How to Setup Android Studio for Productivity

Android Studio is a bit daunting because there a lot of options and menus at startup. This guide will help you setup Android Studio so you can be productive right away.

How to Setup Android Studio

Get the Latest Android SDK, Support Libraries, etc

On the Welcome to Android Studio window, click on SDK Manager. This will take you to the Android SDK section of the Preferences dialog.


Make sure you have the latest Android SDK. The latest at the time of writing is Marshmallow (6.0).

On the same page, click on Launch Standalone SDK Manager at the bottom. A new dialog should pop up.

Update the following dependencies:

Don't bother updating/installing the Intel x86 Emulator Accelerator (HAXM Installer) or any of the System Images. These packages are for the built-in Android emulator inside Android Studio. This emulator sucks and you should use Genymotion instead.

This entire step should take a while to download and install, so you should probably do something else for a while.

Use the Built-in Dark Theme (Darcula)

If you're not a fan of the standard white/gray theme for Android Studio, you can always opt for the Darcula theme. I use Darcula because it's easier on the eyes, especially at night.


Under Appearance & Behavior -> Appearance, set the Theme to Darcula. Android Studio will prompt you to restart Android Studio. Restart and now you should have the dark theme enabled.

Set up Copyright Text

If publishing apps under a company, you should probably write a Copyright Notice to "let your users know that the work is protected by copyright and may not be copied without the owner's permission". Source:

Under Editor -> Copyright -> Copyright Profiles, click on the + button and name your profile. From there, you could customize your own Copyright Notice. There are options to further customize your formatting, but I doubt that you'll even need to think about it.

Tip: $today.year returns the current year.

Like Vim? Get IdeaVim

This magical plugin Vim-ifies your IntelliJ IDE. It's pretty good, but I don't think it's quite there yet. I have uninstalled IdeaVim, but I'm looking forward to adding it back to my Android Studio setup.

But hey, it might be good enough for you!


Under Editor -> Plugins, click Install JetBrains plugin at the bottom of the window. It should open a new window. You can just type in "vim" on the search bar and it should take you to IdeaVim's installation page. Just click install and you're done!

Update Android Studio and Android SDK to the latest versions

If you like to try out the latest updates and don't mind the possible extra bugs, you can set Android Studio to check for updates for the Beta/Dev/Canary channels, and the SDK to the Preview channel. It's a great way to try out the latest features and gives you an opportunity to help the maintainers of Android and Android Studio!


You can change these settings under Appearance & Behavior -> System Settings -> Updates.

Unclutter Your Workspace


I think Android Studio is intimidating at first. Opening your first project shows you a lot of tools cluttered around your workspace. Good news is that you can hide the Toolbar and Navigation Bar.  Under the Window menu, just uncheck Toolbar and Navigation Bar.


The Navigation Bar feels awfully redundant if you have the Project Tool Window open, because the Project Tool Window has the same info and more. The Navigation bar works the same way as breadcrumbs in websites.

The Toolbar contains many useful commands at bay for easy access. The most often used commands in toolbar have shortcuts that you really should memorize. Other commands are seldom used and you could just access their respective menus to access them.

Setup Version Control

Android Studio is my first taste of IntelliJ, and I was thrilled the first time I used their integrated Version Control Systems feature! I used to stick with the terminal for my commits. Having VCS in your IDE is so convenient and accessible.


What I like about their VCS feature is the ability to reformat, arrange, etc your code right before you commit changes. This is useful in cleaning code, and automatically formatting your code for consistency.

Got any more tips on how to improve productivity on Android Studio? Maybe want to see more tips on debugging or git? Let me know on the comments!

tags: code