IB Trader WorkStation Review, Pricing, and Requirements (2022)

Interactive Brokers Trader WorkStation review. IBKR TWS trading platform pricing. Is it free?

Trader Workstation by Interactive Brokers

If you’re looking for a professional-level desktop platform with the lowest possible fees, Trader Workstation from Interactive Brokers may be exactly what you seek. Read on for more information.

Trader Workstation Computer Requirements

Trader Workstation (TWS) functions on computers running Linux, Windows, and macOS. It is one of the few trading platforms available today to run on all three of these operating systems.

For Windows, TWS requires Windows 10 or higher. For Apple machines, the minimum OS is Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan) or higher. Interactive Brokers recommends Mac OS 10.13 (High Sierra) or later. For Linux machines, Kernel 2.6 or higher is required, and Interactive Brokers recommends 3.0 or higher. For all operating systems, Intel i3 and 4 GB of RAM are bare minimums.

Trader Workstation Download Instructions

The process to download and install the software is a straightforward one. Click on the Trading tab at the top of the Interactive Brokers site and select Platforms from the drop-down menu. On the next page, find the area for Trader Workstation and click on the Download Software button. Doing so will take you to the download section.

Here, you will see several red buttons to download various versions of the platform. There are two basic categories: offline and regular. An offline version will not update automatically. Although all of the download options may be for Windows, click on any one of them to get to the next page where there will be a link to download the program for other operating systems.

The downloaded file for any operating system will be an .exe file. This is not the actual program. Instead, it is the installer. Double click on the downloaded file to start the installation process. Just follow the prompts and Trader Workstation will be installed in a few minutes.

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Fees for Using Trader Workstation

Interactive Brokers now allows both IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro customers to use Trader Workstation for free. The platform has neither account minimums nor trading requirements.

Trades placed through Trader Workstation have $0 commissions for accounts that are signed up on the IBKR Lite pricing plan.

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Trial of Trader Workstation

Thanks to a really nice demo mode, an Interactive Brokers account is not required to use Trader Workstation. After launching the program, there are two ways to gain access to the practice version of the software. A link for “Return to the demo” appears at the bottom of the login window. With this option, login credentials are not required. Guests without an Interactive Brokers account can gain access to the platform with just an email address. The “Demo Type” on the login screen must be set to Individual. The other choices do not work.

Then there is the paper-trading mode. This one requires an Interactive Brokers account. The starting point once again is the login screen. This time, there is a login that requires a username and password. The username for the paper-trading login cannot be the same as the regular username for the IB account. This second username must be created inside an IB account. To do this, go to Account Settings inside the website and click on Paper Trading Account under Account Configuration. On the next page, you’ll be able to create a username and password for the paper-trading login. It takes Interactive Brokers up to a full business day to get this practice account created.

After the platform launches in either mode, all of the software’s regular trading tools will be there to try out.

TWS trading platform

Data Subscriptions for Trader Workstation

Real-time Level I data on U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs is available on Trader Workstation free of charge for both professionals and non-professionals. Data for other assets is not always free, and usually isn’t.

Here are a few examples of monthly subscriptions:

Data bundleNon-prosProfessionals
CBOT Real-Time Depth of Book (L2) $11 $123
ICE Futures US - Canadian Grain $38 $38
NASDAQ Options Market Depth of Book (L2) $11.50 $62.50
OTC Markets Top of Book (L1) $6 $35

During our test drive of Trader Workstation in demo mode, we received 6 levels of Level II Nasdaq and NYSE data for free. We did not get these quotes in live mode without a subscription.

Trader Workstation Overview

The first time Trader Workstation is launched, a welcome pop-up window will appear. This is a good place to begin as there are tour links that will show newbies a lot of the platform’s really useful features.

Trader WorkStation Review

A gear icon appears in the upper-right portion of the platform. This is where the software’s customization features are at. Many windows and tools can be customized here. Examples include hotkeys, sounds, charts, display options, and much more. Audio files can be uploaded to create custom sounds for a variety of functions.

Colors of various tools on the platform can be changed to almost an infinite number of choices, thanks to RGB and CMYK options.

Trader WorkStation Cost

In the bottom-left corner of the platform, there are two layout tabs: Mosaic and Classic TWS. These are the two basic layouts. It’s quite easy to switch between the two; just click on either one to pull up the relevant layout.

Mosaic and Classic have mostly the same features, although the display of some tools will be different. Classic has larger icons at the top, which makes it a little easier to navigate.

IB Trader WorkStation Review

More layouts are available under the File menu. Click on File and then select Open Layout Library from the drop-down menu. There are layouts for forex, options, charting, short-term trading, stock research, and more.

Under the New Window tab, there are all sorts of tools that can be added to the workspace. Examples include BookTrader, MarketDepth, and an economic calendar. A custom layout can be created and saved.

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With any layout, Trader Workstation is not easy to learn. However, Interactive Brokers has done a lot to help novices learn this rather high-level program.

A good place to begin is the Learn tab, which appears in the bottom-left corner near the layout tabs. During our probing in this section, we found several short videos on many topics. Here are a few examples:

- Configuring TWS Presets
- Order Routing Settings
- Message & Sound Manager
- Trailing Stop Orders

On the Interactive Brokers website, there is a TWS hub that hosts lots of useful information on the program. Near the bottom of the page, there are links to many resources, including a user’s guide, release notes for the various versions, Beta releases, and more. The user’s guide is divided into numerous categories and subcategories and provides lots of helpful tips on using the program.

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Finding Help

In case you need some assistance while using Trader Workstation, there are several channels of help available. Up first is iBot, an Artificial Intelligence at the top of the site on the left-hand side. On the right-hand side is a Contact Us link. In demo mode, this will produce a pop-up window with phone numbers and a link to a secure messaging center on the website. In live mode, we received a list of account topics that were connected to frequently-asked questions. When we clicked on a link indicating that the provided answer did not answer our question, we received links to the website’s chat and messaging tools.

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Updated on 6/28/2022.

About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.