The immensely popular Apple Mac attracts more people today than ever before for its classy design and seamless user experience. Yet, while Macs are the go-to laptop of choice for many, aspiring and experienced traders may feel like trading platforms are more geared toward PC users. In this article, we highlight some of the best trading platforms for Mac users and show you why trading on a Mac has never been easier!
What type of instruments do you want to trade? How much will the broker charge you in commissions? How intuitive is the user experience on your Mac? Our guide to the Best Trading Platforms for Mac Users in 2020 will address all these questions and provide you everything you need to know to choose the right platform and start trading today.
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How is trading on a Mac different from trading on a PC?
While the user experience on a Mac is unparalleled, it is often considered simpler to trade on a PC, mainly because of the greater compatibility with trading platforms.
Today, most brokers offer web and mobile-based platforms that allow users of all operating systems to trade and benefit from functions for both beginner and intermediate traders. A web-based interface usually offers everything most trader needs, but advanced traders may seek more customization options and look toward popular desktop platforms such as MetaTrader 4 or 5 for their activities.
What is MetaTrader and can I access it with my Mac?
MetaTrader 4 is a desktop trading platform that offers a very wide array of analysis & charting tools, as well as several customization options. It is one of the world’s most popular desktop trading platforms, and many brokers (including some of the ones listed below) integrate their platform into the MT4 API to allow you to trade with them from this sophisticated desktop application.
Unfortunately, MetaTrader 4 is 32-bit application that is no longer compatible with Macs that updated to OS Catalina. Older Macs that did not update can still use it, but the others will instead have to go for MetaTrader 5, the newer and 62-bit version of one of the world’s most popular desktop platforms. Some alternatives to MT4 and MT5 exist, including ProTrader and cTrader, but most of them either do not have Mac versions or do not have popular brokers offering integration with their desktop platforms.
The good news is that MetaTrader4 can still be accessed on a Mac if you need, via a Windows emulator software like Wine (free) or others. In addition, several brokers (such as AvaTrade) have their own version of MetaTrader that can be imported on Mac, making the experience much simpler. The most advanced traders may find that some functionalities are missing and may prefer to trade on a PC, but the vast majority of traders will have no problem trading from the comfort of their Mac, either via an emulator or via the brokers’ web-based trading platforms!
What Criteria do we use to choose the Best Mac Trading Platforms?
- How user-friendly is the platform on a Mac?
- How many financial instruments does the broker list?
- How much does the broker charge in trading fees and commissions?
- What trading features and charting tools does the broker offer?
Best Mac Trading Platforms in 2020
Plus500: A highly advanced proprietary trading platform
Plus500 is a popular and highly reputable online trading platform provider headquartered in Israel but with subsidiaries in the UK, Singapore, South Africa, Australia, and Cyprus. It operates feature-rich trading platforms available to both Mac and PC users in easy to use web-trader platform. Here, you get to trade a full range of financial instruments (Forex, Stocks in most major markets, ETFs, Commodities, Cryptocurrencies) in the form of CFDs.
Plus500 is specially designed to suit the needs of the expert trader by integrating both its web and mobile trading platforms with a host of technical analysis tools. In addition, there is a free demo account where one can try and perfect their strategy.
The fee structure of Plus500 is extremely transparent, with no commissions on trades, no deposit and withdrawal fees, variable but highly competitive spreads and a standard suite of fees for overnight positions, guaranteed stop-loss orders, and currency conversion tool in your account.
Opening an account with Plus500 is easy and straightforward, with a process fully online and a low minimum deposit. Mac or PC user, you will be set up to trade in less than a day.
While Plus500 offers little in the way of trader education tools and has fewer customization options than some of its peers, you can easily set up notifications when prices or sentiment (ratio of buyers to sellers) change for instruments on your watchlist. The platform also offers great charting tools & a neat economic calendar to see upcoming macro events.
- Intuitive proprietary web platform & mobile app for Mac and iOS
- Low variable spread and transparent fees
- Thousands of tradable CFDs instruments available
- No MT4 or MT5 integration
- Limited customization options
- Not available to US traders
Libertex: Great design & commissions-based for traders averse to spreads
Libertex is a large Forex and CFD broker based in Cyprus, with over 2 million users around the world. Its trading platform is intuitive and web-based, making it accessible for both Mac and PC users. A well-designed mobile app will also help you keep track of your positions and trade on the go.
Libertex offers CFDs for hundreds of instruments, from popular Stocks, Indices and ETFs to Commodities, popular Cryptocurrencies and a wide range of Forex pairs. The platform allows retail traders to leverage their positions up to 30:1 with varying conditions, and can offer up to 600:1 leverage to professional clients.
Unlike many of its peers, Libertex does not charge spreads, charging commissions instead (ranging from 0.03%–1% for most non-levered trades). Beginners can start trading with a free demo account before deciding to trade with their own money.
Advanced traders and Mac users that installed the MetaTrader 4 platform via an emulator (or that access it from the web) can also benefit from the integrated Libertex tool and access the large amount of customization MT4 provides. While customization on the Libertex platform is limited, it offers useful charting and analysis tools with a useful embedded newsfeed to get trading signals from selected websites.
New Mac traders will greatly benefit from the simplicity of the Libertex platform while more experienced ones will enjoy the powerful integration with MetaTrader 4 for all the customization it offers.
- Simple web platform with MT4 integration
- Commissions-based, no spreads
- Hundreds of instruments across asset classes
- Limited number of instruments
- Limited customization on web platform
- Not available to US traders
AvaTrade: One of the industry’s most established players
AvaTrade is specialized in Forex trading, CFDs and Cryptocurrencies, offering thousands of instruments (including major currency pairs & cryptocurrencies) to choose from. As one of the oldest online brokerages, AvaTrade today is one of the most regulated platforms (licensed in Europe & UK, Australia, Japan and South Africa) despite not being available in the USA.
Its high growth and popularity among retail traders, PC and Mac users alike, has led it to announce a major partnership with Premier League team Manchester City, a clear sign of its status as one of the most successful online trading platforms.
AvaTrade’s platform is easy to use and accessible online for Mac users, with a mobile app to complement it. AvaTrade also recently developed a tool to integrate it into the popular MetaTrader 4 platform, allowing Mac users with access to MT4 via Wine to trade from their desktops.
AvaTrade’s trading platform offers a wide range of assets with up to 30:1 leverage, a full range of order types (limit, trailing stop, pending orders etc.), a series of powerful charting and analysis tools and a customizable dashboard to create multiple watchlists.
It also boasts an internal mailing system, social features like DupliTrade (a similar tool to eToro’s famous CopyTrade), a trading academy for beginners (SharpTrader) and integrated trading strategies (Fibonacci levels, Moving Average C/D etc.) for more advanced traders.
AvaTrade offers 24/7 cryptocurrency trading, a 24-hour customer service in 15 languages, and endless customization options, including the ability for Mac desktop users to install custom indicators or trading scripts in their AvaTrade terminal on the MT4 platform. Notably, AvaTrade is one of the only large brokers to offer special Islamic finance-compatible accounts, fully compliant with Sharia law provisions on interests.
Last, on top of its ease of use and many features for advanced traders, AvaTrade does not charge commissions on trades but mainly covers its costs through modest spreads and overnight fees on leverage. Mac users, beginners and sophisticated traders alike, will be delighted with all that AvaTrade has in store.
- Very user-friendly platform with MT4 integration
- Low spreads, no commissions, clear fees
- Wide range of tools & customization options
- Not available to US traders
Investous: A new, award-winning trading platform
Investous is a relatively new Forex, Cryptocurrencies & CFDs broker that opened in 2018 and is based in Cyprus. It offers a custom Forex trading platform and integration into the popular MetaTrader 4 platform (and its mobile version) for more advanced users, but does not have its own mobile app. Mac users can use the web interface (through the MT4 WebTrader platforms), and seasoned traders are able to integrate Investous from the MT4 desktop version, available on Mac via Wine or any other emulator.
Over 270 underlying assets are available to trade via CFDs, including Forex, Stocks, Commodities, Indices and Cryptocurrencies, with available leverage as high as 30:1 for risk-seeking traders (up to 400:1 for professional clients).
The Investous WebTrader interface is clean & easy to use and offers a wide range of charting and analysis tools (Fibonacci retracements, arcs, cycle lines, linear regressions etc.), with dozens of indicators for intermediate & advanced traders. Mac users who access Investous via the MT4 desktop platform will have access to an even wider range of tools that will suit traders of all levels.
If you’re new to the world of trading, Investous offers the possibility to start trading with a free demo account until you feel comfortable using your own money. Thereafter, you will choose between 4 different account types (based on the minimum size of your deposit). The larger the deposit, the lower the spreads & fees you will be charged.
More premium accounts also come with advanced trading lessons, monthly webinars, withdrawal fees waivers and much more. All account types can however access Investous’ daily news & signals, a handy economic calendar, and a range of notifications & alerts to monitor their positions.
Last, while some may see Investous as the “new kid on the block”, the platform managed to make a name for itself in its first year on the market by winning the Best Trading Platform and Best Execution Broker from the Forex Awards in 2018.
- Wide range of tools & customization options
- Modest spreads, no commissions, clear fees
- Limited number of instruments
- Spreads sometimes higher than rivals
- Not available to US traders
eToro: An immensely popular trading & social platform, open (Crypto-only) to US traders
For Mac and PC users alike, eToro has become one of the most popular online trading platforms in Europe, with over 5 million users and thousands of financial instruments (stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrencies, Commodities etc.) for you to trade.
eToro has been around in Europe since 2007 and has recently developed its activities in the United States. In the USA however, eToro currently only offers cryptocurrencies, but a much larger offering covering stock trading is planned for 2020.
eToro is very easy to use, with a social media-like interface and a well-designed mobile app. Signing up is fast, customer service is very responsive, and the platform offers the option to sign up for a free demo account to practice paper trading before deciding to use your money.
A unique feature of the eToro experience is the social dimension of the platform, allowing users to follow others and place “CopyTrades” to replicate the future performance of other traders. You can browse the past performance and the risk profile of other traders, decide which (if any) of them you wish to emulate, and use the CopyTrader function to trade alongside them. This feature does not only allow you to follow one or more traders, but also gives you an overview of how other traders in the market are behaving, which can help inform your own trading decisions.
Note that in the USA, CopyTrading is only available for 15 major cryptocurrencies (with new ones being added) & cryptocurrency traders based in the USA.
While CopyTrader can be a way for you to trade without following the markets regularly or to make extra income, don’t forget the two most essential rules of investing: (1) past performance is not indicative of future performance and (2) with higher reward comes higher risk. A trader that had double-digit returns in the past is likely to use high-risk strategies and could lose a lot of money in the future.
eToro does not charge trading commissions, instead deriving its profits from a spread (difference between price to buy & price to sell) and other types of fees (leverage, overnight positions, currency conversion etc.). In line with their excellent user interface, eToro does a great job at making its fees very clear to its clients.
Last, the account verification process is quick and easy, and eToro offers a range of charting, risk management (stop-loss etc.), newsfeed & comparison tools that will perfectly suit the needs of amateur and experienced Mac traders alike!
- Clean, easy-to-use interface for the Mac user
- Low spreads, no commissions, transparent fees
- Thousands of instruments available (mainly CFDs)
- No MT4 or MT5 integration
- Crypto-only in the US
Summary – Choosing a Trading Platform for Mac Users
Among the dozens of web-based and desktop trading platforms accessible for Mac users, we reviewed some of the best for beginners and advanced traders alike. From ease of use, number of traded instruments, fees and customization tools, we addressed in this guide the main questions you may have to decide which platforms to choose and use on a Mac.
For more information on how to choose a trading platform, including eligibility requirements, regulatory considerations and other specific issues, have a look at the “What to Consider When Choosing a Trading Platform?” from our more general Best Trading Platforms for 2020 guide!
Glossary of Investment Terms
The trading platform fee refers to the amount a trader pays to use the platform and access its integrated platform features and tools. It can be a one –time fee paid for the acquisition of the trading platform, a subscription fee paid monthly or annually. Others will charge on a per-trade basis with a specific fee per trade.
Cost per trade is also referred to as the base trade fee and refers to the fee that a broker or trading platform charges you every time you place a trade. Some brokers offer volume discounts and charge a lower cost per trade for voluminous trades.
Margin is the money needed in your account to maintain a trade with leverage.
Social trading is a form of trading that allows for the interaction and exchange of trade ideas, signals and trade settings between the different classes of traders.
Copy trading, also known as mirror trading is a form of online trading that lets traders copy trade settings from one another. In most cases, it is the newbies and part-time traders that copy the positions of pro traders. The copiers -in most cases - are then required to surrender a share of the profits made from copied trades – averaging 20% - with the pro traders.
A Financial instrument ideally refers to the proof of ownership of financial commodities of monetary contracts between two parties. In the money markets, financial instruments refer to such elements as shares, stocks, bonds, Forex and crypto CFDs and other contractual obligations between different parties.
An index is an indicator that tracks and measures the performance of a security such as a stock or bond.
Commodities refer to raw materials used in the production and manufacturing of other products or agricultural products. Some of the most popular commodities traded on the exchange markets include energy and gases like oil, agricultural products like corn and coffee, and precious metals like gold and silver.
An ETF is a fund that can be traded on an exchange. The fund is a basket containing multiple securities such as stocks, bonds or even commodities. ETFs allow you to trade the basket without having to buy each security individually.
CFDs are a form of contractual trading that involves speculating on the performance of a particular trade in the market. CFD’s will basically allow you to speculate on the future value of securities such as stocks, currencies and commodities without owning the underlying securities.
The minimum investment simply refers to the lowest amount of capital injection you can deposit into a brokerage or a trading platform. Different brokers demand varied minimum investment amounts from their clients either when registering or opening trade positions.
A daily trading limit is the lowest and highest amount that a security is allowed to fluctuate, in one trading session, at the exchange where it’s traded. Once a limit is reached, trading for that particular security is suspended until the next trading session. Daily trading limits are imposed by exchanges to protect investors from extreme price volatilities.
A day trader is a term used to describe a trader who is constantly opening trades and closing them within a day. It is a common term used to refer to forex traders who open trade and only hold onto it for a few minutes or hours before disposing and having to leave no open trades at the time the trading day closes.
How do I know if a platform is suitable for Mac users?
Most trading platforms today have proprietary web-based interfaces and mobile apps, so Mac and PC users can use them. Mac users that can access the MetaTrader 4 (or similar) platforms on their desktops via an emulator can also connect to trading platforms that integrate in MT4.
Am I at a disadvantage by trading on a Mac?
There is no straightforward answer to this question. As a beginner and intermediate trader, you will not have any trouble trading from your broker's web-based platform. As a more advanced trader, you may need many more customization tools and may find it limiting to access more powerful trading software via an emulator. Nevertheless, the majority of the tools & functions you will need can be accessed on a Mac.
How are trading fees calculated?
There are a number of different ways that trading platforms calculate fees. This can be a fixed fee every time you place a trade (commissions or bid-ask spread) and additional fees (on withdrawal, leverage, overnight positions etc.)
What is leverage?
If an online trading platform offers leverage, this means that you can trade with more than you have in your account. For example, if you apply leverage at a ratio of 10:1, you would only need to fund your trade with 10% of the total investment size.
Will I need to provide ID when I join a trading platform?
In order to remain compliant with its licensing bodies, online trading platforms must confirm your identity before allowing you to trade. You can do this by uploading a copy of your ID and proof of address.
Are commission-free brokers really free?
In reality, there is no such thing as a 'commission-free broker'. Although you might not pay any commissions, you will pay fees indirectly via the spread. You can calculate this by working out the percentage difference between the 'bid' and 'ask' price.
How do I withdraw funds from a trading platform?
Most trading platforms require you to make a withdrawal to your bank account.
What is the fastest way to fund my trading platform account?
If you're looking to deposit funds instantly, you'll need to use a debit or credit card.
What are other factors to look for when choosing a platform to trade on?
There are many factors to take into account. Some of the major ones are: regulation (Is the platform regulated? Is it accessible to people in your jurisdiction?), user-friendliness, fee structure, availability of a mobile app, charting & analysis tools, customization options, integration into popular desktop platforms (e.g. MT4) etc.