MT4 Chart Setup Guide (with handy tips and free indicators)

MT4 Chart Setup Guide (with handy tips and free indicators)
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Every trader has their own preferences for the look and feel of their charts. In this article we will explain how to fully manage and customize your MT4 charts.

We will also show you some useful tips and tricks for getting the most out of your charts including some free MT4 indicators to make reading your charts more manageable.

In this Guide We Will Cover:

Chart Basics:

  • Adding new charts and customizing market watch
  • Changing chart colors
  • Changing chart options

Indicators:

  • How to add indicators to a chart
  • Use of the in chart indicator window
  • How to add multiple indicators into an indicator window

Using Chart Templates:

  • Creating a default template

Navigating Charts: 

  • Chart scrolling options
  • Use of indicators for trading sessions
  • Use of search box
  • Go to any date

Available Chart Types And Timeframes:

  • Changing time frames
  • Using tick charts

Chart Scale:

  • How to zoom in and out of charts
  • How to use the fixed chart position

Chart Drawing Tools:

  • How to add drawings and object to a chart
  • How to change object properties

Managing Multiple Charts:

  • Using profile templates

Other Chart Options:

  • Taking screenshots
  • How import more chart data

Table of Contents

Chart Basics

How to open charts in MT4

There are several ways to open a chart in MT4.

1.Click on the File menu > New Chart. This will then bring up a list of available market symbols for you to open. Click on the one you want and the chart will load in a new tab with the default chart settings (we will learn how to change default settings later in this article).

How to open charts in MT4 Example Way 1
How to open charts in MT4 Example Way 1

2. From the Market Watch window, right click on the market you want and click Chart Window to load in a new tab OR click and drag the symbol over to any chart in the main window to override the current chart with the new symbol.

How to open charts in MT4 Example Way 2
How to open charts in MT4 Example Way 2

3. On the standard toolbar, click the chart icon with the plus symbol, click a symbol on the list to load that chart.

How to open charts in MT4 Example Way 3

How to add more market symbols to MT4

The symbols that are available to load in a chart will depend on your broker. There may be many more symbols available to you than you can see in the default install of MT4.

To see all the available symbols go to View menu > Symbols or use the shortcut Ctrl+U. From here you can view all the available symbols from your broker and choose to show or hide them. You van also show an hide them by double clicking on actual symbol on the list too. The symbols highlighted in yellow are active.

How to add more market symbols to MT4 Example
How to add more market symbols to MT4 Example

Hint: all the symbols active in the Market Watch window will continually update and pull data resources. If you are running MT4 on a VPS it may be worth only selecting those you will trade.

How To Change Chart Colors in MT4

To customize the chart colors in MT4 open the Properties window by clicking F8 or right click anywhere on the chart and select Properties. You can also access from the top menu: Charts > Properties.

How To Change Chart Colors in MT4 Example 1
How To Change Chart Colors in MT4 Example 1

On the Colors tab you can change the colors off all the elements to your preference. There are three built in color schemes that you can choose from or you can set all the elements yourself.

How To Change Chart Colors in MT4 Example 2
How To Change Chart Colors in MT4 Example 2

Hint: The background color may affect how you see displayed data and labels from custom indicators.

How To Change Chart Options in MT4

In the Properties window (F8), click on the Common tab to see the available properties. There are fours sets of properties you can change here.

MT4 Four Sets Of Chart Properties Example
MT4 Four Sets Of Chart Properties Example

Hint: some of these can be accesses on the chart context menu by right clicking on the chart or can be quickly activated with shortcut keys (free MT4 Shortcuts pdf here).

1.Chart Options

  • Offline chart: this causes the chart to only use the data stored on the local hard drive for that chart and it will not update from the broker.
  • Chart on foreground: this will keep the chart in the foreground and any objects or indicators will be overdrawn by the chart.
  • Chart Shift: Shifts the chart to the left and creates a gap on the right hand side of the chart. You can also enable this from the MT4 toolbar or via the top menu: Charts > Chart Shift.
  • Chart Autoscroll: the chart automatically scrolls to the left as new data comes in. This can also be changed via the toolbar buttons or via the top menu: Charts > Auto Scroll.
How To Change Chart Shift And Autoscroll In MT4 Example
How To Change Chart Shift And Autoscroll In MT4 Example

Hint: you can change the position of the chart shift. When chart shift is enabled, a small triangle will appear near the top right of the chart. Move this left or right to change the chart shift position (If you struggle to see the triangle, try changing the grid color).

Change Chart Shift Position in MT4 Example
Change Chart Shift Position in MT4 Example

2. Scale Options: this is covered later in this article.

3. Chart Types: this is covered later in this article.

4. Chart Options

  • Show OHLC: displays the open, high, low and close price of the active bar. This is shown in the top left corner of the chart next to the symbol. It will change when you change the time frame.
  • Show Ask Line: by default only the bid line is shown. Click to also show the ask price.
  • Show Period Separators: Draws horizontal lines on the chart from higher time frames. Daily separators will be drawn for charts with periods of M1 to H1, weekly ones – for H4, monthly ones – for D1, and yearly ones – for W1 and MN1.

Note! The period separators work off broker time and may be different to your local time.

  • Show Grid: turns the chart grid on and off. Can also be done with the Shortcut key Ctrl+G, via right click menu on chart, from the top menu: Charts > Grid or right click context menu on the chart.
How To Show Grid In MT4 Example
How To Show Grid In MT4 Example
  • Show Volumes: adds volume lines on the chart. Note – this is not the number of lots traded on the number of times the price changed in that period. Can also be done with the Shortcut key Ctrl+G, via right click menu on chart, from the top menu: Charts > Grid or right click context menu on the chart.
How To Show Volumes In MT4 Example
How To Show Volumes In MT4 Example
  • Show Object Descriptions: When selected will display object descriptions if these have been inputted into an object’s properties.

Available Types Of Charts And Timeframes In MT4

Types Of Charts In MT4

There are three types of charts available in MT4: Bar, Line and Candlestick. You can change your chart between them in the chart Properties (F8), in the Charts menu from the top toolbar or by using the toolbar symbol or shortcut key shown below:

  • Bar Charts: symbol, Alt+1
  • Line Charts: symbol, Alt+2
  • Candlestick Charts: symbol, Alt+3
MT4 Change Of Chart Type Example
MT4 Change Of Chart Type Example

To learn more about the different types of charts have a look at this article: Technical Analysis Types Of Charts.

The default chart setting is the Bar chart, however the most popular charts used for technical analysis are candlestick charts.

To learn more about what candlesticks are have a look out our free PDF guide: Candlesticks Explained.

Timeframes Available In MT4

There are ten time frames available MT4 (including the tick chart). The ones that can be changed on the chart are:

Minute Timeframes

M1 M5 M15 M30

Hour Timeframes

H1 H4

Higher Timeframes

D1 (daily) W1 (weekly) MN (monthly)

How to change the timeframe in MT4

To change the time frame select it by clicking on the timeframes toolbar 

or the clock icon on the charts toolbar:

Another way to quickly change the time frame is to hit the Enter key which will bring up a box in the bottom left corner. In this box type the timeframe you want (M5, H1, etc) and hit Enter again and also in the Charts menu from the top toolbar. 

MT4 Change Of Timeframe Example
MT4 Change Of Timeframe Example

How To Find The Tick Chart In MT4

To see a tick chart in MT4 select the market in the Market Watch window by highlighting it. Then click the Tick Chart tab below. If you are in a trade and open the trade window you will also get a tick chart displayed.

How To Find The Tick Chart In MT4 Example
How To Find The Tick Chart In MT4 Example

If you want a tick chart in the main window or with more functionality then you will need a custom MT4 indicator. We have found two good options which are linked below:

How Change MT4 Chart Scale

You can mange the chart scale in MT4 by:

  • Changing the chart to a higher or lower time frame.
  • Zooming in and out using the toolbar buttons or + and – shortcut keys, via the right click context menu on the chart or from the top menu: Charts > Zoom In/Zoom Out.
How Change MT4 Chart Scale By Zooming Example
How Change MT4 Chart Scale By Zooming Example
  • Click and hold the left mouse button on the right hand vertical scale price column and drag up and down (double click to reset).
MT4 Vertical Scale Customization Example
MT4 Vertical Scale Customization Example
  • To scroll vertically, use Scale Fix by opening chart properties (F8 or right click on chart, select properties). In the Common tab, check the Scale Fix box.
MT4 Scroll Chart Vertically Activation Example
MT4 Scroll Chart Vertically Activation Example
  • With custom MT4 indicators that can autoscale to your preferences (links in article).

How To Use The Fixed Chart Position

When you zoom into a chart with autoscroll enabled, the right hand active candle will always remain on the chart. However, sometimes you will want to zoom in on a fixed point.

To do this you will need to use the fixed chart position. First, disable Autoscroll and then in the bottom left hand corner move the small triangle to the point in the chart you want to fix.

How To Use The Fixed Chart Position Example
How To Use The Fixed Chart Position Example

When you zoom in and out using + or – the chart will keep that point in focus and other candles will move off the left and right of the chart.

How To Use The Fixed Chart Position Example 2
How To Use The Fixed Chart Position Example 2

Note: There are some videos claiming this works when zooming into a lower timeframe but this method does not work for that.

Gaining perspective

This is a simple but important tool in trading as often trading decisions are made based on the relative price action between different points in time.

Being able to manage your charts to gain that perspective will be very useful to you in making better decisions as what may seem like a significant move at one time frame or zoom level can seem less so on another.

Another way to help is with the use of indicators. Why not try using our free Candle Range indicator which can let you see the size of any candle at a glance and its relative size as a % of previous bars. You can find more about it here: Candle Range Indicator.

More scale fix options including fixed header and % scaling.

It is possible to have more automated scaling options with custom MT4 indicators. We have found a couple of good links with several options if you want to experiment:

How Change An MT4 Chart To FullScreen

To change a chart to fullscreen mode click the F11 shortcut key. To switch back click F11 again.

How to Add Indicators To A MT4 Chart

Every trading platform will have a set of trading indicators and automations built in which allow traders to analyze their market of choice and manage their trades and MT4 is no exception.

There are default indicators built into MT4. You would expect to find the most commonly used indicators like Moving Average or RSI built into most platforms and MT4 is no exception. In a standard MT4 installation you will get 30 indicators in 4 categories.

Indicator Category Number of built in indicators
Trend 7
Oscillators 13
Volumes 4
Bill Williams 6

For more information on the built in indicators see this link to the MetaTrader4 website: https://www.metatrader4.com/en/trading-platform/help/analytics/tech_indicators

Steps to add technical indicators to a chart

There are 4 ways add an indicator to a chart:

Tip: to open the navigator window click Ctrl+N or click the navigator button on the toolbar or click View menu > Navigator.

  1. From the navigator window, double click the indicator OR
  2. From the navigator window, click and drag the indicator onto the active chart OR
  3. Right click on the indicator and click Attach to chart OR
  4. From the top menu bar click through to the desired indicator (Insert > Indicator > …)
How To Add An Indicator To Chart Way 1 Example
Way 1
How To Add An Indicator To Chart Way 2 Example
Way 2
How To Add An Indicator To Chart Way 3 Example
Way 3
How To Add An Indicator To Chart Way 4 Example
Way 4

As soon as you do the above, the indicator dialogue box will show. Click OK to load straight away or click the inputs tab to select the settings you prefer. Once you are happy click OK.

How To Add An Indicator To Chart Example
How To Add An Indicator To Chart Example

To manage your indicator quickly, use the Ctrl+I shortcut. This will bring up the Indicator List window where you can remove or edit settings.

Your indicator is now active on the chart! 

MT4 Custom Indicators

In addition to the built in indicators, there are thousands of other custom MT4 indicators available which you can use on your chart to improve your analysis or user experience.

To learn more about this and how to install them you can read our article here: How To Install And Use MT4 Custom Indicators and EAs (full guide).

In Chart Indicator Window

Some indicators will load in a separate indicator window to display the analysis or signal. For example as below where we add RSI to the chart:

RSI Indicator On Chart Example
RSI Indicator On Chart Example

How to add multiple indicators to an indicator window

Use of indicator windows can reduce the space available for the chart. To load multiple indicators in a single window follow these steps:

  • Open the first indicator window.
  • To add additional indicators, drag and drop the desired indicator from the navigator window onto the indicator window.
  • This will overlay the indicator in the same window, saving space on the chart.
How To Add Multiple Indicators To An Indicator Window Example
How To Add Multiple Indicators To An Indicator Window Example

MT4 Chart Drawing Tools

Another common function that people want for their charts is drawing tools and MT4 has this option. Anything drawn on a chart is called an object by MT4.

These can range from simple horizontal and vertical lines to trend lines, channels, fibonacci levels, etc. These can also include objects such as shapes (rectangles, arrows, etc) and text labels.

MT4 also considers anything drawn on the chart by a custom indicator as an object.

How To Add Drawing Objects Onto An MT4 Chart

Objects can be added onto a chart via the Insert menu or the Line Studies toolbar. To add an object select it and then click on the chart in the position it is to be placed. Some objects such as fibonacci may require you to click and drag between a set of points on the chart.

How To Add Drawing Objects Onto Chart Example 1
How To Add Drawing Objects Onto Chart Example 1
How To Add Drawing Objects Onto Chart Example 2
How To Add Drawing Objects Onto Chart Example 2

In the example below we are adding a fibonacci retracement to the chart by selecting it from the toolbar, then clicking on the low point in the range we want to measure and up to the high point.

Fibonacci Retracement Drawing On Chart Example
Fibonacci Retracement Drawing On Chart Example

How To Edit Chart Objects

To edit the properties of a chart object you first need to select it. This can be done by double clicking it or by opening the Objects List (Ctrl+B) or right clicking the chart and selecting Objects List. Then select Edit.

Vertical Line (Object) Editing On Chart Example
Vertical Line (Object) Editing On Chart Example
How To Edit Chart Objects Example
How To Edit Chart Objects Example

Not all objects can have their parameters edited (as this may be set by an indicator) but most can change their color and size and have a description added. Any description you put in will only be visible if you select View Object Descriptions in the chart properties settings.

How To Make Object Descriptions Visible On Chart Example
How To Make Object Descriptions Visible On Chart Example

Hint: You can quickly remove objects by clicking the Backspace key. This will remove objects in the order they were added.

How to change the size of arrows and tick objects

It is not immediately obvious how to change the size of these types of objects. To change the the size of objects such as arrows or ticks you need to modify the line width property of that object (common tab, third box by the style property).

How To Change The Size Of Arrows Example
How To Change The Size Of Arrows Example

How to add more drawing tools to the toolbar

The drawing toolbar (known as the Line Studies toolbar) is defaulted to a standard set which can be modified to suit your needs. To change the available tools, right click on the toolbar and click customize.

You can then add or remove what is displayed on the toolbar using the insert or remove button and also change their position on the toolbar.

How To Add More Drawing Tools To The Toolbar Example
How To Add More Drawing Tools To The Toolbar Example

Using Chart Templates

Having perfected the look and feel of your chart, you may want to apply that to other charts quickly and easily. Or, you may have done some analysis and drawing on a chart and want to share it with others. This is where chart templates come in.

What do MT4 chart templates do?

MT4 chart templates save all of the current settings of a chart. This includes all chart property settings such as color, chart type, autoscroll, ask line etc. This will also save any indicators that are loaded on the chart and all drawn objects.

Applying a saved template to a new chart will duplicate all the settings on another chart. It will not change anything outside of the chart window (such as toolbars or other windows).

Note: Chart templates do not save the market or symbol of a chart. The settings will be applied regardless of which market symbol it is applied to.

How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template?

Once you are happy with your chart settings and want to save it, either right click on the chart window or click on the Chart menu. Navigate down to Template and click Save Template.

How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 1
How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 1
How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 2
How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 2

Name and save your template. You can now apply it to any chart by going through the same menu option and clicking Load Template or just select it from the list in the context menu.

How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 3
How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 3
How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 4
How To Save And Apply An MT4 Chart Template Example 4

You can also remove the temple. Quick Tip – access templates via Temples in a toolbar.

Toolbar Templates Chart Example
Toolbar Templates Chart Example

How to Save An MT4 Template As The Default Template?

To save any MT4 chart setup as the MT4 default, either right click on the chart window or click on the Chart menu. Navigate down to Template and click Save Template and name it “default.tpl”.

How to Save An MT4 Template As The Default Template Example
How to Save An MT4 Template As The Default Template Example

This will now be the default template whenever a new chart window is loaded. Note that it is recommended to save another copy of the template with a different name as the default may be overwritten in an MT4 update.

Managing Multiple Charts And Profile Templates

A chart is a visual representation of a market and the whole point of MT4 is ultimately to trade the markets. Many people will want to trade or keep an eye on more than one market at a time.

You can have as many charts open on MT4 as you want. When you have multiple charts open, it can be displayed in two ways. This can be as a row of individual tabs or arranged within the chart window as tiles.

Managing Multiple Charts And Profile Templates Example
Single Chart View Example
Managing Multiple Charts And Profile Templates Examples 2
Multiple Charts View Example
Managing Multiple Charts And Profile Templates Example 3
Swap Charts For A single Market Example

To change between these views, double click on any market tab to change between full screen for that market or tiled view of multiple charts. If you are in the single view you can also click the toolbar button or use Alt+R shortcut key.

Double Click To Change To Full Screen Example
Double Click To Change To Full Screen Example
Arrange Windows As Non-overlaping Tiles Example
Arrange Windows As Non-overlaping Tiles Example

You can also minimize each chart and adjust the individual chart sizes.

Minimize And Adjust Chart Example
Minimize And Adjust Chart Example

There are also several quick select options available in the top menu via the Window menu. From there you can select several quick options such as Tile, Cascade, Tile Horizontally and Vertically.

Windows Menu In MT4 Example
Windows Menu In MT4 Example

Can you open multiple versions of the same market in MT4?

Yes, you can open the same market symbol in multiple charts, for example to have a view of the same market on different time frames or to have different indicators in different windows.

However, MT4 will treat them as a single market for the purpose of trading. If you place a live or pending order in one chart it will be the same in all of them.

Multiple Versions Of The Same Market In MT4 Example
Multiple Versions Of The Same Market In MT4 Example

Hint: If you are testing an Expert Advisor (EA) on the same market symbol in multiple charts, you will need to change the magic number for each one. This is because a trade on one will be shown on all charts so the only way to track the different EA permutations will be with the magic numbers.

What Are MT4 Profiles?

MT4 profiles are a way of saving a predefined set of multiple market symbols in MT4 and switching between different sets. For example you could have a set of FX markets in one profile and a set of Indexes in another.

Market Profile FX Example
Market Profile FX Example
Market Profile Index Example
Market Profile Index Example

An MT4 profile will save the markets and all the chart settings in those markets including drawn objects. This means it can also be used to switch between different sets of analysis.

How To Save Market Profile Example
How To Save Market Profile Example

Hint: MT4 profiles autosave. This means any changes you make such as adding or removing markets will be in effect immediately and you can't revert back to the original profile. So if you like a profile be sure to save it under another name before you change it.

To assess market profiles you can from the top menu bar click File > Profiles > or by clicking on the toolbar Profiles.

How To Access Market Profiles Example
How To Access Market Profiles Example

To switch between profiles quickly Ctrl+F5 loads next profile and Shift+F5 loads previous profile.

Navigating Charts

Now that you have your charts setup and looking the way you want and you have saved your chart templates and profiles, let’s look at some more ways to navigate the charts.

How to scroll on an MT4 chart

There are many ways to scroll through charts, you can click and drag the chart, use the mouse wheel, left and right buttons and page up and page down.

Remember that if you have autoscroll enabled, as soon as the current candle closes the chart will scroll back to the active candle.

How to go to any date in the past in MT4

To go to any date in the past in MT4 follow these instructions:

  • Turn off autoscroll
  • Hit Enter
How To Go To Any Date In The Past In MT4 2
  • In the search bar at the bottom left corner enter the required date.
  • The date format will be determined by your broker settings which you can see in the data window (Ctrl+D to open)
  • Press Enter to go to that date.

Note: There must be history data for that market for you to go back.

If you are backtesting it could be very useful to go back to a past date and then scroll the charts one bar at a time so that you can view the market in the past as it unfolded.

How to scroll MT4 charts one bar at a time for backtesting

  • Turn off autoscroll and chart shift
  • Go to the date you want to backtest
  • Use F12 button to move forward one bar at a time
  • Use Shift+F12 to go back one bar at a time

How to Switch Between Charts in MT4

To quickly cycle through your charts use the Ctrl+F6 shortcut key.

Using Indicators To Highlight Trading Sessions

A useful tip for analysing charts is to focus on the price action within a trading session. 

A custom indicator can be a good way of quickly highlighting a period of time to help you focus and navigate the charts more effectively.

Why not try our free Trading Time Zones indicator which allows you to highlight any particular period of time you want to review.

Related Questions

How To Take Chart Screenshots In MT4?

To take a screenshot in MT4, click File > Save as Picture. This will bring up an option box which will allow you to save either the chart or the whole workspace as an image.

How To Take Screenshots In MT4 Example 1
How To Take Screenshots In MT4 Example 1

If you have an MQL5 account you can also save the picture online with a link if you wish to share it with others.

How to take screenshots in MT4 2
How to take screenshots in MT4 2

How To Load More Chart Data In MT4?

To load more chart data in MT4 press F2 to open the History Centre, you can also go to Tools > History Centre. For the market you want the data, select and click download. This will download the tick data from Metatrader and will overwrite the broker’s data.

How To Load More Chart Data In MT4 Example1
How To Load More Chart Data In MT4 Example1

To ensure you can see all the data or if you want to restrict it to save memory then click Ctrl+O to bring up the MT4 options (you can also bring it via Tools > Options > Chart) and on the chart Tab select the number of bars to display or store in history.

How To Load More Chart Data In MT4 Example 2
How To Load More Chart Data In MT4 Example 2

For more information on this topic read this article from Trading Heroes: How to download historical data in MT4.

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Justina Nothard

Justina Nothard

Hi, I’m Justina Nothard, a retail investor trading Stock Index Futures.

I understand how hard it can be for the ordinary trader to learn the basics and find useful tools and practical information.

This is why I decided to create Nothard Trading to help you take control of your trading.

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