What Is the Best Trading Software for Mac?

Trading Software for Mac: Using TradeStation always stopping me from moving to an Apple Mac – well not any more! If you’ve ever wanted to get off the Microsoft treadmill but were a TradeStation die hard (like me) then this feature article might help you take the leap.

“I found your site when my Dell crashed last year and I was searching for info on running TradeStation on a Mac. Without your generous guidance I would never have made the switch to a MacBook Pro.” Joe Russo, Elliott Wave Technology

“Just a short note of gratitude regarding your idea of Mac/Parallels/TradeStation. What a fantastic concept. I just purchased a Mac Book and Parallels. Downloaded TradeStation and it works like a charm. It’s faster than my desktop, probably due to the Mac SS disc drive. So again, thanks.” Rick W.

I finally ditched my Dell computers and opted for the Apple MacBook Pro 17. This is a 17″ screen laptop with 4 GB RAM standard that I upped to 8GB. I spend half the year travelling so a laptop was the only logical choice. I’m also not a fan of multiple monitors so a decent size and quality screen is a must.

Note: The advice below should work equally well for desktop or laptop Apple Macs.

To run TradeStation on a Mac you need Parallels …

trading software for mac img1

Running TradeStation on a Mac relies on emulation software – Parallels Desktop (now on Version 10). This very clever software allows you to run the Windows operating system simultaneously with the Mac operating system. And it’s rock solid and fast.

Two caveats though. First, to run emulation software like this on a Mac, you’ll need one that has an Intel CPU (i.e. a recent Mac). Second, Parallels runs OK with 2 monitors but anything more than that and performance degrades with noticeable lag.

Although I opted to run the latest version of Parallels on my Mac it’s not your only choice. VMware Fusion is a competitor but in my research the reviews were not as favourable.

Macs also come with a built-in utility called Boot Camp. This allows you to partition the hard drive and install Windows along side the Mac operating system. The only drawback is that you can’t run the two operating systems simultaneously, unlike Parallels.

TradeStation performance on a Mac is excellent …

So that’s how you can run TradeStation on a Mac. What about the performance? Boot up and chart opening times are very acceptable (and getting quicker with every update of Parallels and Mac hardware):

  1. 40 seconds to start the Mac
  2. 3 seconds to start Parallels
  3. 60 seconds to start Windows 7
  4. 10 seconds to start and log into TradeStation, and
  5. 15 – 30 seconds to open one of my complex tick bar charts in TradeStation or
    1.5 seconds to open any other minute, hourly or daily chart.

Not bad. In addition it handles opening multiple, complex charts all-at-once and no crashes in the 3 weeks I’ve been running TradeStation on the Mac.

I have a feeling that chart opening times, particularly tick bar charts, are more dependent on the speed of your Internet connection than the speed of your machine. These tests were run in Sydney, Australia, on a good broadband connection. But there’s still the slow hop across the Pacific that adds a delay for me.

The Pros of TradeStation on a Mac …

So here are the Pros I see in running TradeStation on a Mac:

  • It works. No crashes so far and fast.
  • Able to open multiple tick bar charts simultaneously.
  • Real-time chart updating is fast too.
  • No fan noise and cool – to be honest I don’t even know if there is a fan!

And then there are the usual Pros of running a Mac. Most of us from the PC-world are familiar with these – we’ve seen the ads, right! But the things that have struck me are:

  • It just works – networking, installing/uninstalling applications, etc.
  • Beautifully engineered, no joins, no nooks and crannies to get dirty.
  • Very quick start up at about 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Seamless integration with iPhone, iPod, iPad, iTunes, etc.

Yes, no doubt Windows 7 has brought Microsoft a long way. But Apple’s holistic approach and superior engineering has resulted in a machine that almost runs Windows-native software better than on a Windows machine!

The Cons of TradeStation on a Mac …

OK. Enough of the Apple-gushy-enthusiasm. There have to be some Cons, right?

Well, yes. But rather than seeing these as Cons of running a Mac, I view them as adjustments I need to make. So here’s my list:

  • New keyboard layout means re-learning or re-assigning hotkeys. In TradeStation this allowed me to totally re-think my hotkey settings, so in time I should be a little faster. But then there are all the Mac-specific commands too.
  • “Finder” for managing documents and files is not as easy as Windows – at least at first glance. Yes, there are some nice graphic features like “Cover Flow” but I’m into speed and hotkeys. “Spotlight” (Command+Space on the Mac) appears to be a much faster way of accessing documents, files, applications, web, etc.
  • Apple-native versions of applications need to be found and functionality re-learned. And this takes time. Don’t underestimate the time you’ve invested in becoming proficient running programs like Word, Excel, etc. The Mac versions are different – in some cases, very different. Or jump straight into the Google Docs suite of cloud-based programs.

So it’s back to the classroom for a little homework. Scott D. recommended this book for PC switchers: Switching to the Mac – The Missing Manual by David Pogue.

TradeStation on a Mac step-by-step …

Before you start moving your TradeStation onto a Mac you’ll need a full version of MicroSoft Windows 7 Home Premium ($152-$199) or Windows XP. An upgrade version is not good enough as Microsoft sees this as a brand new installation. You’ll also need a copy of Parallels Desktop ($80) as discussed above.

Then here are the steps for moving TradeStation from an old PC to a new Mac:

  1. Export your own ELD files from TradeStation (File > Import/Export EasyLanguage > Export EasyLanguage > Etc.)
  2. Backup your TradeStation workspaces and settings (File > Backup/Restore TradeStation > Backup TradeStation > Etc.)
  3. Copy these EasyLanguage and backup files, plus any purchased DLLs that live in the TradeStation Program folder, to your Mac
  4. Install Parallels Desktop on the Mac
  5. Start Parallels and install Windows 7 or XP
  6. Within Parallels and the Windows OS start Internet Explorer
  7. Log into your account at TradeStation.com and download the latest version of TradeStation (Client Login > Login > Download TradeStation Platform > Etc.)
  8. Start TradeStation and import your own ELD files into TradeStation (File > Import/Export EasyLanguage > Import EasyLanguage > Etc.)
  9. Restore your TradeStation workspaces and settings (File > Backup/Restore TradeStation > Restore TradeStation Archive > Etc.)
  10. Move any purchased DLLs back into the TradeStation Program folder on your Mac
  11. Check your Analysis Groups (Format > Manage Analysis Groups > Etc.)
  12. Re-assign your hotkeys, see below (View > Hotkeys > Etc.)

Lastly, I’d suggest installing an anti-virus/anti-spyware program in your Windows OS. My personal favorite is AVG because it’s light-weight, fast and less than $20.

Here are my new TradeStation hotkey settings …

The Mac keyboard layout forced me to re-think my hotkeys. Here’s what I’m using:

  • File > Close Workspace = W
  • File > New Window = Ctrl+N
  • File > New Workspace = N
  • File > Next Workspace = Fn+Right
  • File > Open Workspace = O
  • File > Previous Workspace = Fn+Left
  • File > Save Workspace = S
  • Format > Format Symbol = F
  • Pointers > Window Tracking = \
  • Pointers > Workspace Tracking = ]
  • Tools > Scroll One Page Left = Alt+Down
  • Tools > Scroll One Page Right = Alt+Up
  • Tools > Scroll to the Beginning = Alt+Left
  • Tools > Scroll to the End = Alt+Right

There you go. Just some initial thoughts on trading software for Mac and running TradeStation on a Mac. So far I’d rate it 9.5 out of 10. The only downside is the time it takes to adjust. Stay tuned for more updates on trading software for Mac.


Hopefully this article convinces you that:

  • Not only is it possible to run TradeStation on a Mac but it’s fast, stable and easy.
  • The secret is to use Parallels Desktop software to run the Windows operating system simultaneously with the Mac operating system.
  • Boot up times and real-time chart refresh rates are fast and certainly no worse than on a Windows operating system machine.
  • You will need to re-learn and re-assign hotkey settings in TradeStation to make allowances for the different Mac keyboard layout.
  • So far I’d rate my experience of running TradeStation on a Mac 9.5 out of 10.

Thank you to all the Emini-Watch.com subscribers who contributed Mac suggestions.

Trading Software for Mac – Updates

Update October 2010 – Rating Drop from 9.5/10 to 9/10

It’s been 3 months now since I hopped the fence and moved to an Apple Mac. Rating after 3 months? 9 out of 10. Would I go back to Dell/Microsoft/Windows? Not on you life!

After 3 months I’m now “Mac-adapted”. I’ve gotten used to the new keyboard layout, various shortcuts and the Mac way of doing things. So I’m now pretty much up to speed productivity-wise. This does take some time – and I still have a nagging feeling that I’m missing some tricks.

TradeStation is 100% stable and fast on my Mac – and has been a real improvement over my old Dell machine. Which is a totally counter-intuitive conclusion!

So why did my rating drop from 9.5 to 9? My wife’s MacBook Pro 15″ hard drive got corrupted. I had to re-format and re-install the operating system. On the plus side, this process was fast and easy. An absolute must is to use an online backup service. Check out my Simple 5 Step Trading Backup Plan.

Update April 2011 – Bought the New MacBook Pro 17″

I like keeping my computers up-to-date and so felt compelled to get the 2011 version of the MacBook Pro 17″. It’s identical to my old machine – just has a faster processor and of course I added the extra 4 GB RAM.

Was it worth it? Hmm – probably not. I notice maybe a 10 – 15% improvement in speed, particularly opening tick charts. The fan kicks in a little more frequently (still quiet though). But apart from that it’s almost identical to my old machine.

Update October 2011 – Started Using MacKeeper

trading software for mac img2My Mac started playing up – running slow, spinning beach balls, excessive fan noise. The final straw was Gmail identified a virus on an outgoing email attachment. Well that started me thinking that a Mac was not just a set-and-forget proposition – it needed some maintenance.

In the hunt to find a solution I have discovered MacKeeper. I ran it once and within minutes it identified and fixed a ton of issues – including 2 viruses. Well, the difference on my Mac is night and day. It now runs super fast and is super quiet again.

MacKeeper is not cheap at $55 but in my mind it’s priceless – I live on my Mac and it needs to run flawlessly. Don’t know what it fixed (despite querying the logs) but the software handles viruses, junk files, optimization tweaks, etc. I couldn’t be happier. Thank God for MacKeeper.

(July 2012: Forums buzzing about MacKeeper, but this article is balanced.)

Update January 2012 – New MacBook Pro 17″ with SSD

During the latter part of 2011 I was plagued with performance issues on my MacBook Pro and so decided to upgrade to the SSD (solid state drive) version of the machine while in California.

Then a “little birdie” told me that the 2011 MacBook Pro had processor problems and Apple quietly replaced that particular processor in late 2011. Well that explains everything! I was sold a lemon and I knew something was not right from the get-go. I’m glad I ditched my 2011 machine but lesson learned: Apple products can let you down.

Anyway, so far so good with the new machine. Runs quiet and fast. But what a pain it is to change machines. When will they make this easier?

So there you go, some recommendations on Trading Software for Mac.

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