Beginners Guide to MetaTrader 4

1. Introduction


MetaTrader 4 is a trading platform developed by MetaQuotes Software for online trading in the forex, contract for differences (CFDs) and futures markets. MT4, as it is commonly known, can be downloaded at no charge directly from the MetaQuotes web site ( or through dozens of online forex brokers. MT4 provides tools and resources that allow traders to analyse price, place and manage trades, and employ automated trading techniques. This tutorial will provide an introduction to many of MetaTrader 4's features, including chart settings, technical analysis tools and trade placement.

2. Installation

The MetaTrader 4 program can be downloaded directly from MetaQuotes Software's dedicated MT4 web site ( or through any of the large number of forex brokers that offer the program. Installation only takes a few minutes with a high-speed Internet connection. After clicking on "Download", a MetaTrader 4 Setup window will appear, as shown in Figure 1. Read the license agreement, and then click "Next" to begin the installation.

Figure 1

The MetaTrader 4 setup window appears after clicking "Download."

A new window, shown in Figure 2, will appear, giving the trader the option to accept the default installation folder or specify a different one. There are also options to create a desktop shortcut and to launch the program after successful installation. By default, these options are selected; simply click the box to uncheck the selection. Click "Next" to continue.

Figure 2

Selecting an installation folder. A new window will appear (Figure 3) that shows the installation progress. Once all the tasks have been completed, click "Next" to continue.

Figure 3

Installation progress

Following successful installation, MT4 will launch with its default parameters, as illustrated in Figure 4. A pop-up window will appear, prompting the trader to open an account. Fill in the fields for name, country, state, city, zip code, address, phone and email. Select the account type, currency, desired leverage and hypothetical deposit from the drop-down menus. This account will automatically be a demo account – where traders can practice using the program without risking real money – unless the trader has opened and funded a trading account with a forex broker. "I agree to subscribe to your newsletters" must be selected in order for the "Next" button to appear. Click on "Next" to complete the process. Once the account has been successfully created, the data will automatically begin to update, and the price charts will come to life.

Figure 4

After successful installation, the MT4 program will launch and prompt the user to open an account. The "I agree to subscribe to your newsletter" box (here, in the yellow ellipse) must be checked to complete the installation.

3. Basic Navigation

By default, MT4 opens with four chart windows, each representing a different currency pair. The toolbars, populated with many icons, are located at the top of the screen. Below the toolbars, on the left side of the screen, is the "Market Watch" window, which lists a variety of currency pairs along with corresponding bid and ask prices. Two tabs are located at the bottom of the "Market Watch" window: One is called "Symbols," which shows this list of currency pairs. The other is called "Tick Charts;" this tab can be selected to show the current price activity of any of the currency pairs.
Below the "Market Watch" window is the "Navigator" window. Here, traders can view their account(s), as well as a variety of indicators, "Expert Advisors" and "Scripts." These features will be described in the Advanced Features section of this tutorial.
The "Terminal" appears at the bottom of the screen with six tabs: Trade, Account History, Alerts, Mailbox, Experts and Journal. Traders can click each tab to become familiar with the type of information that appears in each tab. The "Trade" tab, for example, is where open orders and trades can be viewed, including the symbol, trade entry price, stop loss levels, take profit levels, closing price and profit or loss. The "Account History" tab, on the other hand, lists all of the activity that has occurred, including closed orders. Figure 5 shows the different sections of the MT4 screen.

Figure 5

The different sections of the MT4 screen.

3.1 Charts and Settings

The price charts can be customized to reflect the trader's style and colour preferences. Right-click on any price chart and select "Properties" to ​customize the appearance of the chart. Several default colour schemes appear in the "Colour Scheme" drop-down menu at the top of the "Colours" tab. Traders also have the option to specify colours for each variable, including background, foreground, grid, and bar colours. The "Common" tab allows traders to select if they would like certain features, such as volume, to appear on the chart. Figure 6 shows an example of the "Properties" window pop-up.

Figure 6

The "Properties" window can be accessed by right-clicking on any price chart and selecting "Properties."

3.2 Templates

Once a colour scheme has been selected, it can be saved as a template. Click on the "Template"
icon  in the top toolbar and select "Save Template." Give the template a name, and the new template will appear in the drop-down list of templates. This template can now be applied to any chart simply by clicking on the "Template" icon and selecting the desired template from the drop-down list.
Price Bars Traders can also select how price will appear on each chart. With a chart selected, click
on the desired icon  to apply bar, candlestick or line price data. Hovering the cursor over any icon will cause the icon's name to appear. This is helpful when learning the function of each icon. The chart type can also be selected by clicking "Charts" in the top toolbar and choosing the desired type from the drop-down menu.

3.3 Indicators

A variety of technical analysis indicators can be added to any price chart. Click on the "Add
Indicators" icon  in the top toolbar to view a list of available indicators and make a selection. Figure 7 shows an example of the "Add Indicators" drop-down menu. This menu can also be accessed by clicking "Insert" on the top toolbar and selecting "Indicators." Many indicators are categorized under the type of indicator, such as trends, oscillators and volumes, and can be found under the appropriate heading. Once an indicator is selected, the trader will have the option to change inputs, such as moving average length, or use the default settings. The indicator will then appear on the price chart.

Figure 7

Click on the "Add Indicators" icon in the top toolbar to access a list of technical indicators that can be applied to any price chart.

3.4 Chart Size

Any price chart can be closed, maximized, minimized or restored by right-clicking on the chart's tab under the chart windows. Figure 8, for example, shows the window and corresponding choices that appear after right-clicking on the tab for the EURUSD currency pair.

Figure 8

Each chart can be closed, maximized, minimized or restored by right-clicking on the currency pair\'s tab under the chart window.

3.5 Zoom

Traders may find it helpful at times to be able to take a closer look at a price chart. The top toolbar's "Zoom In" and "Zoom Out" icons  can be clicked to get a different view of the chart. The "Zoom In" feature allows traders to take a closer look at a smaller data set; each successive click on the "Zoom In" icon will provide a more close-up view of the chart. The opposite holds true for the "Zoom Out" icon, which can be clicked to return the chart to its original appearance.

3.6 Timeframes

Different time frames can be applied to a chart either by clicking on the "Periods" icon  or by selecting the desired time frame from the toolbar, as shown in Figure 9. M1 represents a one-minute time frame, M5 a five-minute time frame, H1 a one-hour, and so on. Many traders like to watch the same trading symbol on multiple time frames. If monitor space is an issue and multiple charts of the same symbol are not practical, traders can switch back and forth between time frames using these easy-to-access toolbar icons.

Figure 9

Different time frames can be applied to a chart by clicking on the "Periods" icon and selecting from the drop-down list, or by clicking on the desired icon in the toolbar.

3.7 Drawing Tools

Traders can use a variety of drawing tools to enhance their market analysis. Objects such as vertical lines, horizontal lines, trend lines, channels and Fibonacci Retracements can be drawn. Each drawing tool has its own icon  located in the toolbar. Additional drawing tools, such as Gann lines, can be found by clicking "Insert" on the top toolbar and selecting from a variety of tools.

3.8 Connection Status

The bottom right corner of the screen shows a status icon that indicates if the platform is connected to the Internet and capable of receiving market updates. Red bars  indicate there is no connection. Conversely, green bars  indicate there is a connection, and the adjacent number displays the speed of the connection.

4. Setting up a Trade

4.1 Connecting to Data Centre/Live Accounts and Historical Data

Once MetaTrader 4 has been launched, an account opened (even a demo account), and the connection confirmed, traders should be viewing live market data. If the status icon in the lower right-hand corner shows there is a connection but the charts are still not updating, clicking on "Charts" and then selecting "Refresh" should allow the data to start loading properly. Many traders wish to review historical data in order to back test trading strategies, or determine how a strategy would have performed in the past. This historical data can be downloaded through MT4's History Centre:


  • First, make sure that the setting for the maximum number of bars can accommodate the data that will be downloaded, assuming 1,440 minute bars each day (60 minutes per hour multiplied by 24 hours), for example. In MT4, click on "Tools" and select Options >Charts>Max Bars in History to enter the maximum number of bars.


  • Open the History Centre: Click on "Tools" and select "History Centre."


  • Choose the instrument and time frame, double-clicking to populate the database on the right-hand side of the window. Select the desired data (Ctrl + Click to select more than one), and then click "Download." An example can be seen in Figure 10.


  • If desired, the data can be exported in a variety of formats. Directions can be found in the MT4 user guide by clicking "Help" and selecting "Help Topics."

Figure 10

Downloading daily AUDCAD data in the History Centre.

4.2 Opening and Modifying Orders

Once a trader is ready to enter an order into the market, the "Order" window will have to be opened. This can be accomplished in any of three ways, as illustrated in Figure 11:


  1. Right-clicking on a currency pair in the "Market Watch" window and selecting "New Trade;"


  1. Right-clicking on an active chart and selecting Trade>New Order; and


  1. Clicking on the "New Order" button in the toolbar.

Figure 11

There are three ways to open a new "Order" window: 

1) In the "Market Watch" window; 

2) On an active chart; 

​3) In the toolbar.


Any method will open the same "Order" window, shown in Figure 12. Here, traders must select the:


  • "Symbol" from the drop-down list at the top (this will automatically be set to the symbol on the active chart). A corresponding tick chart appears in the left pane.


  • "Volume" in terms of lot size. 1.0 is equal to 1 lot, or 100,000 units. Many traders select smaller volumes.


  • "Stop Loss" and "Take Profit "if the platform supports this option. If MT4 is downloaded through certain brokers, these fields will be user-definable. Otherwise, these fields will remain blank (but the orders can still be entered later).


  • "Type, "either "Market Execution" (a market order) or "Pending Order" where the trader can specify the desired entry price. "Sell by Market" or "Buy by Market, "depending on the desired trade direction.


  • Click "Okay" to close the window.

Figure 12

The MT4 Order window. 

The open order can be viewed in the "Terminal" window by clicking on the "Trade" tab.
To modify an order, such as to add a protective stop loss order and/or a take profit (profit target) order, highlight the trade in the "Trade" tab of the Terminal, right-click and select "Modify or Delete Order." This is shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13

Right-click on the trade in the "Trade" tab of the Terminal to modify or delete the order. 

A window will open where traders can manually specify stop loss and/or take profit levels. The "Copy As" buttons can be clicked to populate the stop loss and take profit fields with the current price. Changes can then be made to the prices to achieve the desired stop loss and take profit levels. Once valid levels are specified, the trade can be entered by clicking on the long, horizontal bar at the bottom of the screen. This bar will be highlighted only when valid stop loss and/or take profit levels have been entered (at least 10 pips away from the trade entry level); otherwise, the bar will remain grey and inactive. Figure 14 shows an example of the "Modify or Delete Order" window.

Figure 14

Adding stop loss and take profit (profit target) orders to an open order.

Once stop loss and take profit values are specified, they will appear on the chart as horizontal lines at the corresponding price levels. This makes it easy for traders to monitor open trades. An example can be viewed in Figure 15. A trailing stop can be added in conjunction with the protective stop loss order that allows the stop level to move up (in the case of a long position) or move down (in a short position) a specified amount. A trailing stop can be entered by right-clicking on an open position in the "Trade" tab of the Terminal, and selecting "Trailing Stop" and the desired stop level.

Figure 15

Stop loss and take profit (profit target) levels will appear as horizontal lines at the appropriate price level.

4.3 Closing Orders and Checking Transaction History

From here, the trade will be closed once price hits the stop loss, trailing stop or take profit level. The trade can be closed at any time by highlighting the trade in the "Trade" tab of the Terminal, right-clicking and selecting "Close Order," as shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16

Trades can be closed by right - clicking on an open trade in the "Trade" tab of the Terminal, and selecting "Close Order."

After selecting "Close Order", a window will appear prompting the trader to confirm that the trade should be closed. This window can also be opened by double-clicking on the trade in the "Trade" tab of the Terminal. Once the window appears, the yellow horizontal bar at the bottom of the window can be clicked to close the trade, as shown in Figure 17. It should be noted that trades can also be closed by opening an opposing position. For example, if the trade is long 1.0 EURUSD, that position can be closed by opening a short 1.0 EURUSD position. This is sometimes referred to as stop-and-reverse, or SAR, method.

Figure 17

To close a trade, trades can open the "Close Order" window and click on the yellow bar.

All open trade activity can be viewed in the "Trade" tab of the Terminal, and all account history will appear in the "Account History" tab of the Terminal.

5. Advanced Features

5.1 Connecting MT4 to a Mobile Device

As people are becoming more dependent on electronic devices, many forex brokers now offer applications to support MT4 on mobile devices. The functionality of the MT4 application is similar to that of the desktop version. Traders can access charts, utilize technical analysis tools, and place and manage trades. While MetaQuotes currently supports only the Windows operating system (OS), third-party brokers have made Android and iPhone applications available. At the end of 2011, MetaQuotes announced it would soon be releasing applications for the iPhone operating system.
While most forex brokers do offer mobile apps, they do not always provide apps for all of the different operating systems. If the mobile app feature is a priority, confirm with a broker ahead of time that it will be able to support a particular operating system. Certain brokers charge a fee for the application, or charge for a license key, while others give it away. A quick call to a broker's customer service number, or an online chat, can provide details regarding operating systems and fees, if any. Specific installation instructions are typically provided on each supporting brokers' web site.

5.2 Expert Advisors

MT4's Expert Advisor (EA) program can be used to implement trading strategies and automate trading. The proprietary programming language is called "MetaQuotes Language 4," or MQL4. Traders can write their own custom indicators and/or strategies using the platform's "MetaEditor"feature. To open, click on "Tools" and select "MetaQuotes Language Editor," shown in Figure 18, or click on the "MetaEditor" icon  in the toolbar. This will open the programming environment.
While details regarding the creation and usage of MT4's Expert Advisors are outside the scope of this guide, helpful information can be found in the "MetaEditor" window by clicking on "Help" and selecting any of the subheadings under "MQL4 Community," including MQL4 Website, Book, Documentation, Articles, Code Base and Forum. This online community offers free support, and members can post questions such as, "How can I write an EA that will allow me to enter simultaneous buy and sell orders to capture a breakout?" and other community members can post responses. The "MQL4 Code Base" offers free EAs that other members have posted, including a description of the purpose and application of the code.

Figure 18

The MQL4 community provides support for MT4\'s proprietary programming language.

Once EAs have been written or otherwise acquired, they can be attached to any chart to perform a variety of functions, including technical analysis, as with indicators, or even trading automation. EAs, Custom Indicators, and Scripts (programs that are executed on request that are intended to perform a single action) can be added to a chart by clicking-and-dragging, or by double-clicking the desired item within the "Navigator" window, as shown in Figure 19.

Figure 19

Double-clicking on an EA, indicator or Script will apply it to the active chart. Traders can also simply click and drag the item onto a chart.

6. Tips and Tricks

As traders become more familiar with the MT4 platform, they will find certain tips and tricks that help save time or that make a process easier. Here are a few to get traders started.

6.1 Profiles

Traders have the option of saving chart groups: how the charts and different windows are
arranged on the screen. The layout can be saved by clicking on the "Profiles"  icon and selecting "Save Profile As." Many different Profiles can be saved, allowing traders a choice in how their screens appear. To access a Profile, click on the "Profiles" icon and select from the drop-down list. Several default profiles are included in the drop-down menu.

6.2 Trend Lines

Trend lines are drawn on charts primarily to help identify areas of support and resistance. Click on the "Trend line" icon to draw a trend line on the chart: click and drag to define the trend line, and then release the mouse button. Double-click on the trend line to make changes to it:


  • Click and drag either end of the trend line to rotate.


  • Click and drag the center box of the trend line to move the trend line to a different price level.


  • Hold the keyboard's "Ctrl" button and click on the trend line to draw a parallel trend line.


  • Right-click to open the "Trend line Properties" box to adjust the colour and style and define other parameters.


  • Right-click and select "Delete" to remove the trend line.

6.3 Crosshair Mode

The crosshair mode can be quickly accessed by clicking the middle mouse button. While the crosshair mode is in use, traders can move the crosshair over any price bar, or any part of a price bar, and the corresponding time and price values will be readily identifiable. Figure 20 illustrates this concept. The crosshair mode is useful when determining specific time and price values, such as when looking for a recent high or low, or when identifying when a bar printed. The crosshair mode can also be chosen by clicking the "Crosshair" icon  in the toolbar.

Figure 20

Crosshair mode makes it easy to find a price bar\'s high or low, and the time and day that the bar printed.

6.4 Deleting Drawing Objects

The last drawing object that is drawn, whether it is a trend line or a Fibonacci retracement, can be removed from the chart by clicking on the keyboard's backspace button. Continue clicking the backspace button to remove additional objects.

6.5 Charts

When more than one chart is open, tabs will appear under the chart windows. Each tab will have the name of the symbol and its time frame. Double-clicking on a tab allows traders to switch between viewing a single chart and seeing all charts displayed at the same time. The display can be adjusted by clicking "Window" in the tool bar and selecting from the drop-down list. Choices include "Cascade," which stacks the charts one on top of another; and "Tile Horizontally," which creates equally-sized charts and arranges them in a tidy manner.

7. Conclusion

While it is easy to setup MT4 and start placing trades, it requires time and effort to learn the program's intricacies in order to take advantage of its powerful features. This guide serves as an introduction, and many additional resources are available through the MT4 User Guide and MQL4 Community.

Congratulations on completing the trading platform training. Its a good idea to use your MT4 platform and test the knowledge that you have just learnt. Once you are ready, you can then start with the next chapter. Good luck!

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