The Backspace Key Gets Smarter in IntelliJ IDEA 14 EAP

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

  1. KS@Berlin/Germany says:

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

  2. Tropper says:

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

  3. KS says:

    I hope that it will end up in PhpStorm!

  4. Rafael Franco says:

    Cool feature! We need more like these :)

  5. Matthieu says:

    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. 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:

    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:

    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:

    That’s great!

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

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

  12. funivan says:

    Greate. Make also Smart Delete Indent =)

  13. Mike says:

    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:

    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.

  15. Justinas says:

    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:

      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:

    Super cool idea !

  17. Evgeniy says:


  18. Mark Fraser says:

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

  19. rightfold says:

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

  20. Lei says:

    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:

      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:

    Thank you for making this feature something I can disable.

    Now please do the same for the scroll thumbs ?

  22. Jim says:

    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:

      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.

  23. bhadra sri says:

    Super cool Idea.!!

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