Is IntelliJ IDEA shining through Eclipse?

As a long time Eclipse user, I want to give a more serious look to IntelliJ IDEA. The people from JetBrains were very nice and granted me an open source license for the  and projects. In the post I listed some of the things I use often in Eclipse and their equivalent in IntelliJ. I wrote this post so I can bookmark it and come back to, whenever I forget something, and if it helps others the better.

Keyboard shortcuts

So firt things first. Here’s a list of the shortcuts I use or ought to be using the most:

Description Eclipse IntelliJ
 Code completion  Ctrl+Space  Ctrl+Space
 Open class or interface
(in both cases you can ease the search by filtering the lookup list with the help of the “camel words” prefixes e.g. “PoDI” will also list the PodcastDaoImpl class)
 Ctrl+Shif +T  Ctrl+N
 Open file/resource quickly  Ctrl+Shift+R  Ctrl+Shift +N
 Refactor/Rename classes  Alt+Shift+R  Shift+F6
 Open declaration  F3  Ctrl+B
 View Javadoc / Details  Mouse Over (F2 focus)  Ctrl+Q
 Quick fix  Ctrl+1  Alt+Enter
 Organize imports  Ctrl+Shift+O Ctrl+Alt+O
 Save file / Save all files  Ctrl+S / Ctrl+Shift+S Don’t need to. Happens automatically
 File Structure pop-up for quick navigation through the current file (members, methods)  Ctrl+O Ctrl+F12
 Source (Generate getters/setters, constructor etc.)  Alt+Up /Alt+Down  Alt+Insert
 Maximize Editor  Ctrl+M (works for any current view with focus on)  Ctrl+Shift+F12
 Source (Generate getters/setters, constructor etc.)  Alt+Up /Alt+Down  Alt+Insert
 Complete current statement such as if, do-while, try-catch, return (or a method call) into a syntactically correct construct (e.g. add curly braces)  Ctrl+Shift+Enter
 Extract constant  Ctrl+1 -> Extract to constant  Ctrl+Alt+C
 Extract variable  Ctrl+1 -> Extract to variable  Ctrl+Alt+V

Adding, Deleting and Moving Lines

Add new line after the one at caret Shift+Enter Shift+Enter
Duplicate line or code fragment Ctrl+Alt+Up/Down Ctrl+D
Remove line Ctrl+D Ctrl+Y
Move row or entire selection up or down Alt+Up/Down Shift+Alt+Up/Down


 Find usage of class/variable in workspace / project  Ctrl+Shift+G  Ctrl+Alt+F7 (popup)
Alt+F7 (Found console)
 Find text in project/workspace project  Ctrl+H (choose File Search)  Ctrl+Shift+F


 Back (Undo last navigation operation)  Alt+Left  Ctrl+Alt+Left
 Back (Undo last navigation operation)  Alt+ Left  Ctrl + Alt + Left
 Navigate between tabs/editors  Ctrl + Page Down / Up  Alt + Left/Alt + Right
 Go to line  Ctrl + L  Ctrl + G
 Navigate to recent files  Ctrl + E  Ctrl + E
 Quickly move between methods in the editor  Alt + Up / Down


 Step over  F6  F8
 Step into  F5  F7
 Step out  F7  Shift + F8
 Resume  F8  F9

Run tests

 Run as JUnit Test (valid both for test classes and methods)  Alt+Shift+X,T  Ctrl+Shift+F10
 Debug as JUnit Test  Alt+Shift+D,T

Link to editor

I often find myself when editing a file and to need to edit others files in the same context. For example ff it is a class usually, I also work on others classes in the same package – you can quickly navigate to the other class in the package by having the Link to Editor feature turned on.  What does it do? Whenever I edit a file it diplays it instantly in the package explorer/project. If you take vertical packaging approach, which holds classes together based on functionality rather than on layers (dao, service etc.), which I highly recommend, this comes pretty handy.


Go to the Project Explorer or Package Explorer View and click on the Link to Editor button


If you don’t want to enable this feature, you can still navigate to the package/project explorer hierarchy by using the keys combination Alt + Shift + W and select where you want to show it:

show in package explorer eclipse


In the Project or Packages view select Settings and then Autoscroll From Source


If you don’t want to enable this feature you can still navigate by using the keys combination Alt + F1 and select where you want to show it:show in package explorer intellij

What I really like about IntelliJ

Lots of things by default

IntelliJ comes with a lots of features provided by default (e.g. GitHub integration – have to check that one 🙂). Of course in Eclipse you can also get lots of functionality, by selecting on of the more specialized versions, but most likely you’ll still have to configure this or that plugin…

Change Font size using the mouse wheel

You can change font size using the mouse wheel (feature I heavily use in browser). But you need first to enable it:

  1. Open the IDE Settings (Ctrl+Shift+S or over the Menu File > Settings)
  2. On the Editor page (type Editor in the search bar), make sure that the setting Change font size (Zoom) with Ctrl+MouseWheel is enabled.

Launch terminal directly in the IDE

Alt + F12

Find action by name

If you cannot remember a shortcut, you can find the actions by name as well as the settings, using the Ctrl+Shift+A – well, this one you need to remember though…

Lets’s say you’d want to find the shortcut for Find usages for example, then click Ctrl+Shift+A and then start typing “Find usage” in the search box:

intellij - find action by name

Cool live templates

Type p and press Ctrl + J, then you get following options:

  • psf – public static final
  • psfi – public static final int
  • psfs – public static final String
  • psvm – main method declaration

Great JavaScript/HTML5 support

The commercial version (IntelliJ Ultimate), should include ultimate code assistance for HTML5, CSS3, SASS, LESS, JavaScript, CoffeeScript, Node.js, ActionScript and other languages. Promise to check this pretty soon.

What I miss from Eclipse

Cannot maximize console

Ctrl + M on the console. I haven’t found an easy way to maximize the console output, like a double click on the tab or Ctrl+M from Eclipse.

Show javadoc when hovering with the mouse

Of course you have the Ctrl + Q to get the same effect, but it’s so nice in Eclipse when you just hover of class and receive a snippet of its javadoc…

Actually you can have this feature in IntelliJ also, only that is disabled by default. Go to File > Settings > General > Editor and check “Show quick documentation on mouse move” (You can also set the delay). Thank you Крис for pointing this out.


The feeling – I find both IDEs great, IntelliJ looks more modern, but  on the same time I like the “classicness” of Eclipse, but that’s maybe because I so much more used to it. Will relate about this later…

Well, that’s all I have so far, but I’ll try to add features to the comparison should I come accross them and the time will allow it, so stay tuned.


  1. IntelliJ IDEA Q&A for Eclipse Users
  2. IntelliJ IDEA – Keyboard Shortcuts You Cannot Miss
  3. IntelliJ IDEA Default Keymap
  4. Eclipse Shortcuts – Tutorial
Podcastpedia image

Adrian Matei

Creator of and, computer science engineer, husband, father, curious and passionate about science, computers, software, education, economics, social equity, philosophy - but these are just outside labels and not that important, deep inside we are all just consciousness, right?

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