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How to Use Thinkorswim: The Ultimate Guide 2022

how to use thinkorswim tutorial for stock trading

Thinkorswim is an electronic trading platform that is provided by TD Ameritrade. You can use it for trading monetary assets. It has been geared toward futures, options, and self-directed stock traders. 

If you want to use Thinkorswim, continue reading for our ultimate guide on using the platform so you can discover everything you need to know about how to use this trading system effectively. 

Using Thinkorswim: How to Make the Most of This Platform

Once you download the Thinkorswim platform, you will notice that there are two chief segments in the working area. You have the main window, which is in the center of the trading station, and then to the left, there is a sidebar. 

The sidebar has a number of different subtabs, which contain relevant details. You can customize the sidebar, meaning you can add a whole host of different gadgets. A few examples of some of the things you will be able to add here include the following:

  • Quick quotes
  • Quick charts
  • Watchlist 
  • Streaming features
  • Calculator
  • Message center
  • Account details

With the main window, you will get the following tabs:

  • Monitor – This is a tab that enables you to keep full track of all of your trading activities, including: open positions, cash balance, statements, and orders.
  • Trade – Via this tab, you will be able to get all of the details about the tradable products that are available on thinkorswim. For every category of product, there is its own interface.
  • Analyze – As you may gather, this is a section whereby you can analyze and backtest both hypothetical and real trading scenarios. You can also take a deeper look at probability analysis, volatility, and economic databases, helping you to make informed decisions when trading. 
  • Scan – Via this tab, you are going to be able to filter through futures, FX, options, and stocks so you can determine which of the instruments offered are right for your criteria. 

There is also the navigation bar on Thinkorswim, which enables you to navigate all of the tabs and subtabs that are available. At first glance, it can look a little bit overwhelming or complicated, especially if you do not have any prior experience in trading. However, once you have had your first few sessions, we’re sure you will start to feel more comfortable with Thinkorswim and it will become a lot more intuitive for you. 

Placing a Trade on Thinkorswim

There are numerous ways you can go about placing a trade order via Thinkorswim. But, what is the best method? Well, it all depends on your preferences really! The order ticket is an easy option for setting up trades if you are not concerned about the speed. All you need to do is select a price and then choose to either sell or buy. 

However, if speed is important and you’re looking to move at a faster pace, you may want to consider the Active Trader Ladder. This boasts a quick approach for you to execute trades on forex, futures, exchange-traded funds, and stocks. 

You also have the option of creating and saving custom order templates, which gives you the ability to automate trading. To do this, you need to head to settings. From the Customize window, choose to select Order Template Selector and Order Template Editor. All you have to do from here is choose your order template prior to placing a trade, so it makes it straightforward.

There are Many Customization Options When Using Thinkorswim

Another reason why Thinkorswim is so popular is that you have the option to customize many different elements of it. From customizing the appearance of the platform to creating and customizing watchlists, there are many different possibilities in this regard. This enables you to make sure that the platform is working for you and that it is fully set-up to suit your needs and requirements.

When trading, it is vital that you keep a watch over the markets for any and all possible opportunities. To do this, you will need to set-up a watchlist. There are a number of different ways that watchlists can be used.

  1. Public Scans or Watchlists

If you want to seek stocks with a specific sort of activity or you are looking to generate trade ideas, it is advisable to use public scans or watchlists. For instance, you may want to look for stocks that are either gapping down or up, percentage changers, and upcoming dividends or earnings. To do this, you simply need to head to the menu that is situated at the top of the watchlist gadget.

  1. Custom Watchlists

Alternatively, you have the option of creating your own custom watchlists, meaning you can track your unique interests. This is something that a lot of people tend to do once they become more experienced and more accustomed to the platform. 

  1. Link Watchlists to Chart

You also have the option of linking your watchlists to a chart. You are able to scroll through every symbol on your watchlist. This is an excellent way of efficiently seeing the chart of every symbol on your watchlist. Therefore, if you have a number of moving averages displayed on your chart and you are trying to find a moving average crossover, you will be able to efficiently scroll through the charts of every symbol on your watchlist to see if there is any sort of crossover. 

*To open or create a watchlist, choose the Add Gadget option, which is the plus sign button. You will find this on the left sidebar at the bottom. After this, simply choose Watchlist. For a specific list, the menu along the top will be able to help you with this.

Final words

With so many features and resources on the Thinkorswim, you may find the platform to be a little bit overwhelming when using it for the first time. However, the developers and designers have certainly done an incredible job when it comes to fitting as many features and elements into Thinkorswim as possible! There are also plenty of great resources and educational articles that are available should you find yourself getting a little bit stuck.
Want to be a top trader using Thinkorswim? Click here to learn more.

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Tools for the Independent Trader + Digital Nomad

tools for traders

Traders tend to be independent, entrepreneurial people in my experience. If you’re like me, you might find these services to fit your needs:

Track Finances

Personal Capital – track your net worth, learn to manage your personal balance sheet and cash flow. I like it better than Intuit’s

Financial Freedom Calculator – find out how soon you can safely retire based on your current expenses and savings rate.

Intuit TurboTax – makes it easy to import trades from multiple brokers. Saves me a TON of time. – simply the best trade journal application, period. I’ve tried them all as far as I know. This one works with basically every brokerage’s data, and has all the features you need to analyze your trading systems and tweak them to perfection.

Increase Income / Invest – fully allocated, segregated gold ownership and storage. Store your gold in a Brinks or Loomis vault in Switzerland or elsewhere. Spend your gold with a prepaid debit Mastercard. Store gold, silver, platinum, and palladium in private vaults all over the world at low yearly fees. Great apps and website. I believe it’s important to have at least a small percentage of your net worth tucked away in gold for a rainy day, and these guys are my choice for doing that. – investment grade 24k (.999 fine) gold and platinum jewelry and gifts. Full price transparency, which I love. Owned and co-founded by the folks at Goldmoney. I believe it’s important to have at least a small percentage of your net worth tucked away in gold for a rainy day, and these 2 companies are my choice for doing that. Also check out MonetaryMetals true gold leases which allow you to store your gold for free in their New York vault, and then you can invest the gold into leases or bonds which pay you interest on your gold, in actual gold grams.

Worthy – 5% bonds backed by small business inventory. – great platform for doing custom calculations on historical fundamental data. Has a spreadsheet plugin for Excel and Google Sheets allowing lots of customization options. – nice screeners and other tools for building custom lists of stocks based on whatever fundamental criteria you like.

TradingView – secondary online charting platform. I use this for quick checks throughout the day of how the indices are performing, breadth, etc. I also have a version of my Relative Volume indicator for TradingView so I can analyze a chart quickly in my web browser. – I currently have most of my Bitcoin and other cryptos invested with these guys. They’re a Singapore based company that seems like they’re not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, sporting sponsorships with big names like Matt Damon, and buying the rights to the Staples Center in LA for the next few decades. They give you higher and higher rates of interest based on the amount of CRO you’re willing to stake, starting at 4.5% for Bitcoin and moving up to  6.5% and 8.5%. Provides direct wallet transfers to external wallets, a Bitcoin rewards debit card with perks like free Spotify, Netflix, Prime, and airport lounge access. They also provide good tax documentation which is important.

Coinbits – Link your bank account and for every purchase you make with your debit card, your purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar and automatically invested in Bitcoin.

Reduce Expenses

MintMobile – This is a no nonsense mobile phone company owned by Ryan Reynolds that gives you a bulk discount for pre-paying longer terms. Unlimited talk & text and 3GB 4G LTE data for $15/mo. for US customers. Bring your own phone or buy one of theirs. That’s how I think … buying in bulk to save … and I hate bait and switch scams, so I love this company’s up front prepaid pricing and simple interface. My wife and I both prepay our full year of service each year for $180, or $15/month, but you can try their promo for 1-3 months and see if you like it first. I’ve never hit the limit on data because I’m at my desk on WiFi so much, but they have bigger plans for people who need more data. Also can be used internationally outside the US. – wire transfer money around the world in multiple currencies with super low fees. Store multiple currencies in an international account, access with a debit card anywhere.

Lolli Bitcoin Cash Back – get cash back in the form of Bitcoin just for doing your normal everyday shopping, similar to Rakuten/Ebates, but rewards are in Bitcoin so they tend to go up in value instead of down.

FoldApp Bitcoin Rewards Prepaid Debit Card – get rewarded in Bitcoin for all your purchases on this prepaid card. Also allows you to stack rewards by buying gift cards through the app, then using the cards to get additional rewards.

Hold Down the Fort – End-to-end encrypted, zero-knowledge cloud storage provider based in Switzerland. Allows lifetime purchases instead of month-to-month subscriptions. And I like sticking with Swiss companies generally. is an alternative zero-knowledge E2EE provider based in Canada. – End-to-end encrypted, zero-knowledge email provider based in Switzerland. I use this for my personal and business email. I used this to partially escape the Google / Gmail data machine awhile back. – Secure tunnel for your internet connection from the Swiss company ProtonMail. I use this for my computers and smart phones. Helps keep you secure on public wifi and elsewhere. Comes with malware and ad-blocking capabilities so that content never reaches your device. – Secure your online credit card transactions by masking them and gaining full control over spend limits and more.

Abine Blur – I’ve been using this free plugin and service for years. Allows you to use separate disposable emails and randomly generated passwords for each site you hold an account with, so if one site’s database ever gets breached (which is a common occurrence in today’s world), hackers don’t have access to any of your accounts at other websites. Also helps preserve privacy, prevents brute-force attacks on reused passwords, and reduces spam. Premium version even masks your phone number and your credit card numbers in addition to your emails.

A2Hosting – Fast WordPress hosting

NameSilo – No nonsense domain registrar with free WHOIS privacy and several other nice standard features.

BitFi – Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency cold storage, where the signing key is generated spontaneously from your salt and passphrase and not stored on the actual device. If anyone ever steals your device, no cryptocurrency is lost, because you can just replace the device and use the new one to re-calculate your old wallet.

Cronometer – don’t just track your macros, get a full picture of your daily health including all micro-nutrients and amino acids. Nice reports and graphs give you a quick dashboard-style picture of what nutrients you’re deficient in and what diet choices might be contributing to health problems.

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New All In One Gap Scan + Columns

Today I’ve released updated versions of the All-In-One Gap Scan and the % and $ Gap Columns.

The improvements to the columns were just to fix a small error I found. But for the scan, several big improvements have been implemented …

  1. Choose both min/max gap % size
  2. Choose both min/max gap $ size
  3. Choose whether you only want to scan for gaps that haven’t filled yet
  4. Choose whether the gap needs to be “significant” — i.e., gapping above the prior high, or below the prior low (completely outside the range of the prior day’s candle)
  5. Choose whether the gap needs to be a “pro” or “tier 1” or “shock” gap — i.e., gapping over a prior day red candle, or gapping under a prior day green candle, adding “shock value” to the gap

This single all-in-one scan works during the extended hours / premarket / aftermarket, and continues working as the regular trading hours begin, so you only need to use one scan all day long.

The other change is that the $ and % values are now all calculated from the prior close instead of the high/low, just for consistency, and whether the gap is over/under the prior day’s candle is specified as a separate criterion in settings, which can be turned on/off at will. This will help keep things consistent and logical no matter what type of trading you do.