Recommended Hardware, Apps, and Websites for Traders

Information is up-to-date as of 12/20/2015.

This right here is a running list of most of the hardware, apps, and websites that I use to both run a trading business and trade. I’ve included a brief description, what I find valuable, and the associated cost (if any) with each item.

Another interest of mine is finding ways to be more efficient in life. Time is limited, so I make an effort to find apps and websites that will free up as much time as possible. These items are also included below.

Note: I get nothing for mentioning any of these apps and websites. I’m listing them here because I use them personally and find tremendous value in each of them.


Categories

  • Hardware
    • Mac and PC (Laptops)
  • Apps and Websites
    • Trading
    • Productivity
    • Financial
    • Community
    • Utilities
    • Reading & Podcasts

Hardware


Mac and PC (Laptops)

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I don’t know about you, but I always want to be using the best tool for the task at hand. I’ve always felt that a Mac has a far superior user experience compared to a PC – from the hardware to the operating system to the software. However, Macs don’t run most of the good trading applications on the market today, aside from some of the more mainstream brokerage house apps like TD Ameritrade who try to cater to the mass market of retail traders and investors. But as I’m sure many of you know, these mainstream brokerage house apps are not ideal for day traders because of their inferior execution and speed primarily due to the fact that many of them sell your order flow to high frequency traders which handicaps your trade from the moment of execution.

So, after testing numerous computer configurations and setups over the course of 5 years, I finally settled on using two laptops concurrently – a Dell XPS PC for day trading via TradeStation and Interactive Brokers, and an Apple MacBook Pro Retina for watching various markets and also for executing trades related to swing trading and investing via thinkorswim (where a precise entry is not as important as it is when day trading). In addition, I use the Mac for productivity-related tasks such as recording notes about my trading and the market during the day, sharing my vulgar thoughts on Twitter, responding to e-mails, and browsing the Internet. I’ve found this combination to be the perfect setup since I can leverage the strengths of the PC and the Mac at the same time.

In addition, by only using laptops, I am truly mobile and can trade anywhere in the world without having to switch to a different setup or configuration. That’s one of the benefits of trading after all, so why not take advantage of it? If you’re stuck in a home office every trading day of the year due to having an immobile setup, then you’ve in a sense created your own permanent cubicle (something many traders wanted to escape from in their past career(s)). Also, though I did use a multiple 27″ display setup in the past, I found that by decreasing the number of displays to 1 or 2, you can eliminate a lot of noise and focus in better on what you’re trying to do. For some traders with methodologies that require tracking multiple markets and stocks concurrently, this may not be a viable option. However, by at least trying to simplify your trading setup, you may come to find that you don’t need quite as many charts or watchlists open as you once thought.

Note: Since I use both OS X (a Mac’s operating system) and Windows (a PC’s operating system),  some of the apps listed below are only available for one or the other. 


Apps and Websites


Trading


TradeStation (App for PC, iOS, Android)

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Description:

  • TradeStation is a broker that offers advanced charting software and reliable trade execution for the active trader.

Value:

  • I use TradeStation for charting and at times for trade execution. I find their charting software to be one of the most intuitive and user friendly in the industry. There is a learning curve with TradeStation; however, if you take the time to learn how to properly harness its capabilities, it will make your charting a whole lot easier.
    • TradeStation has some drawbacks, specifically when it comes to their alert system, which is why I use TC2000 and thinkorswim to set and manage alerts. 

Cost:

  • TradeStation data and platform fees vary based on the types of markets that you trade and the number of trade executions that you make per month, respectively. Considering the quality and usefulness of the charting software, it’s a small price to pay. Visit their website for more details.

thinkorswim (App for Mac, PC, iOS, Android)

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Description:

  • thinkorswim is trading software from the mainstream online broker TD Ameritrade.

Value:

  • thinkorswim is my tool of choice for keeping an eye on the market, the futures market specifically. I use thinkorswim on my Mac to watch intraday futures related to /ES (/NQ, /TF, /YM), to set alerts, to make the occasional swing trade via equities, options, or futures, and to occasionally watch CNBC when the market is melting down and the hosts begin shitting themselves live on TV.
    • That being said, I would not recommend thinkorswim for day traders. TD Ameritrade sells retail order flow to high frequency traders, essentially putting you in a disadvantageous spot from the moment you press the Buy or Sell button. If you’re going to use them for trading, then use them for swing trading or investing, not for day trading when execution quality really matters.

Cost:

  • All of thinkorswim’s data feeds are free; however, free comes at a price, which is them selling your order flow to HFTs as previously mentioned. That being said, as long as you use them for the correct reasons (for their software or for swing trading), then getting access to real time equities, options, futures, and forex data for free is really hard to beat. They also have a really nice mobile app (iOS), also for free.

TraderVue (Website)

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Description:

  • Trading journal and analysis website.

Value:

  • As a trader, TraderVue is perhaps my most valuable tool. I use it to log all of my trades and investments. In addition, I use it to journal each day, both at the trade level and at the day level. TraderVue allows you to share your trades publicly, should you choose to do so (I do not, simply because I use the tool as an internal tool).
  • On days that I trade (and even on days that I don’t but still watch the market), I follow a pre-market and post-market routine, using TraderVue as a central piece of that routine.
    • In pre-market, I use TraderVue’s daily journal feature to take notes about things that I deem important going into the trading day. In addition, I create my trade plan for the day, including both long and short scenarios (since one never knows exactly what the market will do).
    • In post-market, I import all of my trades for the day, using the tagging feature to separate the day’s trades according to the trading account that the trades originated from (Real Money, Paper Money, IRA, etc.). Once imported, I review each trade, adding additional tags when  necessary. I also review the notes that I took during the trading day for each trade and add any additional notes or observations that I may have overlooked during market hours.
  • On a weekly and monthly basis, I return to TraderVue to analyze the data, filtering it down by account and trading strategy to see how I am progressing. It is from this data that I can gain powerful insights into what I’m doing well and what I need to improve upon. I also have a very clear picture via the plethora of reports about my performance at certain times of the day, on specific days of the week, in specific market environments, and much more. Also, TraderVue does a great job of providing some of the most valuable data that you as a trader need to measure the effectiveness and viability of your methodology (e.g. expectancy (your average return on the capital or R risked per trade), your average win size versus your average loss size, your win ratio, etc.).
  • TraderVue is incredibly powerful if you make use of its many features. Instead of listing them all, take the TraderVue tour for yourself.

Cost:

  • TraderVue has a few plans to choose from:
    • Free: If you go the free route, then you’re limited to 100 stock trades/month. You do get Journaling, Reporting, and Sharing, though, which is good for the basic user.
    • $29/mo: At a minimum, I recommend you upgrade to the $29/mo plan to get unlimited trades, stocks, options, futures, and forex, and more enhanced journaling and reporting.
    • $49/mo: The $49/mo plan is the one that I use, which offers everything from the $29/mo plan and in addition includes Risk Analysis, Exit Analysis, and Commissions/Fees. If you’re like me and you measure your performance in R (Risk), then you need Risk Analysis. Also, being able to factor in commissions and fees from your broker is an important part of gauging net performance which is why I recommend going this route if you can afford it. As I said, as a trader this is one of if not the most important tool that I use, so it’s worth the money. When used consistently and correctly, TraderVue will provide insight into your trading that you just can’t get by tracking your trades in a spreadsheet.

@eminiplayer (Website)

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  • Description:
    • An /ES trader who offers daily support and resistance zones in addition to a pre-market trade plan video and post-market recap video for /ES traders.
  • Value:
    • If you trade /ES, then I highly recommend subscribing to Awais’s (@eminiplayer on Twitter) monthly subscription service. I’m a firm believer that 90% of the monthly subscription services available today in the trading community are more useful to the one running the service (i.e. as a nice source of income) than to those subscribing, especially if the service primarily consists of trade alerts being sent out with little to no meaningful education. Awais, on the other hand, is an educator.
    • What I like about Awais and his service is that he focuses a lot of time on market context and risk management. These two variables are arguably (by me) the most important pieces of the trading puzzle. Many services spend most of their time focusing on setups, when setups (depending on who you talk to) really should account for 10-20% of your time and energy when it comes to developing a trading methodology. As a matter of fact, I have seen numerous studies done where randomized entries paired with stringent and consistent risk management parameters resulted in similar (and at times superior) results than entries executed based on indicators or events. Though optimized entries can provide an edge, having a solid understanding and familiarity with market context and risk management will make a greater difference in your long term trading results.
    • Awais posts a pre-market trade plan video each morning that the market is in session (about 30 minutes before the /ES cash market opens at 8:30am CST). Though I create my own trade plan each morning, I always make sure to watch his trade plan video to get the perspective of another professional trader. I also cross-reference his /ES zones with my own to see if there is anything that I overlooked when preparing my own charts for the day. Again, it’s nice to see how another professional /ES trader is looking at the market.
    • Awais posts a post-market recap video each day that the market is in session between 8pm-10pm CST (except for Friday night when he posts the Friday recap video on Sunday night). I always find there to be tremendous value in these recap videos. Awais walks through the entire day, from open to close, analyzing and interpreting market action. Even more invaluable is seeing what the best entries and exits were for the day, knowing that although you’re looking at everything in hindsight, you can still work to train yourself to look for certain variables during the trading day that will maximize your trade location on entries and optimize your efficiency of hitting pre-defined targets on exits.
      • It’s important to note that, even if you don’t trade /ES, Awais’s daily support and resistance zones coupled with his pre-market and post-market videos can help provide an edge to SPY (S&P 500 ETF) and equity traders who trade equities that have a higher sensitivity to movements in the market indices. You can also take a lot of the fundamental trading concepts and methodological components that you learn through the recap videos and apply them to other markets and trading vehicles.
  • Cost:
    • The @eminiplayer monthly subscription service costs $50/mo and is worth every penny, especially if you trade /ES.

@FuturesTrader71 Webinar Series (Website)

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  • Description:
    • Another professional, highly reputable /ES trader, @FuturesTrader71 has a series of webinars which will help build a strong foundation to the way a trader looks at and approaches trading.
  • Value:
    • This webinar package is an extraordinarily good value if you’re interested in learning about Market/Volume Profiling (Webinars 1 & 2) in addition to learning more about the differences between a consistent, profitable trader and an inconsistent, struggling trader (Webinar 3). Finally, Webinar 4 provides a very concise and detailed approach to developing a daily trading plan.
  • Cost:
    • $159.99 for a 4 part webinar series spanning 6 hours in length. The webinar slides are included as separate downloads, in addition to some other supplemental downloads.

Productivity


“Getting Things Done” (Book)

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  • Description:
    • A book that teaches a brilliant methodology, not in trading, but in productivity.
  • Value:
    • I read “Getting Things Done” a few years ago. Since reading it, life and its many responsibilities have never been easier to manage. This book will teach you how to be a master of productivity, even if productivity and organization do not come natural to you. This was one of the most life changing books that I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in improving the way that they organize and manage their many responsibilities in life.
  • Cost:
    • $10-$15 on Amazon, depending on whether you opt for a digital or hardcover book, respectively.

OmniFocus (App for Mac, iOS)

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  • Description:
    • A To-Do app that provides the perfect framework for a central part of the Getting Things Done productivity methodology (see book above).
  • Value:
    • I have tried a lot of To-Do apps on the market today. None of them, in my opinion, come even close to OmniFocus. This app is only available for the Mac and iOS, and I would actually argue that this app alone is a strong enough reason to buy a Mac if you don’t already have one (I really mean that). Though I’m not going to get into all of the ways that this app can be used, I can tell you that I use it to organize and manage all aspects of my life, from trading, to relationships, to travel. As an example, I have one project that encompasses all aspects of my daily trading routine, reminding me at specific times when to do specific actions which guarantees that I never let anything slip through the cracks.
    • Just make sure that if you’re going to buy it, you read the GTD book above first to truly maximize its capabilities.
    • If you don’t have a Mac and aren’t willing to buy one, then I would recommend searching Google for a well reviewed GTD To-Do app for Windows. If you don’t have a capable To-Do app in your life, then you’re at a real disadvantage from a productivity standpoint compared to someone who does (in my opinion).
  • Cost:
    • For the Mac, the Standard version costs $39.99. However, get the Pro version for $79.99 if you can afford it as the additional features are well worth the money.
    • For iOS, the Standard version costs $39.99. I also recommend getting the Pro version for $59.98 if you can afford it as the additional features are well worth the money. The iOS app is native to all iOS devices, including iPad and iPhone.

Evernote (Website & App for Mac, PC, iOS, Android)

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  • Description:
    • A cross-platform website and app with the purpose of collecting and organizing your documents, receipts, business cards, and website content that you want to archive and easily find via search at a later date. Evernote is another app that fits extremely well into a GTD productivity methodology (see book above).
  • Value:
    • Evernote is another app that is indispensable once you begin using it as part of a GTD system. Just as with OmniFocus, I can’t get into all of the ways that one can use Evernote. However, as an example, I have a “Stack” (basically a folder) which includes several different types of digital notebooks related to trading. From Trading Quotes, to Insight from Other Traders via Twitter, on the Internet, and in Books, to Trading Psychology-related articles and notes from books that I’ve read, I have a digital filing cabinet packed full of important information that I can find with a simple search at any time.
    • In conjunction with a powerful To-Do app like OmniFocus (above), Evernote will help you organize and manage all aspects of your life.
    • The feature that I use the most with Evernote (a Mac only feature, unfortunately) is the Evernote Quick Note feature. The Quick Note feature (when enabled within the Evernote settings) resides in the Mac menu bar. When you press the applicable shortcut (on my Mac, it is Control + Command + N), a text area will appear at the top of the screen. I find this incredibly useful (especially during the trading day) as I use it to take notes related to each trade that I take (or miss), in addition to jotting down various observations about the market. I can then copy and paste the trade notes that I took for each trade into the Notes field of each respective trade within TraderVue (after I import them, of course). At the end of the day, this makes it incredibly easy to be able to review each trade and understand exactly what was going on at the time, which is why I highly recommend this. However, if you don’t use TraderVue, then at least save the day’s notes in an Evernote notebook so that you can archive and review them at a later date if needed. Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 4.35.39 PM.png
    • Make sure that if you do download Evernote you get the Evernote Web Clipper for Mac/PC and iOS/Android as well as it will make it really easy for you to archive important articles and web content directly to Evernote with just a few clicks. I use this all the time.
    • Also, if you have an iOS device, I recommend downloading Scannable, an app by Evernote. This app makes it incredibly easy to scan paper documents, receipts, business cards, etc. directly into your Evernote notebook of choice via your iPhone’s/iPad’s camera.
  • Cost:
    • Evernote has a Basic level (free) which allows you to use Evernote lightly (60 MB of new uploads each month). However, I would recommend opting for the Premium level ($49.99/year) as you get significant more upload bandwidth each month (10 GB), can download all of your notes for offline access on your mobile devices, can add a passcode lock on mobile apps for added security, can send e-mails directly into Evernote, and more.

Fantastical (App for Mac, iOS)

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  • Description:
    • Fantastical is a calendar app/menu bar app for Mac and iOS that makes it incredibly easy to create calendar events using natural language.
  • Value:
    • Fantastical is a great alternative to the Calendar app found on Mac and iOS devices. The reason I use it is because of their natural language parser which allows you to create an event (or repeating event) by using a simple sentence such as “Watch CNBC to see grown men and women act like complete fucking idiots when the FOMC minutes are released on Wednesday from 1pm to 1:30pm alert 5 minutes before”. It’s highly intuitive, very well designed, and serves its purpose very well.
  • Cost:
    • The Mac version costs $39.99, while the iOS version costs $2.99. Both are a steal considering how much easier they make it to create events using natural language in a single, simple sentence.

Alfred (App for Mac)

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  • Description:
    • Alfred for Mac boosts your efficiency with hotkeys and keywords.
  • Value:
    • If you have a Mac, then you absolutely need to download Alfred. I use this app extensively as a means to quickly open apps, websites, and Google searches, run commands (e.g. restart, shutdown, logout of OS X), perform quick mathematical calculations via the built-in calculator, and open custom URLs via keyword shortcuts (requires the Powerpack version). Though OS X does have “Spotlight” which allows you to launch apps and find files, it’s not nearly as powerful nor as polished as Alfred.
      • Launching an app, website, or Google search (you can search from other places such as Bing, too) from within the Alfred interface is incredibly quick and easy: Just summon Alfred via its shortcut (for me it’s Option + Space) and begin typing the name of the app, URL of the website, or search term that you’d like to launch (or in the case of an app, switch to if it’s already open). Depending on the characters inputted into Alfred, option(s) will appear in list format. From there, you simply use your keyboard’s up/down arrow keys to select the item that you’d like to view, followed by pressing the Return key. You can literally launch an app, website, or Google search as fast as you can type.Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 2.33.57 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-26 at 3.44.14 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-26 at 3.46.47 PM.png
      • Running system commands is equally as painless as opening an app. Just summon Alfred (using the same steps to launch an app), followed by typing one of the system commands that Alfred supports. Here is one of the commands (Restart) followed by a list of the system commands that you are able to use with Alfred.Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 2.33.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-26 at 4.01.27 PM.png
      • I find Alfred’s built-in calculator to be incredibly useful for the times when you need to do quick mathematical calculations. Though OS X’s Spotlight feature also has a calculator, I find Alfred’s implementation of the feature to be easier to use and easier to read. You can also copy the results of any calculation to the OS X clipboard by simply pressing the Return key.Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 3.57.15 PM.png
        • Speaking of the clipboard, Alfred also has a Clipboard History feature which allows you to easily go back and look at past items that you’ve copied to the clipboard, just in case you need to access data that was copied to the clipboard prior to what’s currently saved to it.Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 3.58.06 PM.png
      • Being able to open custom URLs via a keyword shortcut (referred to as “Workflows” in Alfred) gives you the ability to easily access specific website data within seconds. Alfred Workflows can be downloaded or you can create your own. In addition, you are not just limited to opening specific websites with keyboard shortcuts – there is a wide range of triggers, inputs, actions, and outputs to choose from.
        • I use this feature in a number of different ways, ranging from being able to quickly access the day’s NYSE New Highs and New Lows data, to being able to quickly access the S&P Futures after hours on my smaller Mac laptop that I don’t use for trading, to being able to quickly access my Harvest (below) dashboard to see where I’m at for the day in terms of time allocated to trading and trading business-related tasks, to being able to see how the world markets performed in the overnight session during pre-market when I’m in the process of developing my trade plan for the day.Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 3.14.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-26 at 3.14.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-26 at 2.34.54 PM
    • In addition, the Powerpack version (paid upgrade from the still very useful free version) allows you to do even more incredibly useful things like access any of your 1Password (below) website logins by typing just a few keys. Here is an example of me typing in a short command to launch the SocialBro website (with my 1Password SocialBro login information automatically filled in and submitted on the SocialBro website upon execution of this command from within Alfred). With 1Password integration, no longer do you need to 1) open your web browser of choice, 2) navigate to the SocialBro website, and 3) enter your username and password if you aren’t already logged in. This is a huge timesaver, especially if you login to numerous websites every day. Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 2.23.45 PM.png
    • As I said, I use Alfred extensively. Here is my usage of Alfred for the past 28 days (the app tracks how often you use it and in which ways you use it, data which is accessible to you at any time once you begin using it):  Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 2.10.50 PM.png
    • Alfred offers much more than what I’ve listed, but these are the primary ways in which I use the app. Here is a list of its features directly from the Alfred website:Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 3.09.11 PM.png
  • Cost:
    • Alfred is free to download on the Mac. However, I highly recommend upgrading to the Powerpack version for $25 to be able to access features like Workflows and 1Password integration.

Google Docs, Google Sheets (Website)

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  • Description:
    • Google Docs and Google Sheets are online word processor and spreadsheet tools that let you create and format text documents and spreadsheets and collaborate with other people in real time.
  • Value:
    • Being able to move away from Microsoft Word and Excel (PC) and Apple Pages and Numbers (Mac) was something that I had wanted to do for some time. When Google Docs and Google Sheets were released and then improved upon over time, it was a no brainer for me to make the switch. Their feature sets are just as capable (and I would argue more intuitive) as Word, Excel, Pages, and Numbers.
    • These online productivity apps are part of the cloud storage solution from Google called Google Drive. Though I don’t use Google Drive to store photos, videos, etc., I do use it to store my Docs and Sheets documents.
    • I find it to be incredibly convenient to be able to pull up a document from the cloud on any device (Mac, PC, iOS, Android, etc.). and pick up where I left off from another device. Also, gone are the days when your piece of shit word processor app would crash before you were able to save the last 3 hours of changes. Google Docs and Google Sheets automatically save the document that’s being edited whenever a change is made.
    • Finally, Google Docs and Google Sheets have excellent sharing and real time collaboration capabilities. Want to share or edit in real time your trading business plan with your mentor? Easy. We like easy around these parts.
    • I recommend configuring Google Drive to automatically sync all of your documents from the cloud to your local hard drive in the chance that something were to ever happen to the Google servers. Though they have backup and redundancy plans in place, one can never be too careful when it comes to protecting personal data from being lost. 
  • Cost:
    • Google Docs and Google Sheets are free. You get 15GB of free online storage with Google Drive, which is more than enough if you’re using it to store documents as I am.

Harvest (Website & App for Mac, iOS, Android)

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  • Description:
    • Harvest is a simple time tracking app.
  • Value:
    • As a trader, I like to keep track of my time. From reading trading books, to updating my business plan, to dealing with technical issues related to trading software, to actually trading, I think it’s important to keep track of your time for all things related to trading. By doing this, you can clearly see where your time is going on a weekly or monthly basis and then determine if you need to make adjustments.
    • For example, say you are trading 4 hours per day on average, yet you have a relatively high trade expectancy and return on R (Risk) each month. Perhaps you could try trading for 3 hours per day over the course of a month to see if trading less yields different results.
    • As another example, say you look back at your time logs for the past month and see that you spent 7 hours on the phone with your broker’s tech support department. Perhaps that’s a sign that maybe it’s time to switch brokers.
    • Harvest makes it really easy to quickly start and stop timers for specific tasks throughout the day on your Mac, iOS, and Android devices. In addition, you can manage projects and tasks, view your timesheet, start and stop timers, etc. on their website.
  • Cost:
    • I’m currently using the Free version of Harvest, which allows 1 User to have 2 Projects. I have an “/ES Daily Routine” project which contains all of the tasks related to my daily trading routine (Pre, Post, Trading, etc.) in addition to a “Miscellaneous” project which contains tasks such as Blogging, Business Plan, Education, Reading, Technical Support, Trade and Data Analysis, etc. I find this to be adequate given that I trade for myself and only need 2 projects.
    • If for some reason you require more than 1 User or more than 2 Projects, then you can upgrade to one of the plans available on the Harvest pricing page of their website.

RescueTime (Website & App for Mac, PC, Android)

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  • Description:
    • Automated time tracking app for Mac, PC, and Android.
  • Value:
    • This app is different from Harvest in that you install it on your computer and it automatically tracks your activity. Since I only use 1 or 2 trading application(s) on my PC during market hours, I have no need to track my time on it. However, I do use this every day on my Mac to see where I am spending my time during the trading day.
    • When you first register and configure the app, you specify which categories of activities are “Productive” and “Unproductive” to you. For example, I have categorized “Business”-related activity (thinkorswim, @eminiplayer website, etc.) as “Productive”, and “Social Networking”-related activity (Tweetbot, Tweetdeck, Twitter.com) as “Unproductive”.
    • At any time during the day, I can access the RescueTime Dashboard via the menu bar shortcut (on a Mac). This Dashboard allows me to get a real time update as to how Productive I am being for the day. Here is an example of what it looks like:Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 1.45.41 PM
    • In addition, they have a number of reports that you can access (some only accessible with the Premium version), alerts and goals that you can set (Premium only), the ability to log Offline time (i.e. when you’re in meetings and away from the computer; Premium only), the ability to “FocusTime” which allows you to block specific websites from being accessed until you say otherwise (Premium only), and more.
    • Just like Harvest, this information can help you focus more on what’s most important to you during the trading day (and outside of trading hours, too).
    • Note: RescueTime by default has an idle time of 5 minutes. If the app doesn’t detect either movement in the trackpad/mouse or a keystroke on the keyboard in a 5 minute period, then it will not record any activity for that 5 minute period. This didn’t work for me as there are times when I don’t move the trackpad or type on the keyboard for 15-30 minutes (if I have thinkorswim open, for example, and I am watching other markets as I trade on my PC). If an idle time of 5 minutes is too short for you, then you can contact the RescueTime support team and they can extend it for as long as you need. I have mine set to 30 minutes, currently. 
  • Cost:
    • The Free version allows you to track time and view basic repots. For many, this will be more than enough.
    • However, if you’re looking for the Premium features as mentioned above, then it will cost you $9/mo, or $72/year. I myself have the Premium version as I find value in the data contained in the Premium charts and also in the ability to set alerts and goals.

Financial


QuickBooks Online (Website & App for Mac, PC, iOS)

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  • Description:
    • Online accounting software.
  • Value:
    • I find QuickBooks online to be valuable as it lets me easily keep track of trading-related expenses so that, come tax time, I have all of those expenses itemized and know exactly how much I can write off against my trading gains (assuming you qualify for Trader Tax Status). It’s simple and intuitive enough to use (something the software versions of QuickBooks were not), and the fact that the data is stored in the cloud makes it convenient and easy to access on Mac, PC, and iOS devices. There is also a website version.
  • Cost:
    • QuickBooks online is relatively cheap, ranging from $10/mo to $40/mo. I use the “Simple Start” product for $10/mo as I only use it to manually input expenses and balance my trading-related financial accounts.

Mint (Website & App for iOS, Android)

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  • Description:
    • A personal finance and online budgeting website.
  • Value:
    • I find tremendous value in Mint, both personally and professionally. I have 2 separate accounts – one for business (trading) use and one for personal use. I use it to set budgets, monitor capital and net worth across multiple accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, brokerage accounts, loans, etc.), track spending trends, and more.
    • Many successful traders that I know are frugal when it comes to spending (not when it comes to giving to others, though) and diligent when it comes to keeping a budget. I highly recommend opening an account for personal use and another for business use and make it a habit to check Mint at least once a week to make sure that 1) your transactions are being categorized correctly and 2) your spending is in line with your budget(s). Also, the “Trends” feature is a nice way to view your income and spending trends in pie chart and graph form.
    • When a trader is first starting out, it’s extremely important to cut down expenses as much as possible (especially if the trader quits their job to trade full time prior to proving profitability (with a few years worth of savings in the bank, of course)) so that they can take the pressure of having to make money to meet expense obligations off of their shoulders. One would be surprised as to how little you can live on if you actually make an effort to cut out the waste.
  • Cost:
    • Mint is free to use.

Community


Tweetbot (App for Mac, iOS)

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  • Description:
    • A third party Twitter app for Mac and iOS devices.
  • Value:
    • This is the most polished third party Twitter app on the market today. Even though the dickheads at Twitter have limited newer features to third party developers, Tweetbot still finds a way to reign supreme over all of the official Twitter apps (Twitter for Mac, Twitter for iOS and Android, Tweetdeck).
    • This app really makes using Twitter fun and easy. It’s super intuitive, very well designed, has custom sounds for different notifications (Reply, Like, Retweet, Follow, etc.), integrates perfectly with apps like Pocket (below), and syncs your current timeline location across all devices.
    • I still think that Tweetdeck is the best Twitter app if you want to follow a number of different ticker symbols or searches concurrently. Though Tweetbot has multi column support, Tweetdeck still does this one thing better than anything else. 
  • Cost:
    • Tweetbot costs $9.99 on the Mac app store and $4.99 for the iOS version which works natively on all iOS devices.

SocialBro (Website)

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  • Description:
    • SocialBro is an advanced solution for the management and analysis of Twitter communities.
  • Value:
    • I debated listing SocialBro on this page due to the fact that many could give two shits about their Twitter account. However, if you are interested in gaining insight into those you are following and those following you, in addition to other valuable and interesting data, then I would recommend trying SocialBro (they have a free trial period).
    • I like it because I can keep tabs on new followers, see who unfollows me (and deduce which tweets may have been responsible for the unfollow(s) so that I can more easily and predictably ward off other pussies who can’t stomach a cup of fresh hot trading-related vulgarity in the early morning hours), see which types of tweets receive the most interactions, and more.
    • I think SocialBro also integrates with Facebook, but who really gives a shit about Facebook in the trading community. 
  • Cost:
    • SocialBro has a free trial period. After that, their plans range from $13/mo upwards. I have their $13/mo plan which gives me everything that I need, as listed above.

Utilities


1Password (Website & App for Mac, PC, iOS, Android)

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  • Description:
    • A secure cross-platform password manager.
  • Value:
    • 1Password is another app, much like OmniFocus, that I highly recommend buying if you don’t already have an app to store your passwords, credit cards, and other secure data. The app is highly intuitive and very well designed. In addition, all of the data can be securely synced via Dropbox or iCloud.
    • If you’re not familiar with a password manager: 1Password allows you to store all of your passwords, credit cards, and other secure data in a highly encrypted “vault” which can only be unlocked with one master password (One Password). By using this app, you no longer need to worry about remembering dozens and perhaps hundreds and maybe even thousands of login passwords; you only need to remember the one master password which, when entered into the app’s unlock screen, gives you access to all of your passwords and other important information that you choose to store in the app.
    • What’s better, you can now create long random passwords for all of your logins so that they are extremely difficult to crack. And in the chance that somehow one of your randomized passwords is compromised, you will not need to worry about other websites that you use also being compromised since no website will use the same password. This is not the case for those who use the same insecure password for multiple websites.
    • As traders, we have login credentials that, if compromised, could cost us a lot of money. This is why it is incredibly important to randomize your password and store it in a highly encrypted password manager like 1Password.
    • It goes without saying that your master password should be complex, never written down, and never shared with anyone that you don’t absolutely trust with your life.
  • Cost:
    • 1Password for Mac and 1Password for Windows each cost $49.99. However, if you have both a Mac and a PC, then you can get them both for $69.99 via a bundle package. 1Password for iOS and Android are free, but you need to purchase a Mac or Windows version prior to being able to use the mobile versions.

Dropbox (Website & App for Mac, PC, iOS, Android)

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  • Description:
    • A cloud storage file synchronization service.
  • Value:
    • Though there are many cloud storage file synchronization solutions out there, Dropbox is my favorite due to its speed and efficiency of syncing, upload and download speeds, reliability (uptime), and cross-platform syncing capabilities.
    • I use Dropbox a lot for trading-related storage. One example: Each day, via Camtasia (below), I record my screen for the entire trading session from bell to bell on my PC. When the market closes, I export the video file at 500%-1000% of the original speed and place it in Dropbox. I can then playback the trading day on any device and see if there were things that I missed in real time, see how efficient I was in my entry and exit timing, etc.
    • I also export the /ES intraday chart via a SnagIt (below) screenshot which has my real time trade executions marked on it in addition to intraday trendlines, support and resistance zones, etc. The screenshot is placed in a specific Dropbox folder, which I then link to directly from the day’s TraderVue Journal Entry so that I can easily review the trading day as it unfolded on the chart as I review the day’s trading journal notes that I took during and after the market closed.
    • It’s also really nice to be able to access my daily /ES screenshots if I’m doing a monthly review and want to understand what happened on a specific day. In addition, not only do I have a screenshot of each day’s chart with my trade executions for the day, but I also have each day recorded and archived on video, from bell to bell, all easily accessible via Dropbox.
  • Cost:
    • Dropbox storage is incredibly cheap. For the Basic plan, you get 2GB of storage for free, which is useless. So, I recommend the Pro plan at $9.99/mo, which gives you 1TB of data. If you need more, then you can pay $15/mo for the Business plan and get unlimited storage.

TextExpander (App for Mac, iOS)

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  • Description:
    • TextExpander saves your fingers and your keyboard, expanding custom keyboard shortcuts into frequently-used text and pictures.
  • Value:
    • I absolutely love TextExpander. I use it all the time when writing in my trading journal and also use it to quickly post obnoxious videos (such as the “Cancel All Orders” video on Twitter.
    • I can easily create a snippet and assign it a shortcut within TextExpander. From there, if I type the shortcut associated with that snippet into a text area or field, TextExpander will essentially paste the text, images, or information that was included in that snippet in the active text area or field.
    • For example, I often will post the “Cancel All Orders” YouTube video on Twitter, especially when the market is going down the shitter and people are setting themselves on fire due to the panic. Each time I post that YouTube video, I simply type “cancelallo”. Immediately after I type that, the YouTube link to that video is expanded into the active text area or field. I can then add a comment and post it on Twitter. The entire process from expansion to posting takes about 5-10 seconds.Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 5.12.22 PM.png
    • Another example of how I use TextExpander is with the trading journal in TraderVue. I type “dailyjournes” in the TraderVue Daily Journal text area, and my entire daily journal template that I originally created is expanded. I can then fill in the applicable fields in this template (i.e. Location where I’m trading, How many hours of sleep I got, What did the market do overnight, etc.) in pre-market, post-market, and at night when I run through the @eminiplayer Recap Video (above). Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 4.56.36 PM.png
    • Another basic example that I use all the time (specifically whenever I enter a note in Evernote’s Quick Note feature (above)) is expanding the current date and time. By typing “ofdt”, I can instantly expand a timestamp into the active text area. I find this incredibly useful as I can easily associate a specific comment to a specific time in the trading day. Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 5.00.34 PM.png
    • The shortcut examples listed above are my own. If you download TextExpander, these shortcuts will not work for you.  However, you can easily create your own within TextExpander by reading the very straight forward documentation on the TextExpander website. 
    • If you don’t have a Mac, a decent PC alternative is PhraseExpress. It’s not nearly as good (or as polished) as TextExpander, but it serves its purpose in a Windows environment. Also, you can sync your TextExpander snippets into PhraseExpress if you have a Mac and a PC. I use PhraseExpress myself for a few things.
  • Cost:
    • TextExpander is $44.95 for a single user license. I use one license on a few Macs.

SnagIt (App for Mac, PC)

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  • Description:
    • An advanced screen capturing and basic screen video recording application.
  • Value:
    • I use SnagIt on my PC to take a screenshot of the intraday /ES chart that I use and mark up each day for trading. As noted above, I upload this screenshot to Dropbox where I then link to it from my TraderVue Daily Journal entry so that I can easily go back and look at how any given trading day played out, coupled with my trade executions, drawings, etc.
      • SnagIt is really nice as it makes it really easy to take screenshots of specific areas of your screen. I don’t have to struggle trying to make sure that I get only the intraday /ES chart in my screenshot – SnagIt recognizes that area and selects it automatically as I move my cursor over it.
    • I also use SnagIt on the PC and Mac to take screenshots of charts and other information that I want to share on Twitter.
    • Also, SnagIt has powerful markup tools which allow you to add text, images, shapes, effects, and more to your screenshots and images.
    • Finally, it integrates very nicely with Dropbox and a ton of other storage apps so that you can quickly and easily send off screenshots and images to their final storage destination.
  • Cost:
    • SnagIt costs $49.95 for the Mac and PC versions, individually.

Camtasia (App for PC), ScreenFlow (App for Mac)

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  • Description:
    • Camtasia is a powerful yet easy-to-use screen recorder.
  • Value:
    • I use Camtasia to record each trading session so that I can review it later in the day as part of my post-market review and analysis process. Since I don’t have 6.5 hours to re-watch the entire trading session, I speed up the playback by 500-1000% prior to exporting the video to Dropbox where it then syncs with all of my devices for easy access.
    • Although Camtasia is quite powerful, I only really use it for this purpose. However, being able to watch the market unfold and watch how and when you execute trades is an important part of the learning process, in my opinion. I have found a tremendous amount of value in recording and re-watching previous trading sessions and recommend that you consider trying it at least to see if it makes a difference for you.
  • Cost:
    • Camtasia offers a free 30 day trial. After that, it costs $299 for the PC version, and $99 for the Mac version. However, if you have a Mac, I would recommend buying ScreenFlow instead. It costs the same as Camtasia for Mac, and in my opinion, it has a more intuitive and user friendly design. The feature sets are relatively similar, too, and you can speed up playback in ScreenFlow just as you can in Camtasia.

Reading & Podcasts


Pocket (Website & App for Mac, PC, iOS, Android)

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  • Description:
    • Pocket is an application and service for managing a reading list of articles from the Internet.
  • Value:
    • Whether you’re browsing the web, on Twitter, or reading e-mail, you can easily send practically any article, video, or piece of content to Pocket. From there, the content is stored in the cloud for you to read at a later time on practically any device.
    • Pocket is really great, especially when used in conjunction with Twitter (Tweetbot specifically; in Tweetbot for Mac, you have to enable “Pocket” as your “Read Later” option in the Tweetbot Account / Services section under Preferences; in Tweetbot for iOS, you just need to enable the Pocket Share Extension). Also, you need to make sure to install the Pocket extensions for whatever browser(s) that you use to view content on the Internet so that you can easily save articles, videos, etc. to Pocket via a web browser. In addition, you can also forward e-mails into Pocket.
    • I use Pocket all the time, especially when browsing Twitter. Assuming you don’t follow snake oil salesmen and frauds, there’s typically a wealth of useful information posted by respected and trusted traders each and every day. Since you’re typically trading during the day, Pocket can come in really handy by eliminating the chance that you will forget about articles or videos posted when you’re busy trading and don’t have time to read an article or watch a video.
    • Depending on the app that you use, you can usually send a link posted by someone directly to Pocket to Read Later. Do a quick Google search to see if your Twitter app is supported by Pocket and, if so, how to easily integrate the two together. 
  • Cost:
    • Pocket is free, though they do offer a Premium version for $44.99/year which offers things like advanced searching and the ability to save a link’s original content for eternity in case the link’s content changes from the initial date that you saved it to Pocket. I personally use the free version.

Overcast (App for iOS)

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  • Description:
    • A powerful yet simple podcast player for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
  • Value:
    • If you have an iOS device, then Overcast has 3 features which set it apart from all other Podcasting apps:
      • Smart Speed allows you to essentially skip over (or as Overcast calls it, dynamically shorten) silences in talk shows. With the average podcasting app, you’re probably used to playing back the Podcast at 1.5-2x the original speed if you’re trying to save time. However, all this does is speed up playback, making the Podcast sound like it’s being broadcast by a gang of coked up chipmunks. It’s also difficult to actually digest what is being discussed at such a rapid pace. Smart Speed plays back the Podcast by removing the short silent moments in conversation while still being able to make the Podcast sound natural and fluid. If you listen to trading Podcasts (and other Podcasts) often like I do, then this feature alone is worth switching apps for. You will save tons of time.
      • Voice Boost boosts and normalizes volume so that every show is loud, clear, and at the same volume. This makes listening to Podcasts easier in general.
      • Smarter Playlists gives you the ability to create playlists for different types of Podcasts. For example, I have a playlist called “Trading” which includes all of my favorite trading Podcasts including “The Trader’s Podcast” and “Chat with Traders”. Within each playlist, you can create priorities for specific Podcasts, in addition to creating filters and sorting rules. This is another really nice feature which will help you keep your Podcasts organized by category.
      • I also like the fact that you can share a Podcast via e-mail or text message and it will link to the overcast.fm website where the recipient of the link can listen to the Podcast that you are listening to without the app. You can also link directly to a specific timestamp within the Podcast.
  • Cost:
    • Overcast is surprisingly free. Get it.