⚙️ Get into IdeaVim configuration, from basic to advanced

The IdeaVim is a Vim emulation plugin for IntelliJ Platform-based IDEs. It has a lot of supported motions and operations and can help you to quickly edit code and navigate through it.

Install IdeaVim by using the IDE's plugin manager (File -> Settings -> Plugins -> Search for IdeaVim -> Install IdeaVim).

Basic configuration

You can configure IdeaVim with the ~/.ideavimrc File. Which is quiet mighty and very useful. It is similar to a .vimrc file and supports some of the default vimrc settings and commands.

Set Commands

For basic settings. Here some useful examples:

Disable select mode for refactoring

Usually IntelliJ will go in the select mode, when refactoring a variable or method name. This is only useful, if the whole name should be changed. So the normal mode, is better for me:

    set idearefactormode=keep

Enable IdeaJoin

For the great IntelliJ join functions. Keymap: J (Shift+j).

    set ideajoin


Some Plugins are already build in IdeaVim, and must not be installed manually. You enable it via the Plug command .

Activate surround Plugin

which emulates the the Vim Surround plugin. Normal mode: ys, visual mode: S

    Plug 'tpope/vim-surround'

Activate commentary Plugin

which emulates the the Vim Commentary plugin. Keymap: gc

    Plug 'tpope/vim-commentary'


They work the same like in Vim. map is the keyword. noremap for non non-recursive mappings. And nnoremap for normal mode, vnoremap for visual mode, etc.

Small examples:

Yank to the last character of the Line

Y (Shift + y)

    nnoremap Y yg_

Jump to the class definition

    "(gh = go to header)
    nmap gh gg<Action>(MethodDown)mxz<CR>5<C-y>`x

    " gg     = go to beginning
    " mx     = sets a mark, so we can jump back
    " z<CR>  = Scrolls to te Top
    " 5<C-y> = scrolls the window 5 lines
    " `x     = jumps back to our mark

IntelliJ Actions

The interesting part. You can execute every action, you might find in IntelliJ. For example, refactor a variable, fetch changes, run tests, etc. With this, you might configure IntelliJ to behave like Spacemacs or Doom Emacs. (They use Space as leader key and enable you to execute regular commands with it. For example SPC-g-F for git fetch)

With the command <Action> (nearly) every possible action can be triggered.


Show Commit Tool Window

    nmap <Leader>gg <Action>(ActivateCommitToolWindow)

Set bookmark and show bookmarks

    nnoremap <leader>bm <action>(ToggleBookmark)
    nnoremap <leader><enter> <action>(ShowBookmarks)

Run Main Method, Test or Class

    nnoremap <Leader>rr <action>(RunClass)

Find Actions

To find an overview about all actions or search for them type:


Find via name/description

    :actionlist commit

Find via Keymap

    :actionlist <C-K>

"Track action Ids" is very helpful. When performing an action via mouse click and/or keyboard, a popup shows the last used action id. You find this "IdeaVim: track action Ids" in the ActionsMenu (double click shift)

Advanced IdeaVim configuration

In this chapter I will explain which Plugins are helpful and how to extend the .ideavimrc config with Intellimacs and my own config. This will enable some nice key chords to execute most of your IntelliJ actions with it. For example, when you press space (SPC), "g", "b", you can change your Git Branch. Most of the commands start with your "Leader" Key, which will be the space bar. Then it will continue with a group, like "g = Git" and then your final action "b = switch (b)ranch". Of course there are shorter and longer ones, too. Here some more examples:

Key bindingDescription
SPC g l(g)it (l)og
SPC f o(F)ile (o)pen
SPC r r(r)un method
SPC r s(r)un (s)elected method
SPC ,show last used files

Some commands doesn't start with the leader key, like

Some commands doesn\'t start with the leader key, like

Key bindingDescription
g t t(g)o to (t)ests
g d(g)o to (d)efinition
g i(g)o to (i)mplementation
g s(g)o to (s)uper class

Some are longer and start with "SPC m" or ",". Also named your "local leader" key.

Key bindingDescription
, d dstart debug mode
, d sselect method for debug mode
, r i nrefactor and inline variable/method
, r e vrefactor and extract as variable
, r e prefactor and extract as parameter
, r e crefactor and extract as constant

In my opintion, they are much easier to remember, then usual hotkeys. But of course, you can mix them as you want.


There are a lot of additional IdeaVim Plugins, here my favorites


Commend out your code. Commands: gcc, gc + motion Enable with:

    Plug 'tpope/vim-commentary'


Surround your text with brackets etc.. Commands: ys + motion + sign, (insert mode) S + sign Enable with:

    Plug 'tpope/vim-surround'


This project mimics Spacemacs key bindings. This is a good starting point for your configuration. It has a ton of useful keymaps. Like:

Key bindingDescription
SPC g cGit clone
SPC g f lShow current file log
SPC g bGit branches (checkout)
SPC g GVersion control tool window
SPC g gSelect a version control operation
SPC g pPush
SPC g SShow shelf

and much more..

Clone it via:

git clone https://github.com/MarcoIeni/intellimacs ~/.intellimacs

And add those lines to your .ideavimrc file

source ~/.intellimacs/spacemacs.vim
source ~/.intellimacs/extra.vim
source ~/.intellimacs/major.vim
source ~/.intellimacs/hybrid.vim

Check the Github page, for a more detailed description

Early Access Program

You might enable EAP (Early Access Program), to get new features more quickly. Go to "Vim Actions" and select EAP, to enable it.

My IdeaVim configuration

My whole configuration with (some) comments you can find here: IntelliJ's IdeaVim Configuration. The plain config: .ideavimrc.

Further readings and link collections

This is a list of the links above and some more further readings from other blog posts: