible";', fileinput)

In the second line of the above code sample, we are running a JavaScript snippet which modifies the inaccessible <input> tag, making it visible and accessible. After this, we can send the file-path to it using send_keys, like we did above.

Another way you could do this is, using some scripting tool to control the select-file dialog box. This is not recommended at all, as there doesn’t exist any cross-platform solution to do this. For windows, you could take a look at AutoIt. But as it’s not cross-platform, I won’t recommend it.