PhpStorm 2024.1 Help

Code completion

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

Basic completion

Basic code completion helps you complete the names of classes, methods, and keywords within the visibility scope.

When you invoke code completion, PhpStorm analyzes 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 field, 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. By default, PhpStorm displays the code completion popup automatically as you type.

    If automatic completion is disabled, press Ctrl+Space or choose Code | Code Completion | Basic from the main menu.

    Basic Code Completion
  2. 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

Type-matching completion

Smart type-matching code completion filters the suggestion list and shows only the types applicable to the current context.

Invoke type-matching completion

  1. Start typing. By default, PhpStorm displays the code completion popup automatically as you type. If automatic completion is disabled, press Ctrl+Shift+Space or choose Code | Code Completion | Type-Matching from the main menu.

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

    The most suitable suggestion for the current context is highlighted.

    Smart type completion

Statement completion

You can create syntactically correct code constructs by using statement completion. It inserts the necessary syntax elements (parentheses, braces, and semicolons) 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 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. The caret is placed at the next editing position.

Wrap a method call argument

  • Type an expression. Then type a method call. When strlen gets the focus in the suggestion list, select it with Ctrl+Shift+Enter:


Hippie completion

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.

Hippie completion

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 | Code Completion | Cyclic Expand Word to search for matching words before the caret.

    • Press Alt+Shift+/ or choose Code | 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. You can 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.

Enable and configure postfix completion

  • In the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), open Editor | General | Postfix Completion and select the Enable postfix completion checkbox.

  • Select Tab, Space, or Enter to be used for expanding postfix templates.

  • Enable/disable a particular postfix template for the selected language.

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) { } }

You can disable certain postfix completion templates in the Editor | General | Postfix Completion page of settings  Ctrl+Alt+S.

You can select Tab, Space, or Enter to expand postfix templates.

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

Create custom postfix templates

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+S to open settings and then select Editor | General | Postfix Completion.

  2. Click the Add button (the Add button) on the toolbar.

  3. In the popup menu that opens, choose the language that you need to create a postfix template for.

  4. Specify Key, a combination of symbols that will invoke the template.

  5. 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; $END$
  6. 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 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. Type the opening < and then start typing the tag name. PhpStorm displays the list of tag names appropriate in the current context.

    Tags completion

    Use the Up and Down keys 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.

Machine-learning-assisted completion ranking

PhpStorm allows you to prioritize completion suggestions based on choices that other users made in similar situations.

The ML completion mechanism doesn't add any new elements but orders the elements retrieved from code. Data is not exposed anywhere; it is collected locally.

Enable ML completion

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+S to open settings and select Editor | General | Code Completion.

  2. Under Machine Learning Completion Ranking, enable the Sort completion suggestions based on machine learning option, and select the languages for which you want to use ML completion.

    ML-assisted completion settings

Enable relevance markers

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+S to open settings and select Editor | General | Code Completion.

  2. Enable the following options:

    • Mark position changes in the completion popup: use the Machine Learning ranking Up and Machine Learning ranking Down icons to indicate whether the relevance of a suggestion is increasing or decreasing and therefore the suggestion has moved up or down the suggestion list.

    • Mark the most relevant item in the completion popup: use the ML relevant proposal icon to indicate the most suitable suggestion on the list.

    The suggestion list will look as follows with the icons marking reordered and the most relevant items.

    ML-assisted completion

Configure code completion settings

Configure completion options

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+S to open settings and then select Editor | General | Code Completion.

    • To automatically display the suggestion 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 type-matching 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 the Sort Alphabetically button or the Sort by Relevance button respectively in the lower-right corner of the suggestion list.

    • If you want the word 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 suggestion 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 popup 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 the Browse button 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 list where you can quickly find the needed directory.

    Complete path

    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

Open completion settings from the completion popup

You can quickly access code completion settings right from the completion popup.

  • Click the icon in the completion popup and select Code Completion Settings.

    Opening completion settings

After that, the Editor | General | Code Completion page of settings  Ctrl+Alt+S opens.

Narrow down the suggestion list

  • You can narrow down the suggestion 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 have 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, and so on).

  • You can also use specific keys and custom characters to accept the selected completion suggestion. To enable these features, go to the Editor | General | Code Completion page of settings  Ctrl+Alt+S and do the following:

    1. To use specific keys, select the Insert the selected suggestion by pressing space, dot, or other context-dependent keys checkbox. These keys depend on the language, your context, and so on.

    2. To also use custom characters, enter the characters into the Additional characters to accept the completion field.

View reference

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

    completion quick definition
  • You can use the Quick Information view by pressing Ctrl+Q when you select an entry in the suggestion list:

    Quick documentation

View code hierarchy

You can view code hierarchy when you've selected an entry from the suggestion 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 the completion suggestion list is marked as a plain text file.

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

  • Code completion popup might not appear automatically if it takes too long to gather the completion options. For example, if the computer is busy with another task. In this case, you may still activate the completion popup manually via Ctrl+Space.

Last modified: 28 June 2024