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Tutorial – Scanning with Options Hacker in ThinkOrSwim

thinkorswim tutorial options hacker how to add filters

Scanning with Options Hacker: A ThinkOrSwim Tutorial

I noticed that there is not very much information out there on the Options Hacker scanner for TOS. Because of that, I wanted to do a quick ThinkOrSwim tutorial on Options Hacker and at least note some of the differences between it and Stock Hacker to clear up some of the confusion. This article will explain the basic features of Options Hacker, and the steps to setting up a custom option scan in Think-Or-Swim. It also notes the differences between the Stock Hacker and Options Hacker scanners.

Options Hacker Differences

So why can’t you just use Stock Hacker? Well, you can, and sometimes it may be easier. But Options Hacker is good for keeping the two types of scans separate and keeping your settings the same when switching back and forth between trading and analyzing the two.

In Options Hacker, you will still be filtering down a list of stocks first of all, just like in Stock Hacker. You can use all your normal filters: price, volume, average volume, price performance, etc. You can even add custom study filters here for the underlying stocks. It’s important to note that the study filters only work for the stocks. You can’t currently program any custom studies to use for option filters. You can use the new Fundamental Filters they just recently made available in TOS. These can be very helpful for you value investors and longer-term traders out there.

After you get the stocks narrowed down to only the ones you would be interested in, now it’s time to filter down the stock options. Here you can add any option attribute available: open interest, delta, price, etc.  You can’t currently scan for option bid-ask spread, but with a custom column I made, you can at least sort the results to show the lowest spreads at the top.

Thinkorswim Options Hacker: add filters
Thinkorswim Options Hacker: How to add different types of stock & option filters to your scan.

Saving Your Option Scan

To Save your new options scan, click on the lower menu icon on the top right corner (see gif) and select “Save Scan Query”. Once you’ve given it a name, it will show up in your list of custom scans under the “Personal” section. To load any scan, including this one, simply click the same menu icon and select “Load Scan Query.” Then move your mouse over the Personal section of the menu, which is in alphabetical order, to whatever you named your scan. When you click on the name it will automatically load onto the scanner window below.

Thinkorswim tutorial on Options Hacker - how to save and load a scan
Thinkorswim Tutorial – how to save and load a scan in Options Hacker

Hopefully that helps. One of the most confusing things about Options Hacker is that the Study filters don’t work on options, they only work on stocks. You might think since it’s called Options Hacker, when you scan for the closing price or the ATR, it would be calculating those with the options prices. But that’s just not the case currently. You can only use the built in options filters to filter the options, you have to use the other types of filters for the underlying stocks.

For those of you who are more visual learners, I also made a short video where I show you how to set up a customized option scan in think or swim. In it, I show you step by step how to add stock filters, option filters, and custom study filters for the underlying stock. I show you how to narrow and sort the results, and finally, how to save the scan to use later. You can find the full video at the bottom of this post.