psql -U postgres

Some interesting flags (to see all, use -h or --help depending on your psql version):

  • -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
  • \l: List databases
  • \dy: List events
  • \df: List functions
  • \di: List indexes
  • \dn: List schemas
  • \dt *.*: List tables from all schemas (if *.* is omitted will only show SEARCH_PATH ones)
  • \dv: List views
  • \df+ __function__ : Show function SQL code.
  • \x: Pretty-format query results instead of the not-so-useful ASCII tables
  • \copy (SELECT * FROM __table_name__) TO 'file_path_and_name.csv' WITH CSV: Export a table as CSV

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:

  • 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

    save and restart the database

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

Create command

There are many CREATE choices, like CREATE DATABASE __database_name__, CREATE TABLE __table_name__
Parameters differ but can be checked at the official documentation.

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

Keyboard shortcuts

  • CTRL + R: reverse-i-search


  • ptop and pg_top: top for PG. Available on the APT repository from
  • pg_activity: Command line tool for PostgreSQL server activity monitoring.
  • Unix-like reverse search in psql:
    $ 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.
  • A Performance Cheat Sheet for PostgreSQL: Great explanations of EXPLAIN, EXPLAIN ANALYZE, VACUUM, configuration parameters and more. Quite interesting if you need to tune-up a postgres setup.