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XCUITest Locators & How to find elements

By Suparna K, Community Contributor -

What are XCUITest Locators?

XCUITest Locators aid in identifying and testing the UI elements in UI Layers of the application. 

Ideally, It is a good practice to store all XCUI locators in a well segregated location in project, which can be either a:

  • Class, 
  • Enum, 
  • Struct or 
  • Protocol. 

These locators are then called in tests or page object classes for automation of test scenarios.   

In the XCUITest API, the UI Elements are also known as XCUIElement. Hence, let us deep dive a bit on XCUIElement as well in the XCode environment.

What is an XCUIElement?

XCUIElement is an important class of the XCUITest API. It is an UI Element in an application under test. It provides us a way to test the app like an end user uses the app, perform some actions on the UI elements using gestures & keypad interactions.

What are the different XCUITest Locator Strategies?

There are different ways to inspect & use locators in XCUITest:

  • Get XCUIElement by Accessibility Identifier 

The convenient and most efficient way to locate elements for XCUITest is using accessibility identifiers. Unique identifier for an UI element set by the developer/QA in application’s source code.

Accessibility Identifiers can be added to the development code through both:

1. Storyboard after navigating to “Identity Inspector” view on the right panel

Get XCUIElement by Accessibility Identifier

2. Functional programming by setting the identifier in dev source code itself by writing the below lines:

homeImageView3.accessibilityIdentifier = "homeImage3ForHomeScreen"
  • Get XCUIElement by XPath 

Find the app xml source using XPath. This is slower and has performance issues. Practically, not recommended to be used. Below is an Example of an element’s XPath extracted from BrowserStack Inspector:

Get XCUIElement by XPath

  • Get XCUIElement by Class name  

It is usually the class name of the XCUI Element which begins with XCUIElementType. This is usually to be combined with another locator & is identified by ‘Type’ keyword.

Get XCUIElement by Class name

  • Get XCUIElement by Label 

It can be used if the Accessibility Identifier is not present in the app. However, it is preferred to add accessibility identifiers to all elements in the app.  


Button, 0x283f81f80, {{20.0, 635.5}, {374.0, 62.0}}, label: 'WWE Mayhem, No1. WWE Arcade Action Game'                  


let gameRequired = "WWE Mayhem, No1. WWE Arcade Action Game"

let buttonLabel = appStore



  • Get XCUIElement by First Match  

Get the first Element. For an example, if there are 10 buttons in the app screen, the below command would return the first button in the screen.

  • Get XCUIElement by Index 

Get any specific Element by Index. For an example, if there are 10 buttons in the app screen, the below command would return the 3rd button in the screen (considering, indexes start from 0).

app.buttons.element(boundBy: 2)
  • Locate Elements by Subviews  

Get the descendent DOM elements of a specific selector using the commands below.

app.scrollViews["Main"].descendants(matching: .button)
app.scrollViews["Main"].children(matching: .button)

How to find elements in XCUITest?

There are different ways to find elements in XCUITest on XCode IDE, which are listed below:

  1. Debug View Hierarchy 
  2. Print Hierarchy 
  3. UI Test Recorder
  4. Accessibility Inspector 

Alternatively, other ways to inspect on Non-XCode environments are:

Debug View Hierarchy 

Activated on Debug Mode only. It pauses the app in its current state, permitting the programmer to inspect and understand the UI hierarchy of any app.

Print accessibility hierarchy 

Can be printed in Console section of Debug Area, using the below command

po print(app.debugDescription)

Can be printed if used in tests, by entering the command


UI Test Recorder

Prints the required components inside test functions. Helpful for beginners and learners on initial stage 

Accessibility Inspector 

This is also helpful when user is accessing the app in blackbox way. Select XCode > Open Developer Tool > Accessibility Inspector > Select Simulator > Inspect element

Find Element in XCUITest using Accessibility Inspector

Inspect Element using BrowserStack App Live

Locally building & setting up can be time consuming. Hence, this is a very handy usage which is both easy and fast to use. We will deep dive on this towards the end of this article.

Try BrowserStack App Live for free

Find Element in XCUITest using Inspect Element in BrowserStack App Live

Appium Inspector

Inspecting locator components via Appium Inspector is another way to find and locate elements in XCUITest. Although, this is not mostly used, when we are already in an XCode environment where we have total control of the dev and test environment. 

Find Element in iOS using Appium Inspector

Which elements to find using XCUITest?

Most applications using XCUITest use the below commands to find elements in the app. 



















..and many more…..

How to find XCUITest Locators using BrowserStack

Steps to Locate app elements in BrowserStack are as follows:

Step 1 Upload .ipa of app in BrowserStack App Live portal (or use the sample app).

BrowserStack App Live 2

Step 2 Choose an iOS Device from the list of devices for testing and locating.

Step 3 Post device selection and app launch, go to ‘Inspect’ section, to locate the elements of the app using BrowserStack. 

Find Element using BrowserStack App Live Inspect Element

Step 4 Click on the above marked play icon on the inspect view to start locating elements.

Step 5 Perform the below actions by enlarging the accordions or by tapping on the app elements and explore the locators identifiable on the app on UI level. 

Find XCUITest Element using BrowserStack App Live Inspect Element.png

Step 6 Locate all XCUI Elements by:

  1. Type – Class Name
  2. Value 
  3. Name – ID
  4. Label
  5. Index
  6. XPath


Bear in mind that XCUITest testing must be executed on real browsers for accurate results. Detect bugs before users do by testing software in real user conditions with BrowserStack.

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