Best online crosswords?

I enjoy doing the online crosswords. Definitely not up to the NY Times standards but I try. USA Today had a good daily puzzle that was easy to navigate. Now they’ve changed the program and it’s buggy as all hell. Had the same issue back in 2013 when MSNBC did the same. What online site do you recommend?

Note that the crossword puzzles in The New York Times are easiest on Mondays and hardest on Saturdays, getting progressively harder in between. I believe Sunday puzzles are at about a Thursday level, although usually larger. So I recommend you try the NYT puzzles if you can find a site that has them (and I think they’re syndicated so they’re probably widely available).

What’s as important to me on a crossword puzzle site as the quality of the puzzle is the quality of the interface. For example, on completing a Down word, it should jump horizontally to the next numbered Down word (instead of downward to the next word). But on completing an Across word, it should jump horizontally to the next Across word regardless of word number. It should always jump to the next empty letter space, never make you type letters twice. And so on. I have not found any good crosswords sites in recent years, so I will also be hoping for a good answer here.

The NY Times mini-crossword is a good quality interface with some of the features described by Roderick_Femm. The size and level of difficulty vary, from 10-15 clues, and as Dewey_Finn says of the full-size NY Times puzzles, they become more difficult as the week goes on. Sometimes I complete it in 40 seconds; sometimes it takes 2 minutes. A real crossword fan would complete it even more quickly, but it’s still fun.

The New Yorker has on-line crosswords three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday of decreasing difficulty.) I’m a subscriber so I can get to them, I’m not sure if non-subscribers can. I find them a bit harder than the Times puzzles with more up to date cultural references.
The interface is not bad. It does jump to the next unfilled across or down clue, but when you fill in a partially filled in word it skips to the next blank space, so you can’t just type the answer. But I’ve gotten used to it.

Merle Reagle:


Crossword puzzles are more of a game than an art form, so I’m moving this.

I’ve been doing the crossword puzzles in the Washington Post for a couple of months, including Merl’s Sunday puzzles.

^^^I used to do Merl’s puzzles all the time. In my newspaper they are called the Monday Monster.

Dear lord, but that’s a horrible interface. has a decent interface, but I’m ambivalent on the puzzles themselves.

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent puzzle. I do The NY Times daily (and subscribe to the puzzle so I have access to the archives and my stats) but have been getting into WSJ’s as well. I find them as good.

I would say more like Wednesday level for Sunday’s puzzle. Or maybe a slightly harder Wednesday. But, yes, a Monday or Tuesday New York Times puzzle should be a good introduction to crosswords. Mondays are considered quite gentle, but you may have to get used to the style of New York Times cluing and always be on the lookout for secondary or tertiary meanings of words. For example, you might see a clue like “Italian capital”, four letters and think, oh, easy enough, ROME, when the answer is EURO (as in “capital” meaning “currency.”) That’s probably not going to be a Monday clue, but that’s the kind of stuff you need to look out for with the NYTimes (and, frankly, many modern American crosswords.) Also, if the answer is an abbreviation, something in the clue will be abbreviated (or the clue will say “for short.”) Abbreviations should not be answers to straight fully spelled-out clues. (Like NASA might be clued straightforwardly as “US space agency” or “Cape Canaveral org.”) Similarly, if you see a foreign word in the clue, the answer will be in that language. (“City in Italia” might be ROMA or FIRENZE, for example.)

Thursday puzzles in the NYT usually employ some sort of gimmick. This could be answers where a single square contains more than one letter (a “rebus” in crossword lingo), it could be answers that wrap around, it could be answers which have a number instead of a letter (though I have seen that particular quirk on days outside Thursday) and the sort. Those you have to think creatively a bit if there are parts of the puzzle where you’re relatively sure you know the answers, but you can’t quite figure out how to fit them into the grid normally.

I subscribe to the NYTimes online crosswords (nominal annual fee), and enjoy them immensely. I find the Sunday puzzles to be the most enjoyable, at the Wednesday/Thursday level, plus a theme. And I have to admit to a little Googling on Friday and Saturday, mostly concerning pop music and rap stars.

Come to think of it,the existence of those Thursday puzzles probably puts a strain on any app that attempts to include NYT Thursdays (or any other puzzle with similar gimmicks). That might be part of why the NYT app doesn’t work well in general.

I can’t speak to the interfaces, since I prefer to print out crosswords and solve them with pencil. But here are some links to online crosswords:

I haven’t noticed a problem with the app. What do you find wrong with it?

I download the NYT crossword puzzles and complete them using AcrossLite. The completed ones I move into a “solved” folder on my computer, and there are over 7,000 puzzles there now.

I haven’t actually tried it, because of the paywall. I misremembered that others in the thread were saying that it had a bad interface. On re-reading, I see that that was a mistake on my part.

The NYT app pretty much does everything Roderick_Femm asks for. And it does have a “rebus” button for those Thursday puzzles where you need to put non-alphabetic or multiple characters in a single box. I pay $40 for an annual subscription to the puzzles but I believe it is half that if you already have a NYT subscription.

Besides the daily crossword, the app includes the daily mini, three daily sudokus (easy, medium, hard) and something called “Spelling Bee” where you try to make as many words as you can from a set of seven letters. It’s pretty much the first thing I do every day while drinking my morning coffee. :slight_smile:

What I learned for the “rebus” entries is you don’t have to enter all of the characters. It’s enough just to enter the first character. Both the AcrossLite website (which I use for completing the NYT puzzles) and the webapp I use for the ones in the Washington Post will mark as correct with only the first character entered. Makes it slightly faster to complete the puzzle.