If you want to trade stocks from the comfort of your Mac, we’ve looked at the best stock trading platforms for Mac in 2018 to help you succeed.
Nowadays, the majority of trading platforms are Cloud based and most don’t offer Mac desktop clients but there are a few that do while others suit Macs better than others.
Since all the top trading platforms are Cloud based, this article will also be of interest to PC users too.
The number of online trading platforms has exploded in the past decade and platforms like eToro make it easy to copy successful traders even if you have no experience.
Before going any further however, there’s an important difference to be aware of between stock trading software and stock trading platforms.
In these reviews we look at stock trading platforms that actually allow you to trade stocks, commodities, cryptocurrencies and more.
Stock trading software is slightly different as it mainly concerns technical analysis tools that help you analyze stocks and trends to make better trading decisions.
If this interests you, we recommend checking out our look at the top stock trading software for Mac to help complement the trading platforms featured here.
Essential Tips On Stock Trading Platforms
- Almost all online stock brokers are free to sign-up for but require a minimum deposit before you can trade. This is usually anything from around $50 upwards. Some like SureTrader offer incentives of $50 of free trades if you open an account with large deposits. Most offer demo accounts where you can trade virtual currency before trading with real cash.
- Trade platforms make money either by setting commissions for trades or via what’s known as the spread. If a broker claims to offer commission free trades, they’re usually making money by widening the spread on trades. Some trading platforms also allow you to open a margin account which allows you to borrow from the broker. The lower the margin rate, the better and you’ll find that this rate will decrease the more you borrow.
- Don’t get sucked in by online trading platforms that claim to be “for Mac” but in reality are Java apps. Some trading platforms claim to be “the best stock trading platform for Mac” but are actually based on Java and we don’t recommend any apps that are based on Java for many reasons.
- Some trading platforms based outside of the USA are not available to users in the USA due to strict laws on CFDs (Contract For Difference) and the Dodd-Frank Act. eToro is one of the most notable trading sites that still isn’t available in the United States although the good news is it is now possible for users in the USA to trade cryptos with eToro.
- Don’t get caught into the trap of chasing losses or opening margins that are larger than you can afford. All online trading platforms are legally obliged to display clear warnings that you should only trade with funds you can afford to lose. Most trading platforms allow you to configure stop-loss limits that automatically stop or block trades once the market has reached a certain level. We strongly recommend using these triggers as chasing your losses can be a very rapid downward spiral. British trader Nick Leeson infamously found out to his cost when chasing losses on the futures market brought down an entire bank.
- As a rule of thumb, stocks and retirement funds are generally less risky than options, futures and Forex because the latter are based on speculation of future performance rather than current face value. Of course, the payoff is also higher with such trades because the risk is much greater.
Whichever platform you choose, the most important thing you can do is take a disciplined approach to day trading.
If you’re serious about trading stocks, you need to treat it like any other job with discipline, commitment and patience.
With these things in mind, the following are our picks of the best stock trading platforms for Mac in order of ranking.
eToro has rapidly become one of the biggest stock trading platforms out there with an estimated 5 million users and covers just about every major trading asset including Currencies, Indices and Commodities (CFDs).
It’s important to be aware from the start that users in the USA can’t use eToro for stock trading due to strict rules on CFDs (Contract For Difference). However, eToro is finally available for cryptocurrency trading in the US although stock trading is still only available in the rest of the World.
What makes eToro different to most stock trading platforms is that it focuses on connecting traders in order to harness collective experiences and knowledge in stock trading.
eToro could therefore be described as a “social network stock trading tool” which aims to pool the experience of traders so that everyone wins. If you imagine what would happen if you mixed Facebook with a stock trading platform, then you get a good idea of what eToro is like.
eToro is a secure trading platform as it is European based and therefore subject to strict European banking laws with all funds kept in European banks.
eToro’s biggest selling point is the eToro CopyTrader system that allows you to copy the trades of expert traders. It’s an excellent starting point for anyone new to trading as you effectively earn and learn at the same time. You can copy just individual trades or entire portfolios of the most successful traders.
This social trading network doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to make money but it does mean that your trades are more likely to succeed and provides a guiding hand for beginners.
You can only use a maximum of 40% of your capital on copy trades but you can set limits on when to stop copying if losses exceed a certain amount.
Although professional traders may look at eToro and think it too lightweight, there’s something in it for them too. Successful traders can also earn commission on the profits of other users that copy them through the Popular Investor Program.
While this may all sound like money for nothing but it’s not that straightforward.
You must also be careful when selecting a trader to copy on eToro however as some may appear more successful than they actually are or are using very little capital in the hope that others will copy them and they’ll earn commission off it.
Many of the traders on eToro appear to be quite high risk traders which carries with it high potential returns but obvious risks too.
Another tip is to look for Verified Traders as those traders use their real identities ad verified by eToro and therefore you reduce the risk of following “fake” profiles.
eToro is however still arguably the best trading platform for beginners as the CopyTrader system makes it very suitable for trading novices.
Trading costs for eToro vary on a daily basis and depend on what type of asset you’re trading.
You can open an account with as little as $50 although this can vary from region to region.
The best thing to do is sign up for a free eToro demo account which allows you to paper trade with $100,000 in order to see if it’s for you or not.
For a more in-depth look we recommended reading our full eToro review.
What we like about Tastyworks is that not only is it fresh and original, but it’s one of the only trading platforms that allows you to download a Mac desktop client.
You can download the Mac client for free although you need to sign-up for a Tastyworks account before you can use it.
Alternatively, you can also use Tastytrade directly in your browser without downloading and installing the client.
Tastyworks is also known for its extremely competitive pricing and its own lively rolling news network.
The pricing system for Tastyworks is refreshingly simple and very cheap.
There is are no closing commission charges – you only get charged a flat fee for opening trades i.e. $1.00 for options, $5.00 for stocks and $2.50 for futures contracts (although there are extra opening and closing fees on contracts).
What also makes the Tastyworks interface different to most stock trading software is that it’s integrated with the rolling news Tastytrade network. Although this is not essential, it is a bit more lively and entertaining than just ticker feeds and graphs.
There’s a rich supply of straight talking stock market analysis and we also like the Tastytrade blog which provides some accessible analysis of the latest stock market movements such as this on the floating of Snapchat.
There’s also a Tastytrade iPhone app for trading on the go.
Tastytrade is overall a very accessible trading platform that’s ideal for those new to trading because of its lack of jargon.
If you’re looking to get started in stock trading, don’t want the hassle of a separate broker and trading platform and want both a transparent pricing policy with a native Mac client, Tastytrade is definitely worth checking out.
If you can trade it, then it’s probably on the XM Trading platform.
While many platforms limit the range of instruments you can trade, XM allows you to trade pretty much anything including Forex, CFDs on Stock Indices, Commodities, Stocks, Metals, Energies and Cryptocurrencies.
Although XM doesn’t have a dedicated Mac client, what we do like is that it has created its own standalone version of MetaTrader for Mac.
MT4 and MT5 are not normally available for Mac although there are ways to install MetaTrader on Mac although we think XM provides the best solution of all.
You can download the XM MetaTrader for Mac client and it works on High Sierra although you’ll need an XM account to use it.
XM is regulated by the FCA in the UK, ASIC in Australia and CySEC in Cyprus so it’s also one of the most highly regulated trading platforms you can use.
XM also offers some of the most lowest spreads available, a professional interface and excellent customer service.
The XM platform is available in most major languages with multilingual support staff if you need help.
You can sign-up for an XM demo account with $100,000 of virtual currency to see what you think before trading for real.
Although AvaTrade is mainly specialized in Forex trading and CFDs, it does it really well indeed.
What we like is that although AvaTrade also doesn’t have a Mac desktop client, it allows Mac users to use an online version of MetaTrader.
Although there are a few other platforms that provide a “wrapped” emulated version of MetaTrader for Mac, AvaTrade’s own online version of looks and works far better in our opinion.
There’s also a dedicated MT4 iOS app too.
AvaTrade offers over 250 trading instruments including currency pairs, vanilla options and CFDs on commodities, stocks and indices. It also includes some of the most comprehensive Cryptocurrency trading including Bitcoin and Ethereum but also the latest cryptocurrencies to emerge such as Ripple, Dash and Litecoin.
AvaTrade manages to find a good balance between being accessible to beginners but also features enough advanced technical analysis tools for professional traders.
Especially for Forex, AvaTrade includes some of the most comprehensive and easy to follow trading tutorials you’ll find anywhere. This material is not only aimed at beginners however, it’s constantly updated with the latest trends and developments in Forex trading to help seasoned professionals be better Forex traders.
The Sharp Trader part of the platform makes trading accessible with a good mix of materials for both beginners and market analysis for professional traders.
There are special welcome bonuses for trading crypto starting at $35 for up to $299 investment and $14,000 if you invest $40,000+.
As an introduction to Forex trading, spread betting, stock CFD trading and social trading, AvaTrade is a an excellent trading platform.
You can sign-up for AvaTrade for free to try it for yourself.
ETrade is one of the biggest names in online trading and is a powerful online stocks, options and futures trading platform.
In 2016, ETrade bought online trading platform OptionsHouse in an attempt to compete better in derivatives trading but the company has pretty much maintained most of the original OptionsHouse features and interface.
The main selling point of the OptionsHouse platform on ETrade is that it covers a huge range of stock trading areas, it’s well presented and designed and is easy to use for beginners.
However, one of the big attractions of OptionsHouse was that it offered some of the most competitive trading rates on the market with a flat fee of $4.95 per trade and Options at just 50 cents per contract.
ETrade has increased these prices a little to $6.95 per trade although if you make more than 30 trades per Quarter, you will only be charged $4.95 per month like the old OptionsHouse rates. The same goes for Contracts which cost 75 cents per trade or 50 cents per trade for more than 30 trades per Quarter.
The range of trading possible with OptionsHouse ETrade is still impressive covering Stocks, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs and Bonds. It also includes Futures trading with the ability to see Futures contract prices in real-time, see depth of market and working orders.
Whichever area you choose to trade in, you can trade, cancel or modify orders easily and see your current position, gains, losses and cost basis clearly at all times.
The main dashboard is quite well-organized with charted movement in the middle and market symbols along the right hand side. Positions, gains and losses are clearly displayed down the left-hand side of the interface.
OptionsHouse also has a dedicated iOS app for iPad and iPhone that’s recently been revamped. The new app is clearer and better organized than the old one and is still probably the best mobile stock trading app we’ve tried.
The OptionsHouse iPhone and iPad apps allow you to do pretty much everything you can do on your Mac desktop and includes streaming data for quotes, charts and news.
OptionsHouse certainly has some very powerful market analysis tools to help you trade but it definitely helps if you have some experience in stocks and options trading to understand and get the most out of.
However, if you can master it, OptionsHouse analytical tools offer real-time market data, speedy executions of trades but most importantly, allows you to identify opportunities that you would otherwise miss.
OptionsHouse can also evaluate risk vs reward, show you different outcomes based on different market scenarios and alert you to potential profitable trades.
You can try OptionsHouse commission free for 60 days and to judge whether it’s the right trading software for you.
Depending on how much you invest from the start, you can also get up to $2500 in welcome bonus although for that you’ll need to invest a cool $1,000,000.
If you open an Individual, Joint, or IRA account with a minimum of $5,000, you can also get $1000 in commission free trades.
Although this doesn’t work quite as well as XM or AvaTrade’s solution, it’s still functional. Admiral Market’s wrapped version of MetaTrader on Mac allows you to enjoy things such as Live Quotes, 1-Click Trading, Unlimited Charts and more.
However, note that auto trading such as via Expert Advisors may not work well with custom indicators and robot traders and add-ons such as MetraTrader Market do not work.
To install MT4 on your Mac, you simply download MT4 for Mac from Admiral Markets and drag the app to your Applications folder.
Note that it’s quite a big download at 200MB so it might take some time to download.
Since the app is not downloaded from the Mac App Store, you’ll also have to change the setting on Gatekeeper to allow apps from anywhere to install MT4 on your Mac.
Gatekeeper is designed to protect your Mac from malicious software or malware on Mac. We advise changing it back to “Mac App Store and identified developers” after you’ve installed MT4 on your Mac.The functionality of automated trading or Expert Advisors differs depending on the EA you want to use but you can install EAs on Mac by doing the following. To install scripts or EAs you need to right-click on the MT4 application icon and select “Show Package Contents”:
Double-click on “Drive_C” to reveal the MetaTrader file structure. You can them simply drag and drop your scripts, robot traders and other EAs but be sure to check whether they work effectively.
One issue you may notice is that the fonts don’t display properly or don’t look right in MT4 on your Mac. You can fix this by downloading the fonts from Admiral Markets and running the installer.
As mentioned earlier, auto trading via MT4 on Mac is not guaranteed to work well and if you intend to use MT4 in auto trading mode, you’re far better installing Parallels on Mac which will allow you to run the Windows version as we explain here.
If you’re a Windows user that’s recently switched to Mac and want to use MT5, Admiral Markets is a good option.
There’s also an MT5 iPhone app for trading on the go plus apps for Windows phones and Android.
SureTrader is a Bahamas-based online stock trading platform that’s a division of Swiss America Securities Ltd.
Although SureTrader only has a Window desktop client, the SureTrader ActiveWeb interface looks really good on macOS.
The biggest attraction of SureTrader is the trading fees which are some of the most competitive in the industry.
SureTrader charges zero routing on all trades with a $50 maximum charge on trades. You can even get 6:1 intraday and 2:1 overnight leverage on marginal securities.
SureTrader offers some of the most attractive account incentives in the industry too and is also currently offering $50 of free trades with promo code 500NUS.
You can also try a free SureTrader demo account with $100,000 virtual currency to get you started.
TD Ameritrade is one of the biggest US-based stock brokerage sites with no trade minimums and a fixed charge of $9.99 per online stock trade.
TD Ameritrade features useful tools such as a Heat Map to pinpoint market strengths and weaknesses, Stock Watch Lists, Independent Market Research, CNBC integration and even an idea generation tool to help you come-up with new trade inspiration.
Although there’s no desktop client, one thing we really like about Ameritrade is that the web interface is surprisingly customizable for a Cloud based tool.
The “My Dock” feature allows you to add 4 columns of streaming data that stay with you as you navigate the site, and to a certain extend, you can structure the interface to your liking.
Ameritrade is a highly accomplished trading platform that also offers a 60 day commission free trial.
Plus500 is a Cypriot web-based trading platform which offers trading on Forex, Stocks, Shares, Commodities, Indices, CFDs and ETFs.
Although there is a Windows desktop application, the web app looks very slick on Mac.
There’s also a Plus500 Android app which has been downloaded between 1-5 million timed according to the Google Play store with an average rating of 4.2 out of 5.
However, such ratings and figures should be taken with a pinch of salt as pointed out by the Financial Times when it looked at the methods online stock trading sites use to promote themselves.
Plus500 allows you to trade with a free demo account until you are comfortable trading.
These are the best trading platforms for Mac users. As we’ve seen, there are very few that cater specifically for Mac users but there are clearly some that try more than others.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions regarding the apps featured here, let us know in the comments below.
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