13 Things To Do After Installing IntelliJ Idea

IntelliJ Idea: the famous IDE for JVM languages including Java, Scala, and Kotlin. If you don't have it installed, follow Install IntelliJ IDEA on Linux to install the latest IntelliJ Idea. This article shows you some hidden tweaks to boost your productivity with IntelliJ Idea.

Wait! Isn't IntelliJ Idea ready to be used out of the box? There is no doubt about the capability of IntelliJ Idea; of course, it can handle your project without any tweaks and customization. However, this article shows you how I customize my IntelliJ Idea for better productivity. All we going to do is enabling some hidden features and installing some plugins that may take your favorite IDE to the next level.

Though I specifically mention the IntelliJ Idea, the following tweaks apply to all Jetbrains' IDEs:

  • Android Studio
  • AppCode
  • CLion
  • GoLand
  • PhpStorm
  • PyCharm
  • Rider
  • RubyMine
  • WebStorm

1. Enable the toolbar

Go to ViewAppearance and select Toolbar

The toolbar provides quick access to frequently used buttons such as Save All, Back, and Forward with a cost of small vertical space. I prefer to have the toolbar enabled because it moves the Build button to the left that makes it easy to access using my muscle memory. In addition, you can add more shortcuts to this toolbar if you like.

IntelliJ IDEA Enable Toolbar

All the upcoming tweaks are done in the Settings dialog. Open IntelliJ Settings from the Welcome screen: CustomizeAll settings... or from the Project window: FileSettings...

2.  Change the keymap

If you are using IntelliJ IDEA on Linux, the default keymap will be assigned to XWin which should work with most of the Linux desktop environments. However, some shortcuts may not work depending on your desktop environment. Therefore, better change it to your desktop specific keymap.

Navigate to Settings  → Keymap → Change the keymap

3. Change font size with Ctrl + Mouse Wheel

In code reviews and knowledge transfers, it is hard to see small fonts. Sometimes, you may prefer a larger font for a better focus. Changing the font size of the active editor with Ctrl + Mouse Wheel is there to help you.

Navigate to Settings  → EditorGeneral → Enable the option to "Change font size with Ctrl + Mouse Wheel"

Once this feature is enabled, you can press and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard and scroll the mouse wheel to change the font size of the currently opened editor.

4. Adjust the default font size

Though we can change the font size of the active editor using the previous tweak, you don't have to change it every time you open a file. The default font size may not fit everyone's needs and IntelliJ lets you change it according to your requirement.  I prefer a default font size of 16 but it is up to you to decide on what works best for you.

Navigate to Settings  → EditorFont → Change the Size

5. Enable proxy [Corporate Networks]

If you are using a corporate network, there is a high chance that you are behind a proxy. IntelliJ needs internet access to download plugins and project dependencies. Enable the proxy in IntelliJ to avoid any issues with internet access. If you are not behind a proxy, ignore this and the next tweaks.

Navigate to Settings  → Appearance & BehaviorSystem SettingsHTTP Proxy → Configure the proxy and Check connection to verify the configuration

6. Add server certificates [Corporate Networks]

Most of the companies using proxy also change the SSL certificate of the connections. IntelliJ may not be able to verify those certificates and keep showing an annoying warning message "Untrusted Server's Certificate". If you have your company's certificate, you can either add it to the IntelliJ so that it will not complain about the connection. In case if you don't have the certificate, you can ask IntelliJ to accept non-trusted certificates though it may not be advisable considering the security concerns.

Navigate to Settings  → Appearance & BehaviorSystem SettingsHTTP Proxy → Configure the proxy and Check connection to verify the configuration

7. Install a custom theme

As a programmer spending the entire day with IntelliJ IDEA, there is nothing wrong in expecting it to be aesthetically pleasing. I am not going to list the top 10 themes here as you can browse the available themes in any order on the official website. However, I do recommend to try: One Dark Theme.

By the time of writing this article, One Dark Theme is the second most downloaded themes. The first place goes to Material Theme UI. I prefer One Dark Theme over anything else because of its darker background, vivid font colors and more importantly, icons are left untouched.

Material Theme changes the icons and/or their color which takes some time to get used to. However, my concern is not the initial learning curve. After getting used to the Material Theme, it is hard to recognize the default icons of IntelliJ and it is difficult to troubleshoot your colleagues' code on their IntelliJ with the default Dracula theme. It may be something I faced and not applied to you but I am sharing my thoughts in case if that helps you.

    Follow these steps to install your preferred theme:

    1. Navigate to Plugins  → Marketplace → Search for the theme name (in this case One Dark) and install it

    2. Accept the "Third-Party Plugins Privacy Note" if asked

    3. Click Apply & OK and restart the IDE

    Open Settings again, navigate to Appearance & Behavior  → Appearance → Change the theme to your favorite theme and Click Apply

    8. Install Key Promoter X Plugin

    Key Promoter X is a plugin to learn keyboard shortcuts. Whenever you use your mouse to perform an action, the Key Promoter X will show you the keyboard shortcut for that specific action. I find it a quick way to learn unknown shortcuts and recommend it for beginners.

    Navigate to Plugins → Marketplace → Search for Key Promoter X and Install it.

    After installing the plugin, restart the IDE if asked.

    9. Install String Manipulation Plugin

    Converting a string from lower case to upper case and vice versa is already supported by IntelliJ Idea. String Manipulation goes beyond that and lets you convert a String to different programming formats such as Camel case, SCREAMING_SNAKE_CASE, snake_case, kebab-case, etc.

    Navigate to Plugins → Marketplace → Search for String Manipulation and Install it.

    After installing the plugin, restart the IDE if asked.

    10. Install CamelCase Plugin

    Similar to String Manipulation, CamelCase plugin works on variable names. Once installed, you can refactor a variable name using this plugin to change the case using a single command.

    Navigate to Plugins → Marketplace → Search for CamelCase and Install it.

    After installing the plugin, restart the IDE if asked.

    11. Install Rainbow Brackets Plugin

    Having a hard time to find the matching bracket? Rainbow brackets plugin is what you need. This plugin changes the color of matching brackets using different colors.

    Navigate to Plugins → Marketplace → Search for Rainbow Brackets and Install it.

    After installing the plugin, restart the IDE if asked.

    12. Install Rainbow CSV Plugin

    If you are dealing with CSV files frequently, you will fall in love with Rainbow CSV. Rainbow CSV justifies its name by differentiating each column using different colors. I find it helpful when reading CSV files with multiple columns and hundreds of rows.

    Navigate to Plugins → Marketplace → Search for Rainbow CSV and Install it.

    After installing the plugin, restart the IDE if asked.

    13. Increase the JVM Memory

    If you develop and run resource hungry applications from IntelliJ itself, you may hit OutOfMemoryErrors depending on how large your application is. Applications started from IntelliJ Idea also use the memory allocated for IntelliJ Idea. If you need to allocate more memory for IntelliJ Idea, follow this customization.

    Go to HelpEdit Custom VM Options...

    In the opened editor, increase the -Xmx value. For example, in the following JVM properties, I have increased the max memory to 2GB. After updating the property, save the changes and restart the IDE.

    -Xms128m
    -Xmx2g
    -XX:ReservedCodeCacheSize=512m
    -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC
    -XX:SoftRefLRUPolicyMSPerMB=50
    -XX:CICompilerCount=2
    -XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError
    -XX:-OmitStackTraceInFastThrow
    -ea
    -Dsun.io.useCanonCaches=false
    -Djdk.http.auth.tunneling.disabledSchemes=""
    -Djdk.attach.allowAttachSelf=true
    -Djdk.module.illegalAccess.silent=true
    -Dkotlinx.coroutines.debug=off
    -Dsun.tools.attach.tmp.only=true

    This article will not stop with these 13 tweaks. I will keep updating it as I come across any other useful settings and plugins. If you find this helpful and/or if you like to share your favorite plugin, please comment below.

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