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Searching on eBay: Quick Tips at a Glance

How to find and keep track of the auctions you're looking for

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Woman doing online research at home
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Follow these tips to help ensure that you find the best deals with the smallest amount of effort as you shop eBay.

  • Be sure your terms are correctly spelled. The number one search gaffe made by prospective buyers is the simple misspelling of items and brand names. Searching for misspellings can be a good strategy to use if you're looking for hidden deals, but if you never search for the correct spelling to begin with you'll be missing out on the bulk of the listings for the item you're trying to buy.

  • Expand searches using parentheses to include multiple "or" search terms. If you'd like your search results to include matches to multiple keywords, enclose them all in parentheses (i.e. "(laptop, notebook, portable) computer" to search for laptop computers, notebook computers, and portable computers).

  • Narrow searches using by using the minus sign to exclude unwanted terms. When your search returns groups of results that you don't want to see and that can be identified by the presence of a single word (i.e. you searched for "digital camera" and got lots of results selling memory), amend your search to include the unwanted word preceded by a minus sign (i.e. add "-memory" as an additional term). This will exclude results that contain the word in question.

  • Use categories and checkboxes on left to make search more specific. Each time you are shown a list of search results, you'll find a list of category links and checkboxes on the left side of the page that can be used to narrow your search further. Click on any of the category links to repeat your search within that category. Check one or several of the boxes and then click the "Show Items" button to repeat your search with the added criteria you've checked.

  • Use "advanced search" to search by area or amount. If you want to search for items being sold only in a specific geographic region or only within a particular price range, click on the "Advanced Search" link at the upper-right of any eBay page, or use the "Location" and "Items priced" checkboxes at the left side of any search results page to narrow your search.

  • Use drop-down list to order by price or time. Use the drop-down list near the upper-right of the search results to sort search results by price or time remaining before the auction listing closes. Use the tabs at the upper-left of search results to filter results to include only auctions, only Buy It Now (fixed price) listings, or both.

  • Search for common misspellings or multiple similar terms. Not all sellers think alike, items have different common names in different geographic regions, and not everyone can spell. Use these facts to your advantage by making your search terms as diverse as possible, including common synonyms or alternate names, and common misspellings.

  • Click "save this search" to save your search results to My eBay for later repeating. If the page of results is one that you'd like to view often, click the "Add to Favorite Searches" link at the upper-right of your search results to save your current search, including all search terms, categories, parameters, and sort orders you've specified. Visit the "Favorites" category on your My eBay page to re-run the search at any time.

  • In a listing, click "watch this item" to save a listing to My eBay for later viewing. When viewing a listing that you may be interested in bidding on or buying at a later time, click the "Watch this item" link at the upper-right of the listing page to save it to your My eBay page. Visit the "Items I'm watching" category on your My eBay page to re-locate the item at any time.

For more detailed help and tutorial information about searching eBay for the best deals with the smalles amount of effort, visit the articles in Searching Effectively.

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