I’m yet to join the iPhone club, but it’s getting more and more tempting, with every friend and contact I speak to extolling its virtues.

One of the main draws with the iPhone is the large number of “apps” available to download. As you are probably aware, these are small programs all developed with the aim of making your life easier or more enjoyable; whether it’s the “bill splitter” app for meals out with friends or that angry birds game.

In this article I have compiled a guide to the five most useful MetaTrader apps: I employ all of these on my own platform in some shape or form as I have found they help me to either save time, provide additional functionality or improve my bottom line.

Top 5 MetaTrader Apps

1) The Calendar “App”

One of my go-to websites every morning is the Forex Factor Calendar, which allows me to scan ahead to the day’s main economic announcements.

The calendar can be found here.

You can view the upcoming announcement for the day, week or even month. Once you register, you can select which currency announcements you want to view (e.g. ignore any minor currencies) and whether you want to focus on the most important announcements only.

The day’s calendar will look a little something like this:

The darker the image is towards the left, the more important that announcement is likely to be and the greater its potential market impact.

I have long since stopped trying to predict a) what the announcement will be or b) how markets will react, however, I still find the calendar useful for knowing when trading volatility is likely to increase.

For example, if I’m long with a very tight stop, I certainly would aim to close the trade prior to a major announcement. If I’m in a fixed odds trade and in profit with less than a day to go until expiry, a big market reaction might shake me away from the trigger level. In this case I would keep an eye on the calendar to know when to close the trade in advance.

The old-school way to keep an eye on up-coming announcements would be to use a sticky notepad and put it next to your monitor, but thanks to the wonders of MetaTrader and the good work of people across the Internet, you can get live alerts on your charts.

The FCAL indicator was developed within the Forex Factory Forums. This clever tool links up with the Forex Factory website. The Indicator installs like any other on MetaTrader and the user inputs are fairly intuitive.

If, for example, you only wanted to show news announcements of high importance, click “Include High” as true and the others as low. “Speaks” are generally central bankers such as Mervyn King or Ben Bernanke and the impact of their speech depends on the context and how far the speech is from an interest rate decision. If you’re not trading any particular currency or are trading stock markets for example, I suggest you ensure that all US dollar alerts are turned on.

It’s very important that you check the offset hours function to ensure your MetaTrader clock is in line with the Forex Factory Calendar. Use -1 or 1 for example, to ensure the indicator is getting its timings right.

Once installed, you will be able to see the text for the upcoming announcement, alerting you to its impact level and the previous numbers.

You can also set up some alarms to ensure you do not miss anything.

The FCAL tool cannot replace time spent reading the day’s calendar in advance, it is still advisable to know what’s coming up, just as you’re looking at a map before going on a journey even if you are going to use the sat nav as well.

You can download the indicator here.

2) Session Times and Ranges app

The Forex trading day is split into distinct sessions as different world time zones come on line.

As a recap they run as follows:

The Asian session: Roughly midnight to 07:00am. Traditionally, low volatility and little action, but with China becoming a world player and events in Japan taking centre stage, there can be a lot of action here overnight.

The European session: Roughly 07:00am until 16:00. The start of the European session has by far the greatest action of all the sessions as European traders react to overnight news and the morning news flow starts to come in.

The US session: Roughly 14:00 to 21:00. Some big activity around the release of major news items, but can tail off considerably into the evening.

Note, there is some overlap between these sessions.

Identifying the ranges:

The old-school way to identify these ranges would be to mark the time periods on your chart manually with a line tool, but you don’t have to do it this way. There are a number of free tools available that will help you to easily identify the different sessions and their ranges.

The best I have found is the “Sessions” indicator, which not only identifies each range with a different colour, it also tells you the exact high and low from those sessions.

You can download the indicator here.

Identifying trading ranges can be useful in a number of ways.

Session ranges

An ever-popular strategy is to identify the extreme ranges of a particular session and to use this to identify breakout or rebound opportunities. The most famous of these is the Big Ben Breakout which involves marking the extremes of the Asian session then trading based around the GBP/USD’s attempts to break through those levels.

Using the Session Range indicator you can plot the different sessions on your chart via a different colour to give you an instant visual on the limits of that particular time zone.

In addition, the indicator will display the highs and lows for the most recent trading session. In the chart below you can see the low of the European session labelled on the EUR/USD

You can use the indicator to highlight any of the three different sessions or even create a new time session of your choosing by modifying the times in question. Remember to always ensure that the times are adjusted to your MetaTrader clock. If your Meta Trader is not adjusted to BST for example, then you would have to display the times as they would appear on your screen, not the actual time.

Indicator parameters:

Below you can see I have elected to only display the Asian session on the hourly chart of the GBP/USD.

The session indicator isn’t just useful for Forex, you can also apply it to stock market charts to plot the high and the low of, say, the first hour trading for breakout opportunities throughout the day.

3) Round Number app

There is no denying the psychological draw of important numbers on any financial market, be it the FTSE’s 6000, the Dow Jones’ 12,000 or the GBP/ USD’s 2.000 level seen briefly in 2007. In a perfectly rational and reasonable world, these numbers shouldn’t matter more than any other, but in reality, all traders are human so such round numbers can have a greater impact than they logically should.

There are various reasons for this, mainly linked to human psychology whereby we place an inordinate amount of attention on round numbers.

There was a study in the New York Times showing the quirk in baseball stats for players going into their final hit of the season with an average of 0.299. A batting average of 0.3 is considered to be excellent and is the cricket equivalent of maintaining a test match batting average of 50. What the statisticians found was a massive leap in performance for players going into their final season bat when they had at that point an average of 0.299. The desire to make their season average push just 0.01 points higher to the magical round number was more motivating than any direct bonus they could have received.

With trading, round numbers are often used as profit targets and as locations for stop losses. They are also used as anchor points for people deciding on whether to enter a trade or not. For example, someone might think “I’ll go long the AUD/USD if it clears 1.0000.”

In Forex trading, there are many different types of round numbers you could pay attention to each day, but my preference is to just focus on 100 pip round numbers. For example, on the AUD/USD this might be looking at the 0.9900 level, the 1.000 level and the 1.1000 levels.

How the price reacts to these round numbers is nuanced and will often depend on the type of trading activity leading up to the round number approach.

The chart below shows a good example of this on the AUD/USD hourly chart:

On the far left, the price dropped down to the 0.9700 level and immediately bounced back up to the 0.98000 level where it struggled to make much progress from for some while. It finally lifted itself from the 0.9800 level and broke through the 0.9900 level. There was a pullback but this time the 0.9900 level acted as support. The 1.0000 level didn’t offer much resistance with a clean break offering a nice meandering uptrend higher.

Round Number indicator

There is thankfully an automatic way to note round numbers on your chart via the Grid indicator. You can download the indicator here.

Note, when you first upload the indicator, the default is for tons of lines to appear on your chart. The first step is to change the HGrid pips to 1,000 if using a five-digit broker or 100 if using a four-digit broker. You can then remove the vertical lines by changing the default grid time to something like 10,000. You may also want to remove the “grid” from your MetaTrader screen under the properties menu.

Remember that nothing is ever simple in trading and a market is not guaranteed to reverse at a round number or power higher after breaking through it. However, used in combination with other indicators, ensuring your chart gives you a heads up on upcoming round numbers can be a tremendous advantage.

4) Support Line app

Trading around Support & Resistance lines, be they round numbers or lines drawn yourself, is an age-old way to manage your trades through price action.

The problem with this is that we all lead busy lives and staring at the screen for hours waiting for a certain line to be hit can be a tremendous drain.

One easy way around this is to ensure you have alerts set up to tell early when a certain level is about to be hit. So instead of waiting until your chosen Support line is hit, you set the alert so you know when the price is within 25 pips of your chosen line. This might cause some false alarms, but it will also mean you are more likely to be in place and react with a degree of preparation when your actual chosen Support line is hit.

Below you can see an hourly chart of the AUD/ USD with a manually drawn Resistance line being hit a number of times on the right. Having early alerts to the approaching line could have helped you spot one of the many short-term pullbacks from it.

If you want trend line break alerts, as you might expect… there’s an “app” for that.

The Breakout Alert indicator

You can download the indicator here

First draw either a horizontal or diagonal trend line on your chart.

Now double-click on the line to select it and then right click to bring up the line’s properties:

In the dialogue box enter “Alert_XX” in the description (including the speech marks):

Replace XX with the number of pips away from the trend line you would like to see before an alert is triggered. If you want an alert when the price is within 1 pip, enter Alert_1, if you want an alert when the price is within 25 pips, enter Alert_25.

You may need to adjust for five digits so 1 pip=10.

You can elect to have pop-up and audio alerts like the example below, or email alerts:

Sending email alerts is a brilliant way to keep on top of potential positions while out and about, but sadly, it is not as straightforward as it seems. This is where our final app comes in.

5) Email Alerts app

MetaTrader has the functionality to send you email alerts when triggered, the problem is that they can be a devil to set up unless you know your way around a secure email set-up. Free email providers such as Gmail or Yahoo! tend not to work and it can still be problematic getting other sorts of email alerts set up.

However, there is an SMTP service which steps in to help here called SMTP2GO.

First you need to register

Then follow the set up instructions here

Your email options can be found under Tools/ Options. Below you can see how I have set up my MetaTrader for email alerts.

You can then test the settings by clicking the test button.

All that remains then is to set up some alerts, potentially using the Alert indicator and wait for the emails to come in. Below you can see an example email, which was delivered within seconds of the alert being triggered:

The bottom line

None of these indicators are going to give you direct buy or sell signals, but they could help you increase your bottom line by alerting you to opportunities, avoiding bad trades or spotting market patterns.