Trader Tips
Apr. 8, 202418 min read

MACD Review 2024 – Best MACD Settings, Cons, Alternatives

Tim BohenAvatar
Written by Tim Bohen

The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) is a staple in the trading world, renowned for its effectiveness in identifying trend changes and momentum in the markets. The key to it becoming an effective tool for your trading strategy can be found when you master the best MACD settings.

Read this article because it provides actionable insights on optimizing MACD settings for various trading styles, ensuring you can adapt the tool effectively to your market approach.

I’ll answer the following questions:

  • What are the best MACD settings for day trading?
  • How can MACD settings be adjusted for different trading styles?
  • What are the common drawbacks of using MACD in trading?
  • How can MACD be integrated with other trading tools for enhanced accuracy?
  • What alternatives to MACD are available for traders?
  • How does MACD compare with other indicators like RSI and Stochastic Oscillators?
  • What are the benefits of using MACD for day trading?
  • How can volume indicators be used with MACD to improve trade signals?

Let’s get to the content!

Table of Contents

What Is MACD?

The MACD is a momentum indicator that’s based on moving averages. It’s about understanding the relationship between two Exponential Moving Averages (EMAs), typically 12 and 26 periods.

A trader looks at the MACD line, which is a difference between two EMAs, and the signal line, which is a 9-day EMA of the MACD line. The crossover between these lines can provide trade signals, and the concept of divergence and convergence plays a vital role.


Understanding the dynamics of various trading indicators is essential for any trader. While the MACD focuses on momentum and moving averages, platforms like Reddit also offer valuable insights.

On Reddit, traders often share their experiences and strategies, including those related to the MACD. If you’re interested in exploring diverse opinions and real-time discussions on penny stocks, you might find this Reddit penny stock watchlist helpful.

It can complement your understanding of MACD and other trading tools.

Is MACD Good for Day Trading?

The MACD tool is popular among day traders for a reason. It offers insights into momentum, trend direction, and potential reversals.

It’s not just about price changes but about understanding the underlying strength or weakness in a market.

However, no tool is a magic wand. The MACD needs to be used with care and in conjunction with other tools and indicators like RSI or Bollinger Bands. Context is essential, and this tool is one part of a well-rounded trading strategy.

How To Use MACD in Day Trading

Using the MACD in day trading involves watching for signal line crossovers and understanding what they represent. When the MACD crosses above the signal line, it might be a sign to buy. 

Conversely, when it crosses below, it might be a signal to sell.

But it’s more complex than that. You need to understand price action, divergence, and the broader market context. Combining the MACD with other indicators and being aware of resistance and support levels is vital.

It’s not about blindly following a line on a chart. This isn’t gambling.

Incorporating the MACD into your day trading strategy requires a comprehensive understanding of various tools and platforms. TradingView is one such platform that offers a wide array of charting tools, including the MACD.

If you’re looking to enhance your day trading experience with the MACD and other indicators, consider exploring TradingView for day trading. It offers a robust platform for technical analysis, which can be a valuable addition to your trading toolkit.

Best MACD Settings for Day Trading

Fine-tuning MACD settings can significantly impact its effectiveness in day trading scenarios, where market conditions change rapidly. Optimal settings for the MACD can vary depending on the specific market and the volatility it exhibits.

MACD crossovers are a critical component for traders using this indicator, providing key signals about potential bullish or bearish momentum. Understanding how to interpret these crossovers can significantly enhance your trading strategy, especially in volatile markets. Adjusting the sensitivity of the MACD can help you better align with your trading style and the specific securities you are monitoring. For a deeper understanding of how to leverage MACD crossovers effectively in your trades, read our article on MACD Crossovers.

Factors to Consider when Choosing MACD Settings for Day Trading

Understanding the following factors can greatly enhance the precision of the MACD in your trading strategy:

  • Trading style: Scalpers might prefer faster settings to catch quick price changes, while swing traders might opt for slower settings to filter out market noise.
  • Market volatility: High volatility might require adjustments to the MACD’s sensitivity to avoid too many false signals.
  • Security’s price behavior: Different securities may behave in unique ways, necessitating adjustments to the MACD settings to align with specific price actions.

The MACD is versatile, not only for identifying trend changes but also for confirming trade signals when used alongside volume indicators and other technical tools. For traders looking to master the MACD indicator and fully exploit its benefits in various market conditions, a comprehensive guide can be found at MACD Indicator.

Importance of Adjusting MACD Settings for Different Trading Styles

Different trading styles necessitate unique MACD settings due to their distinct operational frameworks. For instance, scalping requires quick responses to price changes, often needing a tighter MACD setting to provide timely signals. Conversely, swing trading allows for a broader view, where a slower MACD setting helps in discerning more significant trend reversals without the noise of minute-to-minute fluctuations.

Here are some examples of MACD settings for different trading styles:

  • Scalping: Fast EMA 9, Slow EMA 12, Signal Line 6
  • Swing Trading: Fast EMA 12, Slow EMA 26, Signal Line 9

These settings are starting points, and I encourage traders to backtest these setups under different market conditions to find what best suits their trading needs.

Benefits of Using MACD for Day Trading

The MACD can provide a window into momentum and trends, but it’s not foolproof. The benefits include a visual guide to market direction and potential entry and exit points.

In the hands of an experienced trader, it can be an invaluable tool. But it’s not the end-all. It’s one piece of a broader trading puzzle, offering insights and helping to shape trades, not dictating them.

While the MACD offers insights into momentum and trends, choosing the right trading platform is equally crucial. Questrade is a platform known for its user-friendly interface and extensive features tailored for day traders.

If you’re looking to explore a platform that aligns with your MACD-based strategies, Questrade for day trading might be a suitable option. It can provide the necessary tools and environment to execute your trades effectively.


When it comes to trading platforms, StocksToTrade is first on my list. It’s a powerful trading platform that integrates with most major brokers.

I helped to design it, which means it has all the trading indicators, news sources, and stock screening capabilities that small-account traders like me look for in a platform.

Grab your 14-day StocksToTrade trial today — it’s only $7!

Drawbacks of MACD

While MACD is a powerful tool, it’s not without drawbacks. Its reliance on historical price data means it can lag behind real-time market changes. This lag can lead to delayed entries and exits, potentially missing out on optimal trades or holding onto losing positions too long.

Integrating MACD with Other Trading Tools

Integrating the MACD indicator with other trading tools can create a robust strategy that enhances your market analysis and decision-making process. By combining MACD with indicators like RSI, Stochastic Oscillators, or Bollinger Bands, you can develop a more comprehensive view of the market. This holistic approach helps in identifying more reliable trading signals, reducing the likelihood of false positives, and improving overall trade outcomes. 

To explore various trading strategies that effectively integrate the MACD indicator, read our article on Trading Strategies in the Stock Market.

Combining MACD with Moving Averages

Using MACD in conjunction with moving averages can reinforce trend signals, providing clearer cues for market entries and exits.

Steps to combine MACD with simple moving averages (SMAs):

  • Set the MACD with standard settings (12, 26, 9).
  • Overlay a 50-period SMA on the same chart to identify the broader trend.
  • Enter trades when MACD crosses its signal line in the direction of the broader trend indicated by the SMA.

Using MACD With Volume Indicators

Volume indicators can complement MACD signals by confirming the strength behind price movements, offering a more robust basis for trades.

Examples of volume indicators that pair well with MACD:

  • On-Balance Volume (OBV)
  • Volume Oscillator

Pairing these tools enhances the reliability of the signals provided, especially in identifying bullish or bearish trends.

Synergy With Fibonacci Retracement Levels

Fibonacci retracement levels offer key price targets and reversal points, which, when used in conjunction with MACD, can pinpoint potential market entries and exits with higher precision.

Steps to use MACD with Fibonacci levels:

  • Identify a major price move and apply Fibonacci retracement to it.
  • Watch for MACD to confirm a reversal signal at or near key Fibonacci levels, such as 38.2%, 50%, or 61.8%.

Alternatives to MACD

While the MACD is a popular and widely used indicator, traders often seek alternatives to diversify their analytical tools and adapt to different market environments. Each technical indicator has unique attributes and can provide different insights into market behavior, making it important to select the right tool for specific trading scenarios. Exploring alternatives can help refine strategies, reduce risk, and potentially increase profitability.

  • Relative Strength Index (RSI): Unlike MACD which focuses on trend and momentum, RSI measures the speed and change of price movements to identify overbought or oversold conditions.
  • Stochastic Oscillator: This indicator compares a closing price to its price range over a given time period, offering a different perspective on momentum compared to the trend-following nature of MACD.
  • Bollinger Bands: These bands add a volatility dimension that MACD lacks, providing dynamic levels of support and resistance around the price.
  • Fibonacci Retracement: Useful for identifying potential reversal points, Fibonacci levels offer a mathematical approach to support and resistance unlike the statistical method used by MACD.

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a momentum oscillator that measures the speed and change of price movements. RSI oscillates between zero and 100 and is typically used to identify overbought or oversold conditions in a market. This makes it an invaluable tool in day trading, where identifying extreme conditions can signal potential reversal points.

  • Trending Markets: Use RSI to identify potential reversal points when the index moves out of overbought (>70) or oversold (<30) conditions.
  • Rangebound Markets: In markets without a clear trend, RSI can help pinpoint entry and exit points within the range. Buy when RSI moves above 30 from below and sell when RSI moves below 70 from above.

Stochastic Oscillator

The Stochastic Oscillator is a momentum indicator comparing a particular closing price of an asset to a range of its prices over a certain period of time. Unlike MACD, which is more trend-focused, or RSI, which shows overbought or oversold conditions, the Stochastic gives signals about momentum and potential reversal points by identifying the position of the closing price relative to its high-low range.

  • Set the Stochastic parameters: Typically, the Stochastic Oscillator is set with a 14-period timeframe, with %K and %D lines to signal entry and exit points.
  • Interpret the Stochastic signals: Look for the crossover of the %K line over the %D line as an indicator of potential trade entries and exits. A cross above may suggest a buy signal, while a cross below may suggest a sell signal.
  • Consider divergence: When the price of an asset makes a new high or low that is not supported by the Stochastic, it may indicate a potential reversal.

Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are a type of statistical chart characterizing the prices and volatility over time of a financial instrument or commodity, using a formulaic method involving moving averages and standard deviation. Unlike MACD which provides trend following and momentum signals, Bollinger Bands are particularly noted for their ability to gauge volatility and provide dynamic support and resistance levels.

  • Understand the setup: Bollinger Bands consist of a middle band being a moving average, flanked by two standard deviation lines. These bands expand and contract based on market volatility.
  • Trading with MACD: Look for price touching or breaking through one of the Bollinger Bands as a potential signal of significant price movement in direction of the touch.
  • Combine with MACD crossovers: A price move that begins at one of the Bollinger Bands and is accompanied by a MACD crossover can provide a stronger signal. Use the MACD to confirm the direction of the move suggested by the touch of the price on the Bollinger Band.

Key Takeaways

  • Adjust MACD settings according to trading style and market conditions for best results.
  • Integrate MACD with other technical tools for comprehensive market analysis.
  • Regularly backtest and refine strategies to ensure they align with current market conditions and trading goals.

There are a ton of ways to build day trading careers… But all of them start with the basics.

Before you even think about becoming profitable, you’ll need to build a solid foundation. That’s what I help my students do every day — scanning the market, outlining trading plans, and answering any questions that come up.

You can check out the NO-COST webinar here for a closer look at how profitable traders go about preparing for the trading day!

How do YOU use the MACD indicator? Let me know in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Accurate Is MACD Trading?

Accuracy in MACD trading depends on the trader. It can be a useful indicator but needs to be used in conjunction with other tools.

Its success or failure often lies in the hands of the one using it.

Which Indicator Is Faster Than MACD?

Some traders find the RSI or even shorter EMAs to be faster than the MACD. It depends on the settings, timeframe, and specific strategies used.

What Is the Most Effective Indicator for Day Trading?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some prefer the MACD, while others lean towards the RSI or Bollinger Bands. It depends on the trading strategy, the asset, and individual preference.

Which Indicator Works Best With MACD?

Combining the MACD with other indicators like RSI or Bollinger Bands can provide more insights and confirmation. It’s about building a robust trading system rather than relying on one tool.

Which Timeframe Is Best for MACD?

The MACD can be used on various timeframes, but for day trading, shorter ones like M30 might be more suitable.

It aligns with the rapid decision-making required in day trading. Again, it’s about matching tools and strategies to individual trading styles and markets.

What Is MACD Trading Strategy, and How Are SMA, Candlestick, Price Indicator, and Stock Price Used in It?

The MACD trading strategy is a popular technical analysis method in forex trading. It uses SMA (Simple Moving Average), candlestick charts, price indicators, and stock price analysis to identify a potential cross over, uptrends, or downtrends.

The tool measures high highs and low lows creating an average for traders to follow.

This information helps in making informed trading decisions.

How Are Positions, Securities, Instruments, Entries, and Exits Managed, and What Are the Associated Risks and Profits?

Positions and securities are fundamental aspects of trading that involve the buying and selling of financial instruments.

Careful planning of entries and exits is essential for managing risk and maximizing profits. Keep your mind in the game!

Day trading CAN lead to substantial losses.

A 2019 study called “Day Trading for a Living?” looked at the success rates of Brazilian traders over a 2-year window, and found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days of active trading lost money. Only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage — that’s only $16 per day!

Utilizing tools like the MACD and understanding the range and magnitude of market movements can reduce risks and enhance results.

How Can Articles, Education, Tips, Reviews, and Information From Top Investors Like Gerald Appel Help in Forex Trading?

Enhancing your trading skills requires continuous learning. Reading articles, reviews, and educational tips, and following top investors like Gerald Appel (who introduced the MACD) can provide valuable insights.

Learning from real-life examples, cases, and established rules will deepen your understanding of trading strategies, including the MACD.

How Are Calculations, Parameters, Values, Histograms, and Bars Used in MACD, and How Can Metatrader 4 Support Forex Trading?

The MACD relies on specific calculations, parameters, and values to analyze price movements. 

Histograms and bars are graphical representations of these data points, aiding in trend identification. Platforms like Metatrader 4 offer advanced tools for MACD analysis, enhancing your ability to recognize opportunities for entries, exits, and trend reversals.

What Role Do Visual Elements Play in Trading, and How Can They Influence Your Trading Decisions?

Visual elements like logos and images contribute to the branding and presentation of trading strategies and platforms. They may combine in various ways to provide a unique trading experience.

Attention to each detail and understanding different ways to interpret visual data can add nuance to your trading decisions, such as using the MACD’s crossover patterns.

How Does the MACD Formula Utilize Prices, Volume, Velocity, and Filter To Interpret Series and Readings in Trading?

The MACD formula uses the difference between short-term and long-term moving averages of prices to identify market trends.

Volume and velocity measurements can be integrated to understand momentum, while filters help reduce noise in the readings. By analyzing a series of historical price data, traders can develop an accurate interpretation of market behavior and make informed trading decisions.

How Can the Account Name, Bit, and “Each Other” Interactions Influence the Interpretation of Your Trading Activities?

Your account name and settings might include specific bits of information tailored to your trading preferences and strategies. Interactions with “each other” refer to how various elements of your trading (such as positions, instruments, and strategies) interact and affect one another. 

Understanding these relationships and how they’re interpreted can lead to a more cohesive and effective trading strategy, including the application of tools like MACD in your trading activities.