Contributor, Benzinga
July 30, 2023

If you have ever looked into or started trading via an online foreign exchange (forex) broker, then you are probably already familiar with MetaTrader 4 (MT4). This electronic trading platform, popular among retail forex traders, was developed by MetaQuotes. You can read Benzinga’s detailed review of the MetaTrader 4 platform here

The MT4 forex trading software is currently available as a free MetaTrader 4 download for various desktop and mobile operating systems. A more recent version of the trading platform called MetaTrader 5 (MT5) was released in 2009, but many online FX traders still prefer to use MT4. 

Read on for more information about the impressive MT4 trading platform, including what it is, how it works, where to download the software and how to set it up so you can use it to start trading forex online. 

Disclosure: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

What is MetaTrader 4?

If you are still wondering what is MetaTrader 4 and what can it do for you, then you should first know that MT4 is probably the world’s most popular electronic trading platform designed for retail forex traders. The MT4 forex trading software originally came out in 2005, and its successor MT5 was released in 2009.

Desktop users will ideally run the MT4 client on a personal computer that uses the software’s native Windows operating system. In addition, the MT4 web-based trading platform lets you trade forex from any web browser running on any operating system, including Windows, Mac and Linux, using no additional software. 

Mobile versions of the MT4 trading software are available for devices that run the Android and iOS operating systems. 

How Does MetaTrader 4 Work?

MetaTrader 4 remains the world’s most popular retail forex trading platform. It boasts an impressive set of functions and is suitable for forex and contract for difference (CFD) traders of any experience level. 

MT4 is flexible as an online trading system and provides users with a wide range of advanced technical analysis tools. These include different chart types, time periods, indicators and lines. You can also get special graph types like point and figure charts. 

Additional features of MT4 include trading signals that come from a wide range of providers, copy trading where you can duplicate another trader’s transactions in your own account and the ability to backtest trading strategies using historical exchange rate data. 

If you have an interest in algorithmic trading, then MT4 allows traders and software engineers to use its proprietary MQL4 programming language to code Expert Advisors (EAs) that can run on the trading platform without human intervention. 

You can even browse the software’s large associated marketplace to buy off-the-shelf forex trading robots or get them for free.   

5 Steps for Setting Up MT4

Despite its impressive sophistication as a trading tool, MetaTrader 4 is easy to set up and start to use. Just about anyone from beginners to expert currency traders can readily learn to operate this trading platform. Just follow the five steps below to learn how to use MT4 and get quickly set up to start trading forex via an online broker.

Step 1: Find a Forex Broker That Supports MT4

If you want to use MetaTrader 4 to trade currencies, the first step you will want to take is to find an online forex broker that supports the trading platform. This should be a fairly easy thing to do because many online forex brokers collaborate with MetaQuotes to allow their clients to use MT4 because the platform is so popular among retail forex traders. To help assure the security of your trading funds, make sure you select a reputable online broker that is regulated in at least one major jurisdiction. 

Step 2: Set Up a Live Trading Account

Although you can practice using the MetaTrader 4 trading platform in a demo account funded with virtual money, you will need to set up and deposit money into a live trading account to actually execute forex trades using the software. Since you have already selected a forex broker that supports MT4, you can just approach them to set up a live trading account in your name. This step will generally require you to provide the broker with identification and details of how you intend to make deposits and withdrawals. 

Step 3: Download MT4 

You are now ready to download MT4 to your computer, although you can use the platform’s web-based and mobile versions, too. You will also need to set up your MT4 account and connect the software to your funded trading account at the online forex broker you selected. Be sure to contact your broker directly if you need help with that step. Some brokers have their own branded versions of MT4, so you will probably want to use those versions in preference to the generic MT4 version offered as a free download by MetaQuotes here

Step 4: Make a Copy of Your Account Details

Make sure that you keep a record of your account details by making a copy of them. MT4 allows you to create and access multiple accounts without an existing program so you want to pay attention to the account.

Step 5: Customize MT4 Charts

You are now set up and ready to take the plunge into using the many great features of the MT4 platform, such as its customizable charts used for technical analysis. You can also do things like set up your trading desktop; add tradable instruments supported by your broker such as currency pairs and precious metals; change the screen and chart element colors; and assign a different currency pair or time frame to each window in your MT4 screen layout. You will soon find that this impressive trading software has many interesting features that can keep you fascinated for ages as it expands your ideas about forex trading, strategy development and market analysis. 

MT4 Tips for Forex Traders

Using MT4 has plenty of benefits for traders of just about any experience level, and Windows users should have no issues getting the software to run well on their systems. Linux users can just use the Wine emulator to run the MT4 software. 

MT4’s main downside really only applies to those traders using Apple computers running the macOS who want to download and install a client trading platform because the MT4 software does not have a native version designed for that particular operating system. 

Some Mac-based forex traders use popular Windows emulators like Boot Camp or CrossOver that are based on the open-source Wine emulator. But some traders complain about software crashes and lag issues when using such emulators. 

An even better option exists for Intel Mac users wanting to run MT4. The Parallels software lets you run both Windows and macOS at the same time so that you can easily switch between the two operating systems as you wish. Once you have Windows installed on your Mac while running Parallels, you can just install MT4 as you normally would for the Windows operating system. 

Another useful tip is that Linux, Mac and PC users can use a Windows-based virtual private server (VPS) to run the MT4 trading software. This setup can be beneficial if you want almost 100% uptime for your trading software, as many algorithmic traders do.

If you think you might need a lot of hand-holding and other personal support getting started with MT4, then you should know that its live customer support system is rather weak, although the software has a user guide and extensive discussion forums for its user base that can offer assistance. Most online brokers that support MT4 attempt to compensate for this weakness by offering detailed startup guides and videos to help get you set up properly with MT4. 

Another issue that some traders come across is that the Expert Advisors written for MT4 generally do not work in MT5, although MT5 EAs work in MT4. This means current MT4 users will have to plan on recoding or converting any EAs they intend to use from the MQL4 programming language to MQL5 if they switch to the newer platform. 

Should You Use MT4?

In general, if you plan on or currently are operating as a retail forex trader, you should check out MetaTrader 4. Because the software is free, the price simply cannot be beaten, so you have nothing to lose but some time. 

Also, the MT4 trading platform has so many useful features for traders ranging from beginners to experts that it’s easy to understand why it has become the world’s most popular trading platform for online forex trading and has held that coveted position for so many years now. 

MT4’s main competitor is MetaTrader 5, the newer version of the MT4 software from the same developer. Both versions of the software allow hedging strategies. You can read more about the new and improved features of MT5 from MetaQuote’s site here to see if it might be more suitable for you than MT4. 

Frequently Asked Questions 


Is MetaTrader 4 good for beginners?


Yes, MetaTrader 4 is good for beginners and advanced traders alike. It is free, relatively easy to use and has many excellent features novices can eventually learn to appreciate.


Can you make money using MetaTrader 4?


If you can make money trading forex by having a consistently profitable trading strategy, then you can use MetaTrader 4 to make money.


What is the minimum deposit for MT4?


Minimum deposits vary considerably by which online broker you are using MT4 with. Most online forex brokers that support MT4 will accept minimum deposits of between $50 and $500.