PhpStorm 2023.2 Help

Search for usages

When you write or edit code, you might come across a code element that you want to change or delete. Before you make the changes, it is a good practice to see where the code element is used and how it affects the application. With the Find Usages actions you can search for the references of your code element throughout the whole codebase.

You can manage the search process, and search only in a single file, extend your search to the whole project, or create a certain search scope. Moreover, you can configure the color of the usages highlighting or disable the automatic highlighting of usages altogether.

Search for usages in a file

  • In the editor, select a symbol you want to find, PhpStorm automatically highlights all found usages in the file. If the highlighting of usages is disabled, press Control+Shift+F7 to highlight all usages in the file.

    Highlight Usages in File

    In the PHP context, PhpStorm automatically highlights extended and implemented methods, import statements, exit points, the places where exceptions are thrown, and loop statements. Highlighting is invoked when you place the caret at an extends, implements, use, use trait, return, try, catch, @throws, break, or continue keyword.

    Symbols' usages are highlighted with regard to their scope. For example, highlighting for @throws is not applied inside nested classes and functions.

  • Go to Edit | Find Usages | Find Usages in File Control+F7. PhpStorm selects the first usage occurrence in the file.

    Find usages result

Use the F3 and Shift+F3 shortcuts to navigate between highlighted symbols.

Search for usages in a project

  • Select a symbol for which you want to find usages, right-click the symbol, and select Find Usages from its context menu or press Alt+F7.

    Check the results in the Find tool window.

    If you need, you can group (the Group By icon) the results by files, packages, directories, and so on.

    PhpStorm analyzes search results, detects the most common usage patterns, and categorizes all found usages into groups based on their structural similarity. These usage clusters appear in the Preview tab.

    You can select any group node from the list and click Show similar usages to look through the results.

    To disable this functionality, unselect the Enable similar usages clustering in Find Usages view in the advanced settings.

    While in the Find tool window, you can also use the Preview area to check the places where the usages were found, to see a call hierarchy for methods, data flow for fields, and so on.

    Find tool window preview area

    You can use the Find Usages action as an alternative to the Call Hierarchy actions.

    Call hierarchy window

Preview source code for found usages

You have several options to see the code source for the usages found.

  1. Select a symbol for which you want to find usages, right-click the symbol, and select Find Usages from its context menu or press Alt+F7.

  2. In the Find tool window, click the Preview Source icon.

    As an alternative, you can select Jump to Source if you invoke the context menu on a usage found or Show in Split. In this case, the file with the result usage is opened in the editor.

Show usages in a separate window

You can view usages of the selected symbol in a separate window that you can move to different parts of your screen and use for quick navigation.

  1. In the editor, select a symbol for which you want to see the usages.

  2. Go to Edit | Find Usages | Show Usages In Code Control+Alt+F7.

    Show Usages results window

    The usages window shows the current scope and total count of usages. If you want to quickly switch to the default scope, press Control+Alt+F7.

    If the search results have too many entries, then PhpStorm shows the first hundred usages found and the more usages option on the bottom of the window which you can click to display another hundred usages, and so on until the search is finished.

    Use filters on the top of the window to show or hide the certain search entries.

View recent usages search results

PhpStorm remembers your Find Usages results, so you don't need to run the action again.

  • Go to Edit | Find | Recent Find Usages and then select the usage query.

Manage the scope of Find Usages

Sometimes, you might want to find usages only in certain files or libraries of your project.

  1. Press Control+Alt+Shift+F7 to open the Find Usages dialog.

  2. In the Find Usages dialog, in the Scope field, select a scope for your search. For example, you can search for usages only in Open Files or only Project Test Files.

    Find Usages dialog (Change Scope)

    You can also set a custom scope by clicking the ellipsis icon. For example, you can create a custom scope to exclude certain files from the search for usages, such as test files. When you are done setting a new scope, click Find.

  3. If PhpStorm doesn't return any results, it will display a message suggesting that you opt for more options.

    No usages found popup

    You can follow the link or press Control+Alt+Shift+F7 to open the Find Usages dialog again and set a new scope for your search.

Disable automatic highlighting of usages

When you place the caret at a symbol, the IDE highlights all usages of this symbol in the current file.

If necessary, you can disable the automatic highlighting.

  1. Press Control+Alt+S to open the IDE settings and then select Editor | Code Editing.

  2. Clear the Usages of element at caret checkbox in the Highlight on Caret Movement section.

When automatic highlighting is disabled, and you want to highlight usages of a symbol in the current file, select this symbol and press Control+Shift+F7. This will highlight all usages of the symbol in the current file.

Change the background color of the highlighted usages

  1. In the Settings dialog (Control+Alt+S), go to Editor | Color Scheme | General.

  2. From the options on the right, open the Code node and select Identifier under caret.

  3. In the Background field, specify the color you need and save the changes.

Search for the base method or method's implementations

When you search for usages of a method, PhpStorm prompts you to choose whether you want to search for the base method or method's implementations.

Choose method usages prompt

If you select the Remember, don't ask again checkbox, PhpStorm will no longer display the prompt, and the selected search option will be used as default. If necessary, you can restore the prompt.

  1. In the Settings dialog (Control+Alt+S), go to Editor | General | Smart Keys.

  2. In the PHP area, select the Show additional options when searching for method usages checkbox.

Last modified: 07 September 2023