What is MetaTrader 4?

MetaTrader is the world's most popular Forex trading platform for investors like you and me. In addition, it also supports trading in commodities, Contracts for Differences (CFDs) and futures.

The MetaTrader 4 platform

The MetaTrader 4 platform comes in three different flavours:

  • MetaTrader 4 Terminal: this is the core version designed for desktops. It streams live market prices, allows you to enter orders, test, schedule and run automated trading scripts. The platform is comprehensive and available for download entirely free of charge.
  • MetaTrader 4 Mobile: this version is designed for iPhone, Android in addition to Windows Mobile powered smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDA). This version is available for download free of charge from the Apple and Android app stores. MT4 Mobile is a great way to keep an eye on the market when you’re on the move.
  • MetaTrader 4 MultiTerminal: manage multiple accounts simultaneously with MT4 MultiTerminal. This version will be of interest to portfolio managers who may want, for example, to run the same type of order across multiple accounts in proportion to the account balance. This version does not currently support automatic trading.

Forex brokers licence the MetaTrader 4 platform from MetaQuotes, the company behind MT4. They'll run it either alongside their in-house trading platform or as their only platform. Compare MetaTrader4 brokers for more information.

Key features of MT4

MT4 is both a trading platform and a charting package. MT4 comes with an extensive library of built-in indicators including Trends, Oscillators and Volumes. In addition, you can extend the platform with thousands of open-source indicators from the MT4 community available for free or on a commercial basis.

MT4 also supports automatic trading strategies, known as Expert Advisors. An Expert Advisor is a programme written in MetaTrader’s proprietary programming language. It can analyse charts and open, modify or close trading orders on your behalf when specific conditions are met.

MT4’s built-in programming language allows you to write your own custom indicators, Expert Advisors and scripts. The language is object-orientated, so you’ll feel at right at home if you’re familiar with Java, Visual Basic.NET (VB.NET) or C#. This is a powerful way to extend the platform in a way that works for you.

In addition, you can backtest trading strategies in minutes using historical data. MetaTrader’s optimisation features test thousands of combinations to find the most profitable settings for a given currency, period and date range. As always, it’s important to remember that historical performance may not be a guide to future performance.