How to Use eBay's Watch List Tool

a woman wearing glasses working on computer

Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Many people come to eBay ready to buy. They make their purchases and move on. There are others, meanwhile, who may not be quite ready to click the "Buy It Now" button or to place a bid. For those types of buyers, eBay has implemented an "Add to watch list" button that allows them to keep track of items they are interested in.

Why Buyers Watch Items

Different buyers use the watch list for different reasons. Some use the watch list to jog their memories, while others use it to compile and compare items easily to make more informed buying decisions. The watch list can also pay off for patient buyers willing to wait it out and see if the price lowers. Sometimes the longer a seller has something listed, the more eager they are to sell the item.

With this same notion in mind, some savvy sellers also happen to be buyers, who put items on their watch list so they can come back later and make lower offers on items so they can add to their own inventory. Some sellers also watch listings and searches to get an idea of what competing sellers are selling and how well they're doing.

Watching Individual Items

If you’re logged into your account or using Facebook or Google to sign in as a guest, you’ll find a button labeled “Add to watch list” on the listing page. On a desktop computer, the link is to the right of the listing’s image in a grey box where the price is listed, under the “Buy it Now,” “Add to Cart,” and “Make Offer” buttons. If you’re using the eBay app or viewing the page on your tablet, the link is underneath the image underneath the same options, only it’s titled simply “Watch.”

When you click on the “Add to watch list” or “Watch” link, the item is saved for you in your My eBay area and eBay remembers your interest in it. If you’re watching an auction item, you can quickly return and check on the status of the auction without having to search for it again.

eBay will also send you an email when the auction is about to close, so you can return and bid if you’re inclined. If the item is featured in a fixed-price listing, you can likewise return and purchase without having to hunt the item down all over again. To visit the buying area of My eBay to take advantage of these features, follow these steps:

  • Visit the and login to your account (if you haven’t already).
  • Click on the “My eBay” link at the top of the page.
  • When the My eBay page is displayed, click on the word "Watching" in the sidebar on the left side of your screen. That will take you to a page listing all of the items you're watching.

Watching Groups of Items (Saving Searches)

You can also keep tabs on an entire category or a list of search results. The process is similar for this option. After searching eBay when the results page loads, you’ll see a blue heart next to a link that says “Save this search.” When you click on this link, eBay will remember the search terms and categories and save them in your My eBay area. In the app, it’s even easier. The blue heart is right under the search bar next to a link that says “Save.”

In the case of long and complex searches, this can be extraordinarily useful. Anytime you want to see an updated list of results, simply return to My eBay and re-run the search automatically. Once you've saved a favorite search, you can have eBay send you periodic updates with new search results by setting up this option on your My eBay page. To visit the saved searches area of My eBay to take advantage of these features, follow these steps:

  • Visit the eBay front page.
  • Click on the My eBay link at the top of the page.
  • When the My eBay page is displayed, click on the word "Searches" in the "All Favorites" section of the sidebar on the left side of your screen. You'll then be shown a list of your saved searches and can re-run them by clicking on them.
  • To have eBay periodically email you the results of the saved search, click "Sign up for Emails" to the right of the saved search in question.

Disappearing Items

If you save a specific item to your eBay watch list and it has disappeared by the time you return, there are a few different reasons this could be happening.

The seller has removed the item: This is one of the most common reasons for an item to no longer be visible. The item could be missing because the item hasn’t sold and the seller is making tweaks to the listing—could be the price, the title, or the description—and plans to relist. If that should happen, eBay will send you an alert that the item has been relisted and if any changes have been made to the listing. Sometimes sellers pull listings that aren't selling and relist them by choosing the “Sell Similar” option, which creates an entirely new listing. This tactic can be used to attract new buyers if the listing hasn't generated interest. In this case, the watched item will no longer be visible, even though it's still available. Finally, there’s also a possibility that the seller simply sold the item offline and it is no longer available.

A limited-quantity item has sold: This is the other most common reason you can no longer find the item you’re interested in. Perhaps someone else bought the item while you were thinking about it. When that happens, the item will no longer turn up in search results or on your watch list. If this is happening to you a lot on eBay, it's time to step up your game, since a lot of the best deals go very quickly.

The item violated eBay rules: In some cases, an item may have been removed because it’s not allowed to be sold on eBay. There are lots of things that shouldn't be sold on eBay, but some of the most common examples forbidden by eBay include hazardous or dangerous items like lots of chemical or weapons, unauthorized copies of software or other media items that are protected by copyright, counterfeit and fake goods of all kinds, and consumer goods of any kind that have been recalled.

The item listing violated eBay rules: Sometimes it wasn't the item for sale that caused eBay to remove the listing in question, but the way that it was listed. Sellers aren't allowed to do things like use photos taken from other sellers' listings, include links to their business websites where you can buy their products, use profanity or explicit imagery.

The seller is no longer selling on eBay: Sometimes sellers get sanctioned by eBay for breaking rules or by failing to satisfy customers and selling restrictions are placed on their accounts. When this happens, all of the items being offered by the suspended seller are removed.

How Watchers Can Raise the Competition for an Item

While eBay's watch list tool is a convenient tool, it can also work against buyers by inadvertently creating more visibility for the listing they're watching. Although the nuanced metrics of eBay's Cassini search engine algorithm are mysterious, the number of watchers is said to help push listings higher in the search results. The more people that see the listing, the better the chances are that the item will sell or fetch a higher bid. Some eBay experts recommend bookmarking a listing or sending yourself a link as opposed to using the watch list.