MetaTrader 4 (MT4): A Foreign Exchange Trading Platform Explained for Beginners


 

 

 

In the world of online trading platforms, MetaTrader 4, or MT4, rules the roost, boasting a vast global user base.

While not everyone’s cup of tea, MT4 remains the industry standard.

Its simple interface, easy-to-use functions, and enormous community support are why MT4 continues to grow in popularity year after year.

What is MT4 and Why is it a Popular Forex Trading Platform?
Developed by MetaQuotes Software Corp in 2005, considered the leading developer in trading software applications, MT4 is a charting and trading platform. Although frequently associated with currency trading, or better known as the forex market, additional financial markets are available via CFDs, such as commoditiescryptocurrencies, and indices.

MT4 is licensed to forex brokerages globally. The broker attaches their individual company logo to the MetaTrader platform’s interface and displays their quotes and prices. When you click to trade, therefore, orders will be routed to your specific broker.

Although the platform feels individual to your specific broker, it’s essentially the same interface across the board.

MT4 remains a popular trading platform due to the number of features it offers. First and foremost, there are no setup or maintenance costs. The platform offers forex charting, live data feeds, historical data, programming facilities, and no volume quotas to meet for most brokers. In addition, MT4 boasts the largest number of available third party written Expert Advisors and MetaTrader indicators.

Installing MT4
Downloading and installing the MT4 platform is straightforward. A Google search will bring up several forex brokers offering both MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 (MT5).

 

 

Here at FP Markets, for an MT4 demo account, for example, simply click here and fill in your personal details.

Once complete, hit Save and Next. This will prompt a download of MT4, via email, including login details. After downloading and installing the software, enter your login information and MT4 will come to life.

Brief Tour
Figure 1. A presents the platform, a windows-based computer program.

 

 

FIGURE 1.A
Across the top, you will note the account number, FP Markets logo, the CFD provider in this demonstration, and account designation. This is followed by the active chart’s symbol and timeframe, viewed in the centre of the platform, which, in this case, is the EURUSD H1 currency pair.

Below, a file menu is visible, and a toolbar below this. The core charting area is positioned in the middle. Along the bottom, the names of the financial instruments you’ve saved are seen, USD/CAD, UK100 and EUR/CHF, for example. Clicking on either of the tabs automatically generate the desired chart, and any saved graphical objects or technical indicators.

The View Tab
The view tab, as illustrated in figure 1.B, contains several significant sections.

 

 

FIGURE 1.B

Figure 1.C highlights key areas within the view tab. Symbols list the markets available on the platform at FP Markets. Market Watch pulls up the available Bid/Ask prices on each symbol – the Bid is the value you sell; the Ask price is the value you buy.

Navigator is also an important segment to be aware of. It’s an area you can view accounts, the MT4 indicators available inside of your MT4 installation (including the RSI, MACD, popular moving averages and other trend indicators, along with additional custom indicators – selection depends on your trading system), Expert Advisors (an automated program [MQL4] – algorithmic trading or trading robot) and Scripts – code to send alerts. At the bottom of figure 1.C, you’ll note the trading terminal. This space displays the account balance, equity, and free margin.

An active position on the trading terminal is shown in figure 1.D, presenting the order number, the time and date of the trade, the type of trade – a buy/sell, the size of the position, the symbol, the price the trade was filled along with the stop-loss order and take-profit value, current trading price, commission, swap and profit and loss. If you have pending trades, they’re displayed under active positions.

Figure 1.D also displays a smaller panel below. Exposure shows currency weighting; Account History logs all previous trades; News provides the latest news regarding the currency market; Alerts offers the ability to set alerts on trades; Mailbox shows mail from your FX broker; Signals offers the ability to subscribe to trading signals from other traders, some are free, some are a paid service. Journal is an important tab, showing everything that’s going on inside the trading account. If you loaded a Trading Robot, for instance, and it doesn’t seem to be taking trades, they’ll be a message here as to why.

 

FIGURE 1.C

FIGURE 1.D

Main Menu
The first five tabs, as shown in figure 1.E – an orange arrow, do the same things we looked at in the view tab above.

The next important tab is the New Order window – the red arrow – It is here traders execute positions in the market, using different order types, such as Market Orders and Pending Orders (see figure 1.F). The next three buttons highlight the types of bars and candles you can have your MetaTrader charts in – traditional MT4 has the line chart, a bar chart and a candlestick chart (blue arrow) to choose from. Next to this (red box) are a plus and minus sign inside of a magnifying glass, providing the option of reducing or increasing the chart’s area.

The blue box allows you to tile the windows, letting you see, in an organised fashion, all the current charts active on your MT4 installation. The next tab, yellow box, affords the ability to scroll the chart to the end of tick incoming – the small green arrow, while the small red arrow lets you shift the end of the chart from the right border. The initial green arrow shows the indicator tab, offering available indicators. The second arrow denotes timeframe selection, while the third green arrow points to the template tab, letting traders save charts as templates.

 

FIGURE 1.E

FIGURE 1.F

Graphical Objects – Trading Tools

Figure 1.G illustrates an important toolbar used by all traders. The green arrow points to the crosshair function, which helps determine date, time and price level. It also determines the number of points between two levels. The section highlighted in orange contains chart studies, or analysis tools, typically employed by price action traders – a field within technical analysis: trendlines, horizontal lines and Fibonacci studies, for example. Next door, the following set of items are merely the timeframes available on the platform.

 

FIGURE 1.G

MT4 is Vast
This piece barely scratches the surface with respect to the capabilities of MT4.

What it has hopefully accomplished, though, is to provide a foundation to further your MT4 understanding.

If you liked this article, you may be interested in our dedicated MT4 playlist on YouTube.

FP Markets also has other in-depth tutorials available here and here.

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