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Home Guide Cypress Headless Mode Tutorial (with Best Practices)

Cypress Headless Mode Tutorial (with Best Practices)

By Siddharth Murugan, Community Contributor -

Cypress is a popular JavaScript end-to-end testing framework that allows you to write automated tests for your web applications. Headless mode is a feature of Cypress that allows you to run your tests without needing a graphical user interface (GUI).

Running your tests in headless mode can speed up the testing process and allow you to run tests in environments where a GUI is unavailable. This guide will walk you through setting up and using Cypress in headless mode.

What is the Headless Mode in Cypress?

The headless mode in Cypress automation is a way of executing a test case. When we run a test case in Cypress, if the test case gets executed without any UI(User Interface), then it is called headless mode. Let’s discuss further setting it up and running Cypress in headless mode.

Setting up Cypress in Headless Mode:

Once you have installed Cypress, you will launch it with the command “npx cypress open”. In that way, you will get a UI, from which you can execute one-by-one test cases. But once the script is written, we may need to execute it directly from the command line interface. 

To execute the script straight away from the command line, we need to run the command below,

npx cypress run –spec <path_of_script_to_be_executed>

By default, Cypress executes the test case in headless mode. But, we can also specify it explicitly by mentioning “–headless” like below,

npx cypress run –headless –spec <path_of_script_to_be_executed>

Note: <path_of_script_to_be_executed> should be replaced with the script name and its path.

Running Cypress tests in Headless Mode

Now let’s try to execute a test case in headless mode from Cypress.  For this activity, we will have a script that will open the BrowserStack website and do assertions in the home page heading,

 describe('template spec', () => {
it('passes', () => {
//Visiting the browserstack website
//Making text assertion in browserstack home page heading
cy.get('h1').should('have.text','App & Browser Testing Made Easy')
  • The above script is saved with the name 
  • As mentioned earlier, by default, when we execute the script from the command line, it will be executed in headless mode. 

We can also explicitly mention the below command.

npx cypress run –headless –spec cypress/e2e/

Note: If you want to execute a specific spec file, you may need to add –spec in the command line.

Debugging in Headless Mode

When we execute the test script in headless mode, we can see the execution status over the command prompt or terminal. 

Debugging in Headless Mode

Also, we can view the video of the execution under the Cypress/Video folder.

Taking Screenshots in Headless ModeWhenever a test case fails while executing in headless mode, Cypress will take a screenshot and store it under the screenshots folder.

Let’s try to make our test script fail by modifying the assertion text with some other value.

 describe('template spec', () => {
it('passes', () => {
//Visiting the browserstack website
//Making text assertion in browserstack home page heading 
cy.get('h1').should('have.text','App & Browser Testing Made Very Easy')

You will notice that the above script will fail during the assertion step and will take a screenshot of that page along with the video.

Taking Screenshots in Headless Mode

Taking Screenshots in Headless Mode

Sometimes, in a test case, we may need to take screenshots of a particular screen while executing the spec file. For that, we can use the cy.screenshot() command to take a screenshot. This command can be used for both the headless and headed mode. 

Please refer below code to take screenshots while executing the test spec,

 describe('template spec', () => {
it('passes', () => {
//Visiting the browserstack website
//Making text assertion in browserstack home page heading
cy.get('h1').should('have.text','App & Browser Testing Made Easy')
//Takes screenshot after executing above step

Cypress Headless Mode and CI/CD integration

Executing Cypress in headless mode is similar to running from the terminal. Also, you can pass the command inside package.json file to execute the script directly.

For example, let’s execute our script We need to add the following piece of block inside the package.json file as mentioned below,

 "scripts": {
"cy:headless":"cypress run --headless --spec cypress/e2e/"

Save that package.json file and execute the below command to trigger the specified script inside the package.json file from the terminal,

npm run cy:headless

Once you execute the above command, you will notice that Cypress will execute the specified spec file in headless mode. This change can be pushed into the CI/CD environment, and that script can be executed directly from CI/CD.

Best Practices for Cypress Headless Mode Testing

By default, Cypress deletes screenshots and videos before executing a test case. Sometimes we may need to view the screenshots or videos of the previously executed test cases. In that case, we may need to add a parameter – trashAssetsBeforeRuns inside the cypress.config.js file as below,

const { defineConfig } = require("cypress");

module.exports = defineConfig({
e2e: {
setupNodeEvents(on, config) {
// implement node event listeners here
trashAssetsBeforeRuns: false

By making trashAssetsBeforeRuns false, we ask Cypress not to delete the content of the video and screenshot folder. This will help us clearly debug the failed test case while executing in headless mode.

Troubleshooting Headless Mode Errors

While executing a test case in headless mode, Cypress will take a screenshot when it fails. We can determine the exact reason for that failed spec file with that screenshot. Also, it records video by default, giving us a clear picture of why the test case failed.


Using Cypress in headless mode can significantly speed up your testing process and make it more efficient. However, certain best practices should be followed to ensure that your tests run smoothly and deliver accurate results. 

By properly configuring your Cypress environment, leveraging custom commands, and implementing effective testing strategies, you can ensure that your tests provide valuable feedback and help improve the quality of your web applications.

Cypress is an emerging testing framework and can test it across multiple devices. Browserstack provides you with a robust infrastructure to access: 

Automate your Cypress Testing

Automation Testing Cypress

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