MetaTrader 4 (MT4) is a trading platform popular with thousands of Forex and CFD brokers. Let’s review its most important features and explain how you could place your first trade, customise technical indicators and even fine-tune a trading robot.
Key features of MetaTrader 44
MT4 has a smooth setup and login process. You could download the platform directly from the MetaTrade website or the best MT4 broker in the UK if you already have a broker in mind.
MT4 was designed with Forex traders in mind, but allows you to access a wide range of asset classes beyond currencies. These include contracts for difference (CFDs) on stock indices, precious metals and energy products.
MT4 also comes with its own powerful programming language that you can use to design technical indicators and automated trading strategies. And if you don’t have the time or inclination to create your own, you can download hundreds from the MetaTrader app store.
How to place your first trade with MetaTrader 4
The easiest way to enter a trade is through the “New Order” button. You can configure the order type, fill policy and lot size in a dialog window. It’s also possible to set a stop loss and take-profit level at that time, which is good way to manage your risk.
You’ll also find “one-click” trading buttons in the corner of each chart. The position size is shown in a small box adjacent to the button, and the trade is executed immediately in the market. Most traders rate highly the ability to trade from the charts.
More ways to trade with MetaTrader 4
Stop-loss and take profit levels can be set and altered in two ways. Firstly, from the list of open positions by double-clicking and using the dialog box, and secondly, directly from the charts, by simply clicking and dragging the indicated levels on the chart. It’s also possible to delete these levels by right clicking on the chart and selecting “Cancel”.
The fastest way to exit a trade is to click the ‘x’ icon at the far-right side of the position in the positions list. Users can also right-click on the dashed line representing the trade in the chart window, and select “Close trade”. These methods will close the full position at market price.
All closed trades can be viewed via the “Account history” tab in the toolbox window, together with their key data points, such as profit/loss. On mobile devices, users can trade either from the watchlist screen or straight from the charts.
How to use indicators in MT4
MT4 comes with 38 technical indicators installed, plus 44 graphical objects (which include trend lines and channels). Moving averages and Bollinger Bands are popular technical analysis indicators. You can add graphical objects such as support and resistance lines to a chart by using the Drawing quickbar at the top of the screen. It’s easy and doesn’t take long.
To add indicators to a chart, click the “Insert” menu and select the indicator you wish to add. You can configure the indicator’s settings in a separate window: change its appearance, scale and parameters at will. Right-click on the indicator at any time and select Properties to bring up this configuration menu again.
Your MT4 broker may already include a number of indicators in its distribution. However, you are free to download and install any others from the MetaTrader marketplace, or create your own if you have coding skills.
How to use an Expert Advisors with MT4
Expert Advisors, commonly abbreviated as EA, are one of the keys to MetaTrader’s popularity. EAs are computer software programs (“bots”) that monitor the financial markets and can execute trades automatically, in real-time, based on pre-specified rules. For example, you could write or customise an Expert Advisor in such a way that it opens or closes a position when a security’s price moves above or below its moving average.
At the time of writing, MT4 has an extensive selection of over 2,600 EAs in its online marketplace, of which around 240 are free. It’s easy to download and install an EA, and they are an integral part of the platform. However, you may also write your own if you’re comfortable with coding and learning a new programming language. MetaTrader 4 Expert Advisors are written in MQL, a statically-typed language similar to C++.
To use an EA, you’ll first need to enable “Auto Trading” by clicking the button at the top of the main window. After purchasing an EA from the marketplace, install it by navigating to the “Data folder” in MT4. As mentioned above, you’ll find this under the “Open Data folder” in the File menu. Once there, navigate to “MQL4” then “Experts” and drop the EA’s source file into the “Advisers” subfolder. Enable the EA by right-clicking on “Expert Advisors” in the Navigator window of the main console, and hit the “Refresh” button.
To run an EA, simply drag it onto a chart. This will open the EA’s configuration menu and allow you to set various parameters. These parameters will vary from one Expert Advisor to the next. Once done, click “OK” to deploy the EA onto the chart. A small green icon with the name of the EA will appear in the top right-hand corner of the chart window to indicate its status. The icon will appear red if the EA is unable to deploy for any reason.
Importantly, each EA lives within a chart. If you change the currently active symbol or any of the chart’s settings (including its time interval), this will automatically refresh and re-run the EA.
MT4 is a powerful trading platform, which supports a wide range of indicators and trading bots. We’ve touched on a handful of key features above, but have only really scratched the surface. If you’re new to the platform, or even an experienced MetaTrader 4 user, we suggest finding the right MT4 broker, before taking time to explore the platform.