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What is MetaTrader 4?

MetaTrader is a trading platform originally developed by MetaQuotes back in 2002, making it one of the oldest margin trading platforms available today. It remains popular, particularly with forex traders, because it is highly customisable and offers a variety of automations, such as algorithms to open and close positions according to specific criteria, such as price levels or fluctuations.

The software itself is licensed by forex brokers, who provide access to the software to their clients, with the brokers running MT4 servers and their customers accessing the client software on their PCs, smartphones, or via the web interface.

Desktop, web, and mobile

Most modern trading platforms are either web or app based, but due to its long history Meta Trader 4 is also available as a download for Windows. There is no official version for Mac OSX or Linux, but some users have reported success running the client terminal using Wine on Linux and WineBottler on OSX. There are mobile apps available for both iOS and Android.

Automated trading

One of the most talked-about tools on the MetaTrader platform (both 4 and 5) is the flexibility created by having a built-in programming language that enables traders to automate their trades. The MQL4 and MQL5 programming languages are designed to develop trading robots, which can perform relatively simple tasks like buying or selling when a stock or currency hits a specific price point, but also offers more complex opportunities such as the ability to copy trades of other traders live.

The ability to program your own bots offers incredibly flexibility, but can also add significant complexity and such automations are best used by experienced traders who are looking to improve the speed and efficiency of trades to make increased margins on their trades. Retails investors may find such functionality difficult to understand and put into action. It should also be noted that the two version of MQL are not compatible with each other, so a bot written in MQL4 would need to be completely rewritten if the trader wants to move to MT5 and the MQL5 programming language.

MetaTrader 4 vs MetaTrader 5

MetaTrader 4 (MT4) was created as a platform for foreign exchange trading and has a simpler set of features than MetaTrader 5 (MT5), which also gives traders access to Contract for difference (CFDs), stocks, and futures. MetaTrader 5 was released in 2013, but the variations between the two platforms mean that many forex traders continue to operate on version 4, which continues to get updates and bugfixes.

What about Prime accounts?

MetaTrader 4 Prime accounts are offered by some brokers as a premium-level account that includes the best possible trading conditions with tight spreads and low commissions. These accounts are most suitable for experienced traders, who already understand the volatility of the market and have the capital available to risk.

Tools like MetaTrader give investors more access and flexibility than ever before, but with this comes the responsibility to act with appropriate caution, because capital is at risk and investments can fall just as quickly as they can grow.

Photograph by PIX1861

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