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Android Studio Tips and Tricks

If you're unfamiliar with the IntelliJ IDEA interface, you might be wondering how to accomplish some common tasks in Android Studio. This page provides some tips to help you get going.

For complete user documentation for the IntelliJ IDEA interface (upon which Android Studio is based), refer to the IntelliJ IDEA documentation.

Figure 1. Gradle project structure

Project Structure

When you create a new project in Android Studio (or migrate a project from Eclipse), you'll notice that the project structure appears differently than you may be used to. As shown in figure 1, almost all your project files are now inside the src/ directory, including resources and the manifest file.

The new project structure is due to the switch to a Gradle-based build system. This structure provides more flexibility to the build process and will allow multiple build variants (a feature not yet fully implemented). Everything still behaves as you expect, but some of the files have moved around. For the most part, you should need to modify only the files under the src/ directory. More information about the Gradle project structure is available in the Gradle Plugin User Guide.

Basic Operations

The following topics describe how to perform some basic development tasks with Android Studio.

Creating virtual devices

All the capabilities of the Android Virtual Device Manager are accessible directly from the Android Studio interface. Click the Android Virtual Device Manager in the toolbar to open it and create new virtual devices for running your app in the emulator.

Installing SDK updates

The SDK Manager is also accessible to download new Android tools, platforms, and libraries for your app. Click the SDK Manager in the toolbar to open it and check for updates.

Creating new files

You can quickly add new code and resource files by clicking the appropriate directory in the Project pane and pressing CTRL + N (CMD + N, on Mac). Based on the type of directory selected, Android Studio offers to create the appropriate file type.

For example, if you select a layout directory, press CTRL + N, and select Layout resource file, a dialog opens so you can name the file (you can exclude the .xml suffix) and choose a root view element. The editor then switches to the layout design editor so you can begin designing your layout.

Creating layouts

Android Studio offers an advanced layout editor that allows you to drag-and-drop widgets into your layout and preview your layout while editing the XML.

While editing in the Text view, you can preview the layout on devices by opening the Preview pane available on the right side of the window. Within the Preview pane, you can modify the preview by changing various options at the top of the pane, including the preview device, layout theme, platform version and more. To preview the layout on multiple devices simultaneously, select Preview All Screen Sizes from the device drop-down.

You can switch to the graphical editor by clicking Design at the bottom of the window. While editing in the Design view, you can show and hide the widgets available to drag-and-drop by clicking Palette on the left side of the window. Clicking Designer on the right side of the window reveals a panel with a layout hierarchy and a list of properties for each view in the layout.


When you build and run your app with Android Studio, you can view adb and device log messages (logcat) in the DDMS pane by clicking Android at the bottom of the window.

If you want to debug your app with the Android Debug Monitor, you can launch it by clicking Monitor in the toolbar. The Debug Monitor is where you can find the complete set of DDMS tools for profiling your app, controlling device behaviors, and more. It also includes the Hierarchy Viewer tools to help optimize your layouts.

Keyboard Commands

The following tables list keyboard shortcuts for common operations.

Note: If you're using Mac OS X, update your keymap to use the Mac OS X 10.5+ version keymaps under Android Studio > Preferences > Keymap.

Table 1. Programming key commands

ActionAndroid Studio Key Command
Command look-up (autocomplete command name) CTRL + SHIFT + A
Project quick fix ALT + ENTER
Reformat code CTRL + ALT + L (Win)
OPTION + CMD + L (Mac)
Show docs for selected API CTRL + Q (Win)
F1 (Mac)
Show parameters for selected method CTRL + P
Generate method ALT + Insert (Win)
CMD + N (Mac)
Jump to source F4 (Win)
CMD + down-arrow (Mac)
Delete line CTRL + Y (Win)
CMD + Backspace (Mac)
Search by symbol name CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + N (Win)
OPTION + CMD + O (Mac)

Table 2. Project and editor key commands

ActionAndroid Studio Key Command
Build CTRL + F9 (Win)
CMD + F9 (Mac)
Build and run SHIFT + F10 (Win)
CTRL + R (Mac)
Toggle project visibility ALT + 1 (Win)
CMD + 1 (Mac)
Navigate open tabs ALT + left-arrow; ALT + right-arrow (Win)
CTRL + left-arrow; CTRL + right-arrow (Mac)

For a complete keymap reference guide, see the IntelliJ IDEA documentation.