Jobs are the kind of things that urlwatch(1) can monitor.

The list of jobs to run are contained in the configuration file urls.yaml, accessed with the command urlwatch --edit, each separated by a line containing only ---. The command urlwatch --list prints the name of each job, along with its index number (1, 2, 3, …) which gets assigned automatically according to its position in the configuration file.

While optional, it is recommended that each job starts with a name entry:

name: "This is a human-readable name/label of the job"

The following job types are available:


This is the main job type – it retrieves a document from a web server:

name: "urlwatch homepage"
url: ""

Required keys:

  • url: The URL to the document to watch for changes

Job-specific optional keys:

  • cookies: Cookies to send with the request (see Advanced Topics)

  • method: HTTP method to use (default: GET)

  • data: HTTP POST/PUT data

  • ssl_no_verify: Do not verify SSL certificates (true/false)

  • ignore_cached: Do not use cache control (ETag/Last-Modified) values (true/false)

  • http_proxy: Proxy server to use for HTTP requests (might be http:// or socks5://)

  • https_proxy: Proxy server to use for HTTPS requests (might be http:// or socks5://)

  • headers: HTTP header to send along with the request

  • encoding: Override the character encoding from the server (see Advanced Topics)

  • timeout: Override the default socket timeout (see Advanced Topics)

  • ignore_connection_errors: Ignore (temporary) connection errors (see Advanced Topics)

  • ignore_http_error_codes: List of HTTP errors to ignore (see Advanced Topics)

  • ignore_timeout_errors: Do not report errors when the timeout is hit

  • ignore_too_many_redirects: Ignore redirect loops (see Advanced Topics)

  • ignore_incomplete_reads: Ignore incomplete HTTP responses (see Advanced Topics)

(Note: url implies kind: url)


This job type is a resource-intensive variant of “URL” to handle web pages that require JavaScript to render the content being monitored.

The optional playwright package must be installed in order to run Browser jobs (see Dependencies). You will also need to install the browsers using playwright install (see Playwright Installation for details).

name: "A page with JavaScript"
navigate: ""

Required keys:

  • navigate: URL to navigate to with the browser

Job-specific optional keys:

  • wait_until: Either load, domcontentloaded, networkidle, or commit (see Advanced Topics)

  • wait_for: A CSS or XPath selector based on the Playwright Locator: spec. The job will wait for the default timeout of 30 seconds.

  • useragent: User-Agent header used for requests (otherwise browser default is used)

  • browser: Either chromium, chrome, chrome-beta, msedge, msedge-beta, msedge-dev, firefox, webkit (must be installed with playwright install)

Because this job uses Playwright to render the page in a headless browser instance, it uses massively more resources than a “URL” job. Use it only on pages where url does not return the correct results. In many cases, instead of using a “Browser” job, you can use the output of an API called by the page as it loads, which contains the information you are you’re looking for by using the much faster “URL” job type.

(Note: navigate implies kind: browser)


This job type allows you to watch the output of arbitrary shell commands, which is useful for e.g. monitoring an FTP uploader folder, output of scripts that query external devices (RPi GPIO), etc…

name: "What is in my Home Directory?"
command: "ls -al ~"

Required keys:

  • command: The shell command to execute

Job-specific optional keys:

  • stderr: Change how standard error is treated, see below

(Note: command implies kind: shell)

Configuring stderr behavior for shell jobs

By default urlwatch captures stderr for error reporting (non-zero exit code), but ignores the output when the shell job exits with exit code 0.

This behavior can be customized using the stderr key:

  • ignore: Capture stderr, report on non-zero exit code, ignore otherwise (default)

  • urlwatch: stderr of the shell job is sent to stderr of the urlwatch process; any error message on stderr will not be visible in the error message from the reporter (legacy default behavior of urlwatch 2.24 and older)

  • fail: Treat the job as failed if there is any output on stderr, even with exit status 0

  • stdout: Merge stderr output into stdout, which means stderr output is also considered for the change detection/diff part of urlwatch (this is similar to 2>&1 in a shell)

For example, this job definition will make the job appear as failed, even though the script exits with exit code 0:

command: |
  echo "Normal standard output."
  echo "Something goes to stderr, which makes this job fail." 1>&2
  exit 0
stderr: fail

On the other hand, if you want to diff both stdout and stderr of the job, use this:

command: |
  echo "An important line on stdout."
  echo "Another important line on stderr." 1>&2
stderr: stdout

Optional keys for all job types

  • name: Human-readable name/label of the job

  • tags: Array of tags

  • filter: Filters (if any) to apply to the output (can be tested with --test-filter)

  • max_tries: After this many sequential failed runs, the error will be reported rather than ignored

  • diff_tool: Command to a custom tool for generating diff text

  • diff_filter: Filters (if any) to apply to the diff result (can be tested with --test-diff-filter)

  • treat_new_as_changed: Will treat jobs that don’t have any historic data as CHANGED instead of NEW (and create a diff for new jobs)

  • compared_versions: Number of versions to compare for similarity

  • kind (redundant): Either url, shell or browser. Automatically derived from the unique key (url, command or navigate) of the job type

  • user_visible_url: Different URL to show in reports (e.g. when watched URL is a REST API URL, and you want to show a webpage)

  • enabled: Can be set to false to disable an individual job (default is true)

Setting keys for all jobs at once

The main Configuration file has a job_defaults key that can be used to configure keys for all jobs at once.