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Is crossword Explorer free? A Complete Guide to Free Crossword Puzzles

Crossword puzzles are a fun and engaging way to challenge your mind, expand your knowledge, and sharpen your thinking skills. With the rise of mobile apps and online puzzle sites, crosswords are now more accessible than ever. But with so many options to choose from, you may be wondering – is Crossword Explorer free?

The short answer is yes! Crossword Explorer offers free daily crossword puzzles that you can play in your web browser. There are no subscriptions required or fees to pay. The puzzles are sponsored by advertisers, allowing the basic service to remain free.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about playing crosswords for free, including:

  • The benefits of crossword puzzles
  • Top free online crossword sites
  • The best free crossword apps
  • How to access newspaper crosswords like USA Today for free
  • Tips for improving your crossword skills
  • The disadvantages or downsides to free crosswords

So if you‘re looking to flex your mental muscles and enjoy some wordplay, read on to master the art of free crosswords!

The Benefits of Crossword Puzzles

Before diving into the free options, let‘s first look at why crossword puzzles are so popular in the first place. Here are some of the top benefits of making crosswords a regular habit:

  • Improve vocabulary: Crosswords constantly expose you to new words. Over time, this builds your vocabulary and language skills.

  • Exercise your brain: Completing crossword clues requires critical thinking, memory, and pattern recognition. These mental gymnastics keep your brain sharp.

  • Relieve stress: Working through the crossword grid provides a focused, relaxing activity that takes your mind off your worries.

  • Learn new facts: Crossword themes teach you interesting facts about history, pop culture, science, and more.

  • Beat boredom: Crosswords provide an engaging activity you can take anywhere – no internet required! They‘re a perfect way to fill spare moments.

  • Social fun: Crosswords spur friendly competition and conversation when solved with others.

  • Accessibility: Nearly anyone can do crosswords regardless of physical ability. All you need is a pencil and puzzle.

With all these excellent benefits, it‘s easy to see the appeal of crosswords for mental stimulation. Now let‘s review the top free options available.

Top Free Online Crossword Sites

The internet has opened up a vast array of free crossword puzzles. Here are some of the most popular free sites to bookmark:

Crossword Explorer

Crossword Explorer offers a clean, minimalist interface for solving daily crossword puzzles online. You can filter difficulty level from easy, medium, hard and even fiendishly difficult. Hints are available after a short wait if you get stuck. Puzzles are sponsored, so the basic service is 100% free without ads interrupting gameplay.

As the name suggests, provides a large collection of quality free puzzles. Browse by date or difficulty level. No registration needed – just start playing instantly. Crosswords are updated daily from an extensive backlog.

The Washington Post

The Washington Post has a free daily crossword puzzle without needing a subscription. Puzzles increase in difficulty throughout the week. You can also access older Post puzzles dating back to 2009 for free.

Boatload Puzzles

Boatload Puzzles offers hundreds of free puzzles sorted by difficulty level. Options include American-style, cryptic, diagramless, and variety puzzles. No login required – select a puzzle and start playing on the same page.

The Daily Crossword

The Daily Crossword by Crossword Hobbyist features new free puzzles daily. It has a basic, no-frills interface that loads puzzles instantly. You can check crossword hints and a word list tool while solving.

Free Online Crossword Puzzles

Free Online Crossword Puzzles offers exactly what its name suggests – a large supply of free crosswords to print or play online. Browse by difficulty level or date. Minimal ads make the site easy to use.

One Across

One Across has thousands of free crossword puzzles submitted by constructors. Lots of variety, from mini puzzles to huge 25×25 grids. You can filter by difficulty, puzzle size, date, and constructor name.

The Independent

British newspaper The Independent features free daily quick crosswords and cryptic crosswords. Solve online or print classic British-style cryptics. Archive dates back several years.

With these excellent free resources, you can enjoy an endless supply of crosswords without spending a penny. Next let‘s look at top crossword apps for mobile play.

The Best Free Crossword Apps

Modern crossword lovers want puzzles on the go. Luckily, you can build out your crossword library for free with these fantastic mobile apps:

Crosswords (StandOut Apps)

The simply named Crosswords app by StandOut Apps has a 5-star rating on the App Store for good reason. It packs great features into the free version, including no ads, multiple daily puzzles, and a minimalist style. Hints and a word lookup help you solve tricky clues. Sync across devices.

Free Crossword Puzzle Maker

Use the Free Crossword Puzzle Maker to create and play custom crosswords on your mobile device or tablet. Build themed puzzles from your own word lists, no experience needed. Solve classics or get creative with your own designs.

One Cross Word

One Cross Word is another nicely designed free mobile app providing fresh daily crossword puzzles. Keep your brain engaged with word hints, interesting themes, and multiple difficulty levels. No subscription required.


Crossword offers a sizable library of free puzzles for iOS and Android, with new ones added daily. Includes access to puzzles from top creators like Merl Reagle. Minimal ads don‘t disrupt solving. Try the free version before upgrading.

The Guardian Quick Crossword

Get your fix of British-style cryptic crosswords with the free Guardian Quick Crossword app. New puzzles daily – solve during your commute or whenever you have a spare moment.

Redstone Crosswords

Redstone Crosswords has a massive collection of free crossword variants like codewords, acrostics, sudoku crosswords, and wordwheels. Modern, colorful aesthetic with multiple play modes. Ad-supported.

With these handy apps, your next crossword fix is always at your fingertips. Now let‘s look at accessing newspaper crosswords like USA Today for free.

How to Access Newspaper Crosswords for Free

Print newspaper crosswords like the iconic New York Times and USA Today puzzles are synonymous with crosswording for many solvers. While full access usually requires a paid subscription, there are still ways to play these premium crosswords free:

  • Limited free access: Most newspaper crossword apps or sites provide access to a limited number of free puzzles, like the past week‘s worth. The New York Times offers free daily Mini Crossword puzzles.

  • Promotions: Sign up for newspaper emails to receive promotions granting temporary free access to full crosswords. Discounts around the holidays are common.

  • Public libraries: Many libraries provide newspaper website subscriptions. Visit your local branch to access crosswords from a library computer or with a library card login.

  • Google: You can search by specific date + "USA Today crossword" and sometimes access free full puzzles from search engine caches.

  • Buy crossword books: Print editions collect sections of newspaper puzzles in books. Check used bookstores or buy previous years‘ collections.

  • Share subscriptions: Go in with friends or family on a shared digital subscription to lower the cost and grant full crossword access.

While paying to subscribe provides benefits like ad-free solving, don‘t feel locked out of newspaper crosswords. With some effort, you can still solve premium puzzles for free.

Tips for Improving Your Crossword Skills

Here are some handy tips and strategies to master crossword puzzles, whether you‘re new to crosswords or looking to improve:

  • Start on Monday – newspaper crosswords get harder as the week progresses. Monday puzzles provide a more manageable intro.

  • Pick a corner and work outward – starting with words that cross multiple answers helps fill the grid.

  • Look for short words of 3-4 letters which occur more frequently.

  • Read every single clue before starting – gives you a lay of the land.

  • Skip around to easier clues if you get stuck, then return to tricky ones.

  • Write in pencil and don‘t be afraid to erase. Pencils allow flexibility.

  • Use word length patterns as clues – fill in words with just the right number of boxes.

  • Review your mistakes in finished puzzles – identifies weak areas to improve.

-Brush up on crossword-frequent topics like geography, literature, and pop culture.

  • Extend your vocabulary by studying word lists and dictionaries.

  • Solve with a partner – two minds work better than one!

With regular practice using these tips, expect to see steady progress in your crossword skills over time.

Disadvantages of Free Crosswords

While this guide has focused on the abundance of free crossword options, it‘s worth noting a few potential drawbacks:

  • Lower quality: Puzzles from top constructors often require paid access, so free puzzles may seem generic.

  • Limited selection: Far greater variety of puzzles available through paid subscriptions with archives.

  • Advertising: Free puzzles on websites or apps often come with display ads which some may find disruptive.

  • Lacks access: No ability to save progress or sync across devices with most free crosswords.

  • Updates less frequently: Free puzzles may only update daily or weekly rather than provide fresh content multiple times a day.

  • Temptation to upgrade: Apps constantly push upgraded subscriptions which can be annoying.

The bottom line is free crosswords work perfectly fine, but paid access unlocks a higher level experience. Serious solvers may wish to invest in a subscription after sampling free puzzles.


Hopefully this complete guide gives you plenty of options to enjoy crossword puzzles freely. Crossword Explorer,, The Washington Post, and newspaper apps are all great places to start playing for free online or on your phone.

Implement some of the tips outlined here to continue improving your crossword skills over time. Don‘t be afraid to return to easier free puzzles now and then.

While paid subscriptions provide premium benefits, they certainly aren‘t necessary to have fun and get your mental exercise. With the array of free resources here, you can do crosswords whenever and wherever you want!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.