Craigslist Search Tips

I’m a big Craigslist user – when I’m in the market to buy or sell something, it’s one of the first places I check for great deals. The website is pretty useful as it is, but I do some unique searching that isn’t especially easy from their interface, so I thought I’d put together some Craigslist search tips.

For those of you who are new to the web, is basically an online classified ads bulletin board – kinda. It’s really much more, depending on how you use it. I’ve heard Cragislist described as one of the seven wonders of the web. You can use it to find your dream job, get a date, buy concert tickets and sell your car. Unlike traditional classified ads, it’s free to use (for most everything) and much easier, too.

So how does it work? Just go to the main Craigslist site at and pick your nearest big city. This is a Global resource, so you’re sure to find a Craigslist city near you. Don’t worry if you think the nearest location is too far away – everyone in your area is in the same boat, and most people ‘tag’ their listings with a locality anyway. Once you’ve selected your local site, see if any of the categories will help you narrow your search. If so, select it and begin searching – otherwise you can enter your search term directly from the home page, although this method sometimes yields too many results.

Craigslist Search Tips

Craigslist has a pretty good site search functionality which is unusual – most site searches are worthless, but if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, try this instead. Do a Google search. Go to and simply type this into the search bar:

site: your search term

for example, site: geo metro convertible

Obviously you’ll want to replace the location with your own city, and your own search phrase, but this search works pretty well. I was recently looking for a specific used car which got notoriously great fuel mileage. Unfortunately, there are very few of these cars on the market and very few for sale near Murfreesboro – but I was willing to travel for the right deal. Craigslist doesn’t provide for multi-location searches, so using the method above, I simply changed the city to surrounding cities and bookmarked the search for easy retrieval later. However, if you don’t have time to do searches, and are familiar with RSS feed readers – there is an easier way.

Make RSS work for You

So, maybe you want to be alerted to a new job posting, or pounce on a great deal before anyone else. Just set up the search you want, and run it. Then, head to the bottom of the page. Tucked in the lower right corner of every search results page is an RSS link. Alternatively, depending on your web browser, there is an orange RSS button located on the far-right side of the URL bar. Click it to subscribe, and you’ll get matches sent straight to your feed reader. So instead of searching over and over for new listings, the results come to your reader as they happen. If this is not fast enough, you can also have RSS results texted to you on your mobile phone. Yahoo (and Google, I think) allow you to set up text alerts for RSS feeds.

What are your experiences? Do you have any Craigslist Search tips or tricks? Share your Craigslist shortcuts in the comments section below.

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