Top 5 Tips For Learning IntelliJ Idea

IntelliJ Idea is designed to enhance productivity of developers by providing many features ranging from simple actions such are organizing imports through to (sometimes) complex refactoring, and many features in-between.

In this article, we present our top 5 tips for learning IntelliJ IDEA and increasing developer productivity.

I am user of IntelliJ IDEA, but I am in no way affiliated with IntelliJ IDEA or JetBrains, the company behind it.

1. What Keyboard Shortcut Did I Just Miss ?

IntelliJ IDEA has many features that are all accessible via a mouse click here, or a menu selection elsewhere. When learning the IDE however, one of the main ways of becomming more productive is to learn the keyboard shortcuts that benefit your workflow. One of the simplest ways to do this is via the Key Promoter X Plugin.

The Key Promoter X helps you to learn essential shortcuts while you are working. When you use the mouse on a button inside the IDE, the Key Promoter X shows you the keyboard shortcut that you should have used instead. This provides an easy way to learn how to replace tedious mouse work with keyboard keys and helps to transition to a faster, mouse free development. Currently, it supports toolbar buttons, menu buttons, tool windows and the actions therein.

The Key Promoter X plugin watches what mouse clicks you make, and if there is an equivalent keyboard shortcut key, it notifies you of that keyboard shortcut together with how many times you could have used it.

Key Promoter

2. Keymap Reference

Within IntelliJ IDEA, you can download a printable PDF detailing all of the keymaps (keboard shortcuts) for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. This is an excellent resource for you to print out and keep near your keyboard for quick reference.

The Keymap is broken down into over 10 sections including important Remember these Shortcuts, Degugging and Compile and Run etc. For additional productivity boosts, the keyboard shortcuts that are considered “Productivity Boosters” are all highlighted as the important key strokes to remember.

3. IntelliJ Videos

The IntelliJ IDEA team have made many videos showcasing what IDEA can do and how to use it efficiently. These are an excellent source of learning about what IDEA can do, and how to use it most effectlvely.

Some of our favourites include:

4. IntelliJ Wizardry With Heinz Kabutz

Heinz Kabutz of the Java Specialists’ Newsletter has provided a free online course in which he discusses why he started using IntelliJ IDEA and shows how to use many of the featues of it. The course, IntelliJ Wizardry with Heinz Kabutz is free online (requires registration) and consists of over 40 short videos.

If you learn by watching rather than reading this video course can provide many usefuly tips.

5. Practice

The above tips provide some useful resources that can help you learn how to become more productive and a better developer whe using IntelliJ IDEA. Don’t forget, there’s no substitute for practice. The more you practice using IntelliJ IDEA, and the more you use productivity enhancing keyboard shortcuts, the more this gets committed to muscle memory and it becomes easier and second nature to rapidly move around the keyboard.

Learning keyboard shortcurts is one major aspect in becoming more productive, but if you don’t know a feature exists, you can’t practise it. The IntelliJ IDEA Documentation provides a good starting point with many How-To’s and Tutorials. As developers, we probably don’t read the manual as often as we should, however, I’d recommend reading though the IntelliJ IDEA Documentation if you are new to Java or the IDE, so you can quickly get to grips with what it offers.


Finally, if you want to know how productive IntelliJ IDEA has made you, check out the statistics under the Help | Productivity Guide menu option. This dialog shows you how much typing code completing within IntelliJ IDEA has saved you, how many different features you’ve used within the IDE and how many potential bugs you’ve been saved from. This is an instant confrmation of how much you’re productivity has been increased!

Do you have any other productivity tips on using IntelliJ IDEA, or do you recommend any videos for learning about it? If so, add a comment below and let everyone know.