IntelliJ IDEA 2016.3 Help

Tuning IntelliJ IDEA

In this part:

Changing IntelliJ IDEA properties

IntelliJ IDEA makes it possible to change *.vmoptions and idea.properties files without editing them in the IntelliJ IDEA installation folder.

To create an empty idea.properties file or to copy *.vmoptions file, choose the Help | Edit Custom Properties or Help | Edit Custom VM Options on the main menu respectively. Refer to the menu items description for details.

Managing *.vmoptions file

The location of the *.vmoptions file depends on the operating system you are currently using:

  • For Windows systems: <IntelliJ IDEA installation folder>/bin/idea.exe.vmoptions or <IntelliJ IDEA installation folder>/bin/idea64.exe.vmoptions
  • For *NIX systems: <IntelliJ IDEA installation folder>/bin/idea.vmoptions or <IntelliJ IDEA installation folder>/bin/idea64.vmoptions
  • For OS X systems, you have to make a copy of the idea.vmoptions file in the IDE preferences folder and then edit this copy. The reason is that app bundle is signed and you should not modify any files inside the bundle.

    Since version 12.0.0:
    The file /Applications/IntelliJ Idea XX.app/bin/idea.vmoptions or /Applications/IntelliJ Idea CE XX.app/bin/idea.vmoptions should be copied to ~/Library/Preferences/IntelliJIdeaXX/idea.vmoptions or ~/Library/Preferences/IdeaICXX/idea.vmoptions

    Since version 14.0.0, the file /Applications/IntelliJ Idea XX.app/Contents/bin/idea.vmoptions or /Applications/IntelliJ Idea CE XX.app/Contents/bin/idea.vmoptions should be copied to ~/Library/Preferences/IntelliJIdeaXX/idea.vmoptions or ~/Library/Preferences/IdeaICXX/idea.vmoptions.


    For the older versions, the settings are stored in /Applications/IntelliJ IDEA <version>.app/Contents/Info.plist.

To avoid editing files in the IntelliJ IDEA installation folder, one should:

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Use the main menu command Help | Edit Custom VM Options to create a copy of the idea.vmoptions file in the user home. Refer to Edit Custom VM Options for details.
    • Copy the existing file from the IntelliJ IDEA installation folder somewhere and save the path to this location in the environment variable IDEA_VM_OPTIONS.
    • Copy the existing file <IntelliJ IDEA installation folder>/bin/idea.exe.vmoptions or <IntelliJ IDEA installation folder>/bin/idea64.exe.vmoptions from the IntelliJ IDEA installation folder into the location under your user home.
  2. Edit this file in the new location.

If IDEA_VM_OPTIONS environment variable is defined, or the *.vmoptions file exists, then this file is used instead of the one located in the IntelliJ IDEA installation folder.

Example: Increasing the heap size

To increase IntelliJ IDEA heap size, you should copy the original idea.vmoptions file to the above-mentioned location, and then modify the -Xmx setting.

Managing IDEA.properties file

The file idea.properties, located in the bin directory of the IntelliJ IDEA installation folder, should not be edited. Instead of editing the original idea.properties, create file idea.properties in the location specified below, open it for editing and add the required properties.

So, depending on your platform:

  • For Windows: in %USERPROFILE%\.IntelliJIdeaXX or %USERPROFILE%\.IdeaICXX
  • For *NIX: in ~/.IntelliJIdeaXX or ~/.IdeaICXX
  • For OS X: in ~/Library/Preferences/IntelliJIdeaXX or ~/Library/Preferences/IdeaICXX

Example: Changing case of unicode literals

IntelliJ IDEA allows defining whether non-ascii characters should use literals like '\u00AB' or '\00ab'.

This behavior is controlled by the system property idea.native2ascii.lowercase. By default, upper case characters are used.

If it is desirable to use lower case characters, create the file idea.properties in the location specified above, open it for editing and add the following line:

idea.native2ascii.lowercase=true

Specifying custom JDK, properties or vmoptions files across platforms

A custom JDK, *.properties and *.vmoptions files are specified across platforms in a unified way.

All the launchers look at the following environment variables:

  • $<IDE-NAME>_JDK (<IDE-NAME>_JDK_64)
  • $<IDE-NAME>_PROPERTIES
  • $<IDE-NAME>_VM_OPTIONS

See Also

Last modified: 7 December 2016