What is MetaTrader 4 and how do you use it?
MetaTrader4 (MT4) is a popular online trading platform that can be used to automate your trading. Its simple user interface gives you access to advanced technical analysis and flexible trading systems. Here’s a guide on what MetaTrader 4 is, and how to use it.
What is MT4?
MetaTrader 4 (MT4) is a trading platform developed by MetaQuotes in 2005. Although it is most commonly associated with forex trading, MetaTrader 4 can be used to trade a range of markets including forex, indices and commodities, via CFDs or spread betting.
MT4 is extremely popular due to the fact that it is highly customisable to your individual trading preferences. It can also be used to automate your trading, using algorithms which open and close trades on your behalf according to a list of set parameters.
How do you use MT4?
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to access and use MT4 with IG.
After creating an account, you can download MT4 to your chosen device. Once you have downloaded MT4, you can log in with your IG credentials.
Open a position using the order window
When you’re ready to place a trade, go to ‘tools’ and click ‘new order’. This will bring up the ‘order’ window. Alternatively, you can press F9 on your keyboard.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be presented with the order window.
While the order window can seem daunting at first, here’s a quick guide to all the components:
- Symbol – this drop-down menu allows you to select which market you would like to trade
- Volume – for a CFD account this is the number of contracts you would like to trade, while for spread betting it is the amount you want to bet per unit of price movement
- Stop loss – if you want to use a stop to close the trade if it moves against you, enter your desired level here. Stops on MT4 are equivalent to basic stops on the IG platform
- Take profit – if you want to use a limit to lock in profits, enter your desired level here
- Comment – a small space to leave a comment about a particular trade; or for more advanced trade-management purposes
- Type – choose ‘instant execution’ if you want to place your trade the moment you select either ‘buy’ or ‘sell’. Alternatively, select ‘pending order’ if you want to choose the level at which your trade opens
Depending on what type of trade you are placing, you’ll then be faced with the following options:
- Enable maximum deviation from the quoted price – trades can sometimes be rejected if prices move suddenly as you place them. If you would still want to place the trade within a certain price range, check the box and fill out the ‘maximum deviation’ in pips (from the current price) that you would be willing to accept
- Buy or sell – when you’re ready to place your trade, click ‘buy’ if you think the market will rise in value, or ‘sell’ if you think it will fall. This will place your trade
- Type – choose the type of order you want to place, from ‘buy limit’, ‘sell limit’, ‘buy stop’ and ‘sell stop’. Discover the difference between stop and limit orders
- At price – select the price level at which you want your order to be triggered (note: for some order types you will be dealt at market level, irrespective of whether your chosen level is breached)
- Expiry – check this box to specify a date and time for your order to expire if the market does not reach your ‘at price’
- Place – click this button when you are ready to place your order
Monitor and close your positions and pending orders
To monitor your open positions and pending orders open the ‘terminal’ window by pressing Ctrl + T, or by clicking ‘view’ in the toolbar and selecting ‘terminal’. Next, navigate to the ‘trade’ tab. You can close a position or delete a pending order by clicking the small ‘x’ on the far right of the profit column.
Modify stops and limits on open positions
To modify stops or limits on open positions and pending orders, open the ‘terminal’ window (Ctrl + T) and navigate to the ‘trade’ tab. Right click on the position or pending order you’d like to edit, then select ‘modify or delete order’ to bring up the order window.
You will then have the option to modify or add stops and limits to your position. When you are finished, click the red ‘modify’ button to confirm your changes.
Customise MT4 charts
MT4 offers a range of tools you can use to customise charts. Here’s how to:
Draw on charts
MT4 includes a number of ‘objects’ you can use to draw on charts. From left to right on the below image:
- Draw vertical line
- Draw horizontal line
- Draw trendline
- Draw equidistant channel
- Draw Fibonacci retracement
- Draw text
- Draw text label
To draw, simply select the object you want from the toolbar and click on the chart. The width and positioning of some objects is adjusted by moving your mouse as you click on the chart, while others open a separate window for customisation.
To edit or remove an object, right click on the chart then select ‘objects list’ from the menu. This will open a window that displays a list of all the active objects shown on the chart. Select your chosen object from the list then click ‘edit’ to customise the object settings or ‘delete’ to remove.
You can add indicators such as RSI, stochastic oscillator and Bollinger bands to charts. Simply drag your chosen indicator from the ‘navigator’ window and drop it on top of a chart. This will usually open a window, where you can customise how the indicator is displayed.
Alternatively, you can add indicators to a selected price chart using the menu bar. Click ‘insert’ then ‘indicators’ and choose your chosen indicator from the drop-down menu.
To edit or remove an indicator that is displaying on a chart, right click within the chart window then select ‘indicators list’ from the menu. This will open a window that displays a list of all the active indicators shown on the chart. Select your chosen indicator from the list then click ‘edit’ to customise the indicator settings or ‘delete’ to remove.
To change the timeframe of a price chart, simply right click on the chart, select ‘timeframe’, then choose your preferred option from the drop-down menu. Timeframes range from one minute to monthly.
You can also change the timeframe of a selected price chart using toolbar buttons. From left to right:
- M1 (1 minute)
- M5 (5 minutes)
- M15 (15 minutes)
- M30 (30 minutes)
- H1 (1 hour)
- H4 (4 hours)
- D1 (1 day)
- W1 (1 week)
- MN (1 month)
Set up a price alert
To set up a price alert, open the ‘terminal’ window then navigate to the ‘alerts’ tab. Right click within this window and select ‘create’ from the menu. This will bring up the ‘alert editor’ window where you can customise your price alert.
View your trade history
To view your trade history, open the ‘terminal’ window and navigate to the ‘account history’ tab. You can change the date range by right clicking within the window and selecting one of the following options:
- All history
- Last three months
- Last month
- Custom period (if you select this option, you can choose a date range in a new window)
Download trade reports
To produce a trade report, open the ‘terminal’ window and navigate to the ‘account history’ tab again. Right click within the window then select one of the following options:
- Save as report
- Save as detailed report
Both options will produce a report detailing individual trades (closed transactions, open trades and working orders) plus an account summary. The detailed report includes additional metrics such as drawdown and profit factor.
Choose from thousands of MT4 indicators and add-ons
Add-ons and indicators are a big part of MT4.
Indicators are technical analysis tools that are designed to help in your decision making during your time on the markets. Some of the indicators available to you through IG are pivot points, order history and the Renko indicator.
Add-ons, on the other hand, are more designed to help you customise the MT4 platform to your individual trading style and goals. The add-ons provided for free by IG include mini terminal, stealth orders and alarm manager which aim to help you fully customise the MT4 platform.
As well as the various indicators and add-ons available to you, there are also programs such as Expert Advisors within the MT4 platform which enable you to automate your trading on the MT4 platform. There is more information on Expert Advisors on the IG website.
While MT4 is not available for direct download to Mac, there are ways around this. For example, you can use an MT4 VPS to access MT4 from a Mac. You should be careful of other sites which offer an MT4 for Mac download, as these sites could be infected with malware.
With IG, MetaTrader 4 is only available for download on PC. However, there is an MT4 app available in the iOS app store, as well as an online trading platform on the IG site which can be used by Mac users to place trades.
With IG, you have access to over 80 markets on MT4. These include forex pairs, indices, commodities and more.
Yes, you can. With MetaTrader 4 you have the option to set buy and sell limits in the ‘orders’ window. They are presented as the ‘stop loss’ and ‘take profit’ options.
From within the terminal (Ctrl + T), go to the ‘alerts’ tab on the bottom left and right-click. Next, select ‘create’ and from this screen you will be able to create a price alert.
An MT4 VPS is a virtual private server, which hosts an online version of your MT4 platform. A VPS will generally have low latency and consistent uptime, which enables you to run your MT4 algorithms 24/7.
Because of this, virtual private servers are a popular option for traders who live in remote locations or who do not have access to the internet around the clock. They are also appealing to traders who wish to run their algorithms even when they themselves are not using the MT4 trading platform.
A VPS supports all the functionality associated with the MT4 platform, including the full range of indicators and add-ons. When you trade using IG’s MT4 VPS, your order is still executed on IG’s servers, and you still get access to the same markets as IG’s standard MT4 offering.
Using a forex VPS also means that you can run MT4 on a Mac, something which you cannot do with the standard MT4 platform.