Guide to TD Ameritrade's Thinkorswim - Introduction
Thinkorswim is a comprehensive trading and analytical platform offered by TD Ameritrade. The platform allows self-directed investors and traders to find trading opportunities, analyze those opportunities in many ways and then proceed to make trades based on the information found. As with all technology, thinkorswim is constantly being upgraded and improved, with new features being added regularly. While the basic functionality of the platform does not change, you are encouraged to familiarize yourself with the platform and any changes that may have occurred before making tradesthe best way to do this is by trying out the platform through a demo account. (For related reading, see Forex Trading: A Beginner's Guide.)
SEE: Beginner's Guide To Metatrader 4
What thinkorswim Offers
The thinkorswim platform by TD Ameritrade allows traders to analyze and trade stocks, options, futures, REITS, ETFs, bonds, CDs, mutual funds, Unit Investment Trusts and Forex in one comprehensive trading platform.
Accounts can be opened for any amount as there is no minimum deposit. The exception is margin and option trading accounts which require a minimum $2,000 deposit. There are no maintenance fees.
In addition to individual accounts, investors can also open joint accounts, IRA accounts, education savings accounts and specialty accounts such as trusts or corporate accounts.
SEE: Broker Summary: TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim
Thinkorswim is available in several versions to be used with different applications. The desktop version is available via download and is installed on a computer. There is also a web browser version which allows traders to access their account from any computer by logging into the thinkorswim website. A mobile version is also available the iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices.
Figure 1. thinkorswim versions and associated features
This tutorial will cover thinkDesktop as it has more features than the other versions.
One of the best ways to learn a product is to use the product. Opening a demo or "play money" account allows traders to analyze markets and use tools, and it provides all the features of the standard product except that any trading activities will be with $100,000 in fake money and not real funds. Some quote data is also delayed until a live trading account is opened.
Traders can go to the home page in order to get started. Then simply select "Paper trading – paperMoney" from the drop down menu entitled Software.
Figure 2. Get started with a Play Money Account
Once on the page you can simply click on the link that says "Sign Up For paperMoney."
Figure 3. Sign Up
You will then be prompted to fill out a form with some personal information about yourself.
Figure 4. Fill out form
Be sure to remember your user name and password, and to use a proper email address as instructions for downloading the platform will be sent to the email address you provide. When all the information has been inputted, click "Next." You will be thanked for your registration and you can check your email for your download instructions.
Follow the instructions provided in the email from thinkorswim which correspond to your computer's operating system.
The installation is quick and by default will place a shortcut to the program on your desktop.
Each time the program is launched it will check for available updates. If there are available updates you will be notified and asked if you would like to proceed in updating the software. On-screen instructions and options are provided. (For related reading, see Day Trading Strategies For Beginners.)
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