MetaTrader Guide

Richard Montana | October 21, 2022

What is MetaTrader?

MetaTrader is an online trading platform that is used to trade various instruments including Forex, Commodities, Cryptocurrency, Stocks, Indices, Options, ETFs, CFDs, Futures and Spread Betting. Traders can view real time price quotes of various trading instruments in the market watch window and load different chart types across multiple timeframes. You can analyse these price charts for trading opportunities, place and manage trades. MetaTrader brokers offer clients the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platforms for desktop, web and mobile. It is free to use and some of the best MetaTrader brokers will even include exclusive trading tools and additional brokerage services such as social trading platforms, educational resources for beginners, PAMM accounts, dedicated account managers, daily market analysis and more.

MetaTrader Platforms

MetaTrader Platforms

Developed by trading software company MetaQuotes, it is one of the most popular trading platforms that is well known for its user-friendly, intuitive and fully customisable interface that makes it an efficient online trading platform for traders of all different experience levels. It is simple enough with a short learning curve that makes it a suitable choice for beginners, whilst it has enough advanced functionalities to satisfy the more seasoned investors.

MetaTrader has an abundance of trading tools and built-in features which can also be extended by adding other tools available from within the MetaTrader market and online. These tools include technical indicators, graphical drawing objects, scripts, price alert notifications, an economic calendar and much more. MetaTrader supports automated trading via expert advisors (EAs). These EAs can be back tested over historical data using the strategy tester. There is a MetaEditor interface included where users can create their own customised indicators, scripts and expert advisors.

MetaTrader Features:

  • Real time bid/ask price quotes in the market watch window
  • Powerful trading system with support for multiple execution modes and order types
  • One click trading directly from charts
  • Fully customisable user-friendly interface
  • Create, save and load your very own trading strategy templates
  • Choose from various chart timeframes and styles including bars, lines and candlesticks
  • Unlimited number of charts and 50+ analytical tools
  • Technical indicators and graphical objects for comprehensive chart analysis
  • Automated trading via Expert Advisors (EAs)
  • Strategy tester to back test EAs over historical data
  • MetaTrader market where you can buy indicators, scripts and trading robots
  • Trading signals allowing you to copy deals of other traders
  • News and alerts informing you of the important market events
  • MetaEditor interface to create customised scripts, indicators and EAs
  • MQL online community where you can share ideas and tools with other traders
  • Available in many languages and includes comprehensive tutorials
  • Set price alert notifications via SMS, email and platform pop-ups
  • Freely available to use on desktop, web and mobile devices

MetaTrader Desktop Platform

The desktop version of MetaTrader for Windows or MAC is the complete package with all features and functionalities included. It has a vast array of powerful and convenient tools for technical analysis and trading online in various markets.

MT4 Desktop Platform

MetaTrader Desktop Platform

MetaTrader Web Platform

The MetaTrader web platform allows you to trade online directly in most modern browsers on operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux) without needing to download or install any additional software. You can access your trading account and start trading online in just a couple of clicks. All you need is an internet connection and trading account with an online brokerage. The MetaTrader web version maintains all the advantages of the desktop solution since it is a regular part of the desktop platform. This ensures the web platform’s high reliability and compatibility with the entire MetaTrader ecosystem. The application is safe to use – all transmitted data is securely encrypted.

MetaTrader WebTrader

MetaTrader WebTrader

MetaTrader Mobile Platform

The MetaTrader mobile trading applications allow trading on financial markets via iOS and Android powered smartphones and tablets. The functionality offered on the mobile versions includes interactive quote charts, full set of trading orders and the most popular analytical tools, very similar to the desktop version. You can monitor your account status, track the history of trades, as well as buy and sell financial instruments in a single click. The mobile applications also provide additional features such as convenient chat with other traders and push notifications. The MetaTrader mobile application can be extremely useful for traders who would like to trade whilst on the go from anywhere in the world provided that they have an internet connection.

MetaTrader App

MetaTrader App

MetaTrader History

MetaQuotes Software Corporation was established in 2000 and launched the MetaTrader brand in 2002 as its third-generation software. After their online charting packages became popular with traders, they subsequently launched the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform in 2005 which was followed in 2010 by the launch of the MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platform which expands into additional asset classes and has more features than its predecessor.

However, despite MT5 being the newer version, MT4 is still the preferred platform of choice amongst millions of new and experienced traders worldwide. This is primarily due to its familiarity and the fact that there is an abundance of trading tools available online that have been coded specifically in MQL4 for the MT4 platform. Today, MetaTrader has become the industry standard amongst brokers and traders. It is widely regarded as one of the best trading platforms.

MetaTrader Charting and Tools

The MetaTrader platform has a fully customisable and intuitive interface. Everything is contained within the platform where you can choose from a large range of charts, technical indicators, graphical objects and tools. This gives traders endless possibilities for conducting in-depth chart analysis of the instruments available from with the market watch window.

You can load charts across a choice of timeframes such as 1-minute timeframes for short term analysis or 1 month for mid to long term analysis. This makes it suitable for scalping strategies and swing trading. You can choose between different chart types including candlesticks which can be useful for spotting candlestick patterns when analysing price action. You can mark support and resistance levels along with trend lines using the drawing objects. There are over 50+ technical indicators which you can place on charts to help spot trending and ranging market conditions. This includes popular indicators such as moving averages, MACD, stochastics, RSI, CCI, Bollinger bands, ADX, envelopes and more. If you want to save a customised chart setup for later you can create a trading strategy template to load as and when you need it.

Although the MetaTrader platform has a plethora of built-in trading tools, you can buy or rent additional tools from the MQL marketplace which is available directly from within the platform. The market contains thousands of trading robots and technical indicators for the MetaTrader platforms, and their number is increasing with each passing day. This makes the MetaTrader market the biggest application store for trading platforms in the world. There is also huge collection of additional tools available online from various trading websites and forums. Those who are familiar with computer programming can create their own customised tools using the MetaEditor interface that is included with MetaTrader.

For conducting fundamental analysis, there is an economic calendar which shows the date/time of the latest news releases along with the previous, expected and actual impacts they can have on various global markets. Information is collected from public sources in real time and thus this is one of the most complete, accurate and fastest solutions existing in the market. All indicators can be sorted by date (day, week, month), currency and importance.

MetaTrader Features

MetaTrader Features

MetaEditor

MetaEditor is a specialised editor for creating trading robots, scripts and technical indicators. MetaTrader programs are developed in the built-in MetaEditor. It is a convenient and versatile tool for developing expert advisors (EAs), custom indicators, scripts and libraries of any complexity which are then used in the platform. Ready-made applications automatically appear in MetaTrader and can be launched immediately.

MetaEditor recognizes various patterns of the language. It suggests tips on how to use functions and highlights various elements of the program source code. Thus, the editor enhances navigation in the source code of trading programs and speeds up the development process.

The built-in debugger and code profiler make the development much easier. The debugger finds and eliminates errors, while the profiler detects the slowest parts of the code and optimizes the program operation.

MetaEditor in MetaTrader Features:

  • Convenient editing of the MQL4/MQL5 source code
  • Automatic project generation by the MQL4/MQL5 Wizard template
  • Enhanced tools for the smart code management: syntax highlighting, autosubstitution, going to definitions, etc.
  • Built-in compilation tools
  • Convenient debugging tools
  • Built-in code profiler
  • Integrated MQL5 Storage to store your source codes
  • Collaborative remote development of applications via projects
  • Integrated MQL4 and MQL5 Help
  • Access to articles, Code Base and MQL5.community

MetaTrader Signals and Social Trading

MetaTrader has a signals market available on the MQL5 Community that lets users copy the trades of approved signal providers or share their own trading operations. This social copy trading service is available for free or for a subscription fee which is charged by each signal provider. When a trader subscribes to such signals, the same deals are automatically executed on their accounts. You can choose from signals running on demo and real accounts. For your convenience, all signal providers are sorted by trading results.

From within the platform, users can sync their trading account with their MQL5 Community user ID if they would like to enable the signals market for social trading. They can also receive push notifications of their trading activity via the mobile application. It should be strongly emphasised that there is absolutely no guarantee on how these signals will perform and past results should not be an indication of future performance. You should have a clear understanding of all the significant risks involved with trading online.

MetaTrader Marketplace

MetaTrader Marketplace

MetaTrader Automated Trading with Expert Advisors (EAs)

MetaTrader supports automated trading with the use of applications called expert advisors (EAs). These are more commonly known as trading robots or forex robots. These robots are trading algorithms that can analyse the price quotes of financial instruments, as well as execute trade operations on various markets. Trading robots can perform operations on financial markets and as a result, a trader can be completely replaced. The MetaTrader development environment covers the entire cycle of trading application development, allowing the trader to create, debug, test, optimize, and execute trading robots.

You can enjoy all of the advantages of trading robots, even if you do not have any programming background. In addition to the expert advisor development environment, MetaTrader provides options for free download, rent or purchase of thousands of trading robots. There is even an MQL community where you can order a custom trading robot from a professional programmer.

The MetaTrader market is the largest online store, from where you can purchase or rent hundreds of different trading applications to suit every taste and every budget. You can test any product from the market for free before deciding to purchase it. Just make a payment for a selected robot straight from the platform using your preferred payment method, and start using it right away. There is also a wide range of free and paid trading robots available online from other trading websites and forums.

MetaTrader Strategy Tester

You can test and optimize your trading robots in the strategy tester before using them for real trading. The built-in MetaTrader strategy tester facilitates the testing of a trading robots’ historical performance. This powerful tool not only allows testing the efficiency of an expert advisor, but also allows detecting the best input parameters before you run the EA on your real account.

The entire operation of the strategy tester is based on historical quotes of currencies, stocks and other assets. During testing, the expert advisor goes through the accumulated quotes and performs virtual transactions according to its algorithm. This procedure allows an evaluation of how the EA may have traded in the past – this however has significant limitations.

It should be stated that whilst robots do take the human emotions out of trading such as fear, anger and greed, they have limitations and cannot perform some actions a human studying the markets carefully may do. The results are not that accurate and should be taken with a large pinch of salt due to the limitations of the strategy tester. Unless using specialised software, the strategy tester cannot account for variable factors such as spreads, commission, slippage, requotes and daylight savings time. For these reasons, users of trading robots should be very careful. There is no guarantee on how they will perform and historical results are no indication of future performance.

MetaTrader VPS Hosting

Users can run trading robots and signal subscriptions 24/7 with a Forex VPS. A virtual private server (VPS) server can run the MetaTrader platform around-the-clock, even when your computer is switched off. The MetaTrader virtual hosting service allows your trades to be executed at any time with minimum delay. Renting a virtual server straight from the MetaTrader platform can be a useful way to help ensure uninterrupted operation of your trading robots and signal subscriptions. The server can be rented directly from your MetaTrader platform for expert advisors, indicators, scripts and signal subscriptions to be transferred to the virtual server.

MetaTrader 4 vs MetaTrader 5 Comparison

The MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform was launched in 2005 whilst the MetaTrader 5 (MT5) platform was launched in 2010. MetaTrader 5 maintained a similar look and feel to MetaTrader 4 although it had increased features and functionalities. This includes more chart timeframes, more supported markets, more order types, more technical indicators, more graphical objects, embedded MQL5 community chat, economic calendar, multi-currency strategy tester and depth of market level 2 pricing. Despite this, MetaTrader 4 remains the more popular platform perhaps due to the sheer amount of additional trading tools it has available online. It can also be due to not all trading brokers offering the MetaTrader 5 platform compared to the MetaTrader 4 platform which is available from the majority of online trading brokers.

MT4 & MT5 Platforms

MT4 & MT5 Platforms

Conclusion

There is a reason why MetaTrader has remained one of the most widely used trading platforms for millions of traders and some of the best trading brokers all over the world for many years. It is simple to use and replete with more than enough trading tools for the average retail trader. There is also an abundance of additional free and paid tools available online.

Most trading brokers will provide traders with a choice of MetaTrader platforms for desktop, web and mobile devices. This makes it a flexible and convenient option for different traders needs. The platform is free of charge with no ongoing costs. You will only usually pay your broker a small commission fee and spread for using their brokerage services. If you are looking to save as much as possible on your trading costs, you can take a look at our best discount brokers.

MetaQuotes has shown for many years that they are a market leader when it comes to developing multi-asset and forex trading platforms. The main thing to consider will be choosing between the MT4 or MT5 platform which can depend on what platform the broker offers and if you require specific assets and tools that are only available on one the particular platforms as this can vary from broker to broker.

If you would like to sign up for a live trading account or practice your trading strategies on the MetaTrader platforms, you can view our best MetaTrader brokers which can help you to find a broker that is suitable for your individual online trading requirements.

About the Author

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Richard Montana
Richard has many years of experience in broker research, testing, analysis and reviews. He knows what to look for through years of trading himself with different brokers and listening to the feedback of others.

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For all of our broker reviews, we research, validate, analyse and compare what we deem to be the most important factors to consider when choosing a broker. This includes pros, cons and an overall rating based on our findings. We aim to help you find the best broker according to your own needs. You can read more about our review process.


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