Essential Eclipse Shortcuts

Essential Shortcuts

The list of shortcuts in Eclipse is fairly long yet readily available. In fact starting with Eclipse 3.1 the full list of shortcuts can be displayed from anywhere via Ctrl+Shift+L. Nevertheless, call it information fatigue or simply a matter of style, deserving shortcuts frequently remain overlooked.

Below is a list of those shortcuts I find essential. What I mean by that is if you don't use them then you probably need additional time to execute essential everyday tasks and are not very comfortable navigating around.

So without further ado here is the list:

Ctrl+Shift+T Find Java Type Start typing the name and the list gets smaller. Try typing the capital letters of the class only (e.g. type "CME" to find "ConcurrentModificationException")
Ctrl+Shift+R Find Resource Use this to look for XML files, text files, or files of any other type. which are in your workspace.
Ctrl+E Open Editor Drop-Down Presents a popup window listing currently opened files. Start typing to limit the list or simply use the down arrow key.
Ctrl+O Quick Outline Use this to find a method or a member variable in a class. Start typing to limit the choices. Press Ctrl+O a second time to include inherited methods.
Ctrl+Space Content Assist Context sensitive content completion suggestions while editing Java code.
Ctrl+Shift+Space Context Information If typing a method call with several parameters use this to show the applicable parameter types. The current parameter where the cursor is will be shown in bold.
Ctrl+Shift+O Organize Imports After typing a class name use this shortcut to insert an import statement. This works if multiple class names haven't been imported too.
F3 Open Declaration Drills down to the declaration of the type, method, or variable the cursor is on. This works much like a browser hyperlink.
Alt+Left Backward History This works like a browser's Back button.
Alt+Right Forward History This works like a browser's Forward button
Ctrl+L Go to Line Go to a specific line number.
F4 Open Type Hierarchy Show the type hierarchy (downward tree) or the supertype hierarchy (upward tree).
Ctrl+Alt+H Open Call Hierarchy Show where a method is called from. In the Call Hierarchy view keep expanding the tree to continue tracing the call chain.
Ctrl+H Open Search Dialog Opens a search dialog with extensive search options for Java packages, types, methods, and fields.
Alt+Shift+R Rename - Refactoring Use this to rename type, method, or field. All existing references will be refactored as well.
Alt+Shift+L Extract Local Variable Use this to create a local variable from the selected expression. This is useful for breaking up larger expressions to avoid long lines.
Alt+Shift+M Extract Method Use this to extract a new method from existing code. The parameter list and return type will be automatically created.

Trying Out Shortcuts

A few things to keep in mind as you try the above shortcuts. If a shortcut doesn't have the described effect check if one of these is the cause of your problem:

  • Do you have an older version of Eclipse? Check the Help section to confirm the shortcut is available.
  • Is the shortcut applicable to the context (perspective) you're in? For example Ctrl+Shift+T (Open Type) is applicable in the Java perspective but not in the Resource perspective. You can find out where each shortcut is applicable by pressing Ctrl+Shift+L or by checking the Help section.
  • Is the shortcut already taken by another application? If so the other application will probably come to the foreground when you use the shortcut.
  • Is the shortcut defined twice in Eclipse? This can happen on occasion if you install additional plugins with overlapping shortcuts or more likely if you've tried to map shortcuts of your own. If there is conflict the shortcut won't work. To check this go to the Preferences or press Ctrl+Shift+L twice.

Additional Favorites

Here are some additional shortcuts, perhaps not essential but still very useful:

Alt+Shift+Up
Alt+Shift+Down
Alt+Shift+Left
Alt+Shift+Right
Select Enclosing Element
Restore Last Selection
Select Previous Element
Select Next Element
Useful for selecting context-sensitive blocks (e.g. surrounding loop, method, class, etc.)
Ctrl+Up
Ctrl+Down
Scroll Line Up
Scroll Line Down
Very handy if you want to scroll by 1 line without changing your cursor position or using the mouse.
Ctrl+Shift+Up
Ctrl+Shift+Down
Go to Previous Member
Go to Next Member
Great for stepping down through the methods of a Java source file.
Ctrl+Shift+U
Alt+Shift+U
Show Occurrences in File
Remove Occurrences Annotations
Use this to search within the same file - useful for occurrences of private fields and methods.
Ctrl+Shift+P Go to Matching Bracket Helps to find the closing bracket of lengthly if-else statements.
Ctrl+J
Ctrl+Shift+J
Incremental Find
Reverse Incremental Find
The first matching occurrence is shown with each typed letter. Press again and the next matching occurrence is shown.
Shift+Enter
Ctrl+Shift+Enter
Insert Line Below
Insert Line Above
Insert a line above or below the current line.
Ctrl+/
Ctrl+\
Add Block Comment
Remove Block Comment
Comment in/out blocks of code with a key stroke.
Ctrl+M
Maximize Active View or Editor
Maximize the current view or editor at the expense of all other currently shown views. Press again to restore to normal view.
Ctrl+F6
Ctrl+F7
Ctrl+F8
Next Editor
Next View
Next Perspective
Learn these to switch among edited files, open views and perspectives.
Ctrl+Alt+Up
Ctrl+Alt+Down
Duplicate Lines
Copy Lines
Doesn't seem like it at first but a great shortcut once you learn to use it. Instead of select, copy and paste simply select and duplicate without affecting the clipboard.
Alt+/ Word Completion This is excellent for code editing or writing plain help files with variables and other words having no English language equivalents. The word completion is based on the set of words already present in the current file.
Ctrl+I
Correct Indentation Select a block of Java code or an entire class file and use this shortcut to correct its indentation.
Shift Tab
Tab
Remove Tab
Add Tab
Select one or more lines of code and use this shortcut to intent them further/less.