Craigslist looks about the same today as when I personally first learned about it years ago. Craigslist owner Craig Newmark is famous for his well-known anti-commercialism stance. You will not find ads on Craigslist. Nor will you see Craig selling out to any large commercial interests – he has stated that he has no plans to sell his site, even though it is easily the most well known and well-established sell-and-trade website on the Internet.
Here at MUO, we’ve tried to offer a number of different ways to improve how you interface with that enormous database. David offered five awesome tools to make Craigslist more useful, and not long ago I covered the Craigzilla Firefox plugin that helps make it more efficient to search through items for sale. Recently though, I believe I’ve discovered the most useful Craigslist browser plugin out there, called Craigslist Helper. Craigslist Helper isn’t so much an alternative method to access Craigslist, it’s actually a way to enhance your experience whenever you do visit the Craigslist website.
Setting Up Craigslist Helper
You can install Craigslist Helper for Firefox, Chrome or Safari. When you do install the add-on, the first thing you’ll want to do is go into the options menu and set up how you’d like the plug-in to behave when you visit Craigslist. The first tab configures the behavior of the plug-in.
Most of the options determine how the browser add-on will display the different Craigslist ads to you. You can configure it to highlight new ads that you haven’t seen, show image thumbnails in the listing display, how much ad text to show, and more. The next tab is concerned primarily with how each ad will appear in the listing. Here, you’ll define the width of the ad display, the size of the preview pop-up, and coloring options.
Finally, you can configure the thumbnail and preview image sizes to appear in boxes that are the right size for the method you usually use to access Craigslist. If you like to keep your browser window smaller than usual, just scale down the thumbnail and image sizes however you like.
Once you’re done setting up the add-on options, you’re ready to visit Craigslist and see how much the add-on enhances the experience.
Craigslist Helper Gives Craigslist A Shot Of Adrenaline
The first time I visited Craigslist with Craigslist Helper installed, I was sold. It doesn’t just make it easier to search through Craigslist, it actually makes browsing through the site a much more enjoyable experience. Each item listing provides both preview text and preview images for the item. All of these things, like the amount of preview text and the size of the thumbnails, are defined by the settings that you previously defined in the options.
For each item, you can add your own personal notes to help you keep track of the items that you like, actions you’ve taken to buy it, or anything else you want to note about that item.
When you click to expand the search form, you’ll see an advanced search area open up that actually lets you search for items across any area of Craigslist, not only the one that you’re currently searching through. This means you can hunt for items in different states, throughout all of Craigslist, or even limited to a certain distance from your local location. This advanced search feature alone makes this add-on total gold-dust – as Craigslist is infuriatingly isolated into sections defined by geographic area.
So, this add-on finally integrates different areas of Craigslist together into a more cohesive online application of sorts.
Another very cool feature is the alert option. If there is a certain type of item – like a particular gadget or an antique item that you want to watch for on Craigslist, just check the “Alert” box and define how often you would like it to conduct that search on Craigslist and alert you of any new listings that appear.
Individual listings are also enhanced by this add-on. And the beauty of it is that you can see all of the listing information without ever actually visiting the item page itself. For example, just hover the mouse over the link in the search results page, and the entire listing will appear in a pop-up box at whatever size you defined in the options.
The same is true of the preview images. If you want a closer look without actually visiting the item page, just hover your mouse over the preview image and a full-size image will appear in a pop-up window.
As you can see, Craigslist Helper really changes not only your ability to search through listings a lot more easily, but it completely changes the Craiglist website itself, once you get into digging for the items that you want. The ability to schedule searches and get alerts make it one of the most useful tools to access Facebook with any of the three browsers that are supported.
So, give Craigslist Helper a try and see if it helps you find those hidden gems more easily. What do you like about the add-on? Are there things that could use improvement? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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