I am using a multi-monitor setup for online trading with Interactive Brokers Trader WorkStation or TWS in short. The stock trading software allows you to open many stock charts and windows at the same, taking advantage of the desktop space. By trying to make the most out of it while day trading, all 4 monitors display trading graphs, account and quote information.
Starting from the first monitor on the left, there are 9 stock charts there showing 1 minute bar graphs. I usually display the charts of the stocks I currently hold or I am about to trade. In this way, in case I want to get out quickly if a stock reverses, it just takes me a moment to verify the reversal and trade out without sacrificing a lot of profit. If on the other hand the stock doesn’t perform the way I predicted, I can trade out before my stop loss hits. However these bar graphs are also helpful when scanning the stock market for trading opportunities. I often scan the stocks sorted by volume traded and I can scan almost 10 stocks at once. If I don’t find something worth noting, I move on to the next 9 stocks until all 9 stock charts are occupied by stocks that are in my watch list. I always display 1-minute bar graphs in this monitor, since I am day trading and looking for quick trades.
In the next monitor, my TWS shows my margin trading account details containing available funds and current buying power so that I know how much money I am able to invest, my trades and my portfolio, along with the main TWS interface which I am using to sort out the stocks according to volume or % change. While the “Trades” window and “Portfolio” window is more or less the same thing, I believe they are both necessary to a day trader, as he can keep track of P/L, verify stop loss and take profit orders, while with a quick peek he immediately knows where he stands.
Moving to the right this monitor is dedicated to Forex trading. Three currency pairs’ trading charts are displayed there right above the IB TWS’ main Forex window, called FX Trader. For each currency pair two graphs are shown but the time scale is different depending on the circumstances. Usually the top charts are 1-minute or 5-minute bar graphs and the bottom charts are 15-minute graphs. This monitor is also used when I launch the BookTrader window to start a trade. Although Interactive Brokers Trader WorkStation allows to trade from the chart (called Chart Trader) and place any kind of orders, I prefer BookTrader to trade in or out of the market.
Finally, in the last monitor there are 4 stock trading graphs, all displaying the same stock. These charts help me when scanning the stock market and making decisions. The first row contains a daily chart going back one year and a 30-minute stock chart of the last 30 days. The bottom row shows the 5-minute chart of the last 5 days and the 1-minute stock chart. When I decide that the stock in question is worth watching, I add its 1-minute chart to the leftmost monitor as I already mentioned.
So when I start scanning the stock market before the regular trading hours, I use the last monitor to find long and short-term entry signals. When the stock market is open I use the left monitor with the 1-minute stock charts, although occasionally the forth monitor helps to see the big picture when a tough decision has to be made. Regarding technical analysis and shown indicators, at the time of writing I had MACD displayed and nothing else. I try to keep the charting tools simple and look for resistance and support levels along with basic trend lines. There are so many stocks, options, bonds and CFDs to pick from, that I believe you don’t need to trade every stock you scan, rather than pick the stocks that you immediately predict future movements. Open up the charts, if you can’t find an entry signal in half a minute, move to the next stock. There will surely be charts that favor easy predictions.