Understanding the Best MACD Settings

By Updated on September 17, 2023

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If you want to find an edge in the market, knowing how to fine-tune your indicators can make a huge difference.

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is a popular tool for a lot of traders.

And when it comes to this industry, a trader is only as good as their tools.

We live in a fast paced age of spectacular profit opportunities.

When I first started, over 20 years ago, these plays moved a lot more slowly. I’ve managed to stay profitable because I grew with the industry.

In order to stay up to speed we need tools like the MACD indicator.

The stock market could appear daunting at first. With all of the niche lingo and random acronyms.

Don’t worry, it’s not as confusing as it seems. I’ll explain everything …

What is MACD?

MACD, designed by Gerald Appel, is a trend-following momentum indicator that shows the relationship between two moving averages of a security’s price.

It consists of the MACD line, signal line, and histogram. Each provides valuable insights on trend direction, momentum, and volatility in the market.

The overall market influence is very important. For instance, using MACD lines in the hottest sectors makes for more effective trades.

My new video analyzes the hottest stocks and how to approach them …

The MACD is a powerful tool, but it’s not the only one in a trader’s arsenal. Different strategies require different tools.

For instance, when dealing with momentum, the Momentum Indicator can be a valuable asset.

It’s crucial to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each tool and how they can complement each other.

I know this sounds like a lot of information for new traders. Don’t worry, I’ve got a solution.

Every week there’s a team of professional traders that hold live stream study sessions. Some of these webinars happen while the market is open.

It’s one of the best ways to digest this information. Plus there are opportunities to ask individual questions. If you’re interested in trading …

Drop what you’re doing and check out my Trading Challenge today.

The journey is a little different for everyone, that’s why live mentorship is so helpful.

Basic MACD Settings

Standard MACD settings involve three numbers: 12, 26, and 9.

The 12 represents the faster exponential moving average (EMA), the 26 denotes the slower EMA, and the 9 is the signal line – a 9-period EMA of the MACD line.

This setting works for many, but you might find that tweaking these numbers to suit your strategy can give you a trading advantage. It all depends on the patterns you’re using.

While the standard MACD settings are a good starting point, they might not be the best fit for every trading strategy. For instance, day traders might find that different settings are more effective. The Day Trading Indicators guide can provide more insights into this.

I also linked a video below of the three top indicators to find hot stocks …

I put a ton of resources on the internet for traders to use. And there are more every week.

MACD Settings for Different Platforms

MACD indicators are integrated into virtually every charting platform, but the settings might need to be adjusted based on the platform you’re using.

Best MACD Indicator Settings for MT4 & MT5

The default MACD settings in MT4 & MT5 are typically 12, 26, 9, but these settings and the line representation can be adjusted based on your trading strategy and goals.

Remember, it’s important to backtest any changes to ensure they align with your trading style and the specific assets you’re trading.

MACD Settings to Use Outside MetaTrader

Outside MetaTrader, the same principles apply. While the default settings are a good starting point, you may want to adjust them based on the asset, timeframe, and your risk tolerance.

Always backtest and review your strategy before implementing changes to your live trading.

A great way to do that is by using a paper-trading account …

Some software offer a paper-trading service where traders can test their strategies in real-time with fake money.

I use StocksToTrade and it comes with all the tools a trader might need. That includes MACD settings and a live paper trading option.

Try the 14-day trial for $7.

A trader is only as good as their tools.

Choosing the Best MACD Settings for Various Timeframes

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Finding the perfect MACD settings for your chosen timeframe is like hitting the trading jackpot. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, but a tailor-made suit that fits you perfectly.

Let’s discuss the ideal MACD settings for various timeframes.

The Best MACD Settings for 5-Minute Chart

For a 5-minute chart, scalpers might find reducing the standard settings provides more actionable signals.

For instance, a 6, 13, 4 setting might be a better fit, but always remember – the higher the frequency of trading signals, the higher the risk.

It’s also a good idea to use combinations of different settings. Similar to looking at chart patterns on different time frames, multiple MACD settings can help paint a better picture.

The Best MACD Settings for 15-Minute Chart

A 15-minute chart strikes a balance between frequency and accuracy of signals.

For such a timeframe, consider a faster MACD setting like 8, 17, 9 to reflect the quick market changes.

The Best MACD Settings for 30-Minute Chart

A 30-minute chart is perfect for those who want a middle ground between long-term and scalping strategies.

You might consider a 12, 26, 9 setting, as it provides a good balance between signal frequency and reliability.

The Best MACD Settings for 1-Hour Chart

For an hourly chart, stick with the default MACD settings of 12, 26, 9.

It gives you a good view of the market momentum and trend within the day.

Best MACD Settings for 4-Hour Chart

If you’re trading on a 4-hour chart, consider tweaking the default settings.

An 8, 24, 9 setting could potentially work better by reducing the number of whipsaws and improving the accuracy of your entries and exits.

Best MACD Settings for 1-Day Chart

For daily charts, many traders find the default MACD settings (12, 26, 9) to be very effective.

This timeframe captures the broader market trends and helps filter out market noise.

Intraday Settings for MACD

For intraday settings, you might want to shorten the MACD settings to respond more quickly to market changes.

In that case, something like 5, 15, 9 could be an appropriate starting point, but remember to backtest before trading.

MACD Crypto Settings

Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile, and using MACD can be beneficial to spot potential reversals and trend continuations.

Try the 12, 26, 9 setting for a start, then adjust according to your own risk and return objectives.

Understanding Scalping Indicators

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Let’s dig deeper into scalping indicators.

These are tools that can help you make quick decisions about when to enter and exit a trade. Here, the MACD is one of the popular choices due to its efficacy in revealing market trends and momentum.

Scalping indicators are essential tools for traders who want to take advantage of small price movements.

However, it’s important to remember that these tools are just one part of a comprehensive trading strategy. Understanding the Average True Range can provide additional insights into market volatility, which is crucial for scalpers.

Always strive to broaden your knowledge and improve your strategies.

Success occurs at the intersection of knowledge and experience. Take time right now to learn and it will pay off in the future.

What are Scalping Indicators?

Scalping indicators are tools used by traders to determine potential points to enter or exit trades in the market.

These are designed to help scalpers recognize and take advantage of small price movements.

Remember, scalping is a quick-paced, frequent trading strategy, and hence, the indicator you choose should be able to keep up with the speed.

Top 5 Best Indicators for Scalping

While MACD is a great indicator, there are others that scalpers often use.

  • RSI
  • Stochastic Oscillator
  • Bollinger Bands
  • Parabolic SAR
  • Moving Average

These all play a crucial role in scalping.

Each indicator provides a different insight – trend direction, momentum, volatility – and combining them can give a more comprehensive view of the market.

Can Scalping Indicators Be Used Together?

Absolutely. In fact, using multiple indicators can help validate signals and increase the chances of successful trades.

For instance, you could use RSI for identifying overbought or oversold conditions and MACD to confirm a potential price reversal.

If you don’t like RSI, choose another. There are a lot of indicators out there that help map the market.

What is the Best Forex Scalping Indicator?

The best forex scalping indicator depends on your trading style, but MACD is a common choice due to its ability to identify the strength, direction, momentum, and duration of a trend.

Key Takeaways

trade like a coward - sykes
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Alright, folks, we’ve covered a lot of ground here.

Remember, while MACD is a powerful tool in the trader’s toolkit, there’s no magic setting that guarantees profits.

The best MACD settings depend on your personal trading style, risk tolerance, and the specific market you’re trading in.

Stay adaptable, stay disciplined, and don’t forget to keep your risk in check.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’re not done yet! Let’s wrap up with some frequently asked questions about MACD settings and scalping.

Is Scalping Legal?

Yes, scalping is perfectly legal.

However, not all brokers permit this trading style due to the financial risks involved. So, ensure to check with your broker’s policy before you jump into scalping.

Can Scalping Indicators Be Automated?


Many scalpers use automated trading systems to execute trades based on predefined parameters.

However, remember that while automation can help manage trades, it cannot replace a robust, well-thought-out trading strategy.

And it’s always good to whip out a calculator to double check.

How Does Scalping Impact Market Volatility?

Scalping doesn’t typically cause market volatility – it’s more a reaction to it.

Scalpers thrive on volatility and big market events since it provides the price movements necessary for them to profit.

Remember, though, with greater volatility comes greater risk.

What Are the Key Components in MACD Settings?

MACD, or Moving Average Convergence Divergence, is a widely-used technical analysis tool.

It’s primarily based on two exponential moving averages (EMAs), with one typically set for 12 periods and the other for 26. The crossover between these EMAs is a key trading signal.

The MACD line (often shown as a blue line) represents the difference between these two EMAs, while the signal line (often a red line) is usually a 9-period EMA of the MACD line.

When these lines intersect, it indicates a potential market trend reversal.

Finally, the histogram, or the trend filter, illustrates the distance between these two lines, helping traders identify bullish and bearish momentum.

How Do Market Factors Affect MACD Settings?

MACD settings can be significantly influenced by various market factors.

For example, the prices of stocks and commodities can affect the highs and lows of the EMAs, which are key components of the MACD.

Moreover, the direction of the market trend (whether it’s an uptrend or downtrend) plays a significant role in the interpretation of MACD settings.

Furthermore, MACD settings can be used to analyze price action, which involves studying the movements of market prices to predict future price trends.

What Are the Practical Aspects of MACD Settings?

MACD settings involve the practical application of data analysis.

This involves reading values from price charts and using mathematical formulas to calculate EMAs and MACD lines.

The approach you take to analyzing these values and making entry decisions is crucial to successful trading.

Filters can be applied to MACD readings to screen out potential false signals. For example, Excel can be used as a practical tool for plotting and calculating MACD values and crossovers.

How Can MACD Settings Be Used for Different Types of Trading?

MACD is a versatile indicator that can be used for various types of trading.

For day trading, MACD crossovers can provide quick entry and exit signals within a single trading day. In swing trading, the MACD can help identify the start and end of price swings.

For longer-term position trading, MACD settings can be adjusted to use larger period settings, such as weekly or monthly data, for better performance analysis.

What Information Is Helpful for Beginners Learning About MACD Settings?

Beginners can benefit from a step-by-step guide on how to use and interpret MACD settings.

Essential information about the theory and application of the MACD, risk management techniques related to MACD signals, and real-world examples of trades using MACD settings can be particularly helpful.

Setting criteria and rules for when to buy or sell based on MACD signals can provide a structured approach to trading.

Lastly, practicing MACD strategies using a demo trading account can be a good way to gain experience without risking actual money.

What Information Is Helpful for Beginners Learning About MACD Settings?

Market conditions can significantly influence the effectiveness of MACD settings.

In trending markets, MACD can effectively identify potential buy and sell signals through crossovers and divergences.

However, in sideways or choppy markets, MACD may produce many false signals. Therefore, it’s important to consider overall market conditions alongside the MACD indications.

Take a page straight from my trading textbook; if there’s nothing to trade, close the laptop and go fishing. Idle hands are a trader’s worst enemy.

How Do Losses and the MACD Indicator Interact?

Losses are an inevitable part of trading.

The MACD indicator helps minimize losses by providing signals for potential price reversals.

For example, a bearish divergence, where the stock price makes a new high but the MACD doesn’t, may indicate a potential price drop. It can serve as a signal to close long positions and avoid losses.

It’s crucial, however, to use MACD alongside other technical analysis tools and not rely solely on it.


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Comments (1)
Author imageTimothy Sykes
Hey Everyone,

As many of you already know I grew up in a middle class family and didn't have many luxuries. But through trading I was able to change my circumstances --not just for me -- but for my parents as well. I now want to help you and thousands of other people from all around the world achieve similar results!

Which is why I've launched my Trading Challenge. I’m extremely determined to create a millionaire trader out of one my students and hopefully it will be you.

So when you get a chance make sure you check it out.

PS: Don’t forget to check out my 30 Day Bootcamp, it will teach you everything you need to know about trading.

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