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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.

 

 

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How to Install ThinkOrSwim Indicators, Studies, Scans, Columns & Strategies [VIDEO]

Install ThinkOrSwim Indicators

ThinkOrSwim is a great platform, but let’s face it: some things are just plain confusing. Luckily, some of us have already been through the trial and error and know how to do a lot of the stuff you want to know how to do. So in this tutorial, I’ll go through a few of those things. In particular, I’m going to teach you how to install ThinkOrSwim indicators and other thinkScripts.

There are actually 2 methods for installing thinkScripts.

    1. Clicking the sharing links
    2. Copying and pasting the sharing links manually

We’ll go through each on in it’s turn. I’ve also included a video below that will walk you through each and every method except the first one, since it’s pretty easy.

VIDEO TABLE OF CONTENTS:
0:59 How to Install a SCAN
2:01 How to Load a scan in the main StockHacker scanner window after installing it
2:12 How to Load a scan in a sidebar watchlist widget – refreshes automatically every 3 minutes
2:53 How to Install a COLUMN
3:17 How to Load a column on a sidebar watchlist after installing it
3:54 How to change the timeframe of a column
4:07 How to install an INDICATOR or chart study
4:34 How to load an indicator or study onto a chart after installing it
5:09 How to install a STRATEGY file
5:26 How to load a strategy file onto a chart after installing it
5:43 Summary and recap

How to Find Your ThinkOrSwim Import Links

If you’ve just purchased an indicator on our site, all your links will in the My Account section under Orders. First, mouse over the “My Account” menu item at the top right of the page, then click “Orders” in the drop-down menu:

finding your thinkorswim links

On the next page, you’ll see all your orders. Click the one you’re interested in viewing the links for:

thinkorswim orders page

When your order details page pops up, you’ll see your import links below, as well as your file downloads should you want them later:

thinkorswim order details with sharing links

Now that you have your import links, it’s time to go through the actual installation process.

Method 1: Clicking the ThinkOrSwim Sharing Links

This method is pretty easy and straight-forward. Or so you would think anyway. Each ThinkScript can be shared with its own unique “tos.mx” sharing link. Clicking one of these links will take you to a page on ThinkOrSwim’s website where you can confirm what the script is. The page looks like this:

install thinkorswim indicators with sharing links, confirmation page

Then if you approve, you can click the green confirmation button (the one that says “Scan now in thinkorswim”). The file should be automatically imported into your TOS application.

I say should because it doesn’t work on all systems. Specifically those where TOS isn’t installed for all users. For those lucky traders, the green button will ask you to reinstall TOS. But if you don’t want to do that, no problem! You’ll just need to skip to method two below.

Method 2: Copying & Pasting the TOS Sharing Links

If the automatic link method above doesn’t seem to work, don’t fret. Just go into your ThinkOrSwim application, and click the “Setup” menu in the top right corner (gear icon). In the dropdown menu that appears, click “Open shared item”.

install thinkorswim indicators by copying sharing links step 1

Then a box will pop up, and you can simply copy and paste the link into the space that says “Shared item URL”. You have to go through this process one link at a time unfortunately. After you paste in the link, click “Preview”:

install thinkorswim indicators by copying sharing links step 2

The program will load the link into memory and grab the name so you’ll know for sure what you’re importing. If everything looks good, then click “Open”:

install thinkorswim indicators by copying sharing links step 3

A confirmation dialog box will pop up telling you the script has been imported and given a machine-generated name. Click “Rename” to change the name to something that will be easy for you to find in an alphabetical list later:

how to install thinkorswim indicators by copying sharing links step 4

Remember to give it an easy to remember name, but something unique as well:

install thinkorswim indicators by copying sharing links step 5

Voila! You’re done. The script has been imported and saved under your chosen name. See the end of this post for instructions on how to load and use each of the scripts you’ve just imported.

Now that you’ve figured out how to get the code into ThinkOrSwim, it’s time to actually activate the code and start using it. Here’s a brief rundown of how to find and activate thinkScripts that you’ve recently imported into ThinkOrSwim…

How To Load a Chart Study or Indicator

If you were importing a chart study (or indicator), then you just need to go to charts > studies > edit studies, and search for the script name in the list. Then double-click to add it to the chart (or click “Add Selected” below), and then click OK to apply the changes:

add a thinkorswim study or strategy to chart

Keep in mind if you didn’t give the study a name during the import process, it might be in the alphabetical list under “Fs” for “From Easycators on XYZ Date”, so be sure to check the “Fs” if you don’t see the study/indicator after searching.

How To Load a Strategy File

If you were importing a strategy file, then you’ll still go to the Charts > Studies > Edit Studies window, but instead of searching in the normal list of studies, you’ll switch to the “Strategies” tab on the top left corner of the Edit Studies window, and then search in that list for the strategy file:

thinkorswim strategies
thinkorswim strategies

Again, keep in mind if you didn’t give it a name during the import process, it might be in the alphabetical list under “Fs” for “From Easycators on XYZ Date”, so be sure to check the “Fs” if you don’t see the strategy after searching.

How To Load a StockHacker Scan

If the link you just imported was a scan, a window will pop up with the scanner rules ready-to-go. Just click scan and watch it work. You might have to resize and expand the window to see the results. Or you can close that popup and load the scan in your main window as well. You can access your scans at any time from the dark gray menu on the top right:

how to load a thinkorswim stockhacker scan query

Keep in mind if you didn’t give the Scan a name during the import process, it might be in the alphabetical list under “Fs” for “From Easycators on XYZ Date”, so be sure to check the “Fs” if you don’t see the scan after searching.

How to Load a Custom Quote or Watchlist Column

If you just imported a column thinkScript, there are a couple of ways to activate and use it. You can use columns in the MarketWatch Quotes tab, or in the StockHacker or OptionsHacker scan tabs, or on a sidebar watchlist on the left hand side of the window. In either case, you’ll first right-click anywhere on the column headers and select “Customize…”

add a watchlist quote column step 1

A window pops open with a list of columns you can add. Just find the column name in the alphabetical list, and double-click to add it to the right hand side. Then click OK:

add a watchlist quote column step 2

The column will now appear on your quote screen (whichever column header you had originally right-clicked on):

add a watchlist quote column step 3

Keep in mind if you didn’t give the Column a name during the import process, it might be in the alphabetical list under “Fs” for “From Easycators on XYZ Date”, so be sure to check the “Fs” if you don’t see the column after searching.

Conclusion

That should just about do it. Now you should have all your scans, strategies, columns, and studies/indicators imported and installed. Not only that, but if you went through the second part of the tutorial, you should have the thinkScripts added to your screens and ready to roll.

If you find you’re still unsure of how to do something, check out my video. I walk through almost all of these methods on the screen for you, and it should help you figure out anything you missed:

If you have any questions or issues, please post a comment below!