How To Use Thinkorswim: Every Tiny Little Detail To Keep in Mind

As an active trader, choosing a trading platform is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll ever have to make. You see, an online trading platform enables you to view different global markets and even spruce up your trading strategies.

However, with so many trading tools out there, it can be hard to know which one is the best. After all, there is no one size fits all platform.

Speaking about the best tool, you probably have heard about Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade. If not, it claims to be one of the most powerful platforms out there that offers a fully customizable trading experience.

But does it really deliver on its claims? Can it even beat premium platforms like Trade Ideas which is one of the most powerful real-time stock screener tools?

Here is our dead honest Thinkorswim review and everything else you may need to know about this program.

What is Thinkorswim?


This is an online brokerage platform that was founded in 1999. However, TD Ameritrade acquired the company in 2009. The platform offers access to some of the most elite-level trading tools and customizable features. This makes it ideal for beginner investors, advanced traders, commission-free traders, and even fund investors.

Although not marketed as a day-trading platform, short-term trades are likely to find a lot to like about it. This is because similar to most trading platforms, Thinkorswim allows you to trade penny stocks, options, stocks, and futures.

But here is the thing; this is a downloadable program that requires local installation. TD Ameritrade allows downloads for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Unix. As such, it’s probably one of the few brokers that offer this range of compatibility.

However, before using the platform, you need to create an account with the broker. The good news? Setting up an account is quick and straightforward. Immediately the software is installed and your account verified, you can then log-in with only your username and password.

And you know what the best part is? This program’s login screen features a switch that enables users to choose between live trading and a demo mode. Consequently, you can trade a wide range of assets including closed-end funds, ETFs, equities, and forex.

Wondering How To Use Thinkorswim?

This trading platform is divided into two segments including a left-hand column of windows and the main menu at the center. The left-hand column comprises a variety of functions like a watchlist, account data, quick charts, a news window, and video screen.

But here is the best part; the functions can be customized and users can add other gadgets like the message center and quick notes.

The main menu, on the other hand, comprises the following tabs:

  • Trade– this button allows you to enter your tickle symbols of exactly what you’re considering trading. Therefore, this is probably where you’ll spend most of your time. You’ll get to see the bid/ask price as well as the current price of the stock.
  • Monitor– once you’ve placed your trades, this tab enables you to easily monitor them. You can track your statements, cash balance, orders, and open positions.
  • Analyze– Under this tab, you can easily backtest and even analyze both real and hypothetical trading scenarios. Also, it helps users dive deeper into probability analysis, economic databases, and volatility.
  • Scan– the scan tool helps users filter stocks, futures, FX, and options that meet their criteria and then update them with alerts. But the best part is that this tool is customizable.
  • Marketwatch– this tab is designed to provide you with in-depth market data in the form of alerts, quotes, calendars, and rates. It also includes tools to help traders process the data easier.
  • Charts– inside their charting software, you can take a look at different stock charts. The charts are highly customizable allowing you to add pre-built studies or moving averages. Best of all, traders can choose tick charts, seasonal charts, time charts, or even range charts.
  • Tools– the tools button comprises all the other features that the platform offers. These include TradeFeeds, my trade, thinkLog, and many more.
  • Education– this tab contains resources on how to use all of the drawing tools that the program provides. You will also find materials to help you brush up on your technical skills including how to build technical indicators.
  • Help– as the name suggests, here you will find helpful information on how to navigate this trading platform. This enables you to easily find exactly what you are looking for.

However, navigating the tabs on the main menu and even the sub-tabs may seem rather challenging for people with no previous trading experience. But once you get familiar with the platform, it becomes easy.

Thinkorswim Features/Products

This platform prides itself on having some of the most elite-level trading tools to help you nail complex techniques and strategies. These include:

1. Commission-Free Trading

When you open an account with TD Ameritrade, you can enjoy zero commissions on online stock, option, and ETF trades. This rule applies to all new and existing customers. You can also trade some mutual funds for free of charge.

However, you may have to pay $0.65 as contract fees per option. Futures, on the other hand, cost $2.25 per contract coupled with exchange and regulatory fees.

2. 24/5 Trading

With Thinkorswim, you can trade 24 hours a day, 5 days a week (excluding market holidays). Unfortunately, this feature is not unique since it’s also available in most premium trading platforms.

Basically, the 24/5 trading enables you to trade on their schedule and with a larger list of securities that covers more international markets. On top of that, it allows you to take advantage of more potential market opportunities.

3. Custom Alerts

Another great feature of this program is its custom alerts. You can easily create your custom alerts based on the events you care about. This can be done by either choosing from a pre-built list of popular events or simply creating your own via custom criteria.

4. Chat Rooms

The chat room is built for traders who would like to interact with others. Here, you can share ideas, strategies as well as actual trades with other traders and market professionals.

Unfortunately, there is nothing really unique about Thinkorswim’s chat room. We found it to be too basic. Besides, other premium trading platforms offer live rooms where they also have moderators.

5. In-App Chat

Here is probably where this platform beats other programs. Their in-App chat allows you to receive personalized help anytime you need it. Basically, they provide live support for all the trading questions you might have. For instance, if you have issues navigating the app, you can even share your screen via text.

6. Stock Hacker

This tool simply enables you to screen for stocks that meet your criteria and then filter out the rest. You can do this using technical, option, and fundamental-related data or any.

However, it’s not clear whether this tool does suggest what stocks to buy or even when to exit. But it does take the guesswork out of all your trading decisions.

7. Education

The platform also offers a learning center where you can get tutorials about trading. Here, you will find courses on topics like technical analysis, trading options, and stocks.

You can also watch demos, practice accounts, download user manuals, or even read their thinkMoney magazine. Simply put, the center includes everything you may need to get comfortable with their trading platform.

Subscriptions & Pricing Options

Like we’ve already mentioned, Thinkorswim doesn’t charge any commission for all exchange-listed U.S. stocks, Canadian and domestic ETF plus option trades. However, they do charge a $0.65 contract fee per option.

Additionally, for stocks not listed on the U.S. exchange, there is a commission fee of $6.95. On top of that, there is a $2.25 fee for futures and options per contract. There is also a broker-assisted fee which amounts to $25.

One downside though about their pricing is that it’s not very clear and straightforward. You see, most platforms offer subscription packages based on a trader’s experience. This makes it easy to know how much you have to pay and so you don’t have to worry about any hidden fees.


  • The platform boasts a wide range of customizable features
  • Compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, and Unix
  • Boasts paper-trading feature for risk-free trading
  • Great customer support via email and phone
  • Allows trading in your mobile device via their trading app
  • Provides access to thousands of commission-free ETFs and level 2 data
  • Can be synced across all your devices
  • No minimum amount is needed to open an account
  • Offers access to over 400 technical studies
  • Easy to add visuals to your charts via their 20 drawings


  • Navigating through the platform can be hard for beginners
  • The software is a bit slow to launch especially when executing orders
  • Does not provide profit-loss diagrams
  • Lacks features like active trading and auto trading which are important for most traders

Bottom Line

Overall, Thinkorswim comes with some rich features that are customizable alongside extensive educational resources. This makes it a great choice for different types of traders.

However, while it’s among the best online trading platforms out there, it isn’t completely perfect. For instance, beginner traders may find the program a bit mind-boggling.

On top of that, it is not really the fastest when it comes to order execution. But don’t get it all wrong. It’s by no means a poor platform. We just feel like there are far better options out there. One of them is Trade Ideas Ideas which is an all-round trading platform.