Automating Image Downloads from Protected Websites with Python

Apr 2, 2024 ยท 4 min read

Have you ever encountered a website where the images are protected behind a login or some other barrier that prevents directly downloading them? While annoying for manual downloads, these protections can be automated and bypassed using Python and the Selenium library.

In this guide, I'll walk through a method to log into a website, navigate to an image gallery, and download all images - completely automatically using Python code.

Setting Up the Tools

To follow along, you'll first need:

  • Python installed on your computer
  • Selenium installed (pip install selenium)
  • A browser driver like ChromeDriver or GeckoDriver
  • I'd also recommend having some basic Python and Selenium knowledge before tackling protected image downloads.

    Logging into the Site

    The first step is to log into the protected website using Selenium. This will allow full access to view and download the protected images.

    Here is some sample code:

    from selenium import webdriver
    driver = webdriver.Chrome()
    username = driver.find_element_by_id("username")
    password = driver.find_element_by_id("password")

    This loads the login page, enters the username and password, and clicks the login button.

    Obviously, replace "myusername" and "mypassword" with valid credentials.

    Navigating to the Image Gallery

    Once logged in, the next step is to navigate to the target image gallery or page that contains the images we want to download.

    This can be done by clicking links or using the .get() method to load URLs directly.


    Spend some time analyzing the site to find exactly where and how the target images are displayed.

    Downloading the Images

    Now for the actual image download portion. The key steps are:

    1. Use Selenium to grab all image elements on the page
    2. Loop through and extract the URL sources for each image
    3. Download the images locally using the URLs

    Here is what that might look like:

    import requests
    images = driver.find_elements_by_tag_name('img')
    for image in images:
        url = image.get_attribute('src')
        response = requests.get(url)
        image_data = response.content
        filename = url.split('/')[-1]
        with open(filename, 'wb') as f:
    print("Download complete!")

    We first grab all elements, then loop through and extract the src attribute to get image URLs.

    The URLs can then be used to download the actual image data and save it locally. The example uses the Requests library to handle the downloading portion.

    And that's it! With those steps, you can now bypass login protections and download entire image galleries locally to your machine.

    Handling Issues

    There are some common issues that you may run into:

  • Dynamic URLs - Sometimes the image URLs are dynamically generated and change on each page load. In these cases, you need to grab the attribute within the loop itself to get updated URLs.
  • Bot Protections - More advanced sites may try to detect Selenium automation and bot traffic. This can lead to captchas or blocking. One method is to add human-like behaviors such as scrolling, hovers, sleeps to evade them.
  • Missing Images - Double check that your locator is actually finding all intended images. If some are missing then try tweaking the locator with different tags, attributes or methods.
  • Conclusion

    While downloading protected images can be annoying manually, as you can see, it's straightforward to automate with Python + Selenium. The key steps are:

  • Log into the site programmatically
  • Navigate to the target gallery page
  • Extract image URLs and download locally
  • With this template, you can adapt the code to bypass protections on pretty much any site. Selenium is incredibly versatile for automating complex workflows in the browser.

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