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How to Find Macs on eBay


If you're in the market for a specific part for your Apple computer, you probably know that Apple charges retail prices for their products. Third-party resellers often charge the same amount for these products, or even a little more if they've marked up the price. So, sometimes the best place to look for Apple parts is eBay.

Where do we start? Let's try searching for baseball cards first, just as an example. Using quotation marks is the second most important thing when it comes to performing accurate and detailed searches. I'd have to say that spelling is the first, but there are ways to exploit that. We'll talk about that later. Go to eBay and type this into the search field:

baseball cards

Chances are you're going to find more than just baseball cards. You'll find greeting cards with baseball themes, among other things. To look specifically for baseball cards (the kind I used to have in a shoe box until my mom threw them away), you'll want to put quotes around your search string:

"baseball cards"

Click the search button to see a complete list of people selling baseball cards. The singular and plural spellings do make a difference. If you type in "cards," you'll see listings of people selling cards, but you won't see the listing of the seller advertising a single rookie card. This is important to know when you search for RAM sticks or any other computer parts that can be purchased in pairs.

Another important tool is the parenthesis. When you use these, you can put multiple keywords together, and the results will show listings with one of each keyword in them. Let's say that I'm looking for an older PowerMac model. My description is very general, but there are ways to narrow it down. Type this into the eBay search field:

(Apple,Mac,Powermac)

You'll get listings that contain one of the three words. This includes listings for Mac cosmetics, t-shirts with apples on them, and of course Power Mac computers. You can click on the "Computers & Networking" link to narrow the listings down to just computers, but even then, you'll get a lot of listings that will take time to sift through. Also note that there's no need to type "Power Mac" with the space in between the words, because having "Mac" in parenthesis will yield results that have both "PowerMac" and "Power Mac."

What if you're looking for a desktop model only, and you don't want to see all-in-one Macs or laptop models? That's where the minus sign comes in. There's a slightly more efficient way to use this, too. Typing this in:

(apple,mac,powermac) -ibook -tibook -powerbook -"power book" -emac -imac

Is the longer version of typing in this:

(apple,mac,powermac) -(ibook,tibook,powerbook,"power book",emac,imac)

You'll notice that I have "Powerbook" listed twice, one without quotes and one with quotes to denote the space in between. The results of the above search will provide listings containing both G3 and G4 Macs, as well as models dating back from the 6100-series. So now we have to enter something outside of the parenthesis to tell eBay that we want specific results. Simply add "G4" outside the parenthesis to narrow the results down:

(apple,mac,powermac) G4 -(ibook,tibook,powerbook,"power book",emac,imac)

Now the resulting listings will display listings containing "G4" and "apple," "mac" and "G4," as well as "Powermac" and "G4."

Hopefully, you now have a basic understanding of power searches on eBay. This will benefit you when searching for items other than Apple-related stuff. But wait, there's still more!

Looking for Mac Parts

We've performed searches for whole computers, but why buy a whole computer when you're looking for a specific part? Sure, you can resell all the other parts or save them for other projects, but it helps to narrow down the results. Every so often I'll look around for a replacement motherboard for my PowerMac G4 Digital Audio desktop. Here's the wording I use to perform the search:

(apple,mac,powermac) G4 (motherboard,mobo,"logic board")

Different companies have different names for motherboards, so to broaden my search, but still keep it specific, I type in different variations of main board names. If I want to look for whole computers and not just the logic board, I leave off the (motherboard,mobo,"logic board"), but then I'm stuck with slower G4 models with different power supply connectors and slower bus speeds. I can still go through each listing and check the specs if they're not already listed in the title, or I can type in "Digital audio" (quotes included) after "G4" and see listings with just my model type. However, not all Mac users know the name of the model they have, so I prefer to leave the "Digital audio" out of the search and check the specs to see if they match the specs of my own Mac. If you think you know more than the sellers, it benefits you to keep your search basic and look through the listings yourself in order to find what you want.

If you only want to deal with tech-savvy sellers, look for part numbers. A while back, I sold an Apple internal modem for a G3 computer. Performing a search on sold items gave me an idea of what these parts were selling for, but I also searched unsold items and found another eBay user selling the same modem. Fortunately, this listing had the part number listed in the title. I googled Apple parts and checked the model number to make sure it was correct. Once I verified the model number, I went on to list it as an Apple G3 modem and listed the part number.

Not all listings have the model number, and not everyone has access to Apple technical manuals. So if you look for the specific part, but can't find it on eBay, search the web for Apple parts. At least one web-site should have the part along with the part number.

Search for specific part numbers, search web-sites other than eBay, and use power searches to your advantage.



Meet Your Macinstructor
Eric Buczynski says it all started with the Apple II in grade school. Years later, he moved on to a Performa 6360 and then PowerMac G4s. He's still interested in emulation, HTML, and icon design, but these days his creativity goes mostly to Mac hardware hacking and customization.


 
                          





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