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Posted October 19, 2023

How to Inspect Element on Mac

Learn different methods for inspecting web elements on Mac devices to debug your websites and ensure a seamless user experience.


Make sure your UI looks great and functions flawlessly on macOS devices, where Apple continually rolls out new operating system (OS) updates. Maintaining a consistent and impeccable user experience is a top priority. But with this comes the challenge of fragmentation, as different versions of macOS can lead to compatibility issues with various apps.

This is where the “Inspect Element” comes into use. In the following article, we'll walk you through multiple methods for inspecting web elements on your devices, helping you unravel UI testing-related dilemmas, and ensuring a seamless user experience for your audience.

Different Methods to Inspect Element on Mac

Inspecting elements on your Mac can be approached in multiple ways, and it's advantageous to know your options. Here are some methods to consider:

  1. Right-click inspection: A straightforward method is right-clicking on an element within the web page and selecting "Inspect" from the context menu. This opens the developer tools, highlighting the corresponding code for the selected element.

  2. Keyboard shortcut: Pressing Command+Option+I (⌘+⌥+I) simultaneously activates the developer tools, providing quick access to inspect elements without using the mouse.

  3. Menu bar: Access the "Inspect Element" option through the browser's menu bar. Typically, it's found under "View" or "Developer" in the menu.

  4. Context menu: On your Mac's keyboard, you can right-click or two-finger click (if using a trackpad) on the element you wish to inspect and select "Inspect" from the context menu.

  5. Keyboard navigation: In some browsers, like Safari, you can navigate through elements using the Tab and arrow keys, highlighting elements on the page as you go.

Each method serves the same purpose, so choose the one that suits your workflow best. 

Inspecting Elements on Mac with Safari Developer Tools

If you prefer to use Safari on your Mac, you have a dedicated set of developer tools at your disposal:

  1. Accessing Safari developer tools: To begin inspecting elements, open Safari and navigate to the web page you want to inspect. Go to the Develop menu in the top menu bar and select Show Web Inspector. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Option+Command+I (⌥+⌘+I).

  2. Understanding the interface: The Safari Developer Tools interface is divided into several tabs, each serving a specific purpose. The Elements tab, which you'll use for inspecting elements, displays the HTML structure of the web page. Here, you can select and explore individual elements to see their associated code.

  3. Selecting elements: In the Elements tab, you can hover over elements in the web page preview or click on elements within the code to highlight them in the browser window. This helps you pinpoint the exact element you want to inspect.

  4. Viewing styles and attributes: Once you've selected an element, you can view its CSS styles and attributes and modify them in real time. This is especially helpful when troubleshooting or making temporary design changes.

  5. Console for debugging: Safari Developer Tools also includes a Console tab for debugging JavaScript and viewing error messages, which can be valuable for resolving issues related to interactivity and functionality.

  6. Network inspection: On the Network tab, you can inspect network requests, view resources, and assess loading times, aiding in optimizing a website's performance.

By using Safari Developer Tools, you gain a powerful set of tools specific to Safari. It provides deep insights into the web page's structure, styles, and functionality, making it a valuable resource for web-related tasks.

Inspecting Elements on Mac with Sauce Labs

If you don’t have physical access to a Mac but need to test your app on macOS, you can use a macOS virtual machine with Sauce Labs. Follow these steps to inspect web elements on a macOS device using Sauce Labs:

  1. Log in or sign up: Begin by logging into your Sauce Labs account. You can sign up for a free trial license if you don't have an account yet.

  2. Configure your test: Go to Live > Cross Browser > Desktop tab. Enter the URL for the website you want to test, then select the OS Version and browser you want. This example uses Safari on macOS Ventura 13.

    Sauce Labs cross-browser testing dashboard where a macOS test with Safari is being configured.

  3. Run your test: Click Start Test to begin. The macOS virtual machine with a Safari browser opens.

  4. Access the web inspector: In Safari, go to the Develop menu and click Web Inspector. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Option+Command+I (⌥+⌘+I).

  5. Inspect elements: With the Web Inspector window open, you can explore the DOM tree containing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript elements. This allows you to inspect, manipulate, and analyze the elements, providing valuable insights into your web development.

    Mac Web Inspector DOM tree

These steps enable you to inspect web elements on your Mac with Sauce Labs effectively, aiding you in web development tasks and ensuring a smooth user experience.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When inspecting elements on your Mac, it's easy to make a few common missteps. Here's how to avoid them:

  1. Accidental changes: One of the most common errors is making unintentional changes to the web page while inspecting elements. To prevent this, be cautious when modifying code and always refresh the page to revert to the original state.

  2. Overlooking browser compatibility: Remember that the way elements render varies across browsers. Always test your changes on various browsers to ensure compatibility and consistent user experience.

  3. Debugging errors effectively: Another error is failing to use the console effectively when debugging. Familiarize yourself with error messages and utilize the console to identify and fix issues efficiently.

By steering clear of these common mistakes, you'll ensure a smoother and more productive element inspection process on your Mac, enhancing your web development and troubleshooting capabilities.

Final Thoughts

Although you can inspect elements on Mac using various methods, it’s important to consider how much time you have available for testing and the resources available to do so.

Oct 19, 2023
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