IntelliJ IDEA Performance Tunning

10 Tips to Increase IntelliJ IDEA Performance

I upgraded to IntelliJ IDEA 7.0 the day it came out and was, at first, let down by how poorly it performed on my machine. Since then, I tweaked a bunch of settings, and now have it performing just as fast as IDEA 5 ever did on the same box. Enjoy, and happy coding!

1. Change your Look and Feel

Change your look and feel to something other than native. On Windows, the “IDEA (4.5 Default)” look and feel performs much better than the native one. On Mac, just pick something other than the native. The new graphics will bother you for about 30 minutes and then you’ll forget all about them. This setting is in the Settings (Ctrl+Alt+S) -> Appearance (B) dialog. (Tip courtesy of Howard Lewis Ship)

2. Use Structure View Instead of Project View

In IDEA 7.0.2 on Windows, I seem to pay a heavy performance price for the Project View (Alt+1), especially with autoscrolling to and from source enabled. My alternative is to use the Structure View (Alt+2) as my default sidebar and rely on the Navigation Bar (View->Navigation Bar) for project navigation. I find I actually prefer this setup and 7.0.2 performs noticeably faster.

3. Turn off Synchronize Files

When you activate the IDEA frame, IDEA will scan the disk for file changes, giving you a nice progress bar to wait for. If you’re not editing files outside of IDEA then turn this feature off in Settings (Ctrl+Alt+S) -> General (A). Uncheck “Synchronize Files on Frame Activation”. Now you’ll have to manually synchronize the files using Ctrl+Alt+Y (File->Synchronize on the menu). (Tip courtesy of Tyler)

4. Disable Spring Model Validation on Build

I used to get a progress bar every time I ran or debugged my project, with the message “Validating Spring Model”. I don’t need this feature except when I’m working on the Spring files, so I turned it off. Settings (Ctrl+Alt+S) -> Project Settings (1) -> Modules… then click Spring, then click the Options Tab. Deselect the checkbox for “Enable Spring model validation on build”.

5. Disable Unused Plugins

Disable all of the plugins you are not currently using. For example, if you’re not using Geronimo, Commander or Jabber, then turn them off. Settings (Ctrl+Alt+S) -> Plugins (T). Uncheck anything you have installed that is unused (Tip courtesy of Carl)

6. Use Scopes to Speed Up Searches

I rarely really want to search my entire project for a string or reference. Any search dialog allows you to pick a custom scope, such as production files or test files. But “Changed Files” is a helpful option too. On large, monolithic projects you may want to define your own to only search certain packages. A little time creating new scopes will save you a lot of time in waiting for searches to complete. Define scopes in Settings (Ctrl+Alt+S) -> Scopes (5).

7. Increase Your Heap Size

Several sources include directions on increasing your heap size in IDEA. This is changed in your idea.exe.vmoptions file.

8. Always Get the Latest Version

I’ve already suggested this, so I’ll be brief. Each minor release seems to have good performance improvements.

9. Reduce Size of Local History

Another blog recommended that you turn off or reduce Local History. I love this feature so I’ll never turn it off, but the default is to save 3 days worth of work. I typically check in to version control more often than that, so I trimmed it up to 1 day of history. Do this in Settings (Ctrl+Alt+S) -> Local History (J).

10. Optimize Your Disk?

I haven’t tried this myself, but the tip came directly from JetBrains. Beyond just defragmenting, you can also optimize the MFT tables, disk folder structure, and the paging file. Direction appear on their site. Simply upgrading to a newer hard drive is find at home, but I don’t have that much control of my work machine. It’s Friday, so I’ll try this today. If things go horribly wrong I’ll redact the entry!

IntelliJ IDEA Performance

There're some concerns about IntelliJ IDEA Performance. And here is the tips that I used to make mine run fast. Some of them come from my own experience, some of them come from the know-everything internet.

* Make sure you have all your libraries on your local harddrive (as opposed to mounted network drive). After I moved all my libraries from a network drive to local harddrive, the time for a 'make' on the project is reduced from around 60 seconds to just 5-7 seconds!

* Defragment your Disk and reboot your computer. IDEA creates lots of small files and too much fragmentation is a nightmare.

* Turn off Anti Virus completely. Yes I mean completely. It affects the performance dramatically.

* Turning off Local History or even reducing the number of history days improved the performance significantly.

* Adjust VM settings. Here is my idea.exe.vmoptions file (on windows):


Change it as you see fit per your hardware configuration.

More information is available at

* The Debugger in IDEA may work slowly if the Force classic VM option is not selected in the File Project Properties Debugger dialog. Using Method Breakpoints may also slow down the debugging process. I had two breakpoints on the method name instead of the first line of the method. It was taking a half hour to get to the breakpoint Changing these to line breakpoints gave me two orders of magniture

* You may notice IDEA hang for several seconds when you switch to it from other applicationDisable Settings General Synchronize files on frame activation.

* Disable windows paging file if you have enough memory. Get more memory if you don't have enough. Swapping is a performance nightmare.

* Turn off windows indexing services, either set it to Disabled or Manual unless you do lots of file system search (even you do, I recommend Google Desktop Search). IDEA use lots of small files so background indexing can have a big negative effect on it's performance.

* Control Panel/System/Properties/Advanced/Visual Effcts, Adjust for best performance. Unless you're willing to sacrify performance for visual effects like windows animation, fading/sliding etc.
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