TaoBao Basics: How to Save Your Favorite Items and Stores

Now that you know how to actually find stuff on TaoBao, you’ll probably want to save some of those treasures to easily access again in the future.  So let’s talk about saving and managing your favorite items.

How to save a “favorite”

On every product page, you should see a small star under the product photo, like this.

When you click the star, you will either get a message saying that the item has been collected into your favorites, or a confirmation message asking if you’re sure you want to save it.

The confirmation message looks like this…

And this one says the item has been successfully collected.

how to see your “favorites”

Great!  Now you know how to save an item, but where did it go?  How do I enter this magical land of TaoBao treasures perfectly curated by me? 

At the top of every TaoBao page (home page, search results, products pages, etc), you should have a header that looks like this…

See that familiar little star?  That’s where your favorites are hiding!

I’ve added a few helpful headings.  You’ll notice at the top, you have the choice between favorite items and favorite stores (I’ll show you how to save a store as a favorite in a minute).  This screen is showing favorite items, and yes, I have over 1,400.  Which is why I have a separate post about organizing these bad boys into manageable categories.

In the screen shot above, you’ll also see the following: All Items, On Sale, Unavailable, Organize By Category, and Search Your Favorites.  Let’s break those down…

All Items: Pretty obvious, but we’re going to come back to this because you can hover over this link to access the categories we’ll about to learn how to make in another post.

On Sale: Isn’t that nice?  TaoBao keeps tabs on whether or not the price has dropped since you saved an item!  This is especially helpful during the many, many special sale periods in China.  So if it’s 11/11 or 12/12/ or 5/12 or 6/18 or any other famous sale date  – you can quickly check to see if which of your favorites are being offered at a steal.

Unavailable: Oh boo!  This means that the item you saved is no longer being sold by the seller you saved it from.  The good news is that someone else is almost certainly still selling it somewhere else.  Find a new seller and save it again.

Organize By Category:  I’ll outline the steps in another post, but this is where you can group items together and create your own categories so that you’re not forced to sift through all 1,400 favorites to find that one Lego set you saved for your kiddos birthday. 

Search Your Favorites: Recently my ayi wanted more information about our oven because our western ways have swayed her to its usefulness.  I bought it on taobao and I know that an oven is a 烤箱 in chinese, so the fastest way for me to find the link was to search for it in my favorites! (I have a tendency to search and save an assortment of kitchen appliances before making a decision and settling on one, so I knew it was in there.)

How to save a store in your “Favorites”

Sometimes, you want to remember an entire store for future purchases, rather than an individual item.  Let’s look at two examples…

This leather backpack is beautiful, but the whole store is full of beautiful leather goods.  I wanted to remember it in the future in case I was looking for a manly gift for my husband.  

The circled area is the store info.  It shows me various ratings but at the bottom there are two buttons.  I underlined the button that will collect this store to your favorites – sorry, there’s no helpful little star this time.  The other button says “enter store” and will take you to the shop’s homepage.  

Unfortunately, the layout of each store and each product page can vary a little.  So let’s look at a second example…

I fell in love with the pottery and kitchen wares from lototo.  But you can see that on the right side of the page, there’s no store info.  Instead there are other items from the seller.  This time I had to hover over the store name at the top of the page.  That opened this window with ratings and again – two buttons at the bottom.  But this time, our helpful little star is back!  

But wait!  That says TMall and I thought we were learning about TaoBao?!  

No worries.  TMall and TaoBao live under the same umbrella.  When you save something from TMall, you’ll still see it in your TaoBao favorites.  Got it? Great, now let’s organize these babies

You might also like:

TaoBao Basics: How to Manage & Organize Your “Favorites”

how to manage your “favorites”

When you click on the box that we identified as “Organize By Category” in the photo above, you’ll see the new options below. You’ll also notice that all of your items also have a grey checkmark in the corner. 

Note – When you’re finished organizing your items, you may want to turn off this organization feature. Remember the button that you clicked to open it (“Organize By Category”)? When it opened the new features, it changed into a “Cancel Organization” button.  If you click the same box several times, you’ll see the feature set toggle on and off.

You can select several items (notice that the checkmarks turn orange on the selected items) at once.  Then click on the plus sign in the middle of the new options circled above.  This will open your categories.  Simply click the category where the items belong and they will be added.

To make a new category, click the plus sign at the bottom (as seen in the photo above).  It will turn into a text field for you to name your new category.  Note – it will not allow you to use spaces in the names, hence my categories like “kidschristmas”.  Click the orange button and your new category will be added to the list above.  

Now when you go to your Favorites page, you can hover over “All Items”, and you’ll be able to access all of your neat tidy categories…

The top row contains the default categories that TaoBao creates for you.  The bottom row contains the categories that you have created.  

Deleting Favorites and finding similar items

Just a couple more tips that will help keep your favorites under control and help you find exactly what you’re looking for on TaoBao…

When I hover over an item, three new buttons appear: a trash can, 加入购物车, and 照相似.  

Trash Can: Click the trash can if you want to delete an item from your favorites.  Maybe you found a better price or a style you liked better.  Sometimes deleting unnecessary favorites just feels good.

加入购物车: Add to cart.  Yep, you can add the item right into your shopping cart without even leaving your favorites page.

照相似: Looking for something similar.  Now this is where the magic happens.  It’s also where you start getting lost down endless TaoBao rabbit trails so tread with caution.  Here’s what happened when I clicked  照相似 on a game called Sequence in my favorites…

This can be especially helpful when you’re looking for something with a particular style but you can’t find the right chinese words to describe it.  If you can just find a single item that comes close to what you’re looking for, 照相似 can help you find loads more.  For example, when I stumbled across these adorable mason jar shaped chalkboards, I was curious what other kitschy chalkboards TaoBao had to offer!

So now you’re an expert in TaoBao Favorites!  Search, save, and organize!  TaoBao is about to become your new BFF.



You might also like:

TaoBao Basics: How to Actually Find Stuff

Method #1: Searching in English

Pro’s: You’ll probably find exactly what you’re looking for and it’s super easy.

Con’s: TaoBao sellers that use English in their descriptions and titles are almost all going to hike their prices way up.  Also, it will only be able to search for those English words, so you’re only going to get results from the small subset of sellers who use English in their store.

Method #2: Searching in chinese using a translator

Google Translate or the Pleco app are your best bet if you’re going to go this route.  Simply type the English word you are looking for and copy/paste the chinese translation.

Pro’s: Way more results than searching in English and the prices will be lower.

Con’s: It is sometimes harder than you’d expect to find an accurate translation than what you’re looking for.

Example: I was looking for a griddle for making pancakes on.  Using the Google Translate word for “griddle”, this is what TaoBao gave me…

Not quite what I had in mind… So, when you’re translator fails you – what can you do?

Method #3: Searching by photo

Pro’s: You can search all of the listings on TaoBao with out using any chinese whatsoever.  

Con’s: It’s certainly not foolproof.  Sometimes it works like a charm and others it’s a total fail.  

Example: This time, I did a Google Image search for pancake griddles.  I saved a clear photo of a griddle on a white background.  Then I clicked the camera icon in the TaoBao search bar below and uploaded my griddle photo.  

This time, I got these results…

Much better!  But take notice of the boxes at the top that I circled.  These are categories.  TaoBao will automatically try and guess which category you were looking for.  If it guesses wrong, just click through the other categories to see if there’s a better match.

Here’s another example.

This time, I searched for a photo of a candy cane and TaoBao sent me to the toy category.  Let’s look for a food category instead…

There they are!  Now, if you don’t want to blindly click through each category and you can’t read chinese, I highly recommend using the Zhongwen Chrome extension.  It allows you to hover over a character and see it’s translation (example below).  Since using an auto-translation service to translate the whole page can cause problems with the TaoBao website, I find this tool to be much more useful.

bonus method: The “Ikea hack”

Before I had perfected the methods above, I figured out how to use the IKEA website as a fool proof translator.  For example, recently a friend asked me if I knew how to find those giant rolls of butcher paper on TaoBao.  Since I know that’s an item that IKEA sells, I taught her this trick.

Go to  (the “cn” means you’re shopping for items available in China, the “en” means that you want the site to display in English) and search for the object you want.

On the product page, go to the address bar and replace the “en” with “zh”.  This tells the website that you want it to display in Chinese or, as they say in Chinese – 中文 (zhongwen).

Now you can copy/paste the product description into your TaoBao search bar and away you go!

Hopefully these tips help you navigate the treasures of TaoBao with a bit more success and less frustration!

The Ultimate List of Substitute Teachers for Homeschool Sick Days

The ULTIMATE List of Substitute Teachers for Homeschoolers - this is an awesome list of resources to keep your homeschool going even when you're stuck on the couch!

When we were newlyweds, my husband did a short stint of substitute teaching.  The way it worked was simple – you applied for the position.  You attended a short workshop to learn the in’s and out’s of the district.  Your contact info was added to the directory of substitutes. And  then a teacher could call you at 6am when they woke up with a raging stomach bug or whatever ailment was going to keep them out of the classroom that day.  

As a homeschooler, I have often fantasized about that magical list…

What a luxury to be able to call in an alternate?!?  

Granted, if you’re a relatively healthy person, maybe sick days don’t bother you.  As long as they are few and far between, you may be content to throw on some Netflix documentaries and call it a day.  

But what happens when sickness knocks you down and keeps you there?  What if you’re already behind in a few subjects and dread the idea of lagging even further?  

This was the story of our entire 2nd grade year.  My autoimmune and endocrine disorders grew out of control. My symptoms drove me to maintaining the bare minimum  on a regular basis.  To make things even worse, I had planned for a surge in new subjects that were all entirely dependent on me.  It was an ideal match for our educational philosophy, but it was a terrible fit for what life was going to throw at us that year.  

I spent the fall semester dealing with frequent bouts of vertigo, low blood pressure, intense nausea, and extreme fatigue – (as a mother of twins who often slept in 40 minute increments while they were teething, I don’t use the term extreme fatigue lightly, this was truly like nothing I’d ever experienced) as well as seeing various doctors trying to pinpoint what was causing it.  It was January before we finally got a diagnosis.  I almost cried tears of joy when I heard the words “There IS something wrong with you.  You have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.”  Having a name for my condition made it much easier to deal with the symptoms mentally. But there were still months ahead of us before we would see a major improvement in managing them.  

Spring semester was full of blood tests and medication adjustments in an attempt to bring my thyroid levels down to a healthy place.  Along with more days in bed than I’d care to count.  Lots of our curriculum gathered dust as I slowly learned how to adapt our plan to take some of the pressure off of myself.  By the end of the year, I’d discovered some priceless resources that allowed me to take the occasional sick day without needing to cancel school.  In that process, I realized that some of them were even doing a better job at achieving our objectives than I was!  

So without further ado, here is your magical list of substitute teachers!  Feel free to recuperate in bed with Downton Abbey while your children’s brains are still getting adequately stuffed with educational goodness.  Most of these resources include options for all elementary ages.  


Story of the World Audiobook and Activity Guide – I am astounded at what a huge hit these have been this year.  My kids literally beg me for history chapters and activity sheets.  The activity guide provides simple crafts and coloring sheets to be completed independently, as well as more involved activities that require parental help.  I love their suggestions for the more involved activities. For example, we made models of Roman columns with sugar cookie dough and dusted them with cinnamon for an aged look. Then we made foil packet Roman soldier meals cooked over a fire. But my kids are more than happy to do the independent activities and coloring sheets while listening to the audiobooks.  History has become a completely hands-off subject for me when I need it to be.   These resources aren’t free, but they are definitely well worth the cost!


Math U See Worksheet Generator (FREE)- Even if you don’t use Math U See, you can access this site for free. It generates super customized math worksheets with answer keys.  (Hint: if you don’t use Math U See, the levels “Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc” correlate to “1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, etc.”) Print out a couple of worksheets and answer keys and let your student review math facts on their own.  

Math Kid App (FREE) – For an even easier option, try the Math Kid app!  I love how customizable and no-nonsense it is.  It really is just a math drill app.  No shooting stars or cartoon animals needed.  You can opt for visual hints or not.  You can choose to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, along with even more options making it just right for your kiddo.  


Ambleside Book List on Librivox (FREE)- If Ambleside and Librivox are foreign words to you, allow me to translate… The Ambleside book list is rich, classic literature organized into age appropriate categories.  If you’re ever stuck for what to read next, it’s a fantastic resource.  For elementary aged students, these are meant to be read aloud, not for independent reading time.  That’s where Librivox comes in!  Librivox is an online library of FREE audiobooks.  You can stream them or download them, both from your computer or their free app.  This is another resource that my kids absolutely LOVE!!!  They can listen attentively to Librivox for far longer than I can read aloud. We still try to maintain a good mix of reading to our children ourselves and using Librivox. But I know the amount of literature they’ve listened to has sky rocketed since we incorporated it.

One Minute Reader (Free to try)  – Don’t be fooled by the name of this app, this will fill more than one minute in your school day.  I could write an entire post on why I love this app so much and why everyone with a struggling or reluctant reader NEEDS to be using this, but for now I’ll simplify.  Basically, the child has one minute to “cold read” a passage.  When one minute is up, they tap the word they stopped at and it scores how many words they were able to read in one minute.  Next, the passage is read aloud to them by the app as many times as they would like.  They can also tap on difficult words to hear a definition.  When they feel ready, they move on to a “hot read” where they get another chance to read the passage for one minute.  Then they get to see the improvement  in their speed
after becoming familiar with the passage.  Try it for free, but even at $19.99 for a level-appropriate pack, I consider this a homeschooling steal!  Worth every penny and more!

Sight Words by Little Speller (FREE) – For young students, this is another fantastic, no-nonsense drilling app.  Super customizable and intuitive.  Let your little one get practice with letter sounds, spelling, and sight word recognition all at once.  

Toss in a few chores, some age appropriate copywork, a little independent reading time and you can convalesce the day away without shutting down your homeschool entirely.  

You might also like: