Forex Basics | Trading Platforms

MetaTrader 4 (MT4)

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what exactly MetaTrader 4 is? Or you know what it is but do not have a full grasp on what it does. Well, that is about to end. In this post, I will be examining in the detail what MetaTrader 4 is and what it does.

What is MetaTrader 4?

MetaTrader 4 is a trading platform – a client terminal for forex trading. It is the most popular trading platform in the world. Being closely followed by its later counterpart MetaTrader 5.

To learn more about MetaTrader 5, click here. For a comparison between the two platforms click here.

Both MetaTrader platforms were developed by MetaQuotes Software Corp. Given the popularity and widespread use of the MetaTrader platforms due to their capabilities, forex brokers pay the Software Corp. to produce their version of the MetaTrader platforms.

MetaTrader 4 is often abbreviated as MT4 for ease.

Navigating MT4

The MT4 interface is a very intuitive one which is user friendly and easy to understand.

MetaTrader 4

Navigating the application can be done with the use of a mouse, function keys, or hotkeys for those who are more familiar with them. Among the several other tasks that can be done using MT4, I will be discussing just three in this post – opening a trade, closing a trade, and modifying a trade.

Opening a trade on MT4

There are a number of ways to open a trade in MT4. The very first way is from the market watch. To open a trade in MT4 all you have to do is double click the symbol in the market watch. Simple enough, right?!

Meta Trader 4 - Open a trade

The only thing left to do is to fill in your stop loss, and take profit levels. These can also be done later. You can change your desired lot size as the need arises. After setting the parameters, depending on the position you want to take you can either click “sell by market” for a short position or “buy by market” for a long position.

To set a pending order, just click on the drop-down named “Type”, to switch from market execution to pending order.

MetaTrader 4 - open a trade

You can then choose what type of order and the respective parameters before placing the order.

Meta Trader 4 - Open a trade

Remember that this is only one of the ways to open a trade in MetaTrader 4. To learn other ways of opening a trade in MT4 click here.

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Closing a trade on MT4

Closing an open trade in MT4 is relatively easy given the variety of ways in which it can be done. For the purpose of this post only one of the ways will be examined. To learn more about closing trades in MT4, click here.

To close a trade in MT4, all you need to do is to double click the order strip in the terminal and then a popup tab will be opened where you can close your trade.

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Modifying a Trade on MT4

There are also multiple ways by which you can modify your trades in MT4. The first way is to left-click the order strip in the terminal, and then click “Modify Order”. This will open a popup tab where you can adjust the parameters of your trade.

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To learn about more ways to modify your order in MT4 and even partially close your position, click here.

Features of MT4

MetaTrader 4 has numerous features, no wonder it is the most used forex trading platform in the world. It is capable of charting, analysis, automation, and so much more.

Indicators and Analysis Tools

The number of indicators in MetaTrader 4 is not essentially capped because of the ability to add custom indicators. But straight out of the box, MetaTrader 4 comes equipped with over 50 indicators divided into different categories. Examples of these categories are trend, oscillators, Bill Williams, and custom.

MT4 indicators and analysis tools

Examples of indicators present on MT4 are moving averages, relative strength index, relative vigor index, MACD, CCI, alligator, and so on.

In addition to the indicators, other tools for analysis such as lines, channels, arrows, and shapes are also available on the platform.

Charts

In MT4, there are three basic types of charts. These are the line chart, the candlestick chart and the bar chart.

MetaTrader 4 bar chart
Image showing a bar chart in MT4
MetaTrader 4 candlestick chart
Screenshot of a candlestick chart in MT4
MetaTrader 4 line chart
Image of a line chart in MT4

Price charts in forex are plotted as price against time. Each point takes a specific time to form and this is the chart timeframe. There are 9 chart timeframes in MT4. These are M1, M5, M15, M30, H1, H4, D1, W1, and the MN, where M stands for minute, H stands for hour, D stands for day, W stands for week, and MN stands for month.

MetaTrader 4 timeframe

The charts can be controlled using buttons (blue box) just above the charts. These buttons can be used for zooming in and out, arrange chart windows as non-overlapping tiles, scroll to the end of incoming tick, and to shift end of chart from the right border (left to right).

One-Click Trading

One-click trading is a feature in MetaTrader that allows you to open positions directly from the chart by clicking. Before you can start using it, you will have to agree to terms stating that you are aware of the risk involved etc.

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Terminal

MT4 as part of the interface, has a terminal window. This terminal window consists of the thirteen tabs. These are trade, exposure, account history, news, alerts, mailbox, company, market, signals, articles, code base, experts, and journals.

MetaTrader 4 terminal

These tabs all have their different uses and functions. To learn more about the MT4 terminal window and what functions these individual tabs preform, click here.

Navigator and Market Watch

These two windows by default appear in the same column on top of one another. However, this is customizable.

The navigator window provides information about the account logged into the platform, and easy access to indicators, expert advisors, and scripts. The market watch window, on the other hand, displays the current market price for trading selected instruments. By default, only the bid and ask columns are available, but you can also add the spread column.

The navigator window has two tabs. The common tab which displays all the information mentioned above. The favorites tab only displays the items that have been marked selected.

The market watch also has two tabs. The symbols tab and the tick chart tab. The symbols tab is the major tab and has been covered earlier. The tick chart tab displays a tick chart for a selected instrument.

MetaTrader 4 market watch and navigator

Properties and Options

Chart properties such as color scheme, showing ask line, OHLC, grid, period separators, etc. can be changed to suit your preference on MT4. To do this just press F8 and the properties tab will popup. Alternatively, you can left-click the chart, then select properties.

MetaTrader 4 properties
MetaTrader 4 properties

Several other customization options are available under the “Options” tab accessible from the Tools menu.

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Templates and Profiles

Given the level of personal customization that can be achieved in MetaTrader 4, it only makes sense that it is possible to save these customizations.

In order to save personal chart settings, you would need to create a user template. A template saves all chart customization including indicators and also creates an avenue to quickly load preferences onto a native chart.

MetaTrader 4 templates

MT4 profiles, on the other hand, are used to save entire the entire platform interface. It can be used to save the number of chart windows, the currency charts open, and many other customizations that can be made to the interface.

MetaTrader 4 profiles

Automation

Another one of the features that separate MetaTrader platforms from many other ones is the ability to accommodate automated trading. The platform’s script mql4 is a versatile one that allows the creation of diverse programs differing widely in capabilities.

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In addition to being compatible with robots, MT4 can also be hosted on virtual private servers which offer 24/7 seamless connection which is ideal for automated trading. You can find VPS hostings directly from your platform interface.

There also exists a large mql market where a host of expert advisors are sold if you wish to purchase one. This is accessible from the terminal window on the platform.

MetaTrader 4 automated trading
L-R: Metaquotes language editor, register a vps, register your account as a source of signals, and auto trading button.
Mql5 market - MetaTrader 4
Mql market accessed form the terminal in MT4

Strategy Tester

After creating robots, it is essential to test them and see how they would perform in the market. This is the basis of backtesting strategies.

Strategy backtesting can be done on the MetaTrader platform by using the strategy tester. This window can be opened from the view menu present in the platform.

The strategy tester allows different changes and modifications as far as testing goes. In addition to this the strategy tester also has an in-built optimizer, which alters different strategy parameters to find which works best.

MetaTrader Strategy tester

History Center

The history center accessible from the “Tools” menu in MT4 is used to download historical data. This is useful when you want to backtest a strategy. However, you must note that the data available in the history center is that which is stored on the MetaQuotes server and may differ significantly from that of your broker.

This is because forex does not have a central exchange, therfore, prices/quotes may not be harmonized across board.

MetaTrader 4 history center

Multi-language

MetaTrader 4 supports over 50 languages, making it a truly universal platform. The language option can be accessed from the “View” menu on the platform.

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Help

MetaTrader 5 contains a help menu, which contains links to a variety of resources that can help in trading and understanding the platform. It also contains links to MQL5 forum and other products.

If you do need help understanding anything about the MT4 platform, you can ask in our forum and you will get an accurate answer.

In conclusion, the MetaTrader 4 platform is a very versatile and powerful one. It is no wonder that it so widely used and accepted.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to ask questions and comment. Do well to subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates about new posts. Also, follow us on social media and avail yourself of the different tools available on this platform. You can also read more of our blog or join our forum.

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