The Map to Your Trading Journey

As a trader, your charting software is one of the most important tools you can use. At TradeSmart, we have been using Trade Navigator for a long time. Even though there are flashier versions of charting software out there, Trade Navigator is what we know and prefer.

However, if you are starting your trading journey, you will see all kinds of charting options available and might be unsure which one to choose. Don't let this be a roadblock that stops you from achieving your trading goals. All you need to do is choose the charting software that is right for you at your stage of the journey.

If you're a beginner, we recommend starting with something rather basic in nature because at this point in your journey. You don't need to get bogged down with flashy or advanced metrics. In order to make your way through Foundations of Stocks & Options you need to be able to draw support & resistance lines.

Two examples we mention quite often in class are Trade Navigator and MotiveWave. Let’s take a closer look at these platforms and draw a couple of comparisons. You can find additional information about each of them in Foundations of Stocks & Options classes.

Trade Navigator

Trade Navigator has a free basic version of the software, but you do need pay a small fee for the end of day data. The basic version will provide you with every indicator you’ll need at the beginning of your trading journey. You can always upgrade anytime you’d like, so as you progress as a trader, your software will progress with you. Their monthly data fees range from $30 for stocks & indices end-of-day data to a full market data bundle with back testing for $225.

If you are starting, end-of-day data will serve you perfectly fine for back trading. It is unnecessary at this point to spend anything more than you need to for data. Save your money for trading when the time is right.

Trade Navigator runs natively on PC- if you have a Mac, you’ll need to install software which emulates a Windows environment, such as Parallels or Boot Camp.

Motive Wave

MotiveWave is very affordable at just $99 for a basic license, and they have many plugins that you can utilize when you’re ready to move to the next level. The $99 Charts Edition version does not include historical data or back trading. However, you can achieve a similar effect by manually clicking to the next day. If you would like to add this feature among several others, it is an additional $250.

For $99, it’s a great way to begin. The software itself is what costs money, and this is a one-time fee. The data is up to you to provide, either through Google/Yahoo, which is free but delayed or through your brokerage, if they provide you with data. Some do, others don’t.

One example of a brokerage who provides data that can be utilized with MotiveWave is TradeStation, and their data is real-time data. As Mac users, we love that MotiveWave runs on a Mac natively, which is a personal preference around TradeSmart. MotiveWave is also available for Windows, so essentially anyone can use it.


An additional option is thinkorswim, also known as TOS. There are many benefits to TOS- first off, it’s free when you open a brokerage account. Another big benefit to TOS is that it’s synced up with and exclusively provided by a brokerage, which enables you to trade virtually quite easily.

TOS is also available on Mac or PC, which is also quite appealing Mac users.

TOS offers a slew of indicators, a scanner, real-time data, when you fund your account with TD Ameritrade, or in Canada, TD Waterhouse, and a number of other bells & whistles. Sometimes this proves to be more of a distraction than a benefit at this point in your journey, so bear this in mind as you make your decision.

There is a lot to it, which can be distracting considering everything that is offered. Although there are many benefits, the software itself was a little challenging with a bit of a learning curve.


Similar to TOS is TradeStation. TradeStation is a very powerful piece of software which also has a bit of a learning curve. TradeStation’s brokerage rates are far cheaper than TD Ameritrade’s, which makes them much more appealing. Like TOS, they offer real-time data, scanning, many analysis tools, and have many bells & whistles available, which may be a distraction as a beginning trader.

In closing, there are many options out there for charting software, and if none of these solutions work for you, I would recommend speaking with other students on the TSU social network TradeSmart University Community, read reviews online, and search for yourself. If you have any observations or suggestions to offer to students looking to map their trading journey, feel free to comment below!