MT4 Forex Trading | The Ultimate Guide To Using MetaTrader 4

MT4 is like an aged but reliable car that doesn’t have mechanical issues and does the job. It’s a platform with age and popularity, used by everyone from newbies and experienced folk. Therefore, it is simple to become an MT4 trader thanks to its user-friendliness and simplicity.

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Forex Trading
10 min read

Introduction

They say old is gold, and that’s what trading with MT4 is. MT4 is like an aged but reliable car that doesn’t have mechanical issues and does the job.

It’s a platform with age and popularity, used by everyone from newbies and experienced folk. Therefore, it is simple to become an MT4 trader thanks to its user-friendliness and simplicity.

But if this is your first time exploring the MT4 platform, consider this article a simplified but helpful Meta Trader 4 tutorial. Let’s get started!

What is MT4?

MT4 logo

MetaTrader 4 is a charting platform first released in July 2005 by MetaQuotes, a then-Russian (now Cyprus-based) software corporation. As the name suggests, MT4 is the company’s fourth product in the MetaTrader series (click here for a comparison between it and MT5).

It is their most successful and popular trading software known for its simplicity, reliability and ease of creating expert advisors (EAs) or robots.

Although trading on MT4 is heavily associated with forex, you can trade many other instruments, depending on the broker. These include stocks, indices, bonds, precious metals, commodities, and crypto (check out our guide on trading crypto on MT4 here).

MetaTrader 4 works in browser, web, and mobile formats on Windows, Android, Linux, and Huawei operating systems. While MT4 doesn’t run natively on Mac OS, a third-party platform like Wine and PlayOnMac does the job.

So, how does MetaTrader 4 work? Understanding MT4 is simple. It is a charting software licensed to CFD brokers. Therefore, you must open a brokerage account with a supported financial services company to trade MT4.

The broker’s entire suite of instruments will then be available for MT4 traders to stream charts, place orders and manage their accounts.

If you’re asking how to withdraw money from MT4, understand that it isn’t possible on the platform. Only the broker can allow this on the account you created, which you can access.

MT4 trading platform features

Main chart interface of the MT4 trading platform.

The table below is an overview of MetaTrader’s 4 main features. We’ll only go through the most significant in more detail after that.

Minimum system requirementsAny 32-bit Intel-based processor with at least 1.7 GHz frequency (or equivalent) and 256MB RAM Windows XP (or equivalent)
Trading instrumentsUp to 1024
Programming languageMQL4
Depth of market (DOM)No
Time-frames 9
Chart types3
Order fill policyFill or kill
Order execution types6
Hedging/nettingYes/No
Built-in indicators30
Graphical objects19
Embedded community chatNo
Email system No attachment 
Built-in economic calendarNo

Time frames

When exploring how to use MT4, you will see only nine time frames exist:

  • M1 (1 minute)
  • M5 (5 minutes)
  • M15 (15 minutes) 
  • M30 (30 minutes)
  • H1 (1 hour)
  • H4 (4 hours)
  • D1 (daily) 
  • W1 (weekly)
  • MN (monthly)

These chart references are sufficient for all traders. Scalpers and day traders prefer time frames from M1 to M30 since they present more price action and short-term opportunities. The downside is that these charts have the most noise.

On the other hand, swing traders and position traders generally view time frames from H1 to MN. Although they offer fewer set-ups, they have fewer erratic movements and are, therefore, ‘cleaner.’

The default nine time frames appear just above the chart. When you right-click next to the dotted lines at the nearest chart, this is where you can add or remove time frames (by going to ‘Customize’).

List of time frames on MT4

Chart types

MetaTrader 4 simply has three kinds of charts: bar, candlestick, and line. Of course, candlestick charts are the most popular and all you’ll usually need. Advanced charts like Heikin Ashi are not available, even on MT5. 

You can access the chart types at the toolbar near the top of your screen. A shortcut is to click Alt + 1 (for bars), Alt + 2 (for candlesticks) and Alt + 3 (for line).

Order fill policy

Here, we refer to how the MT4 forex platform handles your executed order. Fortunately, the platform has a simple approach, the standard ‘Fill or Kill.’ This means that MT4 will fill your order at your chosen volume.

If you don’t have enough money (where the lot size is too high), no parts of the trade will go through, effectively ‘killing’ the order.

Order execution types

The MT4 platform has two live execution orders (market and instant) and four pending orders. The chosen live order depends on the broker. It is usually a default setting, but some accounts from that broker could have something different on the MT4 platform.

So, what’s the difference? Market execution is where the software executes at the market price regardless of volatility. It is typically the most preferred option because it’s faster. Yet, high volatility could result in a less (or more) favourable entry due to slippage.

Instant execution is where the MetaTrader 4 platform offers a requote if the order is executed during sharp price changes. Here, you can choose to accept or decline the new price. Although some traders like this option, it is slower.

The available pending orders (which only execute once the price meets a certain level) are: 

  • Buy stop: a pending order to execute a buy position at a level above the current price. For example, if the euro was trading at 1.1100, you may decide to have a buy stop at 1.1120.
  • Sell stop: a pending order to short at a lower level than the current value. For instance, if EUR/USD was trading at 1.1100, you could place a sell stop at 1.1098.
  • Buy limit: a pending order to buy at a price below the current one. For example, you could have a buy limit at 1.1098 if EUR/USD is trading at 1.1100. 
  • Sell limit: a pending order to sell at a price above the present one. For instance, you could have a sell limit at 1.1120 if GBP/USD is trading at 1.1100.

The image below demonstrates how these orders work visually to explore better how to trade in MetaTrader 4.

Pending orders on the MT4 platform.

Built-in Indicators

When trading MT4, you have access to 30 built-in indicators. Of course, you can add tons of custom ones, modify them or build your own. Indicators are the cornerstone of technical analysis, helping traders identify trends, momentum, volume, volatility and more.

While they are helpful in Meta4 trading, they are lagging tools, producing a signal after the fact. So, it’s crucial to combine extra charting or fundamental confirmation while using indicators.

Here is a list of the built-in indicators on the MT4 platform. 

TrendAverage Directional Movement Index, Bollinger Bands®, Envelopes, Ichimoku Kinko Hyo, Moving Average, Parabolic SAR, Standard Deviation
OscillatorsAverage True Range, Bears Power, Bulls Power, Commodity Channel Index, DeMarker, Force Index, MACD, Momentum, Moving Average of Oscillator, Relative Strength Index, Relative Vigor Index, Stochastic Oscillator, Williams’ Percent Range
VolumeAccumulation/ Distribution, Money Flow Index, On Balance Volume, Volumes
Bill WilliamsAccelerator Oscillator, Alligator, Awesome Oscillator, Fractals, Gator Oscillator, Market Facilitation Index

Graphical objects

There are 19 graphical objects on the MT4 trading platform, which is sufficient for basic charting. Your and channel-based objects help with drawing many chart patterns like flags, head and shoulders, triangles, etc.

More advanced chartists use Gann and Fibonacci. You can also use:

  • Arrows – for marking particular points on a chart
  • Text – for adding comments on a chart

Here is a complete list of graphical objects on the Meta4 trading software”

LineVertical, Horizontal, Trend, Trendline by Angle
ChannelEquidistant, Linear Regression, Standard Deviation Channel, Cycle Lines, Andrews’ Pitchfork
GannLine, Fan, Grid
FibonacciRetracement, Arcs, Expansion, Channel
ShapesRectangle, Triangle, Ellipse
ArrowsThumbs Up, Thumbs Down, Arrow Up, Arrow Down, Stop Sign, Check Sign, Left Price Label, Right Price Label

How to use MetaTrader 4: getting started

The following sections outline the features you’ll use when forex trading with MetaTrader 4. 

Downloading and installing MT4

So, how to setup MetaTrader 4? The first step most traders follow is finding a supported broker, and downloading from their website. This is a better option because you can also create a live or demo account with that broker simultaneously. 

Alternatively, you can also go to MT4’s website and download from there (but you will still need a broker account).

Once downloaded, follow all the prompts and input your account details. You can have multiple accounts from different brokers on one MT4 platform. When opening an individual account, go to View > Navigator (or Ctrl + N).

A window appears that displays all the connected MT4 accounts based on different servers. Click on the plus sign to show the registered names, and double-click on your preferred one, bringing up this screen below. This is how you can log in to different accounts. 

Account login screen for MT 4 platform

(Another option is going to File > Login to Trade Account, where you can select your account from the drop-down list).

Using the terminal

The terminal is one of the most crucial parts of learning how to trade with MetaTrader 4. It consists of a multifunctional window to view your trading activity, read news, manage alerts, look at your account history, and more.

Truthfully, most traders only use the ‘Trade’ and ‘Account History’ sections. Accessing the terminal while trading on MT4 is simple. It can appear in a simplified form at the bottom of your screen:

A simplified window of the terminal on the Meta4 trading platform

You need to double-click at the bottom section to open up the terminal.

Note: When you close it (by clicking the X), the shortcut is Ctrl + T to open it up again. Or, go to View > Terminal.

The image below displays the entire terminal, always displaying your positions (if any). You can adjust how much space this tab covers your screen by sizing it up or down on its edges.

The full window of the terminal on the Meta4 trading platform

The ‘Trade’ tab is what always pops up on MetaTrader 4.0. When you have running positions, you can see the:

  • Order number
  • Time when the position was placed
  • Type of trade (buy or sell)
  • Size (number of lots)
  • Symbol (the market provided)
  • Entry price
  • S/L (stop loss) and T/P (take profit)
  • T/P price (if you have trailed your stop)
  • Swap
  • Profit (shows your floating P&L)

Furthermore, the other aspects you need to know about the MT4 platform terminal are:

  • Balance (your account balance)
  • Equity (your balance and floating P&L)
  • Margin (the amount of margin used with your current orders)
  • Free margin (equity – margin)
  • Margin level: the overall percentage of your margin

You can edit your orders on the terminal in two ways. The first is going on the chart and right-clicking on dotted lines aligning with your position’s entry price. Alternatively, you can right-click on the order.

Here, a pop-up screen will show; go to ‘Modify or Delete Order’: 

Order screen on MetaTrader 4

Here, you can modify your stop loss and take profit price. To automatically close an order, go to the Profit tab and click on the cross.

Setting up profiles and templates

Profiles and templates are useful features for understanding MetaTrader 4. A profile is a way of grouping multiple chart settings across different instruments and preferences. 

For example, you might be trading forex pairs and use charts with a white background. Simultaneously, you may prefer charts with a black background when observing crypto markets. So, you can create a profile (say ‘forex’ and ‘crypto’) for each where you have saved these settings.

So, for instance, when you open the forex MT4 profile, the MT4 platform will open up all the markets that were saved with your chosen settings. The downside is that you must update the profile when making additions or removals.

To create a new profile, go to File > Profile > Save As. MetaTrader 4 will show the following screen where you can type the profile name.

Profile setting on MT4

After saving, you go to File > Profile, where you will see it on the list.

A template is a way of saving indicator and chart-specific settings. A common method of trading on MT4 with this feature is maintaining the same color scheme and indicator across the board. So, for instance, you can create a template with blue and red candles along with the RSI.

The MT4 platform will make your charts appear with these settings whenever you open this template on any market. For our example, we’ve named a template ‘Colored,’ with blue and red candles and a red-colored RSI.

The shortcut for accessing this template would be right-clicking on the chart, going to ‘Template’ and clicking on your preferred saved option (the long way is going to Charts > Templates).

Opening of templates on MetaTrader 4

You can also apply a template to a specific instrument where you have created particular drawings, added various graphical objects, indicators, etc. But note that these settings will only populate when you’ve opened that market, not in others.

Adding and removing indicator

As a technical analyst, you’ll use indicators frequently while mastering how to trade with Meta Trader 4. Doing this is quite simple. At the top of your screen, go to the ‘Insert’ tab, then ‘Indicators.’ This will display a list of MT4’s built-in indicators. 

Opening of indicators when trading on MT4

Let’s add moving averages for our MT4 trading example, the RSi and Bollinger Bands. We would go through the same step (Insert > Indicators) to add each indicator. Before adding each tool, the MT4 platform allows you to edit various parameters.

Indicator settings when trading with MT4

When you wish to remove or edit indicators, simply click Ctrl + I, and a window opens up with these options.

Removal/editing of indicators on MetaTrader 4

Opening and closing charts

When mastering how to use MT4, you’ll be tinkering with charts. There are two ways to open a chart on this software. The first is going to File > New Chart, which will bring up all the available instruments from the connected broker.

Opening of charts on MetaTrader 4.0

The second option is going to the Market Watch: View > Market Watch (or Ctrl + M as the shortcut). Here, you can go to the instrument you want and drag it to the right-hand side. Note that this will replace the chart which was there previously.

Market Watch windown MT4

Tip: It’s common for the Market Watch section to have a few symbols when using a new account. Here, you just right-click and select ‘Show All,’ bringing up all the broker’s securities.

To close a chart, simply go to its name at the bottom left, right-click on that tab and select ‘Close’ (the shortcut is Ctrl + F4).

Setting up price alerts/notifications

Price alerts are useful when you are waiting for the market to reach a certain level but don’t have the time to watch your charts. Most traders prefer getting these notifications via the MT4 trading app.

Setting up alerts on the platform is straightforward. On the terminal, head to the ‘Alerts’ tab and right-click in the white space. This brings up the window below, where you can decide on your alert’s price, expiration date, and other parameters.

Opening of alerts on the Meta4 trading software

Once set, the alert will appear on your terminal (right-click for editing or deleting). Also, an arrow appears on the chart marking the price level. Whether you’re receiving the alerts via the app or mail, there are steps to follow so that your MT4 is synced up.

Executing an order

Opening a position on the MetaTrader 4 platform is straightforward. Firstly, right-click on the chart or market you wish to trade, select ‘Trading,’ then ‘New Order’ (F9 is the shortcut).

Executing an order when trading with MT4

Tip: The quicker alternative is using one-click trading, located at the chart’s top left corner. This feature automatically executes your order but doesn’t attach a stop loss nor take profit. Therefore, you must add a stop after the order is live.

Once you’ve clicked on ‘New Order,’ this screen pops up.

MetaTrader 4's order screen

For the purpose of this ‘how to set up MetaTrader 4’ guide, let’s assume we wanted to sell this market at 0.10, with an S/L at 1.34500 and a T/P at 1.35500.

Once this position is executed, your order (including its entry, S/L and T/P prices) will appear on the chart. Note that it also shows up on your terminal, where you can make edits.

How your executed order shows on MT4's chart and terminal

To change the S/L or T/P levels (or remove them), simply right-click on the order on the terminal. Here, you can open a new trade, modify or close the existing order, add a trailing stop, etc.

Modifying/deleting your order on MT4's terminal

Alternatively, you can go to the actual order on the chart by right-clicking on the dotted line. This brings up a tab where you are presented with similar options.

Adding a robot

Firstly, note that a legit MT4 trading EA has an ex4 extension and a source code file. Before downloading, locate the Experts folder (in your MetaTrader 4 folder) on your hard drive since this is where you’ll save the robot.

Alternatively, these are the steps to follow if you’ve saved the EA in another location:

  • Open the MT4 platform
  • Click File > Open Data Folder > MQL4 > Experts

This is the folder where you should move or copy the robot. Afterwards, restart the software. Open the Navigator window (Ctrl + N or View > Navigator), and go to the Expert Advisors tab. Here, you’ll see a list of the EA on your platform. 

Let’s say we wanted to open the Moving Averages EA for our example. All we’d do is drag it onto a chart, which brings up this screen (repeat this process if you need to make changes to the EA).

Adding a robot when trading with MT4

Sidenote: Ensure the ‘AutoTrading’ tab at the top is green (as highlighted in the image) to run the robot.

Conclusion: pros and cons of the MT4 trading platform

Needless to say, there are many more things you can do on this platform. However, this in-depth guide should be enough for you to learn how to setup MetaTrader 4 sufficiently. 

While not the most sophisticated charting software, everything is seamless. Let’s examine its pros and cons to summarise our forex trading MetaTrader 4 guide.

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly; easy to use
  • Supported by the majority of forex brokers
  • Compatible with several third-party platforms like trade copiers, analytics platforms and journals
  • Works with old operating systems

Cons:

  • Less sophisticated compared to the likes of cTrader, NinjaTrader and TradingView
  • Has an outdated look

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