MetaTrader 4 is one of the most popular forex trading platforms available, but the experience is a little different for Mac users. MetaTrader was built for use with the Unix operating system, which is primarily used for Windows and PCs. For top functionality, MetaTrader should be used on the Unix system, but that doesn’t mean Mac and Linux users are completely shut off from the platform.
You’ll need to do a little extra legwork and find a broker that supports MetaTrader for Mac.
Some popular forex brokers like OANDA don’t supply MetaTrader for Mac operating systems, so a careful review is needed before making a brokerage selection. However, there is a way around this operating requirement, as long as you sacrifice a little performance.
Best MT4 Brokers and Platforms to Run on a Mac
Many international brokers like XTB, XM and VantageFX have Mac-compatible versions of MetaTrader 4 available.
However, United States customers are unable to open accounts at these brokers. Some U.S. firms have gotten around this problem by using browser versions, but thankfully there are multiple ways of getting MetaTrader on your Mac thanks to Wine and Parallels.
Mac users can benefit from the MetaTrader 4 Web platform offered by FOREX.com.
It allows you to use the software over your web browser, which means you don’t need to download Parallels or Wine.
First, create and confirm your account with FOREX.com, then click over to the Download MT4 page.
Here, you’ll see two options: MetaTrader 4 for Windows and MetaTrader 4 for the web. MetaTrader 4 for the web will take you to the browser version of the software, where you can enter your username and password to log on.
Don’t want to open an account just yet? You can create a demo account from this screen as well.
FOREX.com prides itself on low spreads, accurate pricing and great margin requirements. Account holders can trade pairs like USD/CAD, EUR/USD, and EUR/CAD at 50:1 leverage, the most allowed by United States law.
OANDA is one of the most-used forex brokers in the United States. Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated application for MT4 on Mac, so you’ll need to use Parallels or PlayOnMac + Wine to use the platform. Note that U.S. traders are banned from using hedging capabilities on MetaTrader.
OANDA has 71 different currency pairs available to trade and five of them can be traded on 2% margin.
Both spread and commission account types are available and the commission is $5 per every 100,000 units (plus the reduced spread). Demo accounts are also available if you’d like to practice for a bit.
Both account styles have no minimums and there’s no minimum trade value at OANDA, either.
There’s also a great collection of resources to learn about forex, CFDs and other types of markets.
3. Admiral Markets
Though it’s not available to U.S.-based traders, Admiral Markets is one of the most complete forex and CFD brokers you’ll find today. Admiral Markets runs both MetaTrader 4 and 5 (along with their own platforms) and aims to make its customers as comfortable as possible. Mac users will be happy to hear that Admiral Markets has its own MT4 application for Mac OS.
You can find installation instructions on the website, but note that like Wine, there’s no promise of complete stability. Admiral Markets does not recommend using auto-mode Expert Advisors to maintain the integrity of the platform (unless you use Parallels).
Admiral Markets is a U.K.-based broker regulated by four different international entities. Professional forex traders can get leverage as high as 500:1, but retail traders are limited to 30:1 on major pairs (EUR/USD, GBP/USD, USD/JPY, USD/CHF, USD/CAD) and 20:1 on all other pairs. CFDs are available at 20:1 and 10:1 leverage, but note that 83% of retail traders lose money on CFDs.
XM is a subsidiary of Trading Point Group, an FCA-regulated firm available in over 100 countries. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of these countries, but the platform does provide a dedicated MetaTrader for Mac program.
According to XM, the MetaTrader 4 for Mac application loses no functionality and remains as high-powered as it does on Windows. Full access to Expert Advisors is available, along with one-click trading, hedging and technical analysis tools. You can also find instructions for downloading the application.
XM offers leverage of 100:1 on major pairs for MetaTrader 4 users and 55 different pairs are available to trade. Two of the three different account types offered by XM are commission-free and all of them allow 200 different positions to be open at once.
Is MetaTrader 4 Different on a Mac?
Since MetaTrader was designed for the Unix operating system, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to get it on a Mac, especially in the United States, where Mac-supporting forex brokers are scarce. Additionally, some features might be unavailable depending on the brokerage you’re using, so practice with a demo account even if you’re familiar with the platform.
To install MetaTrader 4 on your Mac, you’ll need to get a program called PlayOnMac. PlayOnMac uses software called Wine to import Unix-based programs to other operating systems like macOS and Linux. Instead of emulating Windows like other software, Wine translates code in real time and eliminates most performance drag.
After you download PlayOnMac, you’ll need to install a few other components as well. One of these is XQuartz, which adds important Windows-based tools to your Mac. Accept a few license agreements to complete the XQuartz installation and then restart your computer. After that, PlayOnMac is ready to go.
Before you use MetaTrader on your Mac, you’ll need to make sure PlayOnMac is complete with the latest version of the Wine software. According to MetaTrader’s online user guide, Wine 1.4.1 is currently the best working version of the software, but a beta version 1.5.21 is available too.
The beta version could be unstable, though, so Wine 1.4.1 is preferred at the moment. Once you confirm that Wine 1.4.1 is installed with PlayOnMac, you’re ready to install the MetaTrader 4 platform (which happens to be one of the most powerful forex trading apps on the planet).
In addition to PlayOnMac, Parallels is a program that allows Mac users to run the Windows operating system. You can use your Mac with Parallels to open an account with any number of forex brokers based in the United States. Parallels isn’t officially recommended by MetaQuotes Software, MetaTrader’s development company, but it’s still a useful option for getting Windows onto your Mac.
Your MetaTrader 4 experience on the Mac operating system may vary depending on the broker you use. Many brokers have their own process to follow when installing the platform on non-Windows systems and some features could be inaccessible.
Features like the Market are often victims of this conversion problem, which makes it more difficult to acquire new Expert Advisors and robots. Thankfully, most online forex brokers often demo accounts for practice trading. If you’re unsure about the stability of the program, try it out on the demo account first.
What to Look for in a Brokerage that Supports MT4 on a Mac
What do you want out of a broker when trading with MetaTrader on Mac? The same things you should want with every forex broker! Obviously, compatibility is the biggest concern.
If you can’t use the platform, it doesn’t really matter what the commissions are. Once you’ve rounded up a list of acceptable places, make sure they meet the following criteria:
- Low spreads: Currency spreads are similar to spreads on stocks, where there’s a slight difference between the ask and bid prices. “Ask” means “sell” and it’s always higher than the “bid,” which means “buy.” This difference is measured in pips (the currency price out to the fourth decimal) and is the cost of doing business at a brokerage.
- Many currency pairs to trade: The best forex brokers usually have upward of 60 to 70 forex pairs available to trade. Just make sure all the major pairs are present in the selections.
- Regulation: The forex market is like the Wild West of commerce, where rules are lax and leverage ramps up. Most reputable brokers have a relationship with some sort of international regulatory body.
- High margins: The best margin rates available to United States customers are 2% or 50:1 leverage. Make sure your broker offers 2% on at least the big pairs involving USD and EUR.
Getting MetaTrader 4 to work properly on a Mac can be a tricky proposition. Brokers with compatible MT4 for Mac applications all operate outside U.S. jurisdiction, so American traders with Macs need Wine or Parallels to make installation possible.
Even European brokers like XM and Admiral Markets can’t promise a flawless experience with their MT4 for Mac applications. If you really want the full power of MetaTrader 4, your best bet is to simply get a computer with a Windows operating system.
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About Dan Schmidt
Dan has written about a wide range of topics including stocks and investing, cryptocurrencies, banking, student loans, and credit cards.