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How to get a list of captures from the Wayback Machine

Use the CDX Server API to get a list of captures for a particular URL.

As part of my daily screenshots project, I wanted to get a list of all the versions of my sites that are saved in the Wayback Machine.

I started by copy/pasting URLs out of the Wayback Machine’s web interface, but that’s very slow and cumbersome even for a small site. Surely there’s a better way?

I looked in Google, and several pages pointed me to the CDX Server API. (It’s named CDX because that’s the name of the file format used in the index.) This is precisely the API I wanted – you give it a URL, and it returns a list of captures.

I wrapped this API in a Python function for ease of use:

import datetime

import httpx

def get_wayback_machine_captures(url: str):
    Get a list of all the captures for a given URL in the Wayback Machine.
    resp = httpx.get(
        "", params={"url": url, "output": "json"}
    # What if we don't get any results?
    if resp.json() == []:
        return []

    fields, *remainder = resp.json()

    for row in remainder:
        data = dict(zip(fields, row))

        data["length"] = int(data["length"])

        # The format used for Wayback captures is yyyyMMddhhmmss
        # e.g. 20200814072506
        data["time"] = datetime.datetime.strptime(data["timestamp"], "%Y%m%d%H%M%S")

        yield data

for capture in get_wayback_machine_captures(url=""):

You can use wildcards in the url parameter, e.g. just returns captures of the homepage, whereas* returns captures of any page.

This is only based on the “Basic Usage” section of the API. There are things like pagination in the “Advanced Usage”, which I’d want to read more carefully if I was using this for more than a one-off.