During the NYC meetup on Feb 21st, 2020 I discussed with a few traders how I use an app on my iPad mini for my hotkey execution. They asked that I post something in the forum and here it is. Please read through the entire description to decide if you want to use this same approach, takes some effort but it is not difficult. Let me know if you have any questions.
The app, from the Apple App Store, is called Custom Keypad, I believe I paid $4.99. It allows unlimited configuration of custom buttons and controls. Setup is straight forward but takes a little time to get it exactly the way you want it. I have been using it to trade since March of 2018 and have had no issues with it. For the actual hotkeys behind the buttons, well that is a whole other conversation. I’ll just post an image of my hotkey scripts at the end and if interested let me know and I will send you my das hotkey file.
Below is an image of the Custom Keypad app in the Apple App Store:
Get the app installed on your iPad or iPad mini, I personally think an iPhone is way too small, but that is up to you.
To use the app you will need to download a piece of free software so the wireless connection can be made to your pc. (Note that I use a windows laptop as my trading platform. I have not tested this set-up on my iMac.) The software is a VNC (Virtual Network Connection) Server. It will establish a link between your iPad and pc via your wireless network.
I use TightVNC found at https://www.tightvnc.com/download.php
Follow the automated install and set-up instructions once downloaded. An icon for the server will be in your tray (lower right-hand corner of the screen) once it is running. Mouse over that and you will see the local IP Address that it is using, note that down as it will be needed for set-up of the Custom Keypad app connection.
Open the Custom Keypad app on your iPad, click on Connections on lower left and then add a connection by tapping on the + symbol in lower left. Tap the New Computer Connection and that brings up the connection set-up page.
Rename the connection, I use “Trading Laptop” but use whatever works for you. Next click on Host and here is where you enter the IP Address noted down from the TightVNC Server. Click Save in upper right when done. Do not need to change the Port setting and then finally enter a Password for the connection. At this point you should be able to go back up to top and click on the Connect link and it will connect to the TightVNC Server that is already running. After it connects, it will display a Disconnect link. That means the app is connected wirelessly to your pc. At this point you can click the Disconnect link and then go back two Pages (< Back, < Home on upper left).
Click on Layouts link at lower left, brings you to the Layouts list. Click the + in lower left to add a Layout. It will add a layout named “New Layout”. Click on that to begin your set-up. Tap on the edit symbol and then the share symbol (not sure why but that is where they have the overall layout settings access).
Click on the Layout Settings link. Here you can name your layout and set the overall parameters for a layout. My settings are number of pages: 2, disable scrolling: on, show grid: off (turn on for set-up makes things easier), snap to grid: on, grid spacing: 20, start gradient color: 000000, end gradient color: 5D5D5D. I do not use a background image. When done click the < Layout link in upper left corner. (Remember these are just my settings, use anything you want. I trade with white backgrounds on my charts, but like the dark background on my hotkeys.)
Now you can Add Controls, just tap that link and you can set-up any configuration of keys for your hotkey usage.
I use only rectangular buttons. Double tap on the new button and it will open the settings page for that control. Pretty self-explanatory, go through and make the changes you want. Below are the settings for my Buy @.10 risk button. Note I use only Single Tap set-ups, choose which one works best for your style.
Be sure to Save when in each setting. Verify your control set-up and then go back to Layout for next control. I also use images for my buttons for esthetics only. I will post the images at the bottom if you want to use them. They will resize to any rectangular button size.
After you complete your edits tap the edit icon again in the lower left corner and you will be back to operational mode. If you disconnected earlier, tap the Not Connected link, select the Connection from the list and tap the Connect link again. Then just go back to your layout.
A few tips on set-up and operations. I recommend only using combinations of keys and use Ctrl + any number or letter. Does not seem to work with the Shift key, hence I am only using the Ctrl key. Also, your keyboard is still active for the hotkeys. The app is only an easier way to access the hotkeys. Just match your hotkey set-up in your trading platform to the same key combos in the app for each key you want to use.
One final note on operating the app. I check the TightVNC Server every morning to verify whether it has auto updated the IP Address it is using. Happens sometimes on restarts and is always only the last number of the sequence. If it changes just go to the connections page in the Keypad app and update the Host and save, then connect again. The connection will drop when the iPad is off or cover closed, so just need to reconnect each time, but that is usually through an alert that you just tap, not going through the connections page each time. Once again, if you get this far let me know if you have any questions.
It may seem like a lot, but once you get going it is fun and creative to customize your layouts and settings. Just make sure you test thoroughly in SIM before using your keys live. Your eyes will be a bit weary verifying all your hotkeys between the app and your trading platform, but for me it has made all the difference in removing that mental bandwidth required to think about hitting the right keystroke combination in the heat of the trade. Just a tap and done.
Good luck and trade safe!
For reference, my hotkey scripts:
For reference, images for keypad control set-up: