Understanding Implicit vs. Explicit Waits in Selenium

Understanding Implicit vs. Explicit Waits in Selenium

3 July 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment QA

In Selenium, managing the timing of web page element interactions is crucial for ensuring reliable and efficient test execution. Two common methods for handling wait times are implicit and explicit waits. This article will guide you through understanding when and how to use these waits effectively.

Implicit Waits

Implicit waits are applied globally to the WebDriver instance, meaning that the driver will wait for a specified amount of time before throwing a NoSuchElementException. This approach can simplify the code but comes with significant drawbacks.

  • Pros: Easy to implement and requires fewer lines of code.
  • Cons: Can lead to increased test execution times, as the driver waits for the maximum time for each element. This can be particularly problematic if different browsers have varying loading times.

For example, if you set an implicit wait of 10 seconds, every element search will wait up to 10 seconds before failing, even if the element is already present. This can significantly slow down your tests.

Explicit Waits

Explicit waits are more granular and allow you to wait for specific conditions to occur before proceeding with the next step. This method is generally preferred for its flexibility and efficiency.

  • Pros: More control over wait conditions, which can lead to faster and more reliable tests.
  • Cons: Requires more code and can be more complex to implement.

Explicit waits make use of the WebDriverWait class and expected conditions to pause the execution until a particular condition is met.

Best Practices

Based on practical experiences and expert recommendations, it is generally advisable to avoid using implicit waits unless you have a very compelling reason.

  • Use explicit waits for specific elements or conditions to optimize your test execution time.
  • Avoid setting long implicit waits, as they can lead to unnecessarily long test runs.
  • If you find explicit waits too verbose, consider using FluentWait for a more streamlined approach.

Practical Example: Implementing Explicit Waits

Here is a simple example of using an explicit wait in Selenium:

from selenium.webdriver.common.by import By
from selenium.webdriver.support.ui import WebDriverWait
from selenium.webdriver.support import expected_conditions as EC

element = WebDriverWait(driver, 10).until(
    EC.presence_of_element_located((By.ID, "myElement"))


While implicit waits may seem simpler, their drawbacks often outweigh the benefits. Explicit waits offer more control and efficiency, making them the preferred choice for most Selenium test scenarios. For more advanced techniques and strategies, check out our comprehensive guides on advanced testing techniques and running test batches.

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