If you want to trade forex on your Mac, the situation is a bit more complicated than for PC users. This is mainly because there are far fewer forex trading platforms and software that support Mac and there’s no MT4 for Mac.
However, if you look hard enough, there are some excellent Mac compatible forex trading platforms and forex trading software that make it perfectly possible to trade foreign currencies on your Mac desktop.
The forex (short for Foreign Exchange) market is where currencies are traded and is the largest and most liquid financial market in the world with an average daily turnover of $6.6 trillion.
With the recent volatility in forex markets caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there are some serious opportunities to make profits on rapid currency movements.
It’s therefore incredibly fast moving and so when it comes to the cut and thrust of foreign exchange trading and the FX market, you need trading tools which are specifically focused on the complexities of forex to trade successfully.
Unlike with stock market trading, there is no central exchange for foreign currencies so you can trade forex 24 hours a day which makes it ideal for traders at home.
In this article, we’ll look at how to trade the forex market on macOS and what to look out for when choosing which software to use.
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Forex Trading Platforms vs Software
Firstly, it’s important to understand there’s a difference between forex platforms and forex software.
Forex trading platforms such as IQ Option allow you to trade in real time on the forex market.
You normally can’t actually trade with forex charting software although TradingView now allows you to link it to a small number of brokers such as Forex.com to trade.
Most forex trading platforms also offer their own software for analyzing the forex market although they’re not usually as good as dedicated forex charting tools.
When it comes to platforms, the main problem for Mac users is the lack of platforms that have Mac desktop clients.
All forex brokers offer web clients that work in a browser but very few offer a Mac desktop app.
While a desktop app is not essential, many forex traders prefer not having to use a browser to trade.
There are however excellent platforms like IQ Option that do offer a Mac desktop client and are extremely easy to use.
MT4 On Mac
The other big problem for Mac users that want to trade foreign currencies that that there’s no version of MetaTrader for Mac.
Metatrader 4 and MetaTrader 5, or MT4 and MT5 as they’re more commonly known in the forex industry, is by far the most popular forex trading software in the world.
Features like MetaTrader Experts and MetaTrader Market are some of the standout tools that have made it so successful on Windows.
Unfortunately, MetaTrader has never been released for Mac although there are still ways of using MT4 on a Mac.
It’s got even harder in 2020 though since the release of macOS Catalina which doesn’t support 32 bit applications like MetaTrader and our advice is learn to live without it as there are plenty of other alternatives to MT4.
We strongly recommend TradingView as an alternative to MT4.
Beginners vs Experienced Traders
The kind of tools and software needed by those new to forex trading will differ significantly from more experienced traders.
If you’re a beginner, forex charting tools such as MetaTrader and cTrader will appear intimidating and overwhelm you with charts, data and technical analysis tools that won’t help you if you’re starting out.
But just because something is packed with hundreds of different charts and features, it’s necessarily the best.
It can soon become counter productive to your trading efforts when you have several charts, indicators and analysis tools open at once.
Especially if you’re new to forex trading, don’t be afraid to keep it simple.
Instant Forex Trade Execution
One thing you should always check is how the forex platform you’ve chosen executes trades.
Believe it or not, some brokers don’t actually execute forex trades immediately the moment you buy or sell.
Rather, once you’ve made your trade, it is sent to an Execution Desk or Dealing Desk (DD) for processing.
This creates delays and therefore potential losses in the time between trade and execution which in the fast-moving world of currencies, can be significant.
Fortunately, most brokers now offer instant trade execution but it’s always worth making sure before signing-up as there’s nothing worse than finding out your trades aren’t in real-time.
Margin and Leverage
One of the good things about forex is that most brokers don’t charge commission on trades like they do with stock market trading.
Most forex brokers make money by capturing part of the spread i.e. the difference between what you can buy and sell currency on each trade although some brokers have specific revenue models that differ from this.
The other attractive thing about forex trading and the international currency market is that you can buy and sell with far more than you have in your account.
This is called your Margin or Leverage and differs from broker to broker.
So for example, with just a small deposit of $100 and a broker offering leverage of 1:100, you can make currency transactions up to $10,000 even if you don’t have that much in your account.
However, it’s very important to be aware that the reverse is also true – your losses can also be equal to any potential gains and brokers require a deposit to cover any potential losses based on their leverage rate.
Many forex brokers offer a rate of leverage or margin which is typically 1:50 although it can be much more than this depending on the broker.
Forex Demo Accounts on Mac
Most forex platforms provide free demo accounts, usually with several thousand dollars worth of pretend currency.
This is a great way to get familiar with forex trading in general if you’re new to it.
However, it’s very easy to get a false sense of security with demo forex accounts and there’s a few things to be aware of when using them.
Demo accounts operate in a simulated market environment and therefore don’t always reflect real-time market liquidity.
Although they are based on current market conditions, in some demo accounts, there may be a delay between live and simulated pricing.
In a real world trading environment, you may sometimes experience rejected orders and slippage with Forex trades.
This usually doesn’t happen with demo accounts so be prepared for such things if you open a live account.
The margin requirements may not be the same in demo accounts as they are in live accounts as brokers often update live margins but demo accounts may not always coincide with those of real accounts.
Don’t underestimate the psychological difference between trading pretend currency and real currency either
The pressure when trading large volumes of hard cash can be significant and a simulated environment can’t replicate this.
Some products or features may not be available on demo accounts so you may not be getting the full platform experience.
Probably the best advice we can give when forex trading on your Mac is simply to trade with caution.
Forex trading in particular is high risk due to leveraged trading which allows you to risk far more than you actually trade with.
The most important rule in trading is you must only trade using your risk capital.
Chasing losses or risking other capital is extremely risky and can end in financial ruin if left unchecked.
Fortunately, almost all Forex brokers allow you to set a minimum margin requirement so that a margin closeout will occur if the market turns suddenly.
For more on the risks of Forex Trading and some sound advice, check Oanda’s guide to Risks in Forex Trading.