Changing IDE default directories used for config, plugins, and caches storage

Common cases when you may need to change the default locations of the IDE files:

  • user profile drive runs out of space
  • disk is slow and you want to use faster HDD or SSD for caches
  • default user profile points to the UNC path unsupported by the IDE
  • home directory is on a network drive
  • user profile directory is not detected correctly (Java bug 4787931)
  • you want to create a portable installation on a USB stick
  • home directory is encrypted and slows down the IDE or causes caches corruption
  • caches should be excluded from the home directory backup
  • antivirus or search indexer is scanning the home directory affecting IDE performance
Locations can be changed by editing idea.properties file. The easiest way is to use Help | Edit Custom Properties… menu action. It will create a copy of this file in the appropriate location so that the original file in the IDE bin subdirectory remains unmodified and doesn't cause conflicts during the patch updates.
 
Follow the comments in IDE_HOME\bin\idea.properties file to change the defaults, make sure to uncomment the lines defining these properties:
  • idea.config.path
  • idea.system.path
  • idea.plugins.path
  • idea.log.path

Example:

idea.config.path=c:/work/idea/caches/trunk-config
idea.system.path=c:/work/idea/caches/trunk-system
idea.plugins.path=c:/work/idea/caches/trunk-plugins
 
 
Changing the location of idea.properties file
 
If needed, you can also override the location of idea.properties file using IDE specific environment variable:
  • IDEA_PROPERTIES — IntelliJ IDEA
  • CLION_PROPERTIES — CLion
  • APPCODE_PROPERTIES — AppCode
  • PYCHARM_PROPERTIES — PyCharm
  • DATAGRIP_PROPERTIES — DataGrip
  • STUDIO_PROPERTIES — Android Studio
  • WEBIDE_PROPERTIES — WebStorm
  • PHPSTORM_PROPERTIES — PhpStorm
  • GOLAND_PROPERTIES — GoLand
  • RIDER_PROPERTIES — Rider

For example: IDEA_PROPERTIES=C:\Users\USER\idea.properties

 

The order in which IDE will read idea.properties files is as follows:

  1. Environment variable (%IDE%_PROPERTIES)
  2. Default IDE configuration directory
  3. HOME\idea.properties (where HOME is the user's home directory on the system)
  4. IDE_HOME\bin\idea.properties

Unlike .vmoptions file handling, idea.properties file with the higher priority doesn't undefine or discard variables already defined in the file location with lower priority. If there is the same variable defined in multiple properties files, the value of the variable from the higher priority file will be used, this way you can override the defaults already defined in IDE_HOME\bin\idea.properties in another file in the IDE default config directory or defined via the %IDE%_PROPERTIES environment variable.

59 comments
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Yes, changing xmx helped. Thanks.

Edited by Mike2060
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A couple of questions:

  1. What happens when I upgrade using the Toolbox? Will I still be able to roll back to the previous version? (Not that I've ever needed to... :-) )
  2. How does this relate to the "System and config directory" setting in the Toolbox? Changing this setting and pointing it at the .IntelliJIdea2017.1 directory seems to work. (Note: I've renamed the directory in the picture)

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1. Yes

2. It edits the same file you would edit manually

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Here are straightforward instructions if you need two separate instances of the IDE running in a way
instance #2 won't be locked if instance #1 has a modal window, for PHPStorm64 using Java 64 under
Windows (you can change the directories to your liking):

- Copy the entire C:\users\xxx\.PhpStorm2017.2 folder to, say, d:\apps\JetbrainsSecondInstance\AlternativeConfFolder
- Copy the C:\Program Files\JetBrains\PhpStorm 2017.1.2\bin\idea.properties to, say, d:\apps\JetbrainsSecondInstance\idea.properties
- Edit the d:\apps\JetbrainsSecondInstance\idea.properties and uncomment (remove the #) and change the following lines (note the forward slashes):

idea.config.path=d:/Apps/JetbrainsSecondInstance/AlternativeConfFolder/config
idea.system.path=d:/Apps/JetbrainsSecondInstance/AlternativeConfFolder/system
idea.plugins.path=${idea.config.path}/plugins
idea.log.path=${idea.system.path}/log

- Create a d:\apps\JetbrainsSecondInstance\Phpstorm2ndInstance.bat bat file that reads:

@echo off
SET PHPSTORM_PROPERTIES=d:\apps\JetbrainsSecondInstance\idea.properties
start "" "c:\Program Files\JetBrains\PhpStorm 2017.1.2\bin\phpstorm64.exe"

- Launch the .bat file. You're done! That is a totally separate instance and will not halt when instance #1 has a modal window locking things up.

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#1
idea.properties in Default IDE configuration directory (assuming it is/was <SYSTEM DRIVE>\Documents and Settings\<USER ACCOUNT NAME>\.<PRODUCT><VERSION>) are ignored.

Windows 7 Professional 64bit SP1
IntelliJ Idea 2017.2.6

#2 Also, why does *every* update ignore/discard these settings, so that I have to re-do them manually all the time?

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The ID for Rider is missing

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Thanks, added Rider and GoLand.

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For Clion, the correct environment variable is CL_PROPERTIES.  At least for 2018.1 on Linux.

Edited by Tina Godshall
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"Follow the comments in IDE_HOME\bin\idea.properties file to change the defaults"

Um I had it create the idea.properties file, and this is the only thing in it:

# custom PhpStorm properties

The main thing I want to achieve is moving where scratch files are stored. I thought they were 'per project', and on my office computer I created one to throw code in, then went away for the weekend, and had no access to it on my laptop. (The project directory is synced via OneDrive). Very frustrating. Workaround for now is having a directory in the project called .ht-scratches set to be expluded from upload and save files in there

 

Edited by Greg Kirsch
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Comments are available only in the original file inside the IDE installation directory, they are not available in the copy of this file that is created when you use Help | Edit Custom Properties.

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Ah, DOH! Thanks. I misread that it it would be in the one it created. I'm getting to old to be up programming 28 hours straight... LOL

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One last thing, it created the custom idea.properties file inside of C:\Users\MyName\.PhpStorm2018.2\config, but I'm wanting to change the location of the config folder to be G:\OneDrive\AppData\PhpStorm\config....

So do I copy over the config dir to the new location and add

idea.config.path=G:\OneDrive\AppData\PhpStorm\config

To the copy in the original location, or do I try to make the change to the original one in the installation directory.

While I'm asking, for keeping sync between two system, (never running at same time), should I also sync the system directory as well? I know one minor peeve is every time I go from one machine to the other, I have to re setup deployment options for every project (connections are on both machines, but I have to set which one is default and the directory mapping).

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You'd need to change the location of the properties file itself as described at the end of the document (using the environment variable).

Note that you can sync settings using JetBrains Account instead: https://www.jetbrains.com/help/idea/sharing-your-ide-settings.html (Share your settings with the Settings Sync plugin).

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Awesome, thanks for the info, should make things nice and smooth :)

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Hello,

I created a new folder in my Windows user account like this: "C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm" and placed in it all content of "C:/Users/<username>/.PhpStorm2018.2".

Also, I edited the idea.propierties located in "C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm/config/idea.propierties" to change configuration directories:

idea.config.path=C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm/config
idea.system.path=C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm/system
idea.plugins.path=${idea.config.path}/plugins
IDEA_PROPERTIES=C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm/config

And finally, I erased "C:/Users/<username>/.PhpStorm2018.2" folder. 

The problem is that when I open PHPStorm again, the directory "C:/Users/<username>/.PhpStorm2018.2" is recreated.

What I'm doing wrong?

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IDEA_PROPERTIES is the environment variable that must be set in the system, it's not a property in the file.

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Then, where I need to put or edit the line "IDEA_PROPERTIES=C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm/config" ?

You say that I need to set this in the system. Do you mean that I need to set something in Windows?

Edited by Marc Fernandez
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In the Windows environment variables settings: https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000549.htm.

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Okey I created a new environment variable following the steps of the link called "IDEA_PROPERTIES" with the value "C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm/config". Then I deleted the line "IDEA_PROPERTIES=C:/Users/<username>/Configurations/PHPStorm/config" from the idea.propierties file.

When I opened again PHPStorm, again created a new folder in my user directory. What I'm doing wrong?

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As outlined in this document, the environment variable must point to idea.properties file itself, not to a directory. There is even an example:

IDEA_PROPERTIES=C:\Users\USER\idea.properties

Don't forget to reboot or logout/login.

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And since you are using PhpStorm, the environment variable must be PHPSTORM_PROPERTIES instead of IDEA_PROPERTIES.

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Ok, now works like a charm! Thank you!

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Is it possible to only change the temp/tmp folder location?

I need this because I keep the system and config folder inside idea.home.path because settings etc have to be reimported on every update to avoid crashes + config loss

This works great BUT installing patch updates fails because the temp folder is inside of the idea installation.

So can I only move the temp folder out there?

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What is %IDE%_PROPERTIES about IdeaIC (IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition)?

 
 
Edited by S. M. Mir-Ismaili
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Both IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate and Community share the same environment variable for the properties file location: IDEA_PROPERTIES.

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Not sure when it changed, but `$CL_PROPERTIES` is not valid for CLion, at least for 2018.3.2 on 64 bit Linux.  Reference `$IDE_HOME/bin/clion.sh`, the script tests for variable named `"$CLION_PROPERTIES"`

if [ -n "$CLION_PROPERTIES" ]; then ...

 

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