MetaTrader 4

A Step by Step Tutorial

MetaTrader 4 is not only one of the most popular platforms used by traders today, but it is also known as one of the most user-friendly and customizable platforms with an array of features.

The purpose of this article is to guide beginner traders through the various aspects of trading and particularly making use of MetaTrader 4 as their trading platform.

This tutorial is for general purposes pertaining to use of the platform, but it is predominantly based on desktop use as the steps in the tutorial can also be applied to the mobile versions of the trading platform and traders have access to the same basic functions.

To start using MetaTrader 4, the trader will need to have an existing account (either live or demo) with a broker, or they can run a demo account provided by MetaTrader 4.

Navigating MetaTrader 4

Before starting to trade, there is a variety of terms that traders need to familiarize themselves with. Although there is an entire glossary, which can be viewed here, some of the common terms used include, but are not limited to:

  • Currency pair – which consist of two currencies. The first one in the pair is the base currency and the second is the counter-currency
  • Exchange rate – which is the price of the base currency expressed in terms of the counter-currency
  • Bid or Ask Price – there are two prices pertaining to a currency pair at any given moment and this is the bid and the ask price.
  • Bid Price – the price at which buyers are willing to buy
  • Ask Price – the price at which sellers are willing to sell
  • Spread – while most brokers do not charge commissions or fees when a trader places a trade, there is a bid/ask spread which remains the main cost              pertaining to Forex traders.
  • Pip – can be explained as the short from Percentage in Point. This represents the smallest increment with which an exchange rate can either more up or      down
  • Going long or short – going long means buying while going short means selling. 

These are but some of the terms that traders will come across, so it is imperative to keep a glossary close by to ensure that traders understand the terminology involved in trading.

Navigating MetaTrader 4

When opening the MetaTrader 4 application, the trader is presented with the following six separate segments:

  • Control Ribbon – which makes provision for any action which can be performed in MetaTrader 4.
  • Toolbar – which contains essential functions and options along with tools which traders can use to master MetaTrader 4 such as general commands, charts, line studies and timeframes.
  • Market Watch – which displays the different instruments that can be traded along with options such as new order, chart window, tick chart, depth of market and specification.
  • Navigator – from where traders can log into any of the trading accounts which they have along with it providing the option to create a demo account and the ability to test any trading strategies before going live.
  • Terminal window – which shows the trader’s open orders, exposure, trading history, messages as well as alerts.
  • Charts Workspace – where traders can display different charts as well as being able to conduct a trading analysis.

Setting up Trading Charts

How to change the chart style

When opening the MetaTrader 4 application, the trader is presented with a default chart that might not make any sense at all, but this chart can be customized.

Charts in MetaTrader 4 can either be viewed as candlestick, bar or line charts and it can be changed by selecting the relevant icon in the top toolbar between ‘New Order’ and the zoom in/out icons.

Traders can change the chart type easily to what they would prefer. For the purpose of this tutorial, it will be based on the candlestick chart style.

How to change the chart colour scheme

After the trader has chosen the candlestick chart, the next step is to be able to differentiate between the candles so that the trader can see when the price has moved towards the up- or the downside. Traders can do this by following the steps below:

  1. Rick-click anywhere on the chart and move the mouse arrow down towards ‘Properties’ (‘Properties’ can also be accessed by pressing F8 on the keyboard)
  2. Between the three tabs provided (Common, Show and Colours) select the ‘Colours’ tab. When opening this tab, there is a variety of aspects of the chart along with different colours that can be changed for each. Some of these include:
  • Background
  • Foreground
  • Grid
  • Bar Up
  • Bar Down, and more
  1. There are a variety of colours to choose from but bear in mind the most contrasting colours will make the chart easier to read along with being able to monitor movements.

Gridlines and other options

Once the trader has made changes with regards of the chart style and colour scheme, they also have the option of removing the gridlines from the chart.

The gridlines merely serve the purpose of being a guide, but they can also complicate the appearance and make the chart harder to read, especially for beginner traders.

The gridlines on the chart can be removed by selecting ‘Properties’ from the list when Right-clicking on the chart (or pressing F8 to access Properties), selecting ‘Show’ in ‘Properties’ and deselecting the option to show grid.

In addition, there are several other options of aspects which can be shown/hidden on the chart, such as:

  • Bid Price Line
  • Ask Price Line
  • Last Price Line, and more

How to save a chart template

Once the trader has made adaptions to the chart as per his/her preference, the next step is to automate the process so that the trader is not forced to repeat it once opening a new chart.

This can be done by saving the chart as a template to be used for future charts. The template can be saved by Right-clicking on the chart, moving the arrow to ‘Templates’ and selecting ‘Save Template’ from the side window.

A window will then open to save the template and the trader can choose a specified location and provide the template with a name of their choosing.

To load a template, the trader can right-click on the chart, move the mouse to ‘Templates’, select ‘Load Template’ from the side window and choose the saved template from the location where they saved it.

Auto-scroll and Chart Shift

The auto-scroll feature can be used to keep the chart updated with the last tick, depending on the trading analysis of the trader while the shift option provides the trader with some space to the right of the period.

How to change timeframes on the Chart

Traders can choose between nine different timeframes when using MetaTrader 4, namely:

  • M1 – 1 Minute
  • M5 – 5 Minutes
  • M15 – 15 Minutes
  • M30 – 30 Minutes
  • H1 – 1 Hour
  • H4 – 4 Hours
  • D1 – 1 Day
  • W1 – 1 Week, and
  • MN

The option to change the timeframe can be found in its own toolbar, or by using the submenu button provided for timeframes in the standard toolbar.

How to use the Crosshair

This provides a trader with more agility with regards to their trading analysis along with providing information in a faster way.

The crosshair can be accessed from the line studies toolbar. When selected it will replace the cursor with a crosshair. It can be used by moving the mouse to a chart or candle bar to view the crosshair along with highlights of a specific price and time.

In addition, the crosshair can be used to measure time along with bar and pips distances on a chart. It also serves a purpose in determining stop loss and take profit levels.

How to use drawing tools on charts

MetaTrader 4 has several objects which can be drawn on charts, including:

  • Vertical lines
  • Horizontal lines
  • Trendlines
  • Equidistant channel
  • Fibonacci retracement
  • Text
  • Text table, and
  • Arrows

To use these tools, traders can simply select the object that they want to use from the provided toolbar and then click on the chart. Traders can adjust the width and position of some objects by simply moving the mouse while clicking on the chart.

Other objects will however need a separate window to allow for customization on the chart.

Objects can be removed and edited by right-clicking on the chart where they have been added and selecting ‘Objects List’ form the provided menu. This will open a new window displaying a full list of active objects that are currently used on the chart.

From this window, the selected object can either be edited or removed, depending on what the trader needs.

How to add and use indicators on charts

MetaTrader 4 has a wide variety of indicators that are pre-installed, along with the ability to create more and importing them to the platform. Indicators can be added to the selected chart by making use of the menu bar.

Technical vs Fundamental Analysis

There are two different types of analysis namely a fundamental analysis and a technical analysis.

A fundamental analysis provides the trader with a reason regarding why a specific market is moving while a technical analysis provides the direction of that movement or any given trade’s target.

Both a fundamental and technical analysis are important before a trade is opened as they are both equally important for making decisions when trading.

Traders can conduct a fundamental analysis through MetaTrader 4 by using the ‘News’ Tab on the ‘Toolbox’ window.

Traders can conduct a technical analysis with MetaTrader 4 by using the following:

  • Elliott Waves Theory – traders can use this theory as it effectively counts the waves presented within price movements. When using this, the trader’s chart will display a lot of numbers along with letters.
  • Trend Indicators – traders can apply these to the candles in a chart, or as a line/bar graph which is displayed in the chart background.
  • Oscillators – these are applied specifically to the bottom of the chart and not on the candles, bars, or lines itself. The purpose of the oscillators is to display the best places to enter or exit a market.
  • Market Geometry – these are displayed as a lot of lines and channels which can start from older prices that are displayed on the right-hand side of the chart to determine both the support and resistance levels.

Saving a Profile

All the tools and indicators used add to the trading style along with technical analysis which are used on a chart. This can be saved as the trader’s profile which can be taken and uploaded to any other MetaTrader account.

When closing the MetaTrader 4 platform, the work and profile of the trader is automatically saved, and it will remain there when the trader opens the application again.

How to trade using MetaTrader 4

How to open an order

Placing a trade while using MetaTrader 4 can be done by selecting a chart of a currency pair followed by clicking on the ‘New Order’ button. This button can be found in the standard toolbar.

The trader can also select a currency pair from the ‘Market Watch’ window, right-click on it and select ‘New Order’. In addition, a ‘New Order’ can also be opened by pressing the F9 key on the keyboard anywhere on the main screen of MetaTrader 4.

After doing this, an ‘Order’ menu will open and will feature the following:

  • Symbol – this refers specifically to the currency pair or the financial instrument that is being traded
  • Volume – can be selected by the trader according to the strategy they have pertaining to risk and money management
  • Stop Loss and Take Profit – can be added on the new order, or after the order has been placed
    • Stop Loss – this feature allows the trader to maximize the likelihood pertaining to limiting their potential losses
    • Take Profit – involves the same process and the trader can input the value or the price target level to enable them to lock a profit for their trade.
  • Comment – this section allows traders to add any observations with regard to the particular trade
  • Type – allows traders to select Market Execution/Instant Orders or Pending Orders

How to modify an order

Certain circumstances may arise that can lead to a trader having to modify their order. This function in MetaTrader 4 proves to be extremely useful as it ensures flexibility in trading along with allowing traders to adapt to new market conditions or unexpected scenarios.

Should a trader want to modify an order, they can access the Trade tab in the terminal window and locate the open order which they would like to modify. Right-clock on the open order and select ‘Modify or delete order’.

Both the Stop Loss levels and Take Profit can be changed here by either entering the values or by using ‘Copy As’. After the trader is done, ‘Modify’ can be selected and the change will have taken effect.

Closing an order

The best way to close an open order, is by Right-clicking on the order in the terminal section and selecting the option to ‘Close Order’.

Pending Orders

When creating a new order in MetaTrader 4, traders have the option of selecting it as a Pending Order instead of a Market Execution or Instant Order. Pending Order is a condition which is attached to the order and will not be placed until the condition is fulfilled.

Buy-Stop Pending Orders are used when traders would like for an order to be placed after a certain level is surpassed, this is normally used in a volatile market scenario.

Sell-Stop Pending Orders are used should traders expect a price drop and they would like to add a price level condition which will trigger their order.

Buy-Limit Pending Orders can be placed by traders who would like to take advantage of a volatile market. This Is done by placing the order at a lower price level which could be hit when there is an expected price pullback before it continues in an upward trend.

Sell-Limit Pending Orders are used by traders who would like to take advantage of resistance levels that precede a particular downward trend.

How to set up a Price Alert

This can be done easily by opening the ‘Terminal’ window and moving the curser to ‘Alerts’. By Right-clicking in this window, the trader can select ‘Create’ from the Menu which will open the ‘Alert Editor’ window from where the trader can customise price alerts.

How to view trade history

By opening the ‘Terminal’ window and navigating to the ‘Account History’ tab, traders can view their trade history either as a whole, history of the last three months, the last month or by selecting a custom period that the trader would like to view.

Trade Reports

With MetaTrader 4, traders have the ability to produce trade reports that show individual trades pertaining to closed transactions, open trades along with working orders and an all-encompassing account summary.

Conclusion and Writer’s Opinion

MetaTrader 4 not only has the tools, features and offerings that cater for traders on an advanced level, but getting to know the trading platform along with basic functions is quite simple and hassle-free.

There is a lot of potential with regards to customization and thus setting up the perfect trading strategy according to what the trader needs, in addition to tools provided to test the strategies before applying them to a live environment.