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This tutorial describes how to use Android Studio for Android development. It focuses on the usage of the IDE and not on the Android development in general.

1. Introduction to Android Studio

1.1. What is Android Studio?

Android Studio is currently the IDE promoted by Google for Android development. It is based on IntelliJ and adds Android development capabilities.

Why is my favorite development tool not supported?

Unfortunately Google does not provide real options for Android developments. The team is focusing on stabilizing Android Studio since a few years and it seems that they lack the capacity to support other tools like Visual Studio Code or Eclipse.

1.2. The Android Studio toolbar

The Android Studio toolbar contains several entries which are specific for Android development

The Android Studio toolbar
Table 1. Toolbar
Number Action


AVD Manager


Sync Project with Gradle Files


Project Structure / Settings


Android SDK manager

1.3. Storage of the Android project

Android Studio stores the projects by default in the home folder of the user under AndroidStudioProjects.

The main directory contains configuration files for Android Studio and the Gradle build files. The application relevant files are contained in the app folder. The most interesting files are contained in the src folder. This structure is depicted in the following screenshot.

Android Studio file structure

Android Studio puts a virtual view on these files, e.g., it groups the resource files under a common node. This view is not identical with the file structure.

1.4. Opening new projects / switching between projects

Android Studio displays different projects in a different window. You can select File  Open…​ to open an existing project. This opens a new window with this project.

Alternative, you can close the current project via File  Close Project and create a new one or open an existing project.

1.5. Clean build / synchronizing the project with Gradle

The build functionality in Android Studio sometimes fails to recognize that a resource has changed. If you want to trigger manually a full rebuild, select Build  Clean Project to perform a complete build of all input.

Changes in the Gradle build file, require manual intervention. To synchronize your project with Gradle, use Tools  Android  Sync Project with Gradle Files or press the corresponding hyperlink in the tooltip of the Gradle build file editor.

1.6. Updating settings for Android Studio

Android Studio is provided in different flavors. The user can select if he want to use a stable version or test out recent features.

  • Canary channel: Canary builds are the bleeding edge, released about weekly. While these builds do get tested, they are still subject to bugs, as we want people to see what’s new as soon as possible. This is not recommended for production.

  • Dev channel: Dev builds are hand-picked older canary builds that survived the test of time. It should be updated roughly bi-weekly or monthly.

  • Beta channel: If a new beta milestone for the next version of Android Studio is reached, this channel gets an update. When the version is stable, the beta channel contains the stable version until the next version’s beta.

  • Stable channel: Contains the most recent stable version of Android Studio.

Update setttings

1.7. Using a proxy with Android Studio

You can use Android Studio and Gradle behind a proxy. For this you have to enter it via File  Settings…​. Android Studio updates also the setting for Gradle to use this proxy.

Defining a proxy

1.8. Device File Explorer

Android Studio allows to open the Device File Explorer via the View  Tool Window  Device File Explorer menu. This starts a view which allows to explore the file system on your Android device. Note that the file system access on physical devices is usually restricted.

You can also use the explorer to upload or download files to and from the device.

device file explorer10

1.9. Emulator

You can resize the emulator interactively via the corners of the emulator window.

2. Using Android Studio efficiently

2.1. Keyboard shortcuts

The following is a list of useful shortcuts for Android Studio.

Table 2. Useful shortcuts
Shortcut Mac Description


Content assists in the code editor


Quick fix proposing suggestions for compile errors or code improvements


Start the rename refactoring



Format the source code


Run the current program


Inline search in the current editor


Open File


Text search over the whole project


Search everywhere. Does not search in source files


Show the possible parameters of a method or an constructor.

Shift+Alt+ or Shift+Alt+

Moves selected line(s) up or down.



Delete line at carret

Ctrl+Alt+F (or Choose Refactor

Introduce Field on the main menu)

2.2. Add shortcut for synchronizing your Gradle file

The Gradle operation Sync now is a frequent task, I suggest to assign a shortcut to it. For this, select File  Settings…​Keymap and use the right mouse click to assign a shortcut to Sync now.

Assing a shortcut to

3. Using Android Studio

Android Studio menus entries are dynamic calculated based on your current selection. Unfortunately this feature seems currently a bit buggy. If you do not see a certain menu entry, try selecting the app entry again.

3.1. Creating a new layout file

To create a new layout file, select your app folder, right click on it and select File  New  Android resource file. Choose the Layout option to create a layout file.

The availability of the menu entries and the resulting dialog depends on the selected folder. If the entry is not available or the resulting dialog is wrong, ensure you select the 'app' folder.

The easiest way to create a new resource file, e.g., a layout file, is the context menu on the corresponding folder. To create a new folder, see Creating a new resource folder. This is demonstrates for the creation of a new layout file in the following screenshot.

Creating a new layout file
Creating a new layout file selection dialog
If you want to create a new layout file for a certain qualifier, you can select it in the creation dialog.
Creating a new layout file for portait

3.2. Creating a new resource file

Similar to the above described creation of layout file, you can create other resources, by changing the selection in the displayed dialog.

3.3. Creating a new resource folder

If a resource folder is missing, you have to create it. This is demonstrated by the following screenshots for the creation of the _layout-port_folder.

Create resource folder for port layout first step
Create resource folder for port layout second step

3.4. Working on layout files

Android Studio offers a visual and a text editor for editing your layout files. The easiest way to add new widgets to an existing layout file is to find these elements in the Palette and drag and drop them into your layout. In the visual design mode you can remove a view by right-clicking it and by selecting the Delete entry for the context menu.

Android Studio replaces placeholder values with the real values. This makes it sometimes harder to compare files. Double-click on the value in this case to see the placeholder value.

3.5. Add images to your project

From the menu of Android Studio, select File  New  Vector Assert to create a new vector drawable. The creation process is demonstrated for the ic_tethering icon.

Using Vector assets step 20
Using Vector assets step 10

3.6. Add a new menu resource

If not yet present, create a new directory called menu.

Create menu directory

Create a new XML resource called mainmenu.xml for your menu.

Create new menu resources

Afterwards you can manually edit the generated file via the Text tab or use the Design tab to edit it via drag and drag.

Create new menu resources

3.7. Create preference file

If you project does not have an /app/res/xml folder create one.

Creating a xml folder
Creating a xml folder

You can now create an Android XML resource in the xml folder.

Creating a preference resource file
Creating a preference resource file

3.8. See the log statements of your Android application

Use the Android view (Shortcut: Alt+6) to see the log statements in Android Studio.

4. Java programming tasks

4.1. Generating Getter/setting, toString, etc.

Select the Code  Generate…​ menu entry to generate getter, setter, constructors, etc.

4.2. Rename a resource

To rename a resource, e.g., a Java file, select Refactor  Rename…​ from the context menu of the corresponding resource or use the Shift+F6 shortcut.

4.3. Structure overview of a class / interface (similar to Outline view in Eclipse)

To see the structure of a class or an interface you can use the Structure view (kbd:Alt+7[]). This gives you an overview of the selected element, similar to the Outline view in Eclipse.

structure view in androidstudio

4.4. Using Java 8 in Android applications

As of Android Studio 2.4 you can use Java 8 features, with some restrictions. As of Android Gingebread (API 9) and above you can use:

  • Lambda expressions

  • java.util.function

As of Android 24 you can use:

  • Default and static interface methods

  • Repeatable annotations

  • Streams

  • Reflection APIs

To enable Java 8 in your project use the following settings.

android {
  compileOptions {
    sourceCompatibility JavaVersion.VERSION_1_8
    targetCompatibility JavaVersion.VERSION_1_8

4.5. Using live template in your Java code

Android studio provides templates for typical task in Java and Android. The following list contains a few of the most useful:

  • Toast - Creates a Toast

  • fbc - findViewById with cast

  • const - Defines a constant *

Use File  Settings  Editor  Live Templates to see the full list.

5. Working with Git

5.1. Cloning a Git repository

Select VCS  Checkout from Version Control  Git to clone a Git repository.

5.2. Cloning a repository from Github

Select Checkout from Version Control  Github to clone a Github repository.

6. Memory monitor

To see the memory consumption of your app, you need to run it. Open the Android Monitor. Click the Monitors tab and display the Memory Monitor. Enable the Memory Monitor by clicking Pause Pause icon to deselect it.

memorymonitor studio

7. Using Gradle with the IntelliJ IDE

7.1. IntelliJ IDE and Gradle support

In its default configuration IntelliJ has good Gradle support.

7.2. Gradle projects view

To activate the Gradle projects view, select View  Tool Buttons.

This enables a toolbar on the right, click on it to expand the Gradle projects view.

Intellij Gradle projects view

7.3. Executing Gradle tasks

Double click on a task Gradle projects view to run it.

7.4. Import an existing Gradle project into Intellij

Close a potentially existing projects via File  Close Project and select the Import Project entry. Afterwards follow the steps as demonstrates by the following screenshots.

Import Gradle project into IntelliJ
Import Gradle project into IntelliJ
Import Gradle project into IntelliJ

7.5. See all executed tests in IntelliJ

Click on the highlighted button to see all tests in IntelliJ, not only the failing tests.

Show all tests in IntelliJ

8. Migrating from Eclipse

8.1. Importing Eclipse Android projects into Android Studio

To migrate existing Android projects into Android Studio you can follow these steps:

  • In Android Studio, close any projects currently open. This opens the Welcome screen. Select Import Non-Android Studio project.

  • Browse to the project folder and click OK.

8.2. Changing the keybinding to use Eclipse bindings

Select File  Settings…​  Keymap and change the Android Studio keybindings to the keybindings of the Eclipse IDE. This might help you to get started faster the Android Studio, if you are already familiar with the Eclipse IDE.

Changing the keybindings in Android Studio to Eclipse

9. Using Android Studio Tipps

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