Be the First to Find (FTF) Geocaches!


In this short video I explain how to be the first to find (FTF) new caches. I walk you through how to set up Instant Email notifications on the Geocaching website so you’ll be instantly notified every time there is a new cache published in your area, allowing you the opportunity to jump on it and be the first to find =)

  1. KK7X

    I have found several FTF using this feature. One 25 minutes after it was posted!

  2. serf050505

    I have been using this feature for quite some time and forgot how I set it up. Thank you for making this video because I have several friends that are new to geocaching and I used your video to show them how to set up their notifications. They are so excited, and waiting for the first new published cache to be posted in their area (they live in different states than I do).
    Great job on the video, it clearly instructs newbies on how to do this!

  3. totallygomer

    Great explanation on how to set these up. I have been using this feature for new cache notifications for almost as long as I have been caching (about a year and half). I signed up for premium membership about a month after I started and found out about this by just clicking around on all the new links.

    I take this one step further and get it sent directly to my phone and I don’t need web service get them. I get notifications sent to me as a text message. I still have to look it up on the site, but I know about the cache instantly. To do this, you will need to find out from your cell service provider how to email-to-text. It is usaully a pretty simple address. For example, I have Verizon Wireless and I have all my notifications sent to (10 digit phone number) It’s that simple.

    This has allowed me to get a huge jump on the competition, which is very intense in my area. I have over 135 FTF’s in just 1 1/2 years. My personal best in one day is 11 FTF’s all one morning (I’m an early riser) before work. The 2TFs were more than 30 minutes later. This is typical for my FTF hunts, thanks to a true “instant notification”.

    That’s just how I do it.

    Thanks for the good stuff, Josh

  4. 2lingPa

    Hi Josh, and Totallygomer

    Thanks for sharing this one, its appreciated. I have seen the feature but never paid much attention to it, until I saw this one in combination with using a text2sms service. Took a while to dig that up on the site of my provider but it works like a charm. Already received three notifications of caches and events that I normally would have spotted one or two days later.


  5. Team Looney Tunez
    Team Looney Tunez07-06-2010

    Thanks Josh for the info. A fellow Cacher showed the alert feature to me and it is not widely known. It will help others very much and this may help also.

    I also do not have a “smart phone”. As totallygomer mentions above, I set the alerts up to email my phone as a text message (Verizon it is However the full message is truncated. I only get enough of the message for the Name and GC code of the cache. Not very helpful if you are away from your computer, have your GPSr and no coordinates.

    I found this site to fill in the gaps and it works great!

    I followed the simple 7 step instructions and now…

    If I text “GEOC ?GCabc123” to 41411, I get the coordinates for cache GCabc123.

    If I text “GEOC !GCabc123” to 41411, I get the hint for the cache.

    To simply things even more, I made a contact in my phone called GEOC with the number 41411. That jogs my memory to use the GEOC command in text message.

    Hope this helps.

  6. BUCKtown'ers2010

    WOW! Thanks for the insite. I am new to geocaching (March 2010) and have always wondered how people get the FTF so quick. Now I know! Thanks and keep up the good work. We appreciate you.

  7. BUCKtown'ers2010

    ……but FYI….you have to be a premium member to access this notification page. : )

  8. pigtales

    Good info. Never used this yet, but will. Still was able to get about 14 FTF’s with just pocket queries. Need to go caching more, took too much time off. Thanks.

  9. koriloeb

    I love the internet, this was exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks for publishing this!!

  10. Pauline

    We have been caching over a yr and the ftf still eludes us :(

  11. Thomas

    This is a great feature, and I have been using it for years… However, recently I have noticed that the “instant” part of the feature is not so instant… Sometimes a couple of hours after the cache is published! In fact, the other day, I received an automated email that a cache had been found before I was notified of it being published!

    Is there a problem with Instant notifies?

  12. robnzh

    Thomas, ensure that your mail settings are set so that it checks for incoming emails frequently enough. Having said that it may be a delay on the part of your Internet Service Provider, assuming there was no problem with your connection: unless the FTFer had inside knowledge clearly they must have received the notification before you did.
    Remember also that you can check for new caches whenever you like from your own profile if you are logged in (click where it says you are logged in as xxxxx and look on the right hand side of the screen that comes up.)
    Ensure also that you have alerts for all the types of cache listed that you might be interested in, I got caught a while ago because I didn’t think I would be interested in new earthcaches (as I don’t like to put a photo of myself as required by many of them) and I missed out on a notification of a local one that I could have done easily and quickly and only required a photo of a plaque!
    And re 41411 this presumably only works in USA. (maybe Canada too someone else may know?)

  13. Mike

    Good video explanation! We’ve been setup for notifications since we started. I used to enjoy the challenge of FTF’s, but not anymore.

    We actually have a “100 FTF Challenge Cache” in our town, which requires you to log 100 FTF’s before you can sign it, to complete the challenge. I just added to my ignore list.

    FTFs are too cut throat near me. Not that anyone’s nasty about it. But when you get the email, minutes after the cache posted, drive straight to it & still miss the FTF, because someone was in the restaurant eating dinner next door with an iPhone too. What’s the point?

    We’ve only got 18 FTFs after 9 months of caching. Best we ever had was 4 in 1 day, twice. Other than that, 1 or 2 here & there. I’m already a crazy-enough GC’er as it is. Running out at 4am to beat everyone to an FTF, would just make me certifiable, LOL!

  14. Maria

    Really helpful short video–thank you for the info. Wondered how locals always got FTF.

  15. Lesley Billy
    Lesley Billy02-06-2012

    Thanks for the video Josh. I have been receiving the e-mails at home but just watching the video and reading the comments made me realize I might get an FTF if I get the mail sent to my phone. I’ve only had one FTF and that was during a Cache Event where we were all starting at the same time. Maybe this will help!

  16. LUVNIT2

    Thanks for the video. It was easy to follow and I had no problems doing it on the site. I have been geocaching for about 5 years and had never bothered to set this up. Thanks again!

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