IntelliJ IDEA 2019.3 Help

Command-line interface

Use IntelliJ IDEA features from the command line: open files and projects, view diffs, merge files, apply code style formatting, and inspect the source code.

Launcher for a standalone instance

The installation directory contains batch scripts and executables for launching IntelliJ IDEA, formatting the source code, and running inspections. To use them from the Command Prompt cmd.exe, add the location of the IntelliJ IDEA bin folder to the PATH environment variable. For example, if you installed IntelliJ IDEA to C:\Program Files\JetBrains\IntelliJ IDEA, you can use the following command:

set PATH=%\PATH%;C:\Program Files\JetBrains\IntelliJ IDEA\bin

This command changes the PATH environment variable for the current shell only (the current instance of cmd.exe). If you want to update it permanently for the current user, run setx. To update it system-wide for all users, run setx /M.

After you configure the PATH variable, you can run idea.bat from any working directory in the Command Prompt. This script gathers information about your OS and Java runtime, and uses it to properly launch IntelliJ IDEA. Alternatively, you can use the corresponding executable: idea64.exe for 64-bit versions or idea.exe for 32-bit versions. Depending on the arguments that you pass to the script, it can do the following:

Argument

Description

No argument

Launch IntelliJ IDEA.

Path to file or directory

Open the file or directory specified as the argument.
For more information, see Open files from the command line.

diff

Open the diff viewer to see differences between two files specified as arguments.
For more information, see Compare files from the command line.

merge

Open the Merge dialog to merge files specified as arguments.
For more information, see Merge files from the command line.

format

Apply code style formatting to the specified files.
For more information, see Format files from the command line.

inspect

Perform code inspection on the specified project.
For more information, see Run code inspections from the command line.

To run IntelliJ IDEA from the shell, use the open command with the following options:

  • -a: Specifies the application

  • --args: Specifies additional arguments when passing more than just the file or directory to open

  • -n: Open a new instance of the application even if one is already running

For example, if the application is named IntelliJ IDEA.app, you can run it using the following command:

open -na "IntelliJ IDEA.app"

You can create a shell script with this command in a directory from your PATH environment variable. For example, create the file /usr/local/bin/idea with the following contents:

#!/bin/sh open -na "IntelliJ IDEA.app" --args "$@"

Make sure you have permissions to execute the script and since /usr/local/bin should be in the PATH environment variable by default, you should be able to run idea from anywhere in the shell. Depending on the arguments that you pass to the launcher, it can do the following:

Argument

Description

No argument

Launch IntelliJ IDEA.

Path to file or directory

Open the file or directory specified as the argument.
For more information, see Open files from the command line.

diff

Open the diff viewer to see differences between two files specified as arguments.
For more information, see Compare files from the command line.

merge

Open the Merge dialog to merge files specified as arguments.
For more information, see Merge files from the command line.

format

Apply code style formatting to the specified files.
For more information, see Format files from the command line.

inspect

Perform code inspection on the specified project.
For more information, see Run code inspections from the command line.

On Linux, the installation directory contains the launcher shell script idea.sh under bin. For example, if you installed IntelliJ IDEA to /opt/idea, you can run the script using the following command:

/opt/idea/bin/idea.sh

You can create a symbolic link to the launcher script in a directory from the PATH environment variable. For example, if you installed IntelliJ IDEA to /opt/idea and want to create a link named idea in /usr/local/bin, run the following command:

ln -s /opt/idea/bin/idea.sh /usr/local/bin/idea

Since /usr/local/bin should be in the PATH environment variable by default, you should be able to run the idea command from anywhere in the shell. Depending on the arguments that you pass to the script, it can do the following:

Argument

Description

No argument

Launch IntelliJ IDEA.

Path to file or directory

Open the file or directory specified as the argument.
For more information, see Open files from the command line.

diff

Open the diff viewer to see differences between two files specified as arguments.
For more information, see Compare files from the command line.

merge

Open the Merge dialog to merge files specified as arguments.
For more information, see Merge files from the command line.

format

Apply code style formatting to the specified files.
For more information, see Format files from the command line.

inspect

Perform code inspection on the specified project.
For more information, see Run code inspections from the command line.

If you installed IntelliJ IDEA as a snap package, you can use the corresponding launcher: intellij-idea-ultimate, intellij-idea-community, or intellij-idea-educational.

Shell scripts generated by the Toolbox App

If you are using the Toolbox App to install and manage JetBrains products, it can create shell scripts for launching your IDEs from the command line.

Generate shell scripts

  1. Open the Toolbox App and click the screw nut icon in the top right corner.

  2. In the Toolbox App Settings, enable Generate shell scripts.

  3. If necessary, change the shell scripts location.

Toolbox App Settings

If you have several versions of the same IDE, the Toolbox App generates a shell script for each version with a unique name. You can change the name of the shell script for an IDE instance in the settings for this specific instance:

  1. Open the Toolbox App.

  2. Click the screw nut icon next to the relevant IDE instance and select Settings.

  3. At the bottom, change the Shell script name field.

Toolbox App IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate Settings

By default, the Toolbox App puts shell scripts in a directory from the system PATH environment variable, so you can run the name of the script as a command to launch IntelliJ IDEA from any working directory.

Last modified: 20 March 2020