Hand a toddler a book, and you may notice them trying to swipe right to turn the page. Or pressing on images thinking they’re icons. Working an ipad or smartphone is so simple, babies can do it.
Companies like Apple have done an incredible job at making complex systems so easy to use that you don’t even need instructions – finding your way around is intuitive.
So, when I see a platform like Metatrader (MT4), I’m tempted to give them an ‘F’ for effort.
But the reality is that MT4 is THE most widely used trading platform on the planet. It gives more flexibility and more options than most others. I use it more and more for my own trading these days.
If you don’t use MT4 (at least for some of your trading), you’re setting yourself at a disadvantage. Like most things, they can seem quite daunting at first, but once you make a start, things quickly begin to make sense.
And, oh yes …
… it’s free!
So, I’m going to challenge you to forgive MT4 for its ‘ugliness’ and to give it a fair shot.
A little time investing in getting your head around this, could reap huge rewards, as Metatrader allows you to:
- automate trading methods (so trades can manage themselves),
- easily test what works and what doesn’t
- and tap into the very best trading systems.
This bit is simpler than ever before, with more and more brokers offering MT4 as standard. Just head over to one of these brokers (you can find links below) and follow their step-by-step instructions (including videos to guide you through the process).
(If your computer is a Mac, not all brokers support this, but some do. It’s very possible to run MT4 on a Mac, but adding indicators and expert advisors is a little more involved – give your broker a call if you need support with this.)
So, let’s tackle the tool bar
Okay, so you’ve downloaded Metatrader and linked your account as shown by your broker (I recommend starting out with a demo account).
You’re probably looking at screen like the one above … and feeling the need for a stiff drink!
Fear not. Help is on hand.
First, we’ll work through basic navigation, using those teeny tiny icons on the tool bar.
The ones on the left of the bar are mainly to do with managing the windows you want in your main dashboard ‘view’.
Create or use a saved profile: once you’ve got your dashboard exactly how you like it, you can save that view using the profile feature. That way, you can switch to the set-up you want in just a couple of clicks.
Open the market watch window: this is the window which lists the instruments you’re looking at (more on this in a moment)
Open the data window: this little window shows all the levels (highs, lows, etc) for each candle as you hover you cursor over it.
Open the navigator window: this window shows your Metatrader files (your accounts, indicators, and any expert advisors or scripts you might have).
Open the terminal window: this is where you can view any open trades or orders you have, and account history.
Open strategy tester: (We’ll cover this aspect at a later date.)
Open a new order ticket: this is how you can bring up a ticket to place trades
The other end of the tool bar deals with the appearance of the charts …
Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but a couple of points worth noting …
The autoscroll button causes your chart to automatically jump to the latest bar as soon as a new tick arrives – perfectly useful if you want to watch price action unfold. But very annoying if you’re looking at some older price patterns and the price keeps leaping back to the current candle.
If your chart is leaping about when you don’t want it to – check this setting is turned off.
The other feature here worth a mention is the template button. Once you’ve got a chart set up exactly how you want it, click here and you’ll be given an option to save it as a template. Then you can reapply those settings with just a couple of clicks.
If you’re still not happy with the way your charts are looking, just right click on your chart, and select ‘properties’ from the drop-down menu that comes up.
This takes you to a menu where you can adjust the colours, add and remove the grid, and much more.
Play around with these settings until you’re happy with the way your charts look (and remember – you can save these settings as a template.)
Annotating your charts
Metatrader also offers some neat tools for adding lines, arrows, even text to your charts. You can find these just below the main tool bar here …
When you’ve added lines to your charts, just double click on them, and you can move them around; or press the backspace on your keyboard to delete them.
The market watch window
This is because instruments can be ‘shown’ or ‘hidden’ – and useful feature if you want to just view the few markets that you’re interested in.
To select which markets will be shown in your market watch window, right click on the window, and select ‘symbols’ from the menu that comes up …
This then takes you to a list of all available markets, where you can choose to ‘show’ or ‘hide’ them individually …
There are lots of standard indicators offered there, plus you can add custom indicators. To move one of these indicators onto your chart, just click and drag it across.
This is where you’ll find Expert Advisors – also known as ‘forex robots’ – these are tools that will open and manage trades for you. This is where Metatrader really comes into its own. But there’s plenty to get your head around on this platform, so we’re not going to rush into it.
For now, I recommend that you get used to navigating the platform and adjusting charts to suit you.
Next time we’ll take a look at how to start placing trades, plus the terminal window, where you can view and manage your open positions. Before we go on to get our teeth into expert advisors.
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