How To Make Your Own Custom Chart Template For Metatrader 4
Unless of course you like that feeling of staring into something that looks like ‘The Matrix’ code.
Thankfully, Metatrader 4 is very customizable – and you can do some powerful things with chart templates to make your trading life a lot easier in the future.
In this tutorial, I am going to demonstrate what you can do with Mt4 chart templates, how to customize them the way you want, and show you cool tricks that I use.
Let’s get started.
What do Chart Templates Do?
Before I show you how to save templates, let me run you through some of the things they control. You might be surprised…
Chart templates are a way to customize your Metatrader 4 charting experience, save your favorite custom layout, and have it available to re-load quickly later.
So what information is actually saved into a template? Well actually a lot of things…
- Chart color schemes (colors tab)
- Chart properties (common tab)
- Indicators attached to the chart and all their settings
- Expert Advisors attached to the chart and all its settings
- Any objects on the chart and their settings
- Basically any settings or customizations you’ve made to your chart
If you’ve got a complicated setup that you don’t want to have to keep re-configuring every time you load a chart, templates are what you need.
You can even set your favorite template as the ‘default’, so every time you load a chart, your template is applied – I’ll show you how to do that later on.
Step-by-Step Process to Creating Your Awesome Template
Alright this section is going to be a lengthy one, because there are a lot of things you can customize in MT4 for your template.
Depending on how you want your template, you may be able to skip some of the steps, if they are not relevant to you.
Here we go…
Step 1: Prepare a Clean Chart
The first thing you want to do is start with a clean chart:
- Open a new chart
- Remove horizontal levels, trend lines, fibs and other technical drawing tools
- Remove any expert advisors (Right click -> expert advisors -> remove)
- Remove all indicators (CTRL +I)
- Remove any left over chart objects, they could easily be hidden from view (CTRL + B)
The reason is because anything present on your chart will be save into your template, which you may not want to carry over into your other charts.
Step 2: Customize your chart colors
The first thing you want to do is customize the chart colors that you want to use. Right click on your chart and select properties…
Once you’re in here, then click on the colors tab and set the color pallet to your taste.
Here is my color theme for example…
Please don’t do this..
Once you’re done setting up the colors the way you like them, we can move on…
Step 3: Tweak Common Tab Settings
Before clicking OK, select the common tab – there are a few options here we need to check.
I’ve circled some key settings that can be ON by default, but you really want them off.
- Chart on foreground: This can screw with a lot of custom indicators. It causes the candles to be drawn over the indicator rather than the indicator being drawn over the candlesticks – which is what you want. This is the most common cause of traders not being able to get their indicators to draw correctly. Turn this off.
- Chart autoscroll: This will cause the chart to scroll back to the most recent point of the chart… on-every-new-tick. This can get really annoying, fast – and if you don’t know about this, you will be cursing your computer in extreme frustration wondering why your charts won’t stay where you left them. I advise to turn this off.
- Show grid: This shows a grid on the back of the chart. This is optional whether you want to turn this off, but I find the chart looks a lot cleaner when the grid is turned off. The grid really doesn’t provide anything useful for your technical analysis in my opinion.
Step 4: Add Any Indicators You Want to Load With Your Template (Optional)
Note: If needed, I have a guide on how to install custom indicators into MT4.
Add your indicator to the chart, in this case I will use my MT4 Battle Station.
You can either click-and-drag onto the chart you wish to load it from, or simply double click on the indicator – and that will load the indicator on to the chart you’ve got in focus.
Once you load the indicator, a pop-up box will be generated, with a lot of options.
Step 5: Customize the Indicator Input Options (Optional)
Once the indicator properties pop-up box appears, you need to customize all the properties, across all the tabs. This is important because this information is saved with your custom template.
Above is the input of the current version (at the time time of writing this), of my Battle Station Indicator. Now this is where you find options left by the indicator author to give you some control with the way the indicator behaves.
Typically in the input options panel you will find:
- On/Off kind of switches
- Customizable values, like how many candles should the indicator scan/consider
- Various Drawing Options
- Various Performance Settings
These are just general ideas of what you can expect in the input panel, every indicator will be different. It really is up to the indicator author to explain how to use their input settings.
My Battle Station has a lot of input options – because it is like a Swiss army knife for price action traders, so there are many things which can be turned on and off to give you guys a way to customize what you want the battle station to do for you.
The default settings of your indicator are usually going to be the most popular anyway. I’ve set the the default options of the Battle Station to how I think most traders would like to use it.
Go through the input options and set them the way you like. Then move over to the colors tab.
The colors tab below is a cheat sheet for my Battle Station users which show what color channels, control what signals.
Once you get over the the colors tab there are few options here.
Indicators must draw on the screen through an internal framework called indicator buffers, which are like ‘channels’. For example, an indicator that draws two moving averages will need two channels – one for each line.
Note: Drawing styles will only work on any channels that are drawing lines. The Battle Station uses histogram drawing functionality, so I don’t believe changing styles will have any effect on battle station drawing.
In the colors tab, you have some options here which can use to customize the how each specific channel is drawn.
For example, instead of your indicator drawing straight lines you can have it draw dotted lines instead. There are a few other options like drawing thickness.
Look what happens when I change the drawing thickness on the inside candle channel of the battle station.
See the ‘width’ setting, I’ve changed it to 5 on the single inside candle channel (yellow). Look at the effect…
You can also override the default colors for each channel here, which is good if the indicator color theme doesn’t match your chart color theme.
Unfortunately, MT4 doesn’t allow you to label the indicator buffers here, so they just appear as numbers. If you’re not sure about what buffer controls what part of your indicator, you will just need to do some trail and error.
For Battle Station users, I’ve marked out which indicator buffers control which drawing features in the cheat sheet above, so you can customize how you like.
Once you’re done with the Colors tab, next move over to the Visualization tab.
Finally in this tab, you can customize what time frames you would like your indicator to show on.
These options could be useful say if you would like moving averages to show on one time frame, and Donchian channels on another – but never both on the same chart.
Once you’ve gone through all those tabs, set all the options the way you like – press OK to load the indicator on the the chart with all your customized settings.
Step 6: Add Any Expert Advisors You want to Load With Your Template (Optional)
Expert Advisors are a type of plugin for MT4 that has more control than a normal indicator. It is basically the ‘high-end’ plugin type for MT4 which has the extra ability to open/modify trades for you.
Generally an expert advisor can be made to serve as:
- Trade Management Tool
- Fully Automatic Trading Robot
- A Trade Copier
- History Data Miner
- Custom Chart Builder
Expert advisors, and their internal settings can be saved with your template. So, if you have an expert advisor you want to use in your template, do the following:
I will use my Trade Management Panel in this example.
Expert advisors will be displayed in the navigator window. If you can’t see the navigator, use the main menu and select view->navigator.
Most of the this process will be similar to loading indicators. Click-and-drag, or double click to load onto the active chart. An option box will pop-up.
Here is where we can customize the expert advisor to our specifications.
Depending on what your expert advisor is designed to do, you may need to give it permission to be able to open/close/make changes to your trades.
Check the ‘Allow live trading’ if needed. You may also need to check the ‘Allow DLL imports’ checkbox also. If you’re using any of my tools, then you’re going to need to enable this.
Once your done here, move over the the inputs tab.
Just like indicators, this is the area where you can modify input options the author has provided you.
The Trade Management Panel doesn’t have that many options on the input tab, they’re all mostly on the panel UI when it’s loaded onto the chart.
But this is going to be different from tool to tool.
Once you’re done here, click ok to load the expert advisor onto the chart.
If your expert advisor needs to perform trade tasks, like open/close/modify, you also need to turn on a ‘master switch’ located in the top bar to fully enable live trading.
Saving your template
Once you’ve gone through all the steps above, and you have your chart set up the way you like it, you can now save your template so you can easily re-load it later hassle free.
The process of saving a template is easy. Right click on the chart to bring up the sub menu, and select templates -> save template.
Then you will get the option to name your template.
You can it whatever you like, however there are special reserved names that you can set your template to, which will cause MT4 to ‘auto load’ your template under specific circumstances.
For example, if you call your template ‘default’, then MT4 will load your template every time you open a new chart.
Here are the reserved names I know of:
- ‘default‘: MT4 will look for a template called default on each new chart load. Call your template default to get this ‘auto load’ effect.
- ‘tester‘: If you are the back tester, name a template ‘tester’ if you want the strategy tester to load a specific template automatically, which is used when visual mode is enabled.
- ‘debug‘: This is used by MT4 when you launch the debugger process inside the Metaeditor (applies to developers only)
- ‘offline‘: I believe this one will be used whenever you load an offline chart, if it doesn’t exist will default to the default template.
Name your template to any of the reserve names above to get the explained effects.
Loading Your Custom Template
Loading your previously saved template is really easy.
On the chart, right click to get that sub-menu to appear, then click templates -> load template.
Your most recently used templates will appear on the ‘quick load’ menu option, if you see it there, then great – you can select it from here. Otherwise select the load template option, which will bring a list of all your available templates.
If your template isn’t in the quick load area, then you will find it here.
Metatrader 4 comes with some templates pre-loaded here ‘out of the box’. But they are absolutely useless, and I do not recommend using them if you’re serious about trading.
Double click on your template, or select your template, then select ‘open’ and your template will be loaded to your chart.
Moving Your Template File To Another MT4
If you use multiple MT4 setups, and you want to move your saved template to another installation – or, simply want to share your template with a friend, it’s easy.
A saved template is essentially just a file on your computer. Once you get access to that file, you can copy or move it to any other location you want.
MT4 stores, and looks for template files in a specific location. To get to the template folder do the following.
- Click file->open data folder
- Open the Templates Folder
You should now be in the folder where MT4 looks for template files.
The file will be called whatever you named your template.
Now you can copy the template file from here, and transfer it to another Mt4.
When you place your template file in the destination MT4, you will need to follow the same steps above to gain access to that particular Metatrader install’s template folder.
Once you place the template file in the destination MT4’s template folder, you will have to restart it before the template will appear in the template load menu.
Well that’s it, now you know everything I know about Metatrader 4’s template system. If you have any questions, or if you found this tutorial helpful, please leave your comment below – I enjoy the feedback.
All the best with your new charting experience 🙂