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CO20 - MT4 Basics: How to Use Indicators

"The MT4 trading platform offers traders with a preselected list of technical indicators. Technical indicators as you might know are required if you are trading based on technical analysis. The indicators show you how price is behaving and potentially alert you to trading set ups. As a beginner to forex trading, you need to have a good understanding of how to use the technical indicators. In this article, we give you a step by step guide on how to use and install the MT4 trading indicators. We also briefly give you an idea on how you can install custom indicators onto your MT4 trading platform as well as the option to edit the files directly from your trading platform. By the end of this article, you should have a fair idea on how to use the technical indicators on your MT4 trading platform as well as be able to troubleshoot any potential problems you might face."

The MT4 trading platform comes with a default set of indicators amounting to about 49 such indicators. These are default indicators or native indicators that come pre-built. Most of these indicators are some of the most widely used indicators in trading.

The indicators are categorized into different categories such as Trend, Oscillators, Bill Williams, Volume and so on. Besides these, you will also find a number of other technical indicators on the MT4 trading platform.

Depending on what type of a trading strategy you are using, you could use a combination of different technical indicators on your MT4 charts.

By default, the MT4 trading platform features a wide list of the most commonly used technical indicators. But over time, there are many customized indicators as well that you can use.

Traders use custom indicators because either the native MT4 trading indicator leaves a lot to be desired or it simply does not have the indicator that you want to use in your trading strategy.

It is ideal that the trader has a god understanding on the technicalities of using and editing as well as customizing the MT4 indicators.

How to use the MT4 indicators?

You can start by simply double clicking on the indicator of your choice or by dragging and dropping it onto the chart. You will then be presented with the indicator’s configuration settings.

Many indicators start off with the lookback period. This is the number of price bars that the indicator should use in its calculations. Depending on the indicator that you choose, you also have the ability to visually customize the indicators as well.

Below is an example of the Ichimoku Kinko Hyo indicator’s configuration settings.

CO20 01 MT4 indicator settings

Example of MT4 Indicator configuration


Besides the indicator’s settings, the next example shows how you can click on the colors tab to visually customize the indicator.

CO20 02 MT4 indicator visual

Example of MT4 indicator visual customization


Once the settings are selected, the indicator is displayed either on the price chart or below the price. (Oscillators are usually plotted below the price chart in a sub-window).

Installing and using custom MT4 indicators

Besides the default set of indicators available from the MT4 trading platform, you can also download and use custom indicators. Custom indicators are those coded by a third-party developer.

You can find indicators that are both free and paid. The MT4 indicator filers are also having the extension of .mql4 or .ex4 if it is a compiled file. You can head to the MT4 installation folder and then click on the MQL4>indicators folder.

Simply copy paste the file here and either restart your MT4 trading platform or just right click on indicators on the navigator window and select refresh to have the recently installed indicator to be picked up by the trading terminal.

When the custom indicator is displayed on your navigator window, you can use it on the chart the same way as you would use a default MT4 indicator.

Bear in mind that some indicators could be outdate. As a result, they might not work. To troubleshoot such problems, click on the MT4’s trading terminal window and click on the Experts tab.

This will show you any problems that your indicator has.

By default, you cannot decompile the .ex4 file, but you can certainly edit the .mql4 file extension.

Editing the MT4 indicator files

If you have a .mql4 file (you can also edit the default indicators from MT4), click on Tools > Metaquotes language editor from the menu bar. Alternately, you can click F4 on your keyboard.

This will open up the MT4 file editor.

From this window, you can edit the code directly. Note that you need to have some coding experience before you start to experiment with this.

The next picture below shows the MT4 file editor.

CO20 03 MT4 File Editor

MT4 File Editor


You can edit and run the code and compile it directly from the Metaquotes language editor. All files that are running on the MT4 platform make use of the .mql4 extension. If you are using the MT5 trading platform then your files are appended with .mql5 extension.

Note that you cannot run MQL5 files on your MT4 trading platform. Therefore, if you find an indicator that is built for the MT5 trading platform, then you will need to have someone to re-code it to be compatible with the MT4 trading platform.

The Metaquotes language editor can be used to also edit your expert advisor files. Refer to the previous article to get a primer on how to use forex expert advisors on the MT4 trading platform.

Read 1023 times Last modified on Tuesday, 09 July 2019 10:13