Essential Xcode keyboard shortcuts for increased productivity

4 minute read

As iOS developers, we spend a considerable amount of time in Xcode, so it’s worth taking some time to know your way around Xcode.

Knowing how to edit, search effectively, and how to navigate your project in Xcode goes a long way to increase your productivity.

Taking the time to memorize and practice these shortcuts will save you a lot of time having to reach for your mouse and will allow you to keep both your hands on the keyboard, more often.

Let’s have a look at a few essential keyboard shortcuts which is easy to remember yet will save you a lot of time once you’ve memorized them.

Editor shortcuts

We spend the majority of our time in Xcode using the editor, writing code. So it only makes sense to know a couple of basic keyboard shortcuts when writing and editing your code.

Moving lines up and down (⌥ + ⌘ + [ and ])

For the longest time I was selecting the lines of code, cutting it, go to the line where I want to move it to and paste it there. Somewhere in between also required some backspacing and entering to make space for the lines pasted.

With these two shortcuts, you can do it all in one go, a great time saver especially rearranging and moving code around in SwiftUI.

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Balance indentation (⌃ + I)

Another useful keyboard shortcut to help you keep your code clean and neatly formatted. This is especially handy given how quickly indentation in SwiftUI can get out of control.

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Knowing how to navigate effectively within Xcode can help you switch contexts quickly. It can also help you find what you looking for without manually searching for it.

Quickly open (⇧ + ⌘ + O)

This keyboard shortcut is the one I use most frequently, all the time. Instead of manually navigating and searching for a file in the project navigation you can use the open quickly keyboard shortcut.

It works great for just about anything you want to navigate to, including files, types, functions, etc.

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Jump to definition (⌃ + ⌘ + J)

Another keyboard shortcut I use often is to jump to the definition of a type, function, etc. Simply set your cursor on, for example, the type or function that you what to jump to and press ⌃ + ⌘ + J.

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Views shortcuts

Additional views like the project navigator, inspectors, preview, and debug area can be useful but not always needed. Often times they take up a lot of screen real estate when not needed, especially when you’re working on a smaller screen. Knowing how to hide and show these views as needed can free up a lot of screen space for the editor, allowing you to see more of your code.

Toggle canvas / preview (⌥ + ⌘ + ↩)

This keyboard shortcut is extremely useful when working with SwiftUI when you want to show/hide the preview.

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Open library (⇧ + ⌘ + L)

Another frequent action is to open the library to insert code snippets, images, add view modifiers, etc.

Using the library is also a great way to see what modifiers are available for a given view in SwiftUI.

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Conclusion

Mastering these keyboard shortcuts might seem a bit overwhelming at first. But once you’ve got then down it almost becomes natural and you’ll find yourself using them without thinking about it.

Great for keeping both your hands on the keyboard more often making you a lean, mean code typing machine!

Below is a table and overview of some of the most useful and frequently used keyboard shortcuts in Xcode:

  • ⌘ = Command
  • ⌥ = Option/Alt
  • ⇧ = Shift -⌃ = Control
  • ←→ ↑↓ = Arrow keys
  • ↩ = Enter
Category Command Shortcut
Editor Go to beginning of line ⌘ + ←
Editor Go to end of line ⌘ + →
Editor Move line up ⌥ + ⌘ + [
Editor Move line down ⌥ + ⌘ + ]
Editor Code completion ⌃ + Space
Editor Comment line / selection ⌘ + /
Editor Balance indentation ⌃ + I
Editor Delete line ⌘ + D
Editor Open library ⇧ + ⌘ + L
Editor Generate documentation ⌥ + ⌘ + /
Navigation Open quickly ⇧ + ⌘ + O
Navigation Switch tabs left ⇧ + ⌘ + [
Navigation Switch tabs right ⇧ + ⌘ + ]
Navigation Show current file in project navigator ⇧ + ⌘ + J
Navigation Go forward in navigation history ⌃ + ⌘ + →
Navigation Go back in navigation history ⌃ + ⌘ + ←
Navigation Jump to definition ⌃ + ⌘ + J
Navigation Go to line ⌘ + L
Navigation Switch between code editors ⌘ + J
Navigation Jump bar ⌃ + 1 - 6
Navigation Find selected symbol ⇧ + ⌃ + ⌘ + F
Navigation Find call hierarchy ⇧ + ⌃ + ⌘ + H
Views Toggle canvas / preview ⌥ + ⌘ + ↩
Views Toggle assistant ⌃ + ⌥ + ⌘ + ↩
Views Reload preview ⌥ + ⌘ + P
Views Toggle project navigator ⌘ + 0
Views Toggle inspectors ⌘ + ⌥ + 0
Views Toggle debug area ⇧ + ⌘ + Y
Debugging Toggle breakpoint ⌘ + \
Debugging Step over F6
Debugging Step into F7
Debugging Step out F8
Debugging Continue to current line ⌃ + ⌘ + C
Debugging Continue ⌃ + ⌘ + Y

Updated: