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Advanced Searches on Craigslist

Can't find what you're looking for on craigslist with a simple search?
Craigslist offers some powerful advanced search features that you can use to find exactly what you need.
The following guide is intended to help you get familiar with this Craigslist' advanced search syntax.

Contents:

Quick Reference

Capitalization: Craig doesn't care

Searching for Specific Phrases - Phrase Search

Excluding Terms - Filtering

"OR" Queries

Grouping

More Examples

Quick Reference:

Phrase: "word1 word2"
Exclude: -word
Or: word1 | word2
Grouping: (word1 | word2) (word3 | word4)

Looking for a rental that has a parking and a yard? Then your search query could be:
(parking | garage) -"street parking" (yard | backyard | garden)


Capitalization: Craig doesn't care

Before going into the different search options and examples, it's important to note that a craigslist search will return the same results irrespective of capitalization.
In other words, "Honda" will return the same results as "honda" or "HONDA".

Searching for Specific Phrases - Phrase Search

You can both use single words and phrases in your searches. The difference is that you have to put the phrase in quotation marks.
For example: "low miles", "four wheel drive", "three bedrooms", "fully furnished", "full time", and so on.
Such a query will return posts which contain the exact sentence specified.

Looking for a rental with street parking:
"street parking"
[Check the results here]

Looking for tickets to the upcoming concert of Cut Copy:
"Cut Copy"
[Check the results here]


Excluding Terms - Filtering

In order to specify one or more words you want to exclude from your Craigslist search, use a minus sign to exclude them from the search results.
Let's say you are looking for a Honda and you want it to be black, but you don't want it to be red.
In such case, you can type:
Honda black -red in the 'cars & trucks' category
The above query will return all postings which contain the words 'Honda' and 'black', but not "red".
[Check the results here]

You can also use this filtering method for as many words you as want.
For example, if you want your Honda to be only black, not yellow, blue, red, pink, or white; then, your search will look like:
Honda black -yellow -blue -red -pink -white in the 'cars & trucks' category
The above query will return all postings which contain the words 'Honda' and 'black', but none of the excluded words.
[Check the results here]

You should also note that a search has to contain at least one positive term; in other words, your search cannot contain just words to be filtered out:
-yellow -blue -red -pink -white would be rejected
While black -yellow -blue -red -pink -white is OK
How do you circumvent the restriction if you're truly looking for only postings which do not include a set of words?
Use a word that appears in all postings - such as "Location"!

For instance, if you're looking for a car that is any color except red or white, then your search can be:
Location -red -white in the 'cars & trucks' category
The above query will return all postings which do not contain the words 'red' or 'white'.
[Check the results here]

Filtering can be used for phrases as well.
The minus sign has to be in front of the quotation marks of the phrase, rather than inside the quotation marks.

For example, if you are looking for a bartender job and you don't want it to be in a night club, your search query will look something like:
bartender -"night club" in the food/beverage/hospitality job section.
This will return all postings that include the word "bartender" but not the term "night club".
[Check the results here]


"OR" Queries

By default, every term you include in your search is considered to be required (unless it is excluded with the minus sign as in the examples described above).
When you want to find either one or more terms in your results, you can specify a list of words using the "pipe" character - '|' - in the following way:
Honda | Toyota
Such query will return postings that contain the words 'Honda' or 'Toyota', or both.
[Check the results here]

As with any other type of query, you can also use filtering for "OR" queries.
The minus sign has to be put in front of the grouping.

Let's say you're searching for a Subaru, and you don't want to spend time sorting out all the Hondas and Toyotas from the results.
Your query will look the following way:
Subaru -Honda | Toyota in the 'cars & trucks' section.
Such query will return postings that include the word Subaru but not Honda or Toyota.
[Check the results here]

The "OR" condition can also be used for phrases.
You can use as many phrases as you want to be included in your search results. Each phrase must be included in quotation marks and separated by the "pipe" character.

Let's say you're looking for a rental in San Francisco's Mission district, SOMA, or North Beach.
Your query could look like this:
"mission district" | SOMA | "north beach" in the 'apts / housing' section of craigslist San Francisco
This query will return postings that include the terms "mission district", SOMA, or "north beach", or postings that include all three terms.
[Check the results here]


Grouping

Finally, you can combine terms and query types together using parentheses, when your queries are getting complicated.
Let's take a look at several examples.

Let's say you want a BMW, you want it either black or red, not white and you want it to be low miles.
Your query could be as follow:
BMW (black | red) -white "low miles" This will return postings that include the words BMW, black or red, "low miles", but not white.
[Check the results here]

Now, let's say you're thinking of getting either a BMW or a Mercedes. You'll get:
(BMW | Mercedes) (black | red) -white "low miles"
You'll get results similar to the previous example, except you'll also get postings that include either the word Mercedes or BMW.
[Check the results here]

Although you limit your preferences to two main colors (e.g. black and red) and exclude one color you wouldn't like to be present in your results, there are other colors that can be present in the results.
For instance, if you check the last reference you will notice that besides BMW and Mercedes cars, there are also Volkswagen, Toyota, Chevrolet, Nissan, Lexus and some other makes and models.
You can get rid of them just the same way as you did with the color - just put a minus sign in front of which. For example:
(BMW | Mercedes) (black | red) -white -yellow -pink -Toyota -Nissan -Volkswagen "low miles"
[Check the results here]

You can also include more than two, three, or four of the preferred preferences in the "OR" terms.
There are also various options that are expressed in phrases rather than in single words, like "four wheel drive", which is also often referred to as "all wheel drive", "awd", and others.
You can mix phrases and single keywords together; just don't forget to include phrases into the quotation marks.

For example, if you are looking for a Japanese car, which is a four wheel drive, low miles, and is either blue or green and is definitely not yellow or white:
(Honda | Subaru | Toyota) (green | blue) (awd | "all wheel drive" | "four wheel drive") -yellow -white "low miles"
[Check the results here]


Some More Examples

Looking for a condo, with garage or parking, a deck or garden, located in the marina or downtown San Francisco:
condo (garage | parking) -"street parking" (deck | yard | backyard | garden) (marina | "downtown / civic")
[Check the results here]

Looking for a furnished studio, with a gym or pool, located close to SOMA, the Mission, or Downtown San Francisco:
studio furnished (gym | pool) (SOMA | "Mission District" | "downtown / civic")
[Check the results here]

Looking for a PHP developer position, in the SF Bay Area, in Gaming or Mobile, without Zend, Ruby, or Java involved:
PHP (game | gaming | mobile | iphone | android) -(zend | ruby | ror | rails | java)
[Check the results here]

Looking for a classic beetle convertible, in the SF Bay Area:
(beetle | vw | bug) (convertible | convertable | convert) (1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969)
[Check the results here]

Do you have questions, or difficult searches you can't fully crack? Contact us via our Feedback tool

Next Steps

Using the powerful advanced Search features on craigslist you'll probably end-up with a few well targeted, but somewhat lengthy search queries.
How do you avoid the tedious process of having to re-type them every time you're looking for new results?
Check out our Search Tools section.




After spending many hours on craigslist, running countless sophisticated searches, using specialized search engines to go beyond simple searches, and even building our own tool to monitor multiple craigslist search; we've created this small site to help others get the most out of craigslist.
Have questions or suggestions? Give us feedback!



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