IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDK Help

Settings Guide

Settings persistently store states that control the behavior and appearance of IntelliJ Platform-based IDEs. On this page, the term "Settings" means the same as "Preferences" on some platforms.

Plugins can create and store Settings to capture their configuration in a way that uses the IntelliJ Platform Persistence Model. The User Interface (UI) for these custom Settings can be added to the IDE Settings dialog.

Settings can affect different levels of scope. This document describes adding custom Settings at the Project and Application (or Global, IDE) levels.

Extension Points for Settings

Custom Settings implementations are declared in a plugin's configuration (plugin.xml) file using one of two Extension Points (EPs), depending on the level of the Settings. Many attributes are shared between the EP declarations.

Application and Project Settings typically provide an implementation based on the Configurable interface because they do not have runtime dependencies. See Implementations for Settings Extension Points for more information.

Declaring Application Settings

Settings at the Application level use the com.intellij.applicationConfigurable EP.

An example <applicationConfigurable> EP declaration is shown below. The declaration indicates the settings are a child of the tools settings group, the implementation FQN is, the unique ID is the same as the implementation FQN, and the (non-localized) title displayed to users is "My Application Settings". See Settings Declaration Attributes for more information.

<extensions defaultExtensionNs="com.intellij"> <applicationConfigurable parentId="tools" instance="" id="" displayName="My Application Settings"/> </extensions>

Declaring Project Settings

Project level Settings use the com.intellij.projectConfigurable EP.

An example <projectConfigurable> EP declaration is shown below. Similar to the application setting example above, but it includes the additional attribute nonDefaultProject indicating these settings do not apply to the default project. See Settings Declaration Attributes for details.

<extensions defaultExtensionNs="com.intellij"> <projectConfigurable parentId="tools" instance="" id="" displayName="My Project Settings" nonDefaultProject="true"/> </extensions>

Settings Declaration Attributes

Readers are encouraged to review the Javadoc comments for Configurable because the attribute information applies to ConfigurableProvider as well as Configurable, as noted. This section provides some additional clarification of those comments.

Table of Attributes

The attributes supported by com.intellij.applicationConfigurable and com.intellij.projectConfigurable EPs are in the table below:

instanceConfigurable(1)FQN of implementation. See The Configurable Interface for more information.
providerConfigurableProvider(1)FQN of implementation. See The ConfigurableProvider Class for more information.
nonDefaultProjectConfigurableYApplicable only to the com.intellij.projectConfigurable (project Settings) EP.
true = show Settings for all projects except the default project.
false = show Settings for all projects.
(2)The non-localized Settings name visible to users, which is needed for the Settings dialog left-side menu.
For a localized visible name omit displayName and use the key and bundle attributes.
key and
(2)The localization key and bundle for the Settings name visible to users.
For non-localized visible names omit key and bundle and use displayName.
YThe unique, FQN identifier for this implementation.
The FQN should be based on the plugin id to ensure uniqueness.
YThis attribute is used to create a hierarchy of Settings. This component is declared one of the specified parentId component's children. Typically used for placing a Settings panel within the Settings Dialog menu. Acceptable values for parentId are given in Values for Parent ID Attribute.
groupId is deprecated.(3)
NSpecifies the weight (stacking order) of this component within the group of a parent configurable component. The default weight is 0, meaning lowest in the order.
If one child in a group or a parent component has non-zero weight, all children will be sorted descending by their weight. If the weights are equal, the components will be sorted ascending by their display name.
dynamicConfigurable.CompositeNThis component's children are dynamically calculated by calling the getConfigurables() method.
Not recommended because it requires loading additional classes while building a Settings tree. If possible, use XML attributes instead.
childrenEPNameConfigurableNSpecifies the FQN name of the Extension Point that will be used to calculate the children of this component.

Attribute Notes:

  1. Either instance or provider must be specified depending on the implementation.

  2. One of these attribute sets must be specified depending on whether the displayed Settings name is localized.

  3. If both groupId and parentId are specified, a warning is logged. Also, see default entry in Values for Parent ID Attribute.

Values for Parent ID Attribute

The table below shows the allowed values for the parentId attribute. See the previous section for all supported attributes.

parentId ValueGroupDetails
defaultotherIf neither parentId nor groupId attribute is set, the component is added to the other Settings group. This is undesirable; see other group description.
appearanceAppearance & BehaviorThis child group contains Settings to personalize IDE appearance, such as: changing themes and font size. Also, it covers Settings to customize behavior such as keymaps, configuring plugins, and system Settings such as password policies, HTTP proxy, updates, and more.
buildBuild, Execution, DeploymentChild group containing Settings to configure project integration with different build tools, modify the default compiler Settings, manage server access configurations, customize the debugger behavior, etc.
build.toolsBuild IntegrationA subgroup of build. This subgroup configures project integration with build tools such as Maven, Gradle, or Gant.
editorEditorChild group containing Settings to personalize source code appearance, such as fonts, highlighting styles, indents, etc. It also contains Settings to customize the editor's appearance, such as line numbers, caret placement, tabs, source code inspections, setting up templates, and file encodings.
languageLanguages and FrameworksChild group containing Settings related to specific language frameworks and technologies used in the project.
tools3rd Party SettingsChild group containing Settings to configure integration with third-party applications, specify the SSH Terminal connection Settings, manage server certificates and tasks, configure diagrams layout, etc.
rootSuper ParentThe invisible parent of all existing groups. Not used except for IDEs built on top of the IntelliJ Platform, or extensive suites of Settings. You should not place settings in this group.
otherCatch-allThe IntelliJ Platform no longer uses this group. Do not use this group. Use the tools group instead.
projectProject-related SettingsThe IntelliJ Platform no longer uses this group. It was intended to store some project-related settings. Do not use this group.

Implementations for Settings Extension Points

Implementations for com.intellij.projectConfigurable and com.intellij.applicationConfigurable EPs can have one of two bases:

  • The Configurable interface, which provides a named configurable component with a Swing form. Most Settings providers are based on the Configurable interface or one of its sub- or supertypes.

  • The ConfigurableProvider class, which can hide a configurable component from the Settings dialog based on runtime conditions.

The Configurable Interface

Many Settings in the intellij-community code base implement Configurable or one of its subtypes, such as SearchableConfigurable. Readers are encouraged to review the Javadoc comments for Configurable.


Implementations must meet several requirements for constructors.

  • Application Settings implementations, declared using the applicationConfiguration, must have a default constructor with no arguments.

  • Project Settings implementations, declared using the projectSettings, must declare a constructor with a single argument of type Project.

  • Beginning in 2020.2, constructor injection (other than for Project) is not allowed.

For a Configurable implementation correctly declared using an EP, the implementation's constructor is not invoked by the IntelliJ Platform until a user chooses the corresponding Settings displayName in the Settings Dialog menu.

IntelliJ Platform Interactions with Configurable

The instantiation of a generic Configurable implementation is documented in the interface file. A few high-level points are reviewed here:

  • The Configurable.reset() method is invoked immediately after Configurable.createComponent(). Initialization of Setting values in the constructor or createComponent() is unnecessary.

  • See the Constructors section for information about when a Settings object is instantiated.

  • Once instantiated, a Configurable instance's lifetime continues regardless of whether the implementation's Settings are changed, or the user chooses a different entry on the Settings Dialog menu.

  • A Configurable instance's lifetime ends when OK or Cancel is selected in the Settings Dialog. An instance's Configurable.disposeUIResources() is called when the Settings Dialog is closing.

To open Settings dialog or show specific Configurable, see ShowSettingsUtil.

Configurable Marker Interfaces

Implementations based on Configurable can implement marker interfaces, which provide additional flexibility in the implementation.

The following nested interfaces are markers, which convey information about the form to the IntelliJ Platform:

  • Configurable.NoScroll- Notifies the Settings dialog not to add scroll bars to the form. By default, a plugin's Settings component is put into a scrollable pane. However, a Settings panel can have a JTree, which requires its own JScrollPane. So NoScroll interface should be used to remove the outer JScrollPane.

  • Configurable.NoMargin- Notifies the Settings dialog not to add an empty border to the form. By default, an empty border is added for a plugin's Settings component.

Additional Interfaces Based on Configurable

There are classes in the IntelliJ Platform specialized for particular types of Settings. These subtypes are based on com.intellij.openapi.options.ConfigurableEP. For example, Settings/Preferences | Editor | General |Appearance allows adding Settings via EditorSmartKeysConfigurableEP and com.intellij.editorSmartKeysConfigurable EP.

The ConfigurableProvider Class

The ConfigurableProvider class only provides a Configurable implementation if its runtime conditions are met. The IntelliJ Platform first calls the ConfigurableProvider.canCreateConfigurable(), which evaluates runtime conditions to determine if Settings changes make sense in the current context. If the Settings make sense to display, canCreateConfigurable() returns true. In that case the IntelliJ Platform calls ConfigurableProvider.createConfigurable(), which returns the Configurable object for its Settings implementation.

By choosing not to provide a Configuration implementation in some circumstances, the ConfigurableProvider opts out of the Settings display and modification process. The use of ConfigurableProvider as a basis for a Settings implementation is declared using attributes in the EP declaration.

Last modified: 14 January 2021