MetaTrader 4 is probably one of the most popular retail Forex trading platforms, made available to you free of charge by hundreds of brokers. But are you genuinely using it to its full potential? In this article we’ll reveal 5 tips and tricks that will take your MT4 usage to the next level.
MT4’s Strategy Tester is the service you will use to backtest and optimize Expert Advisors against historical data. Expert Advisors, also known as EAs, are small programmes that can calculate indicators on the fly, and implement automated trading strategies, buying and selling instruments on your behalf.
This is perhaps best understood through an example, using the built-in Moving Average EA created by MetaQuotes. Select that EA using the Strategy Tester module, then choose an instrument (such as the USDCAD currency pair) and the settings of your imaginary trading account (such as the spread charged by your broker on that instrument, leverage and your starting balance). You’ll also be able to set any inputs your EA accepts (such as the lookback period, in the case of the Moving Average AE).
Finally, click the Start button in the bottom right section of your screen (as illustrated below), to launch the simulation. Within seconds, the Strategy Tester will plot your EA against historical data, and reports on the performance of your EA. You’ll find a wealth of information there, such as your total net profit, gross profit and loss alongside various risk metrics like the strategie’s Sharpe Ratio. These data points are all visible in the following MT4 screenshot.
If you’re disappointed with your EA’s performance, change the currency pair, leverage or lookback window until you’ve found a combination that works. However, you should always be mindful that past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
MT4 allows you to trade directly from the charts through sell and buy buttons placed directly on the chart, as illustrated below. This is a time-saving feature that many traders love, but is also one that may cause you to open or close trades unexpectedly. This feature will work for you if you’re a day trader, or scalper. However, you may want to disable this feature if this isn’t of interest to you, by right clicking on the chart and select One Click Trading.
It may come as a surprise to you to learn that most instruments are disabled in MT4. The first time you open MT4, the Market Watch panel in the left hand side will show a subset of instruments. Right click the Market Watch panel, then click Symbols to show all available instruments, as illustrated below. Select the ones you care about most.
Importantly, the total number of instruments available for you to trade will ultimately depend on your broker. That’s why it’s important to choose one of many MT4 brokers with an extensive selection of currencies, stocks, indices, commodities and even crypto-currencies (if this is allowed in your country). At the very least, your broker should list all the instruments and asset classes you care about.
Market Data is important if you are planning on backtesting EAs (the Strategy Tester won’t run without Market Data). To see the Market Data already available in your platform, select an instrument (such as EURUSD) and a time interval (such as 1 minute, 5 minutes, 1 hour, daily or even weekly). MetaTrader will show the tick open, high, low and close data across all available time intervals, as illustrated below.
MT4 provides you with the ability to add, edit, export and import market data into its History Center. You could enter this information manually, download it from third party websites or use a third party provider to source historical data.
Last but not least, we’ll explain how to create a custom template for your charts. You can change and customize almost everything about your charts, from the type of line (such as bars, candles or columns) to the chart’s color scheme and volume information, as illustrated below.
Once you’ve created a color scheme you like, right-click the chart, click Templates and Save As. You can give this template any name you want; however, you’ll need to save it as “default.tpl” to make this the default for any charts you open.
Together, these features will put you miles ahead of the average MT4 investor. We hope you have found these of interest, and would encourage you to download the MetaTrader 4 platform for free from its official website, or your preferred MT4 broker.
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