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What is an action?

Actions are a way of combining several related events into one, which you can then analyze in insights and dashboards as if it were a single event.

Actions can include autocapture events, custom events, or pageviews, and support filters for:

  • Event properties (e.g. UTM tags)
  • Person properties (e.g. location, operating system)
  • Feature flags (e.g. beta test groups and feature toggles)
  • Cohorts (e.g. groups of users with related properties)
  • Autocapture elements (e.g. text and CSS selectors)

You can also use actions to "rename" events by creating an action based on a single event and giving it easy to understand name.

How are actions useful?

Actions are great for analzying related events as if they were one.

At PostHog, for example, we track custom events like insight created, insight analyzed, and dashboard created. These are all different ways to interacting with product analytics.

We then combine these and similar events into an action called Product Analytics Interactions, which gives us an aggregate view of product analytics usage.

Actions are also useful for tracking conversions on your website. Our website homepage, for example, has several call to actions (CTAs) to signup to PostHog. We combine all these events into a single Homepage CTA action, so we can track all clicks from the signup page in a trends insight and run A/B tests with this action as a goal.

How to create an action

You can create new actions by either:

  1. Clicking the "New action" button in the "Actions" tab in Data Management.

  2. Using the PostHog Toolbar to tag the elements that are relevant – see our step-by-step tutorial on creating actions using the toolbar.

Actions are retroactive, meaning they also apply to past events, not only events that happen after the action was created.

You can create actions using events from three sources:

1. Autocapture

Autocapture actions are based on frontend elements from your website, such as a button or an input.

The easiest way to select them is using the toolbar, but you can also set them manually by providing something to identify the element, like a selector.

Our autocapture functionality captures a lot of frontend elements by default, but you'll need to manually set anything else you want to be captured.

Autocapture captures any click or change of input or submission of a, button, form, input, select, textarea, and label tags. All other elements need to be set manually. This is important to remember if you deviate from established HTML practices, such as using a div as a button.

Autocapture is also conservative regarding input tags to prevent grabbing sensitive data. See our Autocapture docs for more details.

There are three ways to match your elements:

  1. Text: The text on the element, if applicable. If you have buttons across your site, all saying ‘Sign Up’, you can track ALL of them, site-wide, as the same action, by choosing Text: "Sign Up" and not matching the URL.

  2. Only match if URL contains: The URL where this action needs to take place. If you choose to match the URL as well, it will track any button on that page if it contains the ‘Sign Up’ text (which could be more than one button).

  3. Matching selectors: details below.

You can have more than one match type selected_. Having multiple fields selected is an AND statement, so all of them will need to match an event for it to count as the action.

Matching selectors

You can use standard basic CSS selectors to uniquely identify the elements you care about.

The following types of selectors are supported:

  • Recommended: Attribute selectors. Example:[data-attr="value"] will match elements that have the given attribute and value.
  • ID selectors. Example: #speciallink will match elements with ID "speciallink".
  • Class selectors. Example: .importantlink will match elements with CSS class "importantlink".
  • Type selectors. Example: input will match any<input> elements.
  • Combinators are also supported (e.g. descendant or child combinators). Learn more about combinators. Examples: form > [data-attr="submit"] or button span.

The following patterns are not currently supported:

  • Wildcard operators (e.g. *, ~, |)
  • Combining multiple attribute selectors
  • Non-alphanumeric classes (like clases containing -, [], .)

Note that webhooks matching is stricter than query matching, see issue

2. Pageviews

Actions can be creating using pageview events that match urls containing a string, based on a regex or match exactly.

Regex matching is commonly used for URLs containing IDs like /some/path/123/view, which could be matched by a regex like /some/path/\d+/view into a single action.

3. Custom events

Custom events can be sent to your PostHog instance via our API, or one of our SDKs.

Further reading


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