Selecting Text in the Editor
In this section:
- Selecting all text in the active editor tab
- Selecting with navigation keys
- Extending selection
- Shrinking selection
- Toggling between line and column selection modes
- Using column selection mode
- Using smart selection
- Sticky selection
- Tips and tricks
The basic way to select a piece of text is to extend the selection with the mouse cursor. IntelliJ IDEA, as a keyboard-centric IDE, suggests to use navigation keys to make selections.
You can opt to select pieces of text by lines, or select rectangular fragments in the column mode, extend and shrink the selection, use multiselection, and sticky selection.
Selecting all text in the active editor tab
To select the entire text in the current editor tab, do one of the following:
Selecting with navigation keys
To select text from the current caret position to the beginning/end of the current word:
To select text from the current caret position to the top/bottom of the screen:
To extend selection from the word at caret to the piece of code the caret is contained in, do one of the following:
- On the main menu, choose
- Press Ctrl+W to select the word where the caret is currently located.
- Press Ctrl+W successively to extend selection to the next containing node
(for example, an expression, a paired tag, an entire conditional block, a method body, a class, a group
of vararg arguments, etc.)
While extending selection, keep in mind that:
- Pressing Ctrl+W successively in plain text or comments extends the selection first to the current sentence, then to the current paragraph.
- Pressing Ctrl+W successively in a method call that contains vararg arguments, first selects a vararg argument the caret rests at, then the whole group of vararg arguments, and then all arguments in the method call.
To shrink selection in the reverse order (from the outermost container to the word where the caret currently resides), do one of the following:
IntelliJ IDEA supports selecting multiple text fragments. So doing, one can select multiple words, lines or rectangles.
To select multiple words, follow these steps
To select multiple fragments of text, follow these steps
- Press Shift+Alt
- Drag the mouse pointer
To select multiple rectangular fragments of text, follow these steps
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Alt (Windows or UNIX)/ Shift+Alt+Cmd(OS X)
- Drag the mouse pointer
Refer to the section Multicursor for additional information.
Toggling between line and column selection modes
To toggle between the line and the column selection modes, do one of the following:
Using column selection mode
To make selection in the Column Selection Mode, do one of the following:
- Keeping the Alt key pressed, drag your mouse pointer to select the desired area.
- Keeping the middle mouse button pressed, drag your mouse pointer to select the desired area.
- Press Shift+Alt and the middle mouse button. This is specially helpful, if you want to avoid dragging.
Using smart selection
The chapter for the Extract Variable refactoring is just an example. The smart expression selection feature, in fact, is available in all the refactorings that start with selecting an expression.
To use smart expression selection, follow these steps:
- Place the cursor before or within the expression.
- Choose on the main menu or on the context menu. or pressCtrl+Alt+V.
- In the Expressions pop-up menu, select the expression. To do that, click the required expression. Alternatively, use the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate to the expression of interest, and then press Enter to select it.
To toggle sticky selection, do one of the following:
- Press Ctrl+Shift+A, in the pop-up frame type sticky, and choose
Toggle Sticky Selection from the suggestion list:
- In the Emacs keymap, use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Space.
Tips and tricks
- When sticky selection is on, you can turn it off by invoking copy or cut, or by toggling it again.
- To create a large rectangular selection, create a normal selection first, with the given starting and ending points, and then press Shift+Alt+Insert to toggle to the column selection mode.