Craigslist is an amazing resource for finding an apartment, a unique employment opportunity, affordable used furniture, or that ultra-rare item that you’re on a quest to find. Searching for items on Craigslist can be frustrating, however, due to limitations of the native (built-in) Craigslist search feature. In this article, we explain the rationale behind those limitations and, more importantly, show you how to use third-party Craigslist search engines to circumvent those restrictions and search ALL of Craigslist at once: by state, multiple cities, distance, etc. Here’s how to search Craigslist like a pro.

Included In This Article:

  • Why does Craigslist set restrictions on search capabilities?

  • How to search Craigslist using the “frog-hop” method

  • Features of Craigslist’s native search engine

  • A list of third-party sites to search Craigslist in North America (search Craigslist by multiple cities, state, nationally)

  • Craigslist search all: A list of third-party sites to search all of Craigslist

  • And More…

Why Does Craigslist Set Restrictions on Search Capabilities?

So why is there a need for third-party Craigslist search engines?

The creators of Craigslist understand that a classified ad website could rapidly become a cesspool of scams and illegal activity if not carefully controlled. They have therefore designed the site to strongly encourage both buyers and sellers to work locally. After all, if you can drive a few miles to see and test out an item in person, you will be a lot more confident in the item’s quality (or for that matter, existence) than if you have only a photo to go by.

Buying any used item without inspecting it with your own hands and eyes is an invitation for trouble. To reduce the number of horror stories of transactions gone wrong, Craigslist requires buyers running a search to specify a city and a search radius around that city, with a maximum radius of 200 miles.

That is all fine and good in theory, but these restrictions become problematic if you are looking for a particularly rare item, such as a replacement shelf for a 1980s-era refrigerator or a two-inch analog (reel-to-reel) tape recording deck from before 1970. You may well be willing to drive 1,000 miles for such an item, or even to take the risk of setting up a “pay upon delivery” option with a seller you never meet face to face. In such situations, the question of how to search ALL of Craigslist becomes paramount.

The Long Way: How to Search Craigslist by the “Frog-Hop” Method

The first workaround that clever Craigslist users developed in order to search all (or at least most) of Craigslist was a “frog-hop” approach. For example, suppose a Craigslist user lives in Chicago. The user might first specify a 200-mile search radius around their own zip code, save any useful results, then reset the home city as Milwaukee and search again — then search again around Madison, then around Minneapolis, then around Kalamazoo, Michigan, and so on, gradually expanding across most of the US.

This approach is extremely  effective, in that it enables the user to employ all the best aspects of the native Craigslist search feature (more about that in a moment). It is also, of course, extremely tedious and time-consuming. The payoff may be worth the effort for a master carpenter trying to track down a vintage tool that hasn’t been manufactured since 1850, but most of us would happily give up a few of the niceties of a direct Craigslist search in return for a more efficient way to search regionally, nationally, or internationally. Third-party Craigslist search engines offer precisely that trade-off.

Before we get to the most popular Craigslist search engines and how to use them, let’s quickly review the features of Craigslist’s native search engine to provide you with a basis for comparison.

Features of Craigslist’s Built-in Search Engine

What can you do with the native search engine provided by Craigslist? Here’s a breakdown of the features and capabilities of the built-in search function.

  • Base city to search around: Required
  • Search distance allowed around base city: Up to 200 miles
  • Option to specify cities or states included in search: No — all cities within specified search distance will be included
  • Option to specify price range: Yes
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: Yes
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: Yes
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: Only if a Canadian or Mexican city is set as the base city for the search, which will result in being transferred to either Craigslist Canada or Craigslist Mexico.
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): Only if the base city is itself outside the US, Canada, and Mexico; a transfer to a different homepage will occur.
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: Yes
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: Yes, both functions available
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: No
  • Results displayed: With main photo for each ad shown

Third-Party Craigslist Search Engines

Third-party sites provide users the opportunity to use search settings other than the ones that the Craigslist native search engine allows. With third-party sites, users can search entire states, the entire US, or even the entire world. Because these sites are not affiliated with Craigslist, however, they cannot provide direct access to Craigslist content (such as product photos). Therefore, search results are provided simply as a list of links. Each site has its pros and cons, but using several of them in combination can result in a very productive national or international search.

We have not only compiled a list of the 10 most popular Craigslist search engines, but we have also thoroughly tested each site to determine the best way to use it, depending on the type of search you wish to conduct. Our two lists below summarize how to effectively use these search engines to find the results you need, either in the US, Canada, and Mexico or globally.

So whether you want to search Craigslist search multiple cities, search Craigslist nationally, search craigslist by state, or do a Craigslist worldwide search, we have you covered.

Craigslist Search Engines That Search the United States, Canada, and Mexico

1. SearchTempest

  • How to set up the search: On the homepage of the site, select either the “Search by distance from you” or the “Search by US state or region” option. For the first option, you will be asked to enter a ZIP code and search radius. For the second option, you will be able to enter multiple US states and cities as well as Canadian provinces. (Once you begin a search, you can toggle between the new and improved Direct Results view, which pulls directly from Craigslist, and the original Single List Results, which pulls Craigslist postings via Google.)
  • Search distance allowed around base city: Intervals of 25 miles up to 150 miles; intervals of 50 miles up to 400 miles; intervals of 250 miles from 500 miles to 1500 miles; intervals of 500 miles up to 4,000 miles; or choose “any” to include all of US.
  • Option to specify price range: Yes
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No, but can specify range of model years for the search item itself
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: Yes
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: Yes
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): Yes
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: User may specify whether to search only posting titles or entire ads.
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: Yes, both included automatically
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links with sidebar ads. Some links may be out of date. Those we tried tested well, but not all were relevant to the search.
  • Begin a search on SearchTempest now.

2. ZoomTheList

  • How to set up the search: In the left sidebar, enter a single city and state under “Local Craigslist Search.”
  • Search distance allowed around base city: No option to enter a radius. Default radius is not specified.
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: Yes
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: No
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): No
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: No
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: No
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links preceded by ads. Some links are out of date; specifying a range of posting dates for ads improves results. Most links we tested after making such a specification were current and active, but not all were relevant to the search.
  • Begin a search on ZoomTheList now.

3. Ad Hunt’r

  • How to set up the search: On the homepage, enter a search item to receive initial search results from “all” of Craigslist. On the results page, select Advanced Search and enter one specific state and city.
  • Search distance allowed around base city: No option to enter a radius. Default radius is not specified.
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: No; US states, DC, Puerto Rico, and selected US territories only
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): No
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: No
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: eBay results available by following the link at the top of the results page
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links, preceded by ads. A significant number of the links are expired.
  • Begin a search on Ad Hunt’r now.

4. StatewideList

  • How to set up the search: This search engine requires entry of a single US state or Canadian province on the homepage.
  • Search distance allowed around base city: Search is automatically province- or state-wide.
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: Yes; users can add this information once initial results page appears
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: Canada, but not Mexico
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): No
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: User may specify to “search titles only”
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: Yes, eBay included automatically
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links with NO ads. Some links may be out of date. Those we tried tested well, and most were relevant to the search.
  • Begin a search on StatewideList now.

5. DAILYLister

  • How to set up the search: On the homepage, enter a search item to receive initial search results from “all” of Craigslist. On the results page, there is an option to specify a multi-state US region.
  • Search distance allowed around base city: Automatic, based on specified region
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: No
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): No
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: User may specify “title only” for initial search, with option to switch to “entire post” later without resetting search.
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: Yes, eBay included automatically
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links with NO ads. Some links may be out of date. Those we tried tested well, and most were relevant to the search.
  • Begin a search on DAILYLister now.

6. ThingWeb Craigslist Search Engine

  • How to set up the search: On the homepage, select “change search location” from the left sidebar. Enter a specific state, then specify a city/region within that state or the state as a whole.
  • Search distance allowed around base city: Search is based on city, region, or state as described above. For a wider search radius, choose region or state.
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: No
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): No
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: No
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: No
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links, preceded by ads. A significant number of the links are expired.
  • Begin a search on ThingWeb Craigslist Search Engine now.

7. Craigslist Search Engine

  • How to set up the search: Enter a search item on the homepage.
  • Search distance allowed around base city: No option to enter a radius
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: No; searches US Craigslist only
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): No
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: No
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: No
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links, preceded by ads. A significant number of the links are expired.
  • Begin a search on Craigslist Search Engine now.

8. OneCraigs

  • How to set up the search: Enter a search item on the homepage.
  • Search distance allowed around base city: No option to enter a radius
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: Not specified
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): Not specified
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: No
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: No
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links, preceded by ads. A significant number of the links are expired. Many others are broken because the search engine returns matches from messages exchanged by Craiglist users, which cannot be accessed via a third-party site.
  • Begin a search on OneCraigs now.

9. ExTads

  • How to set up the search: On the homepage, enter a search item and choose “Search all of Craigslist US,” “Search all of Craigslist Canada,” or “Search all of Craigslist Jobs.”
  • Search distance allowed around base city: No option to enter a radius
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: Canada, but not Mexico
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): No
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: No
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: No
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links, preceded by ads. A significant number of the links are expired.
  • Begin a search on ExTads now.

10. SearchCraigslist

  • How to set up the search: Enter a search item on the homepage.
  • Search distance allowed around base city: No option to specify a radius
  • Option to specify price range: No
  • Option to specify posting dates of ads: No
  • Option to specify only ads that include a photo: No
  • Option to include Canada and Mexico: Not specified
  • Option to search internationally (beyond US, Canada, Mexico): Not specified
  • Search engine suggests ways to improve/refine/expand search: No
  • Options to search for keywords in title only vs. entire ad, search for keywords individually vs. entire phrase: No
  • Searches eBay and/or Amazon also: No
  • How are results displayed, and are they accurate and up to date? Results appear as a list of links, preceded by ads. A significant number of the links are expired. Many others are broken because the search engine returns matches from messages exchanged by Craiglist users, which cannot be accessed via a third-party site.
  • Begin a search on SearchCraigslist now.

Craigslist Search Engines: Conclusion

Now you know how to search ALL of Craigslist using a variety of third-party search engines. Remember, however, the advice of the founders of Craigslist: purchasing any item or service from a private party is safest when the transaction is local and, ideally, face to face. Any long-distance transaction involves significant risk.