PhpStorm 2018.2 Help

Auto-Completing Code and Paths

This section covers various techniques of context-aware code completion that allow you to speed up your coding process.

Basic completion: names and keywords

Basic code completion helps you complete the names of classes, methods, and keywords within the visibility scope. When you invoke code completion, PhpStorm analyses the context and suggests the choices that are reachable from the current caret position (suggestions also include Live templates).

If basic code completion is applied to a part of a parameter or variable declaration, PhpStorm suggests a list of possible names depending on the item type.

Invoking basic code completion for the second time shows inaccessible classes and members (these can be made public by applying an intention action).

Invoke basic completion

  1. Start typing a name.

  2. Press Ctrl+Space or choose Code | Completion | Basic from the main menu.

    Basic Code Completion

  3. If_necessary, press Ctrl+Space for the second time (or press Ctrl+Alt+Space).

    This shows inaccessible classes and members as well as static fields and methods.

    Basic Code Completion Static Methods

Smart completion based on type

Smart code completion filters the suggestions list and shows only the types applicable to the current context.

Invoke smart completion

  1. Start typing.

  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+Space or choose Code | Completion | SmartType from the main menu.

    The most suitable suggestion for the current context is highlighted.

    ps smart type completion

Statements completion

Statements completion enables you to create syntactically correct code constructs. It inserts the necessary syntax elements (parentheses, braces, semicolons etc.) and gets you in a position where you can start typing the next statement.

Complete a method declaration

  • Start typing a method declaration and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter after the opening parenthesis.

    complete declaration 1
    complete declaration 2

Complete a code construct

  • Start typing a code construct and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

    completing code construct
    PhpStorm automatically completes the construct and adds the required punctuation, and the caret is placed at the next editing position.
    completing code construct

Wrap a method call argument

  1. Type an expression, for example


  2. Type a method call. When strlen gets the focus in the suggestion list, select it with Ctrl+Shift+Enter:
    autoEncapsulation 1

    The resulting code will look like the following:


Hippie completion: expanding words based on context

Hippie completion is a completion engine that analyses your text in the visible scope and generates suggestions from the current context. It helps you complete any word from any of the currently opened files.

Expand a string at caret to an existing word

  1. Type the initial string and do one of the following:
    • Press Alt+/ or choose Code | Completion | Cyclic Expand Word to search for matching words before the caret.

    • Press Shift+Alt+/ or choose Code | Completion | Cyclic Expand Word (Backward) to search for matching words after the caret and in other open files.

    The first suggested value appears, and the prototype is highlighted in the source code.
    Expand word
  2. Accept the suggestion, or hold the Alt key and keep pressing / until the desired word is found.

Postfix code completion

Postfix code completion helps you reduce backward caret jumps as you write code. It allows you to transform an already typed expression to a different one based on a postfix you type after the dot, the type of expression, and its context.

Transform a statement with a postfix

  • Type an expression and then type a postfix after a dot, for example .if:
    function m(arg) { arg.if }

    The initial expression gets wrapped with an if statement:

    function m(arg) { if (arg) { } }

To disable certain postfix completion templates, in the Settings/Preferences dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S) select Editor | General | Postfix Completion. You can also choose which key you want to use to expand postfix templates: Tab, Space, or Enter.

You can edit the predefined postfix templates, for example to replace a long key with a shorter one, or to expand the list of expression types it's applicable to.

Create custom postfix templates

  1. In the Settings/Preferences dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), select Editor | General | Postfix Completion.

  2. Click icons general add svg on the toolbar. In the pop-up menu that opens, choose the language that you need to create a postfix template for.

  3. Specify the Key, i.e. the combination of symbols that will invoke the template, select which expression types the new template will be applicable to, and type the target expression in the following format: $EXPR$ <target_expression>, for example, $EXPR$ !== null.

    Add $END$ where you want the caret to be placed after the template is applied, for example:

    $EXPR$ !== null; $END$
  4. To have PhpStorm automatically transform the topmost applicable expression when the template is invoked, select the Apply to the topmost expression checkbox.

    Otherwise, if the checkbox is cleared, PhpStorm will prompt you to choose the expression when you invoke the template:

    apply custom postfix template

Completion of tags and attributes

PhpStorm automatically completes the names and values of tags and attributes in many file types:

Completion of tags and attribute names is based on the DTD or Schema the file is associated with. If there is no schema association, PhpStorm will use the file content (tag and attribute names and their values) to complete your input.

Complete tag names

  1. Press < and start typing the tag name. PhpStorm displays the list of tag names appropriate in the current context.

    tags completion
    Use the ArrowUp and ArrowDown buttons to scroll through the list.

  2. Press Enter to accept a selection from the list. If your file is associated with a schema or a DTD, PhpStorm automatically inserts the mandatory attributes according to it.

Configure code completion settings

Configure completion options

  1. In the Settings/Preferences dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), select Editor | General | Code Completion.

  2. Do the following:
    • To automatically display the suggestions list, select the Show suggestions as you type checkbox. If the checkbox is cleared, you have to call code completion explicitly by pressing Ctrl+Space for basic completion or Ctrl+Shift+Space for smart completion.

      You can also choose to automatically insert suggestions when there's just one option: select the completion type under Automatically insert single suggestions for.

    • To sort suggestions in the alphabetical order, instead of sorting them by relevance, select the Sort suggestions alphabetically checkbox.

      You can also toggle these modes by clicking a icon or pi icon respectively in the lower-right corner of the suggestions list.

    • If you want case to be taken into account when suggesting completion options, select Match case and choose whether you want to match case for first letters only, or for all letters.

    • If you want the documentation popup to be displayed automatically for each item in the suggestions list as you scroll it, select the Show documentation popup in option. In the field to the right, specify the delay (in milliseconds), after which the pop-up window should appear.

Completing a path

This type of completion speeds up selection of files and folders. The dialog used for that purpose is called rather often, for example, when you specify the installation folder of an external tool or a Version Control engine or configure a PHP interpreter.

  1. Open the Select Path dialog by choosing Open File on the File menu or by clicking Browse browseButton next to the field where a path is required.

  2. Make sure that the Path field is visible. If the field is hidden, click the Show path link.

  3. Start typing a path. PhpStorm suggests a pop-up list where you can quickly find the needed directory.

    As you type, the suggestion list shrinks to show the matching paths only.
    You can also press Ctrl+Space to show the suggestion list.

  4. Select the relevant suggestion from the list.

Completion tips and tricks

Narrow down the suggestions list

You can narrow down the suggestions list by typing any part of a word (even characters from somewhere in the middle), or invoking code completion after a dot separator or ->. PhpStorm will show suggestions that include the characters you've entered in any positions.

This makes the use of wildcards unnecessary:


In case of CamelCase or snake_case names, type the initial letters only. PhpStorm automatically recognizes and matches the initial letters.

Accept a suggestion

You can accept a suggestion from the list in one of the following ways:

  • Press Enter or double-click a list item to insert it to the left of the caret.

  • Press Tab to replace the characters to the right from the caret.

  • Use Ctrl+Shift+Enter to make the current code construct syntactically correct (balance parentheses, add missing braces and semicolons, etc.)

You can also use specific keys to insert the selected completion suggestion: in the Settings/Preferences dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S) choose Editor | General | Code Completion and select the Insert selected suggestion by pressing space, dot or other context-dependent keys option. These keys depend on the language, your context, etc.

View reference

  • You can use the Quick Definition View by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I when you select an entry in the suggestions list:

    completion quick definition

  • You can use the Quick Information View by pressing Ctrl+Q when you select an entry in the suggestions list:

    ps completion quick documentation

View code hierarchy

You can view code hierarchy when you've selected an entry from the suggestions list:

  • Ctrl+H: view type hierarchy

  • Ctrl+Alt+H: view call hierarchy.

  • Ctrl+Shift+H: view method hierarchy.


If code completion doesn't work, this may be due to one of the following reasons:

  • The Power Save Mode is on (File | Power Save Mode). Turning it on minimizes power consumption of your laptop by eliminating the background operations, including error highlighting, on-the-fly inspections, and code completion.

  • Your file doesn't reside in a content root, so it doesn't get the required class definitions and resources needed for code completion.

  • A file containing classes and functions that you want to appear in completion suggestions list is marked as a plain text file.

  • External libraries that contain functions that you want to appear in completion suggestions list are not added as dependencies or global libraries.

Last modified: 21 November 2018

See Also


Getting Started: