SearchTempest vs The Rest just wrote an article comparing several craigslist search sites. Naturally SearchTempest was first on the list. 🙂 What struck me though were the cases made for some of the other sites. Crazedlist – has some of the features of SearchTempest, but ‘provides instructions that will help you’ get around blocks imposed by craigslist. That’s great, except that their instructions only work for Firefox, and besides, with SearchTempest things just work – no fiddling with your browser required. Doesn’t sound like much of a selling point! Craigzoom and Search All Craigs – these sites are both essentially front ends on top of Google custom searches. And that’s a good idea. In fact, SearchTempest also lets you tap into the power of Google. Just click the ‘All Cities Together’ tab on the results page. Only with SearchTempest, you still have access to all your advanced search options – particularly the ability to search by distance from your zip code, or pick and choose which cities to search. (Or, of course, search everywhere, if that’s what you want!) You can’t be everything to everyone, but we do try! 🙂

Working around craigslist’s all-negative-keywords deficiency

Craigslist is great, but if you’ve used it at all, you’ve likely noticed it has a number of … imperfections. One of these is that you can not do a search with only negative keywords. For example, a SearchTempest user wrote on our forums recently that he was having trouble with his motorcycle search. He basically just wanted to browse the motorcycles/scooters category, but didn’t want to get all the atv and scooter posts. He knew he wanted a bike, and the price range, but otherwise wanted to browse. Logically this would be a simple matter of using -atv -scooter as your keywords. Unfortunately, craigslist barfs when you do this. (And since SearchTempest passes your keywords through to craigslist, we got some barf on us too. Never fun.) Fortunately, there’s a work-around. Every craigslist post ends with “You may [not] contact this user for commercial purposes”, or something to that effect. And for whatever reason, their search system actually indexes that part of the post. (A bit of a waste, but I won’t complain since it turns out to be useful. 🙂 ) So for the search above, we can use contact -atv -scooter as our keywords and we’ll match every post, except those with the words atv or scooter in them – just as we wanted! And now, SearchTempest takes it one small step further. It now automatically checks for search strings like -atv -scooter and automatically adds that ‘contact’ in there for you.

MovieTempest Plans – Kiosk browsing and download options

Now that the basics are up and running at MovieTempest, we’re ready to start adding some cool new features. The first ones on the docket are
  • Web-based options. You can already find the nearest Redbox, Blockbuster Express, etc., with your movie in stock. Next you’ll be able to check Netflix, eBay, Amazon, and iTunes to see if any of them is a better option.
  • Kiosk browsing. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. So instead of searching for a particular film, this option will allow you to easily browse what’s available at your favorite kiosk down the street.
Hope you like ’em! As always, if you have other ideas, please share them here.

Google Mode Awesomeness

The Google-powered results mode at SearchTempest has received a complete overhaul. You can now access this mode more easily by clicking the All Cities Together link at the top of the results. The internal scrollbar has been removed, and a number of customization options have been added – these can be found in the Display Options tab. Find things like how many results to show per page, and whether to show previews of the post bodies there. As its name suggestions, this mode allows you to view results from all cities within your search radius together; particularly handy if you’re searching for something rare, or are only interested in the newest postings. One thing to keep in mind though is that this mode is powered by Google. Their index, while excellent, is not 100% perfect, so if you want to be absolutely certain of seeing every post that’s up on craigslist, it’s best to stick with the default Craigs Results tab. What I generally do is use the Google mode most days, but check the standard tab every once in a while or before I make a big purchase to make sure.

Old News

Before starting this blog, I had a page listing all the cool SearchTempest developments in good old HTML. Here it is for posterity:

Early 2011

Improved search history, results layout improvements

  • SearchTempest now lets you easily pull up recent or favorite searches to search again.
  • You can now easily flip between the two most popular results formats without even reloading the page. See the tabs near the top of the results page, right under the search bar.
  • Updated the documentation. May not seem like much, but it tends to get overlooked with other, more fun work to do!

September 2010

More improvements on the new design

  • A small section on the results page has been added to show any additional search options, like price or ‘has picture’. Keeps you from forgetting about them and allows them to be easily changed or removed.
  • The stacked results mode now works on Android.
  • Even fixed some stuff in IE6 (but do yourself a favor and don’t use it…) 🙂

Aug. 4, 2010

Several initial tweaks and improvements to the new design

  • Cities with no results are now automatically closed! (Relies on craigslist allowing Yahoo Pipes access to their feeds; hopefully that will continue to be the case!)
  • Greatly improved keyboard-browsing of the main search form and the site in general.
  • Added a notification to let users know about the new craigslist image preview option, and how best to use it.
  • Increased the default city size (which is nice for the craigslist image previews), and added a feature that auto-shrinks cities if the browser window is small. (All controllable via the Display Options results tab.)

June 20, 2010

  • All new site design!

    An all-new version of SearchTempest rolled out today.

    The new design is greatly streamlined, reducing clutter and complexity. It will hopefully make things much easier for new users. It will retains all the power of the current site, while allowing us to add even more features in the future.

December 30, 2009

  • Another new results format!

    This is for those of you willing to look far and wide for long distances. I know it’s a struggle slogging through all 400 odd craigslist cities, so I’ve enlisted the help of google to build a new results format. It shows all results in the US and/or Canada in a single list, sorted by date or relevance.

December 15, 2009

  • Brand New Server

    You may have notice SearchTempest lagging out a bit around dinnertime lately. Well, I’ve just upgraded to a brand new server with dual quad-core cpus, and other such fanciness, so lag should be a thing of the past!

September 28, 2009

  • Performance Enhancements

    Through a combination of code optimizations, compression, caching, etc, I’ve managed to cut the amount of traffic between SearchTempest and your browser by more than half. I’ve also added smart pre-fetching, so the results page (particularly searches with multiple pages of results) should be much snappier. The end result: should now be 2-3 times faster! I imagine this will be especially beneficial for mobile and dial-up browsers, but regardless of your connection speed, faster is always better, right? :-)

September 1, 2009

  • New Cities

    Added about 140 new craigslist cities today. Also removed a few duplicates where craiglist lists the same city under two states.

    If you are selecting states manually though, don’t worry – you’ll still be able to find the cities in either location.

July 29, 2009

  • Recent Searches

    After you’ve run a few searches, you’ll notice that the keywords entry is now a combobox. You can use it to type in keywords as usual, or you can select one of your recent searches from a dropdown! It loads all the options from the selected search too, like category and price.

    Of course, if you don’t like this option or don’t want your searches saved, you can turn it off under the ‘Other’ tab of the Options menu.

  • Aaand more performance improvements

    Made more changes to improve the load times of the site, and there are even more to come…

July 9, 2009

  • Speedy speedy

    Made some changes to the results page to speed up load times. With my test setup, the page now loads about 33% faster!

  • Amazon test

    I added an Amazon section similar to the eBay section. I hope people find it useful, especially since it took a bit of doing to cobble something decent together with their tools! (I think it turned out fairly well. 🙂 ) Either way though, I learned a fair bit from doing it, which helped with the speed improvements mentioned above.

    Naturally, if you don’t want the Amazon results, it’s easy to get rid of them. Just uncheck the ‘Include results’ checkbox on the main page. (If you already said no to eBay results, I’ve unchecked it for you by default.)

May 17, 2009

  • Car Search

    You’ll notice the ‘car search’ link on the main page is now active! I believe the car search site is now at a point where it surpasses SearchTempest when searching for vehicles – and it’ll only get better from here! So check it out! :-)

  • General Streamlining

    I’ve made a bunch of small improvements focused on making the site easier to use.

    Particularly, all the additional options have been consolidated into a single (much) simpler pop-up box, accessible by clicking the ‘Options’ link at the top-right of either the search or results page.

    I’ve also made a number of improvements behind the scenes to hopefully make things even faster and more stable.

November 12, 2008

  • Search by Zip and Distance!

    It’s now much easier to enter your search into SearchTempest! Instead of manually choosing states and cities to search, all you have to do is type in your zip code, and you’re good to go!

    Also, cities in the results page can now be sorted by distance from you and by size, as well as alphabetically.

    Yay! :-)

  • Save searches/results

    You could always do this by bookmarking the results page. Now it’s even easier, using the “Add to Favorites” button on the results page. When you open the page from your favorites/bookmarks, you get the newest results for that search!

October 30, 2008

  • RSS Feeds!

    I’ve heard from a number of you that you like to use RSS feeds for searches you run often. (That way you only get the newest results, and don’t have to keep coming and checking back.) However, it’s a pain to manually go to each craigslist city to grab the feed. Now SearchTempest does it for you! Just look for the RSS icon (RSS) on the results page!

September 24, 2008

  • Search from Results Page

    I’ve had a few people ask for this, and I agree it definitely has value. You can now change the parameters of your search and re-run it right from the results page!

July Something, 2008

  • Advanced Keywords

    Through my ongoing, industrious research, I’ve discovered even more hidden craigslist keyword functions. These are all now organized under an ‘Advanced Keywords’ mode. Click the little [?] beside it on the main page for more info…

  • eBay Results

    SearchTempest now provides eBay results as well as Craigslist, with no added effort required. Many people tend to search both Craigslist and eBay, so hopefully this’ll save you some time.

    Of course, if it doesn’t, feel free to turn it off; SearchTempest will remember your choice and won’t show it again. Just uncheck the ‘show eBay’ box on the main page, or press the big red ‘X’ above the eBay results! :-)

June 15, 2008

  • Stacked Results

    Multiple cities, all on the same page! Should speed up browsing nicely, especially for those searching for rare items. Learn more here!

June 7, 2008

  • Keyboard Browsing

    Rather than clicking the ‘Next City’ and ‘Previous City’ buttons, you can now use the ‘N’ and ‘P’ keys on your keyboard (or in Firefox, the left and right arrows) to switch between cities. Should speed things up a bit! Thanks to Jim for suggesting this one.

  • Firefox 3.0 fixed

    Since it looks like Firefox isn’t going to bother fixing their broken object element before releasing v3, I went ahead and coded a work-around. SOoo the site should now work just fine in Firefox 3 as well as 2. 🙂

March, 2008

  • Complete Facelift!

    Hopefully it’s obvious, but SearchTempest’s looking a little cooler now! Thanks to web designer Jason, and Steve from the Craigslist Handbook, we now have a whole new look. Hopefully it’ll be even easier to use too!

Mar. 14, 2008

  • Improved keyword functionality

    I had planned to introduce this along with the new site design, but… it was done, and I couldn’t make you wait. :-)

    You can now choose whether to search for ads with ALL your keywords, ANY of the keywords, or a complete phrase.

Mar. 8, 2008

  • CLH Kijiji.. Canada

    I can’t believe how many requests I got for this! OK.. now you can search Kijiji Canada too. 🙂

Jan.? Something, 2008

  • CLH Kijiji

    Now Search Kijiji, in the friendly, SearchTempest fashion! CLH Kijiji

Nov., 2007

  • Works in IE!

    Finally figured out a way around IE stupidness to get the site working in everyone’s favourite built-into-windows browser! Of course, everyone should still use Firefox, but if you can’t, now you CAN use!

Oct. 13, 2007

  • Worldwide Areas

    Added a version of the ‘U.S. Regions’ dropdown for the rest of the world.

Summerish, 2007

  • ‘Major Cities Only’ Checkbox

    You can now choose to only show results from the largest cities in your search region. Could be handy when you just want to take a quick look, or to keep craigslist happy if you do a Lot of searching…

  • Polls!

    Added a fancy AJAX poll to the results page. Sometimes change the poll question too… heh.. 🙂

  • Refresh Button

    The results page now features a refresh button to bring you back to the list of results for the currently viewed city. (That way you don’t have to back-back-back out of the ads. Also helpful if the internet breaks and the page for that city doesn’t load.

March 25, 2007

  • Regions!

    Just added the new ‘Regions’ dropdown box for US Regions! Please let me know a) if it’s useful, b) if I messed anything up, and c) if any of the regions need tweaking, if there’re too many, too few, etc.

Dec. 3, 2006

  • Added New Cities

    Added all the new Craigslist cities! Looks like there’s quite a few. Managed to delete all the biggest cities in the process, but got it fixed quickly, thanks to a heads-up from Terry and Ken.

Nov. something, 2006

  • Horizontal Add/Remove Layout

    Changed the default layout for the main search page to something (hopefully) more user-friendly. I kinda prefer the more compact nature of the old, vertical layout though, so if you feel the same, you can switch back using the link at the top-right of the main page.

Oct. 16, 2006

  • Added ‘Has Picture’ and ‘Search Titles’, plus other options

    Craigslist recently added these two vital options, so I’ve incorporated them as well. Also added was the “By Dealer/By Owner” option for the cars & trucks for sale category. If I’ve missed any options that you can find on Craigslist (or if you notice that they’ve added more), please let me know – I promise to get them up here asap.

    Also while I was doing some preliminary work for this yesterday, it turns out I broke the results page rather badly.. so a big thanks to Steve E. for pointing that out!

Oct. 12, 2006

  • Paypal Link

    To be honest, as useful as I think this service is, I was pretty surpised that people would be kind enough to donate for my time. Thanks to Terry for sending me an email to *ask for a way to donate*! I must say, that was some pretty cool recognition. So as requested, there’s now a paypal link like this one at the bottom of the main page. Please don’t feel any pressure to donate. (But I won’t discourage you either 😉 )

Sept. 30, 2006

  • Improved <Back> Button

    Improved/fixed how the back button works in the results page. Now lets you back through the cities you have viewed.
    Thanks to SearchTempest user Bob for getting me thinking on this.

  • Added Tips and Help

    I actually put the ‘tips’ up on the results page a few days ago, but added a few more today. Added a couple of new help pages too.

Earlier Changes:

  • Canada and Worldwide

    Search is now available for every craigslist city everywhere. New cities will be adopted as they are added to craigslist (but if we miss one, feel free to let us know).

  • Saved Search Info

    Your most recent search will now be saved by When you return, your search cities and other info will be ready for you. To start fresh, simply click the “clear all” button.

  • Better Results!

    The Results page has been overhauled! I’m actually quite pleased with it – it fits into the craigslist colour scheme nicely, and should make viewing results much more efficient. However, if you liked it better the old way, just click the “View results in whole window” link in the top corner to switch back.

Older News

Even more old news from the ancient days of pre-blog:

    • Update: April 4, 2008


      I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but SearchTempest has been completely redesigned. Functionality is largely the same, with a few added tidbits (like the new keywords functions) and some stuff under the hood.

      Hopefully the most obvious difference, though, is the all-new, streamlined, slick, hopefully-user-friendly interface! It’s been fully tested on Firefox 2 (Mac and Windows) and IE 6 and 7, as well as visually checked on a number of other browsers. However, if you notice anything hinky (or janky), please let me know – I’ll get it fixed right quick. 🙂

      Now go forth! Search Craigslist!

    • Update: Feb. 6, 2008

      Craig’s Helper KIJIJI!!

      You asked, and I … finally… delivered! The beta version of Craig’s Helper Kijiji is here!

      For those who don’t know what Kijiji is, it’s basically a Craigslist clone, made by eBay (who own 1/4 of Craigslist. Heh..) You can check them out here. Anyway, it shares Craigslist’s fatal flaw (I’m sure you know what I mean.. :-)), hence the site.

      Keep in mind it’s still in Beta, so I haven’t prettied it up yet, but it should be working, so if it isn’t, please let me know!

      Alright, enjoy!

      Upcoming Changes will soon be getting a facelift! Nothing too drastic – want to keep everything nice and functional (want to improve it a bit actually), but it would be nice to pretty-up the main page a bit. That’s all I’ll say for now.. 🙂

      Also, this isn’t really upcoming, but the switch over to JTLNet is complete. A few stumbling-blocks, but nothing too bad, and their support’s been good. Plus, according to the poll, it’s faster too! Also, I’ve switched all my domains over to NameCheap, so I now have no connection to GoDaddy.

    • Update: Jan. 5, 2008

      Thank you!

      I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who uses the site and recommends it to their friends. I love reading forums where the conversation goes something like…

      • Does anybody know how to search more than one craigslist city at once?
      • Try
      • Thanks dude!
      • You rule man!
      • Whoa, that’s helpful.
      • Thanks!

      It’s rewarding, I guess you could say. :-) Special thanks to WarDriver, whoever you are. WarDriver’s signature in forums across the interweb reads
      The ONLY way to search Craig’s List.

      That’s just cool.

      HanksHelper Vehicle Search going strong

      It’s still in beta, but it’s quickly becoming cool. :-)
      Go check it out!

      Hosting Problems Resolved

      I’ve decided to switch to JTLNet. I’ll let you know how it goes. There may be a brief outage during the switchover, but I don’t expect so. Will keep you posted.

  • Update: Dec. 9, 2007

    As some of you noticed, the site has been down for a period of several hours today. Allegedly the results script suddenly put a huge strain on’s servers, causing them to shut down Craig’s Helper with absolutely no advance warning.

    I am not showing any increase in traffic today, so I can only conclude that is ahem mistaken. I currently have the site on a lifeline, running some of it off my home server, until I find alternate hosting. If you appreciate Craig’s Helper, and don’t appreciate this wanton abuse of power by, it might be appropriate to write to them to express your (entirely justifiable) outrage. 😉

    You should be able to continue using the site as normal, and I will make every effort to find a permanent solution asap. Oh, and if you did happen to hammer the site with thousands of requests yesterday… kindly let me know. 😉

    Another update: The site is working in Firefox now, but not yet in IE. I hope to have both operational again very soon.

  • Update: Nov. 26, 2007

    The new site is now up in beta form! It’s not yet perfect by any means, and I’m still actively working on it, but I expect it’s useful in its current form. Therefore.. I present it to you! Go find your next car at…

    Hank’s Helper!

  • IT WORKS!!!

    Most important of all my news, Craig’s Little Helper now works with Internet Explorer! Firefox is still far superior, and will run faster, but since many people are unable to install Firefox (at work, etc), this should be a big help!

    Go tell all your friends! 😉

  • Next thing is, in response to the frequent requests I get for a tool to manage Craigslist ad campaigns, and also admittedly because ads=money (although the first thing’s true too! :-)), I’ve decided to put up a couple of banners for It’s not free, but if you do a lot of business on craigslist, it may be what you’re looking for.

  • Thing the third! It seems a lot of people use my site here to search for cars. That got me thinking… Much like there are 14,000 different craigslist cities, you’ll find at least 14,000 (or maybe 5-10..) sites online with used car listings. (AutoTrader,, CarsDirect, etc.) That’s no good.

    So.. I am well on the way to rectifying that problem. I won’t say too much now, but check back here occasionally – I hope to have it up in beta form soon.

CraigsHelper is now SearchTempest

CraigsHelper is changing its name (and website domain) to

But I like the old name!

And so do I! However, there were a number of good reasons for this change. It boils down to two main ones though:

  1. offers more than just basic craigslist searches. Of course I will absolutely continue to focus on the making craigslist searches easier. But at the same time I will keep working on making all aspects of your online shopping experience better, and it makes sense for the name to reflect that.
  2. This is the big one. Craigslist doesn’t like related sites that use their ‘Craig’ name. And that’s only fair. As always, I try to do everything possible not to irritate the big guy. The site hasn’t drawn his wrath yet, and this change is an important step to keep it that way.

So I hope that clears things up a bit. I know you’ll miss the old name, and so will I. But SearchTempest will continue to offer everything that made CraigsHelper great, so I’m confident you’ll grow to like it just as much. :-)

If you have any other thoughts or questions, I always welcome your feedback!