Working with websites, testers always chase faster, more efficient ways to automate tests. Viewing a webpage, there is a bunch of code at the back end that cannot be seen unless it is known where to look. Everything behind the page is made up of code, from the background image to the design from the videos to the buttons.
So if you want to know how to view and access the back end there are Inspect Element tools available for that in most major browsers. They are useful and handy assets to have. The browser’s Inspect Element tool allows one to see the website’s inner workings, like quickly discovering CSS classes, previewing changes to elements on a page, simulating a site on mobile devices, and many more.
In this article, we’ll discuss the Inspect Element tools built into the most popular web browsers. We will also go through discussing the benefits, why, and how to use inspect elements as a part of the web development workflow. Let’s first have a formal introduction to the Inspect Element tool.
What Is Inspect Element
Inspect element is one of the developer tools integrated into Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer web browsers. Inspect element is a component of modern web browsers. Accessing this tool enables anyone to preview how a particular website is built. When the source code is modified with the inspect tool, the testers get to see the changes live inside the browser window.
If you are wondering about page breaking while digging around in the code, then don’t worry, your edits will only be viewable on your screen and will take effect for the duration of your session only. In short, Inspect Element provides a sort of ‘what if’ experience without affecting any other users.
To an average site visitor, Inspect Element is curious about exploring maybe just a few minutes of diversion. But there is a lot to learn and explore to site developers, coders, and programmers. This developer tool offers a number of advantages, some of which are listed below.
Benefits of Inspect Element
If you have just started with coding and really want to understand something interesting, it’s good to be able to experiment with Inspect Element. It gives the advantage of being able to stroll around with the code that powers a site and learn how it works.
- Inspect Element helps to know the working of a web page and see what exactly is going on.
- Allows testers to preview changes without actually implementing them.
- It makes it possible to quickly detect and repair broken code. Because it offers the power to change any text on the page, removing personal details from shared screenshots without having to power up the old photo editor.
- Helps in optimizing web pages for better search engine rankings by using Inspect Element on competitor pages. This can provide an idea of what keywords they are focusing on.
- This tool can also be used to test the site’s loading speed.
Why You would Want to Use Inspect Element
Changing sentences and paragraphs are just the beginning of inspecting elements. If you want to turn any web page into pretty much anything you want then you can do this with a deeper understanding of programming languages. Because every web page runs on code and controlling the code, means controlling the page.
Below are some more reasons why you’d want to use Inspect Element
- Allows browsing other websites for inspiration on how to work on one’s own.
- Improves understanding of how other sites or developers achieve specific techniques.
- It gives the testers license to experiment on their own site without consequences.
- Changing any text on a webpage using Inspect Element is quicker because it allows omitting sensitive information from a web page before taking a screenshot.
- Most Inspect Element tools provide the opportunity to debug the sites.
- It’s good to find out more about the website in question.
Top 5 Page Inspect Tool built-in Major Browsers
The Inspect Element tool is helpful in viewing the underlying source code of any webpage. It can also be used to make temporary changes and see the results in real time while leaving the original source code intact.
Chrome Developer Tools
Before using the Inspect Element tool in Google Chrome, it’s essential to know about the Developers Tools. Chrome Developer Tools is a toolkit built into Google Chrome for web developers. It allows the developers to make site building faster by letting them edit pages very quickly and fixing issues that occur over time. DevTools can be used in several ways, so developers can quickly access different parts of the DevTools UI interface.
It contains three main parts.
- Elements or Document Object Model (DOM) panel- It contains the page’s DOM tree and allows access to the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) source code. You can find it at the top taskbar of the Chrome Developer Tools.
- CSS panel- Lets to change, add, and remove CSS properties to modify the style rules of a web page. You can find it in the middle section of Developer Tools, under Styles.
Steps to open Inspect Element using Google Chrome.
Open a website in Google Chrome and click on the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window control panel. In the drop-down menu choose More tools, then select Developer tools.
Alternatively, keyboard shortcuts can be used- Ctrl + Shift + I for Windows or Linux and Cmd + Option + I for macOS users. Or, you can right-click on the web page and select Inspect to access the Developer tools panel. Once the Elements tab appears on the browser window, you can edit the page’s source code and also resize the inspector box by dragging its corners for better readability.
Microsoft Edge Developer Tools
For a developer, it is necessary to view the source code of the web pages. They might also need to inspect an item to find a particular section of a web page.
If you use Microsoft Edge and want to get to Inspect Element or View Source, then you must know that the Microsoft Edge browser comes with in-built web development tools, called Microsoft Edge Developers Tools.
It is a set of web development tools that appears next to a rendered web page in the browser. DevTools provides an excellent way to inspect and debug web pages and web apps. Within the DevTools environment, you can edit source files and create website projects. DevTools, lets you perform the following task
- Inspect and change the styles of elements in the webpage using live tools with a visual interface also Inspect where the browser stores the content to construct the webpage, including .html, .css, and js, file formats.
- Emulate website behavior on different screen resolutions and simulate a mobile environment, with different network conditions. Check the network traffic and see the location of the problems.
- Encounter issues in the application such as accessibility, performance, compatibility, and security. and fixing the accessibility issues found using DevTools.
It is to note that the DevTools are not enabled by default. To access the tool you need to make some changes to the setting to get inspect elements to appear. You can use the shortcuts to immediately open these tools. You need to press Shift + F12 for Inspect Element and Ctrl + U for View Source.
How to open DevTools
In Microsoft Edge, DevTools can be by using the mouse or keyboard, in any of the following ways. Hence which tool is opened depends on how developers open DevTools
To inspect elements in Microsoft Edge, you must enable inspection. For that Right-click any element on a webpage, and then select Inspect. The Elements tool, with the DOM tree, will expand to show the right-clicked page element. Using the keyboard Press Ctrl+Shift+I for Windows, Linux, or Command+Option+I for macOS. Or press F12.
To Open DevTools by using the Microsoft Edge toolbar Open the browser, select Settings and more then click on the three dots, go down to More tools, and select Developer tools.
Safari Web Development Tools
Safari has a powerful Web Inspector tool that makes it easy to modify, troubleshoot, debug, and optimize a website for peak performance and compatibility on both macOS and iOS platforms and for maximum performance. The Responsive Design Mode helps to preview the web pages in various screen sizes, orientations, and resolutions. The tool can be accessed by enabling the Develop menu in Safari’s advanced preferences.
Web Inspector has the richest set of development tools ever included in a web browser that too with fast and easy access. Thus making development more efficient. Before you can use Inspect Element, you’ll need to access the Safari settings menu. In the upper left of your screen, select Preferences from the menu and then check the box next to the Show Develop menu in the menu bar. Once it is done the Inspect Element will be enabled. Then to use the Inspect Element follow the following options.
Open Safari browser then Right-click any area of the web page and then select Inspect element from the menu, or use the keyboard shortcut Command+Option+I.
Access the menu bar and click Develop, then select Show Web Inspector from the dropdown menu bar. By default, the Inspect Element tool will appear in Safari at the bottom of the browser window.
Firefox Developer Tools
The access to responsive design mode allows one to see how the site looks and behaves on different devices and network types, and an accessibility inspector allows to approach the accessibility tree of the page, inspecting for what might be missing or need attention.
Just like Google Chrome, Firefox also provides multiple Inspect-Element access options. Open the Firefox browser Right-click any area of the web page, including blank areas, and then select inspect from the menu. You get access to the Firefox developer tools by going into the Firefox settings menu. Select Tools, then choose Web Developer and finally select Inspector. Or you can simply use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + I or F12 in Linux and Windows or Cmd + Opt + I for macOS.
Opera Developer Mode
Testing and debugging are essential parts of the development process. Opera developer mode provides developer tools that help to debug by setting the breakpoints, going step-by-step and analyzing various variables, changing things in the page to see how it would look, and many more. Using the tool developers can set interrupt points, and analyze and modify different variables on the page to see what it looks like.
The first thing to do to enable Opera developer mode is to go to the opera extensions page and then click on developer mode. The developer mode will provide more options. At the top, there are options to Load Unpacked Extensions, Update Extensions Now, and Pack Extensions.
Developers can create a new directory for their extension, and once they have installed all the files, it can be loaded into Developer Mode just by clicking on Load Extensions, after selecting the directory of that extension.
Page Inspection using the LambdaTest platform
The reason why a developer or a tester wants to inspect an element is to identify how quickly a particular design can be fixed. Inspecting using Chrome or another browser takes a long time and also it needs all the devices to test using this method because the same action needs to be performed multiple times on different devices for better results.
You could also use emulators to inspect the element but they are tricky and provide no guarantee that if it looks good on an emulator it would also look the same on a real device. That is why it is imperative to inspect and diagnose the websites on a real device cloud like LamabdaTest. Its real device cloud allows developers to inspect confidently and in a cost-effective way. Using this platform testers can access multiple devices well as browsers all at the same time, which as a result eliminates their wait time.
LambdaTest allows you to seamlessly inspect an element on any real device and browser. A developer gets multiple real mobile devices to choose from and can switch between device-browser-OS combinations at any point. This helps the web developers or QAs to quickly troubleshoot any rendering issues and fix them with minimal time and effort. Testers can also automate their Selenium, Cypress and Playwright tests on the platform.
LambdaTest is a cloud-based cross-browser compatibility testing platform that empowers developers and testers to test their websites across popular operating systems and browsers. Its real device cloud comprises 3000+ real devices, browsers, and operating systems combinations for comprehensive remote testing. LambdaTest infrastructure includes popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari (including the latest and legacy versions), and devices from vendors like Samsung, Apple, and OnePlus, and the list is too long. You can sign up LambdaTest for free to check out the complete list.