Trading on a Mac is something my customers are wanting to do more and more. Mac computers have become popular since the birth of the iPhone in 2007 and personally I love them. But I have to ask “Do they have a place in the trading world?” and if so “What is the best way to run Windows on a Mac?”
The short answer is no, but this is not to say that people will give up their iMac or Apple Mac Notebook easily and telling them too is asking for trouble. So here at the Prestige Trading Software we have been trialling and testing solutions for a few months so customer can get trading on a mac.
Should I use Parallels to run Windows on a Mac?
The first and usually most popular solution is to use Parallels (a piece of software that installs into OSX and lets you install Windows as a virtual machine), this means that you can install and run Windows applications from within OSX. This is great and works very well but in my opinion it’s not the best solution for trading applications and I’ll explain why.
Parallels was made for people that need to run a Windows application from a Mac, but as we know trading applications can use lots of power, especially when you have 4 or more charts open at once. The problem with doing this through Parallels is your mac is running OSX, then on top of that it’s running Parallels, then on top of that it’s running Windows and then on top of that it’s running your charting platform.
They are all fighting to use the RAM and CPU on the Mac, this is why I cannot recommend trading this way. I just don’t advise you risk letting your charting platform suffer from lag. This is not the case for everyone, if you have a Mac with 8gb of RAM and an i7 processor then I think you could get away with it, that’s if you configure Parallels properly and don’t just settle for the default settings.
Remember your trying to make money trading here not play with Mac software, it’s not something you want to mix, yes it can be convenient but it is also unreliable and the data has to go to OSX then Parallels, then Windows and then your charting platform. Don’t make your life harder than it has to be.
So what should I do instead?
Telling my clients not to trade from a Mac is not in anyone’s best interest because I have some great clients that want to make this possible for them and here at the Prestige Trading Software we love making the impossible possible.
If your Mac is more than 2 years old you’re going to want to use the “Boot Camp” method to run Windows normally. This involves using a free piece of software which is already pre-installed on Apple Macs. This allows you to create a Windows partition on your Mac and then install Windows to it.
You will then have the option each time you boot your Mac to choose between OSX or Windows. This is by far the best choice in my opinion whether your Mac is old or new. It gives Windows access to the full resources of you Mac and allows it to run as if it were a pc (maybe better).
The downside to this option for some people is not being able to use the Mac software at the same time, because once you have launched either Windows or OSX you will not have access to the other operating system. It basically gives your Mac a dual boot menu and your Mac can be either a normal Mac or a Windows PC.
Windows 7 or Windows 8
I recommend running Windows 7 on a Mac if you are trading on a Mac. This is because Windows 8 is still very new in terms of operating systems and remember we are trying to create a stable environment for your trading.
Boot Camp is your only real option. If you really want to use Mac and PC software at the same time then you need Parallels or VMWare Fusion (but I do not recommend this). This will allow you to install Windows into a virtual machine that you can run from within OSX. You will need a high spec Mac, I recommend at least an i5 processor and at least 8 GB of memory.
Final note, please don’t attempt to scalp or trade on small time frames using a virtual machine on your Mac, it’s just not something I’d recommend, there are just to many variables that are working against you.