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Josef Biehler
Josef Biehler

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Doing native clicks with and open file dialog

Note: Get the code here

There are some rare cases where cy.get(...).click() won't work properly. If you encounter such a situation, you should give this approach a try. In this post we are opening the file chooser programmatically by click.

Application under test

We use a very simple HTML construct:

<!-- ./code/index.html -->

        html, body {
            margin: 0;
            padding: 0;
    <input type="file">Choose your file!</input>

So nothing special. Let's now write a test that clicks into that button.

Open file dialog

We do a simple cy.get("input").click();. You should now see nothing. Open the DevTools and you should see a warning:

Opening the file chooser by code has been disabled due to security reasons, which makes sense of course.

Native events vs. synthetic events

Synthetic events are called that ones you call normally in your code, like $ They are simulated and produced by Javascript. Native events are produced by the browser. The latter simulate the user behavior better but lack the possibility that synthetic events provide.

Using a native click event you can instruct the browser to click onto the screen at position x:y whereas using a synthetic click you can instruct to trigger a click event on element div[id='test']. So what is the difference? Imagine a button that is covered completely by a div whose z-index is higher. Doing a native click onto the button won't have an effect because the div receives it. Doing a synthetic click onto the button will trigger the button's click event handler.

Trigger native events

Native events can be emitted by at least two different approaches:

  • using Windows Messages (low level Win32 API call to SendMessage)
  • using Chrome Debugger Protocol

As I don't think that Windows Messages is necessary, I will focus on the latter 😄

Chrome Debugger Protocol

I've already written a blog post about using it in Cypress, so I won't repeat everything.

Mouse event

The method for emitting a mouse event is called Input.dispatchMouseEvent and needs at least following parameters to work for our use case.

Pressing the mouse

    "id": 1,
    "method": "Input.dispatchMouseEvent",
    "params": {
        "type": "mousePressed",
        "button": "left",
        "x": ...,
        "y": ...,
        "clickCount": 1

Releasing it

    "id": 2,
    "method": "Input.dispatchMouseEvent",
    "params": {
        "type": "mouseReleased",
        "button": "left",
        "x": 519,
        "y": 46,
        "buttons": 1,
        "clickCount": 1

When releasing it you must set buttons to 1 which tells chrome that when sending the Release event, the left mouse button is pressed. Leaving this optional parameter empty did not work for me.

The x and y coordinates are relative to the top left edge in the viewport:

Getting X and Y

You might come up with the idea to do this to get the X/Y coordinates:

cy.get("input").then($elements => {
  var first = $elements[0];
  var rect = first.getBoundingClientRect();
  var x = rect.x;
  var y = rect.y;

Unfortunately this is not correct:

In the picture it shows 0 for both, x and y. But (0|0) would produce a click to the top left edge of the viewport which is not what we want. The problem is that Cypress renders the application within an iframe:

But a native click event does not know what an iframe is. And the application does not know that there is a world outside of it.

To solve this issue you can select the div with the class size-container (it contains the iframe), retrieve its x and y and adding them onto the element's x and y. But keep in mind that there are iframes involved so you must choose the right one:

// ./code/cypress/integration/spec.js#L10-L25

it('file dialog open succeeds', () => {
  const sizeContainer = window.frames["parent"].document.querySelector(".size-container");
  const cypressAppFrameContainerRect = sizeContainer.getBoundingClientRect();
  const marginLeft = parseFloat(getComputedStyle(sizeContainer).marginLeft);

  // pixel values passed to chrome debugger protocol must be integer
  const addX = Math.ceil(cypressAppFrameContainerRect.x + marginLeft);
  const addY = Math.ceil(cypressAppFrameContainerRect.y);

  cy.get("input").first().then($element => {
    const element = $element[0];
    var rect = element.getBoundingClientRect();
    cy.task("nativeClick", {x: parseInt(rect.x) + addX, y: parseInt(rect.y) + addY });

element.scrollIntoView(); is necessary because we can't do a native click onto an element that is not within the visible area!

You also have to add the left-margin:

Sending the event

Based upon the logic from the mentioned blog post we add a new Cypress task:

// ./code/cypress/plugins/index.js#L30-L35

nativeClick: async({ x, y }) => {
  client = client || await CDP({ port })
  await client.Input.dispatchMouseEvent( { type: "mousePressed", x, y, button: 'left', clickCount: 1 });
  await client.Input.dispatchMouseEvent( { type: "mouseReleased", x, y, button: 'left', clickCount: 1, buttons: 1 });
  return Promise.resolve(true);


Of course this code will open the file dialog 😄


When using this approach you should close the DevTools because otherwise the click event may be received by the DevTool Window. I haven't investigated this yet but maybe the command chooses the first available window to be fired on. If you need the DevTools to be opened during that command you should consider to take a look into the Chrome DevTools protocol to find a way to choose the right window.


I have shown you how to do native events with Cypress. Do you ever had to use native events? let me know. I'm interested in the real world use cases.

Found a typo?

As I am not a native English speaker, it is very likely that you will find an error. In this case, feel free to create a pull request here: . Also please open a PR for all other kind of errors.

Do not worry about merge conflicts. I will resolve them on my own.

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