Part 2: Waits in Selenium: Implicit Wait

Hello Folks,

In last post, we have learnt about Thread.sleep() method. In this post we will learn:

  1. What is implicit wait?
  2. How to use implicit wait?
  3. What is behavior of implicit wait when element is found before specified time?
  4. What is behavior of implicit wait when element is not found and specified wait time expires?
  5. Difference between implicit wait and sleep methods?
  6. Disadvantages of implicit wait?

We have seen disadvantages of using sleep() method in last post. Selenium WebDriver provides another method called “Implicit Wait” to allow us to make WebDriver to wait. Let’s learn about it.

What is implicit wait?

  • Implicit wait specifies the amount of time the driver should wait when searching for an element if it is not immediately present.
  • In last post’s example, we see that search results appear after some times. Search results are not available immediately. So, we put some sleep so that search results appear and we can locate and select required result from search results. The same we can achieve by setting implicit wait.
  • You must be thinking, sleep() and implictWait() sound same in behavior then what is difference? Why should we use implicitwait() over sleep()?
  • When we set implicit wait for some time say 30 seconds, driver will poll the page continuously(with gap of fraction of seconds between polls) until the element is found. Suppose, if element is found in 10 seconds only, WebDriver will not wait for remaining 20 seconds. It will go for the execution of next statements. It means implicit wait is a dynamic wait.
  • Implicit wait allow programmer to provide dynamic wait. It will speedup execution as well because using sleep() execution will be hold till the specified time is up.

Syntax of implicit wait:

WebDriver.Timeouts implicitlyWait(long time,java.util.concurrent.TimeUnit unit)

implicitWait methods takes two arguments:

time – The amount of time to wait.
unit – The unit of measure for time which could be SECONDS, MILLISECONDS, MINUTES etc.

To call this method, we need to use a method chain as below:

driver.manage().timeouts().implicitlyWait(30, TimeUnit.SECONDS);

If you want to know about above method chaining, refer this post.

Java Code to understand above point:


Wait starts:Tue May 30 22:15:07 IST 2017
Typed Ban
Selected Bangalore
Wait ends:Tue May 30 22:15:08 IST 2017
browser closed

Above program proves:

  1. We are able to make WebDriver to wait using implicit wait.
  2. It is dynamic wait as WebDriver waited just for a second not for entire specified time. Many interviewer asked to prove this point. Just write above code and show it.

Behavior of Implicit wait when specified time expires:

  • What will happen if element is not found even after implicit wait time expires? Simple, it throw NoSuchElementException which is thrown when web element is not found. For example: Suppose we set implicit wait time as 30 seconds and element is not found even after 30 seconds , it will throw NoSuchElementException.

Java Program to prove above point:

We will try to locate a wrong web element purposely to achieve timeout.


See the marked content. It shows duration of timeout. WebDriver waits for 30 seconds before it throws exception. It proves that WebDriver waits for maximum specified time in implicit wait if web element is not found.

Do we need to write multiple implicit wait statements like Thread.sleep()?

  • We have seen that you need to write Thread.sleep() wherever you want WebDriver to wait. It is not the case with Implicit wait. Once you set implicit wait, it will be applicable for all findElemnt() and findElements() method. There is no need to write implicit wait code again and again.
  • If we set implicit wait as 30 seconds, It will be applicable to all web element to be located by WebDriver.
  • When searching for a single element, the driver should poll the page until the element has been found, or this timeout expires before throwing a NoSuchElementException. When searching for multiple elements, the driver should poll the page until at least one element has been found or this timeout has expired.
  • If you write implicit wait statement multiple times, time specified in latest implicit wait statement will be applicable. For example: You specify implicit wait as 30 seconds at line no 5 and another implicit wait as 60 seconds at line no 10, then implicit wait as 30 seconds will be applicable from line no 6-9 and implicit wait for 60 seconds will be applicable from line no 11 onward.
  • So, if interviewer asks you how to change implicit time, you can answer easily.
  • Selenium WebDriver does not provide any direct getter method to retrieve implicit wait time. But you can create your own methods to retrieve it.
  • It is good practice to define implicit wait in the beginning of the program when we create WebDriver reference variable.
  • The default setting is Zero. Once set, the implicit wait is set for the life of the WebDriver object instance.

Difference between implicit wait and sleep methods:

  1. Implicit wait is dynamic while sleep is not.
  2. WebDriver will hold the execution of next statements till element is found while sleep methods makes WebDriver idle till the specified time expires.
  3. Once implicit wait is set it is for entire lifetime of WebDriver while you need to write sleep statement everytime wherever required.
  4. Implicit wait does not throw any checked exception while sleep does.
  5. Using sleep can increase test execution time drastically compare to implicit time.
  6. Syntax is different for both.

Disadvantages of using implicit wait in Selenium:

  • Increasing the implicit wait timeout should be used judiciously as it will have an adverse effect on test run time, especially when used with slower location strategies like XPath.
  • If you use the implicit wait in selenium it applies to the web driver globally and increases the execution time for the entire script. so it is not always advisable.
  • You can not wait till some specific condition is satisfied like invisibility of element, when alert is present etc.

That’s it guys. I tried to cover from basics to advanced concepts about implicit wait. If you have any doubts, feel free to comment.

Thank you.


Author: Amod Mahajan

My name is Amod Mahajan and I am an IT employee with 6+ years of experience in Software testing and staying in Bengaluru. My area of interest is Automation testing. I started from basics and went through so many selenium tutorials. Thanks to Mukesh Otwani as his tutorials are easy and cover basics to advance. I have habit of exploring concepts by deep diving. I used to make notes. I thought of sharing my knowledge through posts and now I am here. #KeepLearning #ShareLearning