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Nikita Koselev
Nikita Koselev

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How to save time by NOT learning IDE shortcuts

Many devs don´t like using mouse too much as it is slow. Luckily, modern IDEs provide us with hundreds of shortcuts, which shall theoretically save us some time.

Unfortunately, sometimes in practice we spend more time memorizing shortcuts than actually use these very shortcuts.

Let me use my favourite Java IDE (IntelliJ Idea) as an example. It has numerous default shortcuts and your can also add your own ones. Just look at this list!...

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Somehow I learned those which I need for my work. How?
Easy. I have found the most important shortcut in the IntelliJ. Ctrl+shift+A

This shortcut is called "find action". It allows us to quickly look up any shortcut by typing in few words from description.
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The key idea is to use this shortcut every time you need to do a repetitive action for which you "feel" a shortcut must exist. This advice is easier to follow as it only takes 1 second, so our lasiness is not under a direct threat :)

For example, you want to add a new line below the current line and move your cursor to the beginning of the new line.
*ctrl+shift+A
*new line
*read the shortcut
*shift+enter

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Do not try to memorize the shortcuts, just look them up when you need them. The way human psychology works, after N number of usages, you will naturally memorize the shortcut.

Even if your IDE doesn´t have such a shortcut, you can use same PDF file and quickly look it up. However, in this case it will require considerably more time. Let´s say it takes only 30-60 seconds. It does not look much, but I think such small delays actually are the ones which stop us from getting more productive with the tools we already have.

Good luck improving the quality of your adventure with an IDE of your choice.

Discussion (2)

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Tobias Haindl

You might be interested in the Key Promoter Plugin for IntelliJ.
After an action is performed "manually" in the IDE, the plugin shows a little notification about the shortcut one could use instead.

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Nikita Koselev Author

I would like to thank @bruno Souza, @alexander Nikitin, Yugo Sakamoto and the "celebrity developer" program students ( code4.life/tcdb/#more ) for the inspiration.

Special thanks to @LondonJavaCommunity and @Recworks for helping the developer community to grow and to make this world a better place.