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Will BL
Will BL

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Top 5 IntelliJ IDEA Tips & Tricks!

IntelliJ IDEA is an excellent all-rounder IDE by Jetbrains. It's most often used for Java and Kotlin, but can also be used to develop for JS, Rust, and many more languages. It's what I use for most of my programming, and so I thought I'd share what config tweaks, tricks, and plugins I've used that make it nicer.

Darcula? Make it darker!

An IntelliJ window with Darcula Darker theme

Darcula is a very nice theme, but it always bugged me that it wasn't nearly as dark as the light theme is light. It felt like there was more potential there. Darcula Darker, by Vecheslav Druzhbin, darkens backgrounds, contrasting it more against text.

Rainbow Brackets

An example of rainbow brackets

This plugin may sound silly at first, but rainbow brackets honestly vastly improves readability of nested brackets. It works by giving each pair of brackets its own colour, so that nested sets are visually distinct.

While we're on the rainbow topic, for those who work with CSV files often, Rainbow CSV may be useful.

Errors should be visible!

Code with an error highlighted in red

Sometimes, in very dense code, it can be difficult to find a single-character syntax error at a glance, as its signified by a tiny red squiggly line. How do you fix that, and make it stand out? Add a red highlight, too!

(This can be done by going into Settings -> Editor -> Color Scheme -> General -> Errors and Warnings -> Error and setting Background to #630202)

Comments are for humans

Some code with bright pink comments

One thing I will never understand is that comments, despite being more for humans' benefit than the rest of the code, are always put in low-contrast greys, as if the machine, envious that it cannot read them, doesn't want me to be able to either.

So make your comments bright pink.

(This can be done by going into Settings -> Editor -> Color Scheme -> Language Defaults -> Block Comment + Line Comment and setting Foreground to #FC7CE1)

nya-nya-nya-nya-nya (or is it nyan-nyan-nyan?)

A nyan cat progress bar

I don't have any reason for this other than that it makes me smile. But do I really need another reason?


I have yet more opinions on how to get the most out of your editor - follow me to get notified when part two of this series is out! You'll get to learn:

  • How to get even more powerful git support
  • How you might be able to get IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate for free
  • Which side of the Emacs v. Vim editor war I'm on!

Top comments (2)

scottshipp profile image

Thanks for the article! Adding on: I always found the biggest boost to productivity in IntelliJ came from learning a small set of simple shortcuts. On macOS, my favorites are as follows:

Key Combo Description
Shift + Cmd + O Go to file
Shift + Cmd + F Find in files
Cmd + Click Holding cmd and clicking on any variable or method usage will go to its declaration.
Cmd + [ / Cmd + ] Navigate back or forward through Cmd + Click history.
Option + Cmd + [ / Option + Cmd + ] Move to code block start / end.
Ctrl + T Open Refactor menu overlay.
Ctrl + Alt + O Optimize imports
Ctrl + Enter Open Generate menu overlay.

You'll have to check Help > Keymap reference on other OS's to find out the corresponding key shortcuts.

ihtasham42 profile image

Very cool 😎