Getting Started

Urlbox is a simple API that allows you to render screenshots and pdf's from a URL. It also allows you to render raw HTML.

There are plenty of options in order to ensure you get the right shot. screenshot API showing a screenshot thumbnail of
A live urlbox generated screenshot of - check the img src!

Render your first screenshot

The url format for making a screenshot request to's API is: API KEY/FORMAT?REQUEST OPTIONS

And if you are using urlbox directly on a public facing website, you should use the authenticated request url format: API KEY/GENERATED TOKEN/FORMAT?REQUEST OPTIONS


  • YOUR API KEY should be replaced by your actual urlbox API key which you can get by registering for an account.
    (If you have already registered, you can find your API Key by logging in to your account.)

  • GENERATED TOKEN should be replaced by a hash which is generated server side by taking the HMAC SHA1 of the query string and signing it with your API Secret. This parameter is optional unless you have enabled the Force Authenticated Requests option in your dashboard.
    Example code is below to get you started in no time

  • FORMAT should be either png, jpg, avif, webp, pdf, svg or html

  • REQUEST OPTIONS should be replaced by a query string that contains all of the options you want to set.

  • A table of all options and their defaults are shown below

An example, valid urlbox url is shown below, with the following options:

  • format is set to png
  • url is set to
  • thumb_width is set to 600 pixels wide
  • ttl is set to 86400 seconds which is equivalent to 1 day, meaning the screenshot will be freshly generated once daily

And here is the authenticated version:

Simply putting this url as the src attribute in a normal img tag, the resulting image is: screenshot API showing a screenshot thumbnail of

Request Options

Below is a table listing all of the available options to the API.
Combine these options as parameters in the query string for e.g. ?

Basic Options


The URL of the website you want to screenshot

View Examples

Default: false

Specify whether to capture the full scrollable area of the website. For PDF's, full_page mode will attempt to capture the whole website onto one single page pdf document.

View Examples

Take a screenshot of the element that matches this selector. By default, if the selector is not found, Urlbox will take a normal viewport screenshot. If you prefer Urlbox to fail the request when the selector is not found, pass fail_if_selector_missing=true.

View Examples

Browser Options

Options to configure the browser before navigating to the URL


Default: 1280

Viewport width of the browser in pixels

View Examples

Default: 1024

Viewport height of the browser in pixels

View Examples

Default: screen

Set the css media stylesheet to use. Options are either 'screen' or 'print'. When format is pdf, the default css media stylesheet will be set to 'print'


Default: false

Turns off javascript on target url. This option will also disable full_page=true because it is hard to infer the full content height when javascript is turned off.

View Examples

Default: false

Enable the flash plugin for flash using websites


User-Agent string used to emulate a particular client


Default: en-US

Sets an Accept-Language header on requests to the target URL


Sets an Authorization header on requests to the target URL


Pass in an address to a proxy server to make screenshot requests via that server in the format [address]:[port]. If proxy authentication is needed you can use the following format: [user]:[password]@[address]:[port].


Latitude used to emulate the Geolocation API


Longitude used to emulate the Geolocation API


How accurate the Geolocation API should be in meters


Set local timezone to use for the screenshot e.g. tz=Europe/London. Default is UTC

Image Options

Options relating to the outputted PNG, WebP or JPEG file


Default: false

Take a 'retina' or high definition screenshot equivalent to setting a device pixel ratio of 2.0 or @2x. Please note that retina screenshots will be double the normal dimensions and will normally take slightly longer to process due to the much bigger image size.

View Examples

Width in pixels of the generated thumbnail, leave off for full-size screenshot

View Examples

Crop the width of the screenshot to this size in pixels


Default: 80

JPEG/WebP only - image quality of resulting screenshot (0-100)

View Examples

Default: false

If a website has no background color set, the image will have a transparent background (PNG/WebP only)


Pass in a filename e.g. download=myfilename.png which sets the content-disposition header on the response. This will make the urlbox link a downloadable link and prompt the user to save the file as myfilename.png.

PDF Options

Options relating to PDF document generation


Default: A4

Sets the pdf page size. Options are 'A0', 'A1', 'A2', 'A3', 'A4', 'A5','A6','Legal', 'Letter', 'Ledger' or 'Tabloid'. Setting this option will override pdf_page_width and pdf_page_height.


Sets the pdf page width in pixels


Sets the pdf page height in pixels


Default: false

Auto scale the website content to the pdf page size


Default: None

Set the margin of the PDF document. Available options are 'None', 'Default' or 'Minimum'


Set a custom pdf top margin


Set a custom pdf right margin


Set a custom pdf bottom margin


Set a custom pdf left margin


Default: 1

Scale factor of the website content. Valid values are numbers between 0.1 and 2


Default: Portrait

Sets the pdf document orientation, options are 'Portrait' or 'Landscape'


Default: true

Sets whether to print background images in the PDF


Prevent ligatures from being used. Useful when rendering a pdf and you want to extract text which contains ligatures.


Default: print

By default, when generating a pdf, the 'print' css media query is used. To generate a pdf using the 'screen' css, set this option to 'screen'


Pass in a filename e.g. download=myfilename.pdf which sets the content-disposition header on the response. This will make the urlbox link a downloadable link and prompt the user to save the file as myfilename.pdf.

Cache Options

Control how Urlbox caches your screenshots or pdf documents


Default: false

Generate a fresh screenshot or pdf instead of getting a cached version


You can pass a unique string such as a UUID, hash or timestamp to have more control over when to generate a fresh screenshot or pdf. For example unique=1619558281413


Default: 2592000 (30 days)

Short for 'time to live'. Number of seconds to keep a screenshot or pdf in the cache. Note the default is also the maximum value for this option.

Wait Options


Waits for the element specified by this selector to be present in the dom before taking a screenshot or pdf. By default Urlbox will take a screenshot or pdf if the wait_for element is not found after waiting for the time specified by the wait_timeout option. If you prefer Urlbox to fail the request when the wait_for element is not found, pass fail_if_selector_missing=true


Waits for the element specified by this selector to be absent from the dom before taking a screenshot or pdf. An example would be waiting for long running loading spinners to be gone before taking a screenshot. By default Urlbox will take a screenshot or pdf if the wait_to_leave element is still present after the time specified by the wait_timeout option. If you prefer Urlbox to fail the request when the wait_to_leave element is still present, pass fail_if_selector_present=true


Default: 30000

How many milliseconds Urlbox should wait for the 'wait_for' element to be available before continuing


Amount of time to wait in milliseconds before urlbox takes the screenshot or pdf

Page Options

Options which modify the page before taking a screenshot or pdf


Blocks requests from popular ad-networks from loading

View Examples

Prevent ligatures from being used. Useful when rendering a pdf and you want to extract text which contains ligatures.


Automatically click accept buttons in order to hide popups


Element selector that is clicked before generating a screenshot or pdf e.g. #clickme would click the element with id="clickme". Can be used multiple times to simulate multiple sequential click events.


Element selector that is hovered before generating a screenshot or pdf e.g. #hoverme would hover over the element with id="hoverme"


Hex code or css color string. Some websites don't set a body background colour, and will show up as transparent backgrounds with PNG or black when using JPG. Use this setting to set a background colour. If the website explicitly sets a transparent background on the html or body elements, this setting will be overridden.


Comma delimited string of css element selectors that are hidden by setting their style to `display:none !important;`. Useful for hiding popups.


Word to highlight on the page before capturing a screenshot or pdf


Default: white

Text color of the highlighted word


Default: red

Background color of the highlighted word

Full Page Options

Advanced options that control how Urlbox takes full page screenshots, when full_page=true


By default when Urlbox detects an infinite scrolling page, it does not attempt to continue scrolling until the bottom, as this could result in infinite scrolling! If you want to override this behaviour pass true for this option


Default: false

Enabling skip_scroll will speed up renders by skipping an initial scroll through the page which is used to trigger any lazy loading elements.

View Examples

Some pages have full-height backgrounds whose heights are set to 100% of the viewport. This can cause the backgrounds to get stretched when making a full page screenshot. If you are seeing this behaviour in your full page screenshots, pass true for this option.


Default: 2098

When Urlbox takes a full_page screenshot, the maximum height of each image section is set as 4096 pixels. If a site is greater than this value, Urlbox will start splitting the screenshot into sections. Sometimes it is worthwhile to experiment with this number


For extremely lengthy websites it may be preferable to limit the screenshot to a maximum height to prevent Urlbox from spending time scrolling and generating an enormous screenshot


When scrolling the page to trigger lazy loading elements, decide by how many pixels the page should be scrolled by. By default the scroll increment is set to the browser viewport height. Some pages lazy loading elements however only trigger when the scroll increment is smaller than this e.g. 400px


When Urlbox decides to split a screenshot into multiple sections, the scroll delay is the time (in milliseconds) between taking the screenshots of each individual section. Whilst Urlbox does detect animations and attempts to wait for them before taking a screenshot, this option could be used to force urlbox to wait for a certain amount of time after scrolling to the next section, to wait for things like animations to finish.

Storage Options

Options relating to storing the screenshots in S3


Default: false

Save the screenshot directly to the S3 bucket configured on your account


The s3 path, including subdirectories and the filename, to save the screenshot to in your S3 bucket. The extension (.png, .jpg or .pdf) will be provided automatically and should not be included in s3_path.


Override the configured s3 bucket that the screenshot will be saved to

Request Behaviour Options

Dictate how Urlbox handles certain scenarios


Default: false

Fails the request if the elements specified by 'selector' or 'wait_for' options are not found on the page after waiting for wait_timeout.


Default: false

Fails the request if the element specified by wait_to_leave option is found on the page after waiting for wait_timeout.


Default: false

If fail_on_4xx=true and the requested URL returns a status code >= 400 and <= 499, Urlbox will fail the request with error code 400 and the message: 'Failed to render. Requested URL returned a 4xx error code and fail_on_4xx was true'


Default: false

If fail_on_5xx=true and the requested URL returns a status code >= 500 and <= 599, Urlbox will fail the request with error code 400 and message: 'Failed to render. Requested URL returned a 5xx error code and fail_on_5xx was true'


Default: 30000

Amount of time to wait in milliseconds for the requested URL to respond

Frequently Asked Questions

Example Code

Sample code is available in the following languages: Node.js, Ruby, PHP, Python, Java and C#.
If you would like help integrating our API with your language please get in touch


Sample code to take website screenshots in Node.js

Check out our npm package here here, and on github

// npm install urlbox --save

import Urlbox from 'urlbox';

// Plugin your API key and secret
const urlbox = Urlbox(YOUR_API_KEY, YOUR_API_SECRET);

// Set your options
const options = {
  url: '',
  thumb_width: 600,
  format: 'jpg',
  quality: 80

const imgUrl = urlbox.buildUrl(options);

// Now set it as the src in an img tag to render the screenshot
<img src={imgUrl} />


Sample code to take website screenshots in Ruby

# ruby gem coming soon
require 'openssl'
require 'open-uri'

def encodeURIComponent(val)
def urlbox(url, options={}, format='png')
  urlbox_apikey = 'YOUR_API_KEY'
  urlbox_secret = 'YOUR_API_SECRET'
  query = {
    :url         => url, # required - the url you want to screenshot
    :force       => options[:force], # optional - boolean - whether you want to generate a new screenshot rather than receive a previously cached one - this also overwrites the previously cached image
    :full_page   => options[:full_page], # optional - boolean - return a screenshot of the full screen
    :thumb_width => options[:thumb_width], # optional - number - thumbnail the resulting screenshot using this width in pixels
    :width       => options[:width], # optional - number - set viewport width to use (in pixels)
    :height      => options[:height], # optional - number - set viewport height to use (in pixels)
    :quality     => options[:quality] # optional - number (0-100) - set quality of the screenshot
  query_string = query.
    sort_by {|s| s[0].to_s }.
    select {|s| s[1] }.       
    map {|s| {|v| encodeURIComponent(v.to_s) }.join('=') }.
  token = OpenSSL::HMAC.hexdigest('sha1', urlbox_secret, query_string)

### USAGE: (format can be png or jpg, we default to png) ###
url = urlbox("", {thumb_width: 200, full_page: true, quality: 90}, 'jpg')
puts url
# url: ""


Sample code to take website screenshots in PHP

Check out our composer package here, and on github

// run this on the command line to install the urlbox php package:
// composer require urlbox/screenshots

use Urlbox\Screenshots\Urlbox;

$urlbox = Urlbox::fromCredentials('API_KEY', 'API_SECRET');

// only required option is a url:
$options['url'] = '';

// specify any other options to augment the screenshot...
$options['width'] = 320;

// Create the Urlbox URL
$urlboxUrl = $urlbox->generateUrl($options);

// $urlboxUrl is now ''

// Generate a screenshot by loading the Urlbox URL in an img tag:
echo '<img src="'.$urlboxUrl.'" alt="Test screenshot generated by Urlbox">'


Sample code to take website screenshots in Python

# PyPi package coming soon!

import hmac
from hashlib import sha1

  from urllib import urlencode
except ImportError:
  from urllib.parse import urlencode

def urlbox(args):
  apiKey = "xxx-xxx"
  apiSecret = "xxx-xxx"
  queryString = urlencode(args, True)
  hmacToken =, str.encode(queryString), sha1)
  token = hmacToken.hexdigest().rstrip('\n')
  return "" % (apiKey, token, queryString)

argsDict = {'url' : "", 'thumb_width': 400}
print(urlbox (argsDict))


Sample code to take website screenshots in Java

import java.math.BigInteger;
import java.util.Map;
import java.util.HashMap;
import javax.crypto.Mac;
import javax.crypto.spec.SecretKeySpec;

public class Urlbox { 

  private String key;
  private String secret;

  Urlbox(String api_key, String api_secret) {
    this.key = api_key;
    this.secret = api_secret;

  // main method demos Example Usage
  public static void main(String[] args) { 
    String urlboxKey = "your-urlbox-api-key";
    String urlboxSecret = "your-urlbox-secret";

    // Set request options
    Map<String, Object> options = new HashMap<String, Object>();
    options.put("width", 1280);
    options.put("height", 1024);
    options.put("thumb_width", 240);
    options.put("full_page", "false");
    options.put("force", "false");

    // Create urlbox object with api key and secret
    Urlbox urlbox = new Urlbox(urlboxKey, urlboxSecret);
    try {
      // Call generateUrl function of urlbox object
      String urlboxUrl = urlbox.generateUrl("", options);
      // Now do something with urlboxUrl.. put in img tag, etc..
    } catch (UnsupportedEncodingException ex) {
      throw new RuntimeException("Problem with url encoding", ex);

  public String generateUrl(String url, Map<String,Object> options) throws UnsupportedEncodingException {

    String encodedUrl = URLEncoder.encode(url, "UTF-8");
    String queryString = String.format("url=%s", encodedUrl);

    for (Map.Entry<String, Object> entry : options.entrySet()) {
      String queryParam = "&"+entry.getKey()+"="+entry.getValue(); 
      queryString += queryParam;

    String token = generateToken(queryString, this.secret);
    String result = String.format("", this.key, token, queryString);
    return result;
  private String generateToken(String input, String key) {
    String lSignature = "None";
    try {
      final Mac lMac = Mac.getInstance("HmacSHA1")
      final SecretKeySpec lSecret = new SecretKeySpec(apiSecret.getBytes(), "HmacSHA1")
      final byte[] lDigest = lMac.doFinal(input.getBytes())
      final StringBuilder lSignature = new StringBuilder();
      for (byte b : lDigest) {
        lSignature.append(String.format("%02x", b));
      return lSignature.toString().toLowerCase()
    } catch (NoSuchAlgorithmException lEx) {
      throw new RuntimeException("Problems calculating HMAC", lEx)
    } catch (InvalidKeyException lEx) {
      throw new RuntimeException("Problems calculating HMAC", lEx)
    return lSignature;


Sample code to take website screenshots in C#

Check out our nuget package here

using UrlboxMain;

namespace Screenshot
  public class Screenshotter
    Urlbox urlbox = new Urlbox("YOUR_URLBOX_API_KEY", "YOUR_URLBOX_API_SECRET");

    public void GetScreenshotUrl()
      dynamic options = new ExpandoObject();
      options.Width = 1280;
      options.Thumb_Width = 500;
      options.Full_Page = true;

      var output = urlbox.GenerateUrl("", options);
      // output is now
      // to generate a screenshot image you would make a simple GET request to this URL, for example putting it inside an <img> tag.
 // ================================================================
// UrlboxMain project/package:
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Dynamic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using PCLCrypto;

namespace UrlboxMain
  public class Urlbox
    String apiKey;
    String apiSecret;
    static List<String> encodedPropertyNames = new List<String> { "user_agent", "bg_color", "hide_selector", "click_selector", "highlight", "highlightbg", "highlightfg" };
    static List<String> booleanPropertyNames = new List<String> { "force", "retina", "full_page", "disable_js" };

    public Urlbox(String apiKey, String apiSecret)
      if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(apiKey) || String.IsNullOrEmpty(apiSecret))
        throw new ArgumentException("Please provide your API Key and API Secret");
      this.apiKey = apiKey;
      this.apiSecret = apiSecret;

    public string GenerateUrl(string url)
      return this.GenerateUrl(url, new ExpandoObject());

    public string GenerateUrl(string url, ExpandoObject options)
      if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(url))
        throw new ArgumentException("Please provide a url in order to generate a screenshot URL");
      var encodedUrl = urlEncode(url);
      var format = "png";

      byte[] key = Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(this.apiSecret);
      var urlString = string.Format("url={0}", encodedUrl);
      StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder(urlString);

      foreach (KeyValuePair<string, object> kvp in options)
        var optionName = kvp.Key.ToLower();
        var optionValue = kvp.Value.ToString();
        if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(optionValue))
        if (string.Equals(optionName, "format")){
          format = optionValue;
        if (encodedPropertyNames.Contains(optionName))
          optionValue = urlEncode(optionValue);
        if (booleanPropertyNames.Contains(optionName))
          if (!(bool)kvp.Value) { continue; }
          optionValue = optionValue.ToLower();
        sb.Append(string.Format("&{0}={1}", optionName, optionValue));

      var queryString = sb.ToString();
      var uniqueToken = generateToken(queryString, key);
      return string.Format("{0}/{1}/{2}?{3}", this.apiKey, uniqueToken, format, queryString);

    private static string generateToken(String data, byte[] key)
      var algorithm = WinRTCrypto.MacAlgorithmProvider.OpenAlgorithm(MacAlgorithm.HmacSha1);
      CryptographicHash hasher = algorithm.CreateHash(key);
      byte[] mac = hasher.GetValueAndReset();
      var macStr = byteArrayToString(mac);
      return macStr;

    private static string byteArrayToString(byte[] ba)
      string hex = BitConverter.ToString(ba).ToLower();
      return hex.Replace("-", "");

    private static string urlEncode(string url)
      // make it behave like javascript encodeURIComponent()
      var encoded = Uri.EscapeDataString(url);
      encoded = encoded.Replace("%28", "(");
      encoded = encoded.Replace("%29", ")");
      return encoded;