MT4 Trading Platform

The MetaTrader4 platform is arguably the best known of all retail forex platforms today. It is so popular that its successor, the MT5 has had trouble displacing it from its prized position, so much so that Metaquotes Inc has actually had to force users to migrate to the MT5 by ending all support and updates for the MT4. As we gradually prepare for the winding down of this software which changed the face of retail forex trading, we take time to look at the important features of this platform and how traders can make the best use of its most important functions.

Asset Listing

Designed primarily for the trading of currency assets, the asset listing of the MT4 has undergone tremendous modification over the years. Today, it is no longer the exception but the norm to find the following financial asset categories listed for trading on the MT4:

  1. Currencies
  2. Stocks
  3. Stock Indices
  4. Commodities
  5. Cryptocurrencies

The various asset classes and the constituent assets can be viewed by clicking on View -> Symbols, or by clicking Ctrl+ U on your keyboard.

You can show or hide assets from being displayed on the Market Watch window by clicking once on the preferred asset, then clicking on Hide (if asset is currently being shown) or Show (if asset is currently not displayed).

The Interface

Here is a snapshot of the MT4 interface as taken from SimpleFX.

The various function tools on the interface are labelled accordingly:

Navigation Bar: Has tabs which control most of the functions that will be used by the trader on the MT4 platform.

Navigator Window: Allows traders to choose between accounts, log in to account, select indicators and expert advisors.

Terminal Window: Contains tabs which can be used to look at open and closed positions, active trades, account history, margin information (used margin, available margin, etc), trade exposure, market news, alerts from the broker, mailbox, Codebase (connects to the MQL4 Community), and trade journal.

Market Watch: Displays the currencies and other assets available for trading. To display an asset here, click Ctrl + U to display the symbols and select the asset as already described above.

Chart Window: Displays the active chart of the asset being analysed, asset name and time frame of the chart. The chart type selected will determine how price information is displayed (either as candlesticks as in this example, or as a simple line).

Placing Orders

The MT4 allows traders to place six types of orders. These are listed below:

  1. Market orders (Buy, Sell)
  2. Pending orders (Buy Stop, Sell Stop, Buy Limit, Sell Limit)

Limit orders are used when the trader wants to get a better pricing for the asset than what is currently available in the market. In other words, limit orders are used to secure pricing which will reduce the number of pips given up to the market before the expected move occurs.

Stop Orders are used to catch market moves that have broken beyond a limiting market support/resistance area.

Market orders are used to catch market moves as they are immediately.

Market Orders

Press the F9 button on your PC, or click on the “New Order” tab (see platform interface snapshot).  

  • Select the asset in the space marked “Symbol”.
  • Under the “Volume” box, select your lot size.
  • Under Order Type, choose “Market Execution”.
  • Select Sell By Market to short the asset, or Buy by Market to go long on the asset.

This executes the market orders for the selected asset.

Pending Orders

  • Select the asset in the space marked “Symbol”.
  • Under the “Volume” box, select your lot size.
  • Select “Pending Order” under order type.

  • Set your Pending order type (Buy Limit in the picture above)
  • Set your entry price for the pending order
  • Click the checkbox to set the date and time the pending order should remain valid, after which it would be closed if not executed. Leave unchecked to let the pending order remain valid indefinitely.
  • Set the “stop loss” and “take profit” in the right spaces.
  • Click “Place” to execute the order.

Selecting Indicators & Expert Advisors

The procedure for adding and selecting indicators has been modified from the original format in earlier versions. Click “File”-> Open Data Folder. Click on the MQL4 folder -> Experts (for expert advisors) or Indicators (for custom indicators).

Download the EA or the custom indicator you want to work with into the folder appropriate folder. Restart your platform for the EAs and Indicators to appear.

1) Indicators

To load custom or native indicators onto your chart, do this:

  • On the MT4 navigation bar at the top of the platform interface, click on InsertIndicators.
  • A drop-down menu appears. Choose the indicator type (trend, oscillator, volume, Bill Williams or Custom). Select the indicator of your choice.

A pop-up window appears prompting you to adjust certain parameters for the indicator. The snapshot below shows that of the Bollinger bands.

Click OK, and the indicator attaches to the chart automatically.

You can also select indicators from the Navigation window on the left side of the platform interface.

Other tools can also be selected using this method.

2) Expert Advisors

EAs are usually selected from the Navigation window on the left side of the chart.

Click on “Expert Advisors” and right click to open the pop-up. Adjust the parameters as needed and click OK to start using your EA.

Opening A Chart

Sometimes the trader has to choose different charts, and change from single view to multi-view chart mode. To open a new asset chart, click on File→ new chart, then select the asset whose chart you want to view. You can also right click on the asset in the Market Watch window, then select “Chart Window”

Choosing and Changing Time Frames

Look at the interface snapshot. The MT4 has several time frames:

  • M1 (one minute)
  • M5 (five minutes)
  • M15 (fifteen minutes)
  • H1 (hourly chart)
  • H4 (4-hour chart)
  • D1 (daily chart)
  • W1 (weekly chart)
  • MN (monthly chart)

Click on any of the tabs to make the choice, or click the clock icon and select the time frame from the drop down menu.

Programming Tools

Programmers can access the MQL coding interface by clicking the F4 button.