A tool for monitoring webpages for updates
Python Roff
Clone or download
Latest commit 24148de Aug 13, 2018


Build Status

                         _               _       _       ____
              _   _ _ __| |_      ____ _| |_ ___| |__   |___ \
             | | | | '__| \ \ /\ / / _` | __/ __| '_ \    __) |
             | |_| | |  | |\ V  V / (_| | || (__| | | |  / __/
              \__,_|_|  |_| \_/\_/ \__,_|\__\___|_| |_| |_____|

                 A tool for monitoring webpages for updates

urlwatch is intended to help you watch changes in webpages and get notified (via email, in your terminal or with a custom-written reporter class) of any changes. The change notification will include the URL that has changed and a unified diff of what has changed.


urlwatch 2 requires:

The dependencies can be installed with (add --user to install to $HOME):

python3 -m pip install pyyaml minidb requests keyring appdirs

For optional pushover support the chump package is required:

python3 -m pip install chump

For optional pushbullet support the pushbullet.py package is required:

python3 -m pip install pushbullet.py

For optional support for the "browser" job kind, Requests-HTML is needed:

python3 -m pip install requests-html

For unit tests, you also need to install pycodestyle:

python3 -m pip install pycodestyle


Migration from urlwatch 1.x should be automatic on first start. Here is a quick rundown of changes in 2.0:

  • URLs are stored in a YAML file now, with direct support for specifying names for jobs, different job kinds, directly applying filters, selecting the HTTP request method, specifying POST data as dictionary and much more
  • The cache directory has been replaced with a SQLite 3 database file "cache.db" in minidb format, storing all change history (use --gc-cache to remove old changes if you don't need them anymore) for further analysis
  • The hooks mechanism has been replaced with support for creating new job kinds by subclassing, new filters (also by subclassing) as well as new reporters (pieces of code that put the results somewhere, for example the default installation contains the "stdout" reporter that writes to the console and the "email" reporter that can send HTML and text e-mails)
  • A configuration file - urlwatch.yaml - has been added for specifying user preferences instead of having to supply everything via the command line


  1. Start urlwatch to migrate your old data or start fresh
  2. Use urlwatch --edit to customize your job list
  3. Use urlwatch --edit-config if you want to set up e-mail sending
  4. Use urlwatch --edit-hooks if you want to write custom subclasses
  5. Add urlwatch to your crontab (crontab -e)


Quickly adding new URLs to the job list from the command line:

urlwatch --add url=http://example.org,name=Example

You can pick only a given HTML element with the built-in filter, for example to extract <div id="something">.../<div> from a page, you can use the following in your urls.yaml:

url: http://example.org/
filter: element-by-id:something

Also, you can chain filters, so you can run html2text on the result:

url: http://example.net/
filter: element-by-id:something,html2text

The example urls.yaml file also demonstrates the use of built-in filters, here 3 filters are used: html2text, line-grep and whitespace removal to get just a certain info field from a webpage:

url: https://thp.io/2008/urlwatch/
filter: html2text,grep:Current.*version,strip

For most cases, this means that you can specify a filter chain in your urls.yaml page without requiring a custom hook where previously you would have needed to write custom filtering code in Python.

If you are using the grep filter, you can grep for a comma (,) by using \054 (: does not need to be escaped separately and can be used as-is), for example to convert HTML to text, then grep for a,b:, and then strip whitespace, use this:

url: https://example.org/
filter: html2text,grep:a\054b:,strip

If you want to extract only the body tag you can use this filer:

url: https://thp.io/2008/urlwatch/
filter: element-by-tag:body

You can also specify an external diff-style tool (a tool that takes two filenames (old, new) as parameter and returns on its standard output the difference of the files), for example to use GNU wdiff to get word-based differences instead of line-based difference:

url: https://example.com/
diff_tool: wdiff

Note that diff_tool specifies an external command-line tool, so that tool must be installed separately (e.g. apt install wdiff on Debian or brew install wdiff on macOS). Coloring is supported for wdiff-style output, but potentially not for other diff tools.


You can configure urlwatch to send real time notifications about changes via Pushover(https://pushover.net/). To enable this, ensure you have the chump python package installed (see DEPENDENCIES). Then edit your config (urlwatch --edit-config) and enable pushover. You will also need to add to the config your Pushover user key and a unique app key (generated by registering urlwatch as an application on your Pushover account(https://pushover.net/apps/build)


Pushbullet notification are configured similarly to Pushover (see above). You'll need to add to the config your Pushbullet Access Token, which you can generate at https://www.pushbullet.com/#settings


Telegram notifications are configured using the Telegram Bot API. For this, you'll need a Bot API token and a chat id (see https://core.telegram.org/bots). Sample configuration:

  bot_token: '999999999:3tOhy2CuZE0pTaCtszRfKpnagOG8IQbP5gf' # your bot api token
  chat_id: '88888888' # the chat id where the messages should be sent
  enabled: true

To set up Telegram, from your Telegram app, chat up BotFather (New Message, Search, "BotFather"), then say /newbot and follow the instructions. Eventually it will tell you the bot token (in the form seen above, <number>:<random string>) - add this to your config file.

You can then click on the link of your bot, which will send the message /start. At this point, you can use the command urlwatch --telegram-chats to list the private chats the bot is involved with. This is the chat ID that you need to put into the config file as chat_id, and don't forget to also enable the reporter.


If the webpage you are trying to watch runs client-side JavaScript to render the page, Requests-HTML can now be used to render the page in a headless Chromium instance first and then use the HTML of the resulting page.

Use the browser kind in the configuration and the navigate key to set the URL to retrieve. note that the normal url job keys are not supported for the browser job types at the moment, for example:

kind: browser
name: "A Page With JavaScript"
navigate: http://example.org/


You need to configure your GMail account to allow for "less secure" (password-based) apps to login:

  1. Go to https://myaccount.google.com/
  2. Click on "Sign-in & security"
  3. Scroll all the way down to "Allow less secure apps" and enable it

Now, start the configuration editor: urlwatch --edit-config

These are the keys you need to configure (see #158):

  • report/email/enabled: true
  • report/email/from: your.username@gmail.com (edit accordingly)
  • report/email/method: smtp
  • report/email/smtp/host: smtp.gmail.com
  • report/email/smtp/keyring: true
  • report/email/smtp/port: 587
  • report/email/smtp/starttls: true
  • report/email/to: The e-mail address you want to send reports to

Now, for setting the password, it's not stored in the config file, but in your keychain. To store the password, run: urlwatch --smtp-login and enter your password.


While creating your filter pipeline, you might want to preview what the filtered output looks like. You can do so by first configuring your job and then running urlwatch with the --test-filter command, passing in the index (from --list) or the URL/location of the job to be tested:

urlwatch --test-filter 1   # Test the first job in the list
urlwatch --test-filter https://example.net/  # Test the job with the given URL

The output of this command will be the filtered plaintext of the job, this is the output that will (in a real urlwatch run) be the input to the diff algorithm.


Website: https://thp.io/2008/urlwatch/

E-Mail: m@thp.io