Top 5 MT4 Basics for Beginners

Mt4 Chart

Trading Halo’s Top 5 MT4 basics for Beginners!

MetaTrader 4 (more commonly known as MT4) is one of the most popular trading platforms in the world. It was released all the way back in 2005 and has only gained in popularity since. In fact, MT4 is so well thought after, that its predecessor, MT5 (released in 2013) has been nowhere near as popular (Some would even say, a flop!) Even today, MT4 is by far the more popular platform of the two!

MT4 has many different functions (Indicators, charting and reporting to name but a few) and throughout this article, we are going to talk you through some of the basic but important functions. By the end of this article you should have a pretty solid foundation and knowledge of MT4.

Already up to speed with the basics? Click here to open your account and feel free to read up on our more in-depth MT4 articles!

If not – read on to discover our Top 5 MT4 basics for beginners!

1 – Market Watch

At number 1 in our Top 5 MT4 basics for beginners is the Market Watch. The market watch window is one of the main MT4 views that you encounter immediately after logging in to your account. It is here where all of the available markets you can trade are shown (Note that the products will vary from broker to broker) 

You are often presented with a list of tradable symbols along with a BID and OFFER price (The prices you buy and sell at) along with the current time (this varies from broker to broker so please double check. Often this time is GMT+2)

At the bottom of this window you will see that ‘Symbols’ is selected as default. If you click the second tab entitled ‘ Tick Chart’, you will be presented with a small window showing a current tick chart of the market that you have clicked (which is somewhat handy, but usually its best to use the actual charting package included within MT4.

Top 5 Mt4 basics

You can trade by right clicking one of these products in the market watch and selecting ‘New Order’. Open a chart by selecting “Chart Window’. And see the specification of each product by clicking ‘Specification’. This comes in particularly handy if you want to check a symbols ‘Swaps charges’ or ‘Spreads’.

Top 5 MT4 Basics: TOP TIP – the first time you sign in to your MT4 terminal, you may notice that the number of markets you can trade is minimal. This is because you haven’t loaded them all yet. Right click on any of the symbols and select ‘Show All’. Ouila! You now have all available markets ready to trade.

2 – Terminal

Spot 2 in TradingHalo’s Top 5 Mt4 basics for beginners is the Terminal Window! The Terminal window is another of the most important views you will need to use as a trader. It is here where you will find any trades that you currently have open (Trade tab) The current notional exposure you have (Exposure tab) Any trade that you have closed (Account History tab) and a journal of all activity (Journal tab)

On the trade tab, not only can you see your open positions but you can actually close them or modify them here. Some people are unaware of this and try to close the position in different ways. If ‘one clicking trading’ is enabled, You can just hit the cross at the far right of your trade. Or simply right click and close position.

top 5 mt4 basics

You can also modify orders by right clicking and selecting ‘ Modify or delete order’. This is used to add Stop Losses and Take Profits to your open order. You can also use ‘Trailing Stops’ and select how you want your profit (or loss) to be viewed. By Term currency, deposit currency or as points.

The account history tab is fully customisable and you also have the ability to save any reports that you produce.

3 – Navigator

Number 3 in our Top 5 MT4 basics is The Navigator Window. The Navigator window is where you can see which account you are logged in to. Which server (or which company you are trading with) It is also where your indicators are listed (These help you with you technical analysis) Expert Advisers (EAs) are also listed here – These automated robots can trade for you!

Under the Accounts section of this window will be a list of your individual accounts. These could be demo accounts or live accounts with a multitude of brokers. Although a lot of traders like to keep a separate platform for each broker (However a large number of traders also just have one account!)

Top 5 MT4

A list of indicators will also be listed below the accounts section (You may need to expand the data to see the full list of indicators available to you. The best way to use these indicators is to click and drag your selected indicator and drop it onto the chart. This will usually bring up a list of customisable parameters for the indicator – Once you’re happy, click ok and you’re good to go.

Finally, we have the Expert Advisers section. A couple of EAs will be listed as default but these aren’t usually the most sophisticated of robots on the market. There are plenty of EAs available to purchase but be careful as a lot of them promise the world and end up disappointing! For those traders who are tech savvy, you can also build your own EA via the MetaEditor on MT4!

4 – ToolBars

Penultimately, we have Toolbars in our Top 5 MT4 basics for beginners. Click View at the top of your MT4 window and you will see the second option down is named ‘Toolbars’. Hovering over this option will present you with 4 choices. Standard, Charts, Line Studies and Timeframes. We recommend that you select all 4 of these options when you begin to trade as they all serve a purpose and will come in very handy.

MT4 Toolbar

With the standard tool bar enabled you will be able to:

  • Open new charts
  • Open saved profiles
  • Quickly open your market watch, navigator and terminal
  • Open a data window
  • Open a new order
  • Turn on EA trading
  • A few more options that we wont go into on this article!

With the Charts toolbar selected you will be able to:

  • Select Bar, Candlesticks and Line charts
  • Zoom in and out of your current chart
  • Arrange windows
  • Shift back and forth on your current chart
  • Quickly access an indictors list
  • Quickly switch between time frames
  • Quickly use your saved templates

With the Line Studies toolbar selected you will be able to:

  • Switch between crosshair and cursor
  • Add horizontal, vertical and diagonal trend-lines to charts
  • Draw Channels and Fibonacci retracements 
  • Add text, text labels and arrows to your chart

Finally, with the Timeframes toolbar selected you will be able to change between the following options:

  • M1 (1 minute chart)
  • M5 (5 minute chart)
  • M15 (15 minute chart)
  • M30 (30 minute chart)
  • H1 (1 hour chart)
  • H4 (4 hour chart)
  • D1 (daily chart)
  • W1 (weekly chart)
  • MN (Monthly chart)

5 – Charting

Our final spot in the Top 5 MT4 basics for beginners and the most exciting section of your MT4 platform is your charting package! This is where you get to see all your market movements, the volatility of certain data releases, where your technical analysis comes alive and its also another way to trade the financial markets!

To get the charts set up exactly how you want them is fairly simple. Click the ‘Window’ dropdown at the top of the page and you have a few options. New Window will simply open one new chart. Whereas tile windows, cascade and tile horizontally are some options that are down to user preference. Have a flick through these options and see which one suits you best!

MT4 chart

Right clicking anywhere within your chart window presents you with many helpful options. You can add orders, trade, set alerts, change timeframes, zoom, add gridlines to the chart and many more. A lot of these options can be done elsewhere but it’s a good trick to know that there are shortcuts available.

TOP TIP – many traders will open new charts when they want to change the FX pair they are looking to trade. They may do this by opening up a new window or dragging a currency pair over to their existing chart. A top tip from us is to simply press the ‘ENTER’ key on your keyboard and type the product you are looking to trade!

Top 5 MT4 Basics for Beginners : Final Thoughts

 MT4 is one of the most widely used FX trading platforms in the world. It is used by every day regular retail traders like you, professional high net worth clients and even by FX brokers themselves!

There is a crazy amount of functions, indicators, EAs and different functions of MT4. Way too many to list here! But as we mentioned at the start of this article – These 5 points will be a fantastic place for any MT4 beginner to start building a foundation in trading.

We hope you enjoyed Trading Halo’s Top 5 MT4 Basics for beginners – Good Luck and Happy Trading!

If you are ready to start your trading journey, please click here to open your account today.


Categorized as General, MT4

By Chris

Chris is one of two founding members of TradingHalo. He started his career in equities as an execution dealer for a large stock-broking firm before going on to run their derivatives desk. From there, he went on to join Smart-Live Markets and then GKFX, where he assisted in their pioneering of MT4-based spread-betting and became a senior trader running large positions across a variety of asset classes including FX, Metals, Commodities, Indices and Single Stocks. Chris now works at one of the largest FX brokerages in the world and is currently Head of Trading in London. Away from Trading, Chris is an avid golfer (or at least, tries to be)