The Backspace Key Gets Smarter in IntelliJ IDEA 14 EAP

Andrey Cheptsov

If you haven’t tried IntelliJ IDEA 14 EAP yet, we hope this sneak peek will convince you to, because it keeps getting better and better!

One of current EAP highlights is smarter Backspace key behavior: it doesn’t just remove indents and white spaces, it does so according to your code style settings. This new setting which is called Smart Backspace Indent makes editing code way more convenient because you can just slam it repeatedly without having to worry about breaking code style and remove unwanted spacing much quicker:

Backspace Smart Indent

The setting is enabled by default but you can toggle it from SettingsEditorSmart Keys:

Backspace Smart Indent Settings

As good as it comes, IntelliJ IDEA 14 EAP is work in progress nevertheless, so if anything doesn’t work as it should, report it please to the discussion forum or issue tracker.

Develop with Pleasure!

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31 Responses to The Backspace Key Gets Smarter in IntelliJ IDEA 14 EAP

  1. KS@Berlin/Germany says:

    July 17, 2014

    Little idea, great impact! Thank you, this will save years of developers’ time.

  2. Tropper says:

    July 17, 2014

    It’s the little things like this which makes IDEA such a lovely IDE. 🙂

  3. KS says:

    July 17, 2014

    I hope that it will end up in PhpStorm!

    • Maxim Mossienko says:

      July 18, 2014

      Sure, should be already available in latest PhpStorm 8 EAP

  4. Rafael Franco says:

    July 17, 2014

    Cool feature! We need more like these 🙂

  5. Matthieu says:

    July 17, 2014

    This is amazing! Thanks guys, this feature (or similar “smart backspace”) have been asked for a long time, I’m so glad it’s finally added!

  6. Tomáš Votruba says:

    July 17, 2014

    Love it! It’s really great to see invested money turning to time saving (= money earning) features.

    I’ve just noticed… Is this going to appear in PhpStorm?

  7. Bill Nunney says:

    July 17, 2014

    Nice work guys, must have been fun to make it work with the style rule system. This will save me a lot of alt + backspace combos!

  8. Pieter van Ginkel says:

    July 17, 2014

    This may be the most impressive new IDE feature since the introduction of IntelliSense. It’s funny how something you’ve never given a second thought can make such a difference. Great work.

  9. Kevin says:

    July 17, 2014

    That’s great!

  10. Laurent Kempé says:

    July 17, 2014

    Very cool I hope the R# team consider it too!

  11. David Corbacho says:

    July 18, 2014

    Cool! Will this feature be in other JetBrains IDEs, like PHPStorm?

  12. funivan says:

    July 18, 2014

    Greate. Make also `Smart Delete Indent` =)

    • Andrey Cheptsov says:

      July 21, 2014

      Already thinking of it 🙂

  13. Mike says:

    July 18, 2014

    From the comments it seems like a popular feature. I have never given the backspace key behavior a second thought, I usually just do a code reformat if things don’t line up after an edit (cmd+atl+L).

    Although I use the IdeaVIM plugin so I rarely use the backspace key anyway.

  14. Nathaniel says:

    August 14, 2014

    I don’t know man, I’ve been using EAP 14 for close to a month now and this backspace thing drives me nuts.

    I’ll log me some issues, but I find for Javascript, it poorly judges where to jump back to when there are comment blocks inside code, and when function parameters are on one line each (eg long lists of Angular JS injections) it gets it pretty wrong.

    • Dmitry Batrak says:

      August 22, 2014

      Please raise issue(s) in YouTrack with specific examples of where it gets annoying.

    • Rob says:

      August 28, 2014

      Maybe would be good to have it turn on/off based on language being used.

  15. Justinas says:

    September 24, 2014

    It’s good feature, but missing I’m missing one thing: option to not delete last “new line”, because when formatting text and there is only white-spaces in line, smart back-space deletes entire line instead of only deleting these white-spaces and leaving empty line.

    • Dmitry Batrak says:

      September 26, 2014

      Not sure I understand your use case. Trailing whitespace introduced while editing a document can be removed automatically on document saving.
      Raising an issue in YouTrack with a specific code sample might be helpful.

  16. Victor says:

    November 5, 2014

    Super cool idea !

  17. Evgeniy says:

    November 6, 2014


  18. Mark Fraser says:

    December 17, 2014

    Up a line when hitting backspace super annoying. Turn this off by default.

  19. rightfold says:

    December 25, 2014

    Is it possible to have backspace unindent but not remove the entire line?

  20. Lei says:

    December 28, 2014

    I think this is wrong.

    Bottom line is it should be turned off by default; and it is better to be smart on [CTRL] + [BACKSPACE], not [BACKSPACE].

    The backspace key is so basic, that I believe most user would just expect it behave primitive rather than “smart”.

    • John Mark Isaac Madison says:

      December 18, 2015

      I am with you on this.
      It should be CTRL+Backspace or some other special combination because it
      is non-standard behavior. This behavior has been slowing me down.
      Probably depends on your workflow and code style.

      You know how notepad++ has column select with ALT+CLICK.
      It’s awesome. But it would be horrible if it was the default behavior.

  21. fhaslam says:

    March 8, 2015

    Thank you for making this feature something I can disable.

    Now please do the same for the scroll thumbs ?

  22. Jim says:

    July 3, 2015

    This is so horrible!!! I had to search online to figure out how to turn it off.

    It doesn’t let me split long parameters to functions onto separate lines. When I try to manually indent each new line, it just stupidly moves the line to the above line!!!!

    This sort of thing should be switched off by default, and explained in some sort of tutorial when it first happens. It’s far too confusing, and over complex to figure out how to disable.

    • John Mark Isaac Madison says:

      December 18, 2015

      Yeah. This sucks.
      1. How hard is it to use CTRL+Backspace? Which does basically same thing.
      2. By making backspace do behavior of CTRL+Backspace, you effectively take
      away the variety of options available at your fingertips.

    • Martin says:

      March 22, 2020

      I’m here to too find out how to switch it off again. Only, in RubyMine the feature was added but the option to switch off again missing. Very frustrating.

  23. bhadra sri says:

    August 1, 2018

    Super cool Idea.!!


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