Create a gist now

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

What would you like to do?
PostgreSQL command line cheatsheet


Magic words:

psql -U postgres

Some interesting flags (to see all, use -h):

  • -E: will describe the underlaying queries of the \ commands (cool for learning!)
  • -l: psql will list all databases and then exit (useful if the user you connect with doesn't has a default database, like at AWS RDS)

Most \d commands support additional param of __schema__.name__ and accept wildcards like *.*

  • \q: Quit/Exit
  • \c __database__: Connect to a database
  • \d __table__: Show table definition including triggers
  • \dt *.*: List tables from all schemas (if *.* is omitted will only show SEARCH_PATH ones)
  • \l: List databases
  • \dn: List schemas
  • \df: List functions
  • \dv: List views
  • \df+ __function__ : Show function SQL code.
  • \x: Pretty-format query results instead of the not-so-useful ASCII tables

User Related:

  • \du: List users
  • \du __username__: List a username if present.
  • create role __test1__: Create a role with an existing username.
  • create role __test2__ noinherit login password __passsword__;: Create a role with username and password.
  • set role __test__;: Change role for current session to __test__.
  • grant __test2__ to __test1__;: Allow __test1__ to set its role as __test2__.


  • Service management commands:
sudo service postgresql stop
sudo service postgresql start
sudo service postgresql restart
  • Changing verbosity & querying Postgres log:
    1) First edit the config file, set a decent verbosity, save and restart postgres:
sudo vim /etc/postgresql/9.3/main/postgresql.conf

# Uncomment/Change inside:
log_min_messages = debug5
log_min_error_statement = debug5
log_min_duration_statement = -1

sudo service postgresql restart
  1. Now you will get tons of details of every statement, error, and even background tasks like VACUUMs
tail -f /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-9.3-main.log
  1. How to add user who executed a PG statement to log (editing postgresql.conf):
log_line_prefix = '%t %u %d %a '

Handy queries

  • SELECT * FROM pg_proc WHERE proname='__procedurename__': List procedure/function
  • SELECT * FROM pg_views WHERE viewname='__viewname__';: List view (including the definition)
  • SELECT pg_size_pretty(pg_total_relation_size('__table_name__'));: Show DB table space in use
  • SELECT pg_size_pretty(pg_database_size('__database_name__'));: Show DB space in use
  • show statement_timeout;: Show current user's statement timeout
  • SELECT * FROM pg_indexes WHERE tablename='__table_name__' AND schemaname='__schema_name__';: Show table indexes
  • Get all indexes from all tables of a schema:
   t.relname AS table_name,
   i.relname AS index_name,
   a.attname AS column_name
   pg_class t,
   pg_class i,
   pg_index ix,
   pg_attribute a,
    pg_namespace n
   t.oid = ix.indrelid
   AND i.oid = ix.indexrelid
   AND a.attrelid = t.oid
   AND a.attnum = ANY(ix.indkey)
   AND t.relnamespace = n.oid
    AND n.nspname = 'kartones'
  • Execution data:
    • Queries being executed at a certain DB:
SELECT datname, application_name, pid, backend_start, query_start, state_change, state, query 
  FROM pg_stat_activity 
  WHERE datname='__database_name__';
  • Get all queries from all dbs waiting for data (might be hung):
SELECT * FROM pg_stat_activity WHERE waiting='t'
  • Currently running queries with process pid:
SELECT pg_stat_get_backend_pid(s.backendid) AS procpid, 
  pg_stat_get_backend_activity(s.backendid) AS current_query
FROM (SELECT pg_stat_get_backend_idset() AS backendid) AS s;


  • CAST (column AS type) or column::type
  • '__table_name__'::regclass::oid: Get oid having a table name

Query analysis:

  • EXPLAIN __query__: see the query plan for the given query
  • EXPLAIN ANALYZE __query__: see and execute the query plan for the given query
  • ANALYZE [__table__]: collect statistics


$ echo "bind "^R" em-inc-search-prev" > $HOME/.editrc
$ source $HOME/.editrc
  • PostgreSQL Exercises: An awesome resource to learn to learn SQL, teaching you with simple examples in a great visual way. Highly recommended.

samayo commented Apr 27, 2015


Nice gist! I'd add this trick to have unix-like reverse search in psql

$ echo "bind "^R" em-inc-search-prev" > $HOME/.editrc
$ source $HOME/.editrc

Kartones commented Mar 2, 2016

Many thanks for the addition @fiunchinho! And glad that is helpful 💃


colbygk commented Aug 2, 2016

User related:

  • \du: List users
  • \du username: list only username
  • create role test1: Create a role with username test1.
  • create role test2 noinherit login password 'TooManySecrets';: Create a role with username test2 and a password.
  • set role test;: Change role for this session to test1.
  • grant test2 to test1;: Allow test1 to set its role as test2.

Kartones commented Aug 27, 2016

Thanks @colbygk, added them!

This is great! Here are my two cents.
Performance basics:

  • EXPLAIN query: see the query plan for the given query
  • EXPLAIN ANALYZE query: see and execute the query plan for the given query
  • ANALYZE [table]: collect statistics

thank you

Gut Gemacht!

Mulperi commented Oct 12, 2017

How about create database?


Kartones commented Oct 13, 2017

@Mulperi to be sincere I don't know any tricks regarding create database... I usually create them from tools (PGAdmin, AWS console, etc.), and for tests and the like just import a SQL dump. Sorry!

This is awesome. Thank you from a new user of Postgres

Awesome! Thanks @Kartones

AL6981 commented Jan 7, 2018

Super helpful doc. Thanks!

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment