Fast and efficient programming using shortcuts and code assisting programs

Fast and efficient programming using shortcuts and code assisting programs

Shortcuts are used in our daily life a lot. For example, if a person needs to go from point A to point B, he is likely to choose a path which is close to a straight line between those points in order to save time.

When playing a game, you will surely need to learn all of the provided key combinations to become better at it. If you wan’t to spend your time efficiently, you should definitely use shortcuts in programming as well.


I will be talking about the shortcuts I use and which I found very useful. You should start by learning the shortcuts for your operating system (I use Windows 7). You can find Windows 7 shortcuts here:

Here is a list of what I find useful :

Win+L – locks computer
Win+Number(Number in {0,1..9}) – opens the corresponding applcation from the windows taskbar. These is very useful when you often switch between 3-4 applications. When you have opened more than 4, it is more efficient to use the popular Alt+Tab to switch between them.
Win+Space(and hold win) – shows desktop
Win+D – switches permanently to desktop
Win+E – openes a new Windows Explorer
Win+Down Arrow – minimizes the current window
Alt+Left/Right Arrow – you can use that to navigate through folders in the windows explorer 

It is very advantageous to use a search engine  for faster access to files in your filesystem. There are some tools you can download online, but I prefer to use the built in search in Windows. You just press the win key and start typing the desired keyword for the search. In some cases, you have to utilize the engine’s indexing system in order to bring the best out of it.

You can learn more about it from here:


It’s important to learn your browser shortcuts as well, because you will spend a lot of time searching for solutions online.

I use Google Chrome – here you can find shortcuts for it –

These are the ones I use frequently:

Ctrl+T – opens new tab. You will be using that all the time.
Ctrl+Clicking a link with your mouse – opens the new page in a new tab. This is very useful when you wan’t to
keep your current page
Ctrl+Shift+T – reopens the last tab you’ve closed. Useful if you accidently close a tab you didn’t want to
Ctrl+Tab/Ctrl+Shift+Tab – swithes to the next/previous tab
Ctrl+W – closes the current tab
Alt+Left/Right Arrow – goes to the previous/next page in your browsing history for the tab
Ctrl+J – opens the download page
Ctrl+Shift+J – opens developers tools
Ctrl+F – openes the search functionality (this works on most applications and documents as well)
Ctrl+L/Alt+D – highlights the URL


Of course, the most important of all are your IDE shortcuts. I use JDeveloper, so I will focus on those. The environment provides a lot of customization, so feel free to check it and configure it to your liking – you can do so from Tools -> Preferences. Type “shortcut keys” in the search bar to find the shortcut page.

Now let’s review some of my favorite key combinations in JDeveloper:

Ctrl+Clicking on a method or binding – screens positions on that method implementation or binding.
This is extreamly useful to navigate through your code
Alt+Left/Right Arrow – positions you on the previous/next screen through your navigation history. Works
really well with the previous shortcut – for example you click on a method to see it’s implementation and follow it
with alt+left arrow to return to the code you were looking at the beginning.
Ctrl+Z – undo action
Ctrl+X – cuts a line or a highlighted part of a code and copies it to your clipboard. You can paste it on another place.
Ctrl+S – save
Ctrl+D – shows JavaDoc
Ctrl+F – positions you on the search bar of the document. You can use this even more efficiently – highlight a word and
press Ctrl+F – search field will be populated with the highlighted word.
Ctrl+K – add a bookmark on the current line of the document – bookmarks are extremly useful when you have to go to the same
part of the code a lot of times. You can cycle through bookmarks via the Bookmarks tab, or use Ctrl+Q as a shortcut
Ctrl+/ – Comment/Uncomment part of the code. Works on xml as well, but it comments/uncomments whole structures
Ctrl+Enter – use template. There are a lot of useful templates and you can make custom ones as well.
Ctrl+Space – autocomplete
Ctrl+Space+Space – not only autocompletes the statement, but creates a variable of the returned type if possible
Ctrl+Alt+V – creates a variable
Ctrl+Shift+F – openes “Find in files” search. Very useful for browsing through your application.
Ctrl+- – opens Java Type search
Ctrl+Alt+- – opens file search
The two above can work with PascalCase search rule as well. For example to find ActionHistoryEntityView you can type AHEV
Ctrl+Shift+Space – shows the arguements a method is expected to recieve
Alt+Shift+F – format the code. You can use it on a highlighed text or if you don’t highlight anything it is applied for the whole document
Alt+Shift+F9 – rebuild current page

There are some cool features JDeveloper provides to improve your experience while coding – the block coloring feature in particular is one of my favorites. You can enable that from one of the the buttons next to the search field. Another useful feature is the Auto Code Highlight – every time you highlight a word any other instance of the same word in the document is highlighted automatically as well. You can enable that from Search -> Auto Code Highlight

Code assisting tools

Aside from shortcuts, there are some code assisting tools any programmer will find useful. You will do an incredible amount of copying/pasting while coding, and will find the need to have access to a line copied some time ago. Here the clipboard manager Ditto will prove to be very useful. Basically, it stores every line you’ve copied on your clipboard since you installed this application and you have access to it via the incredibly fast search it provides. You may need some time getting used to it, but you will certainly see the advantages soon enough. You can download it from here :

Another tool a programmer should have is a screenshot/video capturing application. I personaly like to use Jing, as it does both and is pretty easy to use. You just capture a part of your screen, decide if you wan’t to make a screenshot or a video and save it on your filesystem or upload it on their server. Doing the second copies a link of the screenshot/video to your clipboard and you can paste it wherever you want. You can get Jing from here :

Another application worth mentioning is Notepad++, which (with it’s numerous plugins) provides you with a great variaty of features to manipulate code. You can get Notepad++ from here :

Don’t be afraid to invest some time in learning shorcuts, it will pay off in the long term. Get ready to not only write code fast and efficiently, but feel a great satisfaction from doing so.

Feel free to leave comments and share .

Tsvetomir Miroslavov

Java EE and Oracle Developer at Dreamix

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  • teodorognianov

    In a debug mode you can skip a several rows without putting additional breakpoint. Just go to the row when you want to stop and press F4

  • teodorognianov

    Another good shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+I. This opens the Properties Inspector.

  • teodorognianov

    You can use Ctrl+Alt+Number to “save” tabs in the JDeveloper. And then you can use Alt+Number to go directly to this tab. It’s something like Star Craft’s shortcut