I have automated tests running on IE9 on Windows 7 64 bit. The application under test is a simple webform with a 'Next' button on each page. When i run the automated tests on Firefox 12 they run in the background while i can keep working on other stuff in a different browser.

However, when i start the test suite from IE9, and let it run in the background,the test gets stuck at the 'Next' button. Webdriver seems to find it and click on it but does not navigate to the next page. Obviously there are a lot of failed tests due to TimeoutExceptions.

To avoid these errors, I ran my test suite at night, with no other applications running and changing my PC's power settings so it didn't shut off or go in sleep mode etc. However i still saw a lot of TimeoutExceptions. (Did not occur with Firefox12)

Is there a setting with IE 9 which needs to be set to change this behavior? Did anybody have a similar experience?


Edit: This is the response i received from Jim Evans on the Webdriver mailing list.

This is a long-known, and well-documented problem with the IE driver as it's currently architected[1]. The reasons why the architectural decisions have been made, and why they're a challenge in IE have been discussed at length too[2]. We're working on implementing synthetic events in the IE driver[3], which have their own set of problems, even though they would solve this particular one, but they're not quite ready for consumption yet.


[1] http://code.google.com/p/selenium/wiki/InternetExplorerDriver Note the section titled "Window Focus"

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myffo8o67OA

[3] http://code.google.com/p/selenium/source/detail?r=16888

Since this is a known issue, does anybody have a tried and tested workaround?

  • I use webdriver without these problems, though its not on Windows 7, I still use Windows 2k8 on my vm's. What is your test driver though, even with the webdriver code limitations on IE I still find the driver helps a lot in overcoming that. SpecFlow and Fitnesse have worked for me
    – MichaelF
    Sep 26, 2012 at 12:12

2 Answers 2


The only workaround we've been able to do is run the tests at night when there is nothing else going on. (we also dropped support for IE, so there's that avenue you can take as well...)


One of the approaches that I have taken to running any sort of UI automation is to run it on a separate VM from my development box. This allows me to both keep working on my existing code plus eliminate interaction issues. I also am able to then keep the VM from sleeping etc and have pretty discrete control on that box.

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