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    Ongoing observations by End Point Dev people

    MySQL and Postgres command equivalents (mysql vs psql)

    Greg Sabino Mullane

    By Greg Sabino Mullane
    December 24, 2009

    Users toggling between MySQL and Postgres are often confused by the equivalent commands to accomplish basic tasks. Here’s a chart listing some of the differences between the command line client for MySQL (simply called mysql), and the command line client for Postgres (called psql).

    MySQL (using mysql)Postgres (using psql)Notes

    Clears the buffer



    \d string

    Changes the delimiter

    No equivalent


    Edit the buffer with external editor



    Postgres also allows \e filename which will become the new buffer
    \g Send current query to the server\g (same)

    Gives help — general or specific




    Turns the pager off

    \pset pager off


    The pager is only used when needed based on number of rows; to force it on, use \pset pager always

    Print the current buffer




    Quit the client



    \r [dbname] [dbhost]

    Reconnect to server

    \c [dbname] [dbuser]



    Status of server

    No equivalentSome of the same info is available from the pg_settings table

    Stop teeing output to file

    No equivalentHowever, \o (without any argument) will stop writing to a previously opened outfile
    \u dbname

    Use a different database

    \c dbname



    Do not show warnings

    No equivalentPostgres always shows warnings by default
    \C charset

    Change the charset

    \encoding encoding

    Change the encoding

    Run \encoding with no argument to view the current one

    Display results vertically (one column per line)



    Note that \G is a one-time effect, while \x is a toggle from one mode to another. To get the exact same effect as \G in Postgres, use \x\g\x
    \P pagername

    Change the current pager program

    Environment variable PAGER or PSQL_PAGER

    \R string

    Change the prompt

    \set PROMPT1 string


    Note that the Postgres prompt cannot be reset by omitting an argument. A good prompt to use is: \set PROMPT1 '%n@%hostname:%>%R%#%x%x%x ‘
    \T filename

    Sets the tee output file

    No direct equivalentPostgres can output to a pipe, so you can do: \o | tee filename

    Show warnings

    No equivalentPostgres always show warnings by default

    Help for internal commands




    Rebuild tab-completion hash

    No equivalentNot needed, as tab-completion in Postgres is always done dynamically
    ! command

    Execute a shell command

    ! command


    If no command is given with Postgres, the user is dropped to a new shell (exit to return to psql)
    . filename

    Include a file as if it were typed in

    \i filename


    Timing is always on\timing

    Toggles timing on and off

    No equivalent\t

    Toggles “tuple only” mode

    This shows the data from select queries, with no headers or footers
    show tables;

    List all tables



    Many also use just \d, which lists tables, views, and sequences
    desc tablename;

    Display information about the given table

    \d tablename


    show index from tablename;

    Display indexes on the given table

    \d tablename


    The bottom of the \d tablename output always shows indexes, as well as triggers, rules, and constraints
    show triggers from tablename;

    Display triggers on the given table

    \d tablename


    See notes on show index above
    show databases;

    List all databases



    No equivalent\dn

    List all schemas

    MySQL does not have the concept of schemas, but uses databases as a similar concept
    select version();

    Show backend server version

    select version();


    select now();

    Show current time

    select now();


    Postgres will give fractional seconds in the output
    select current_user;

    Show the current user

    select current_user;


    select database();

    Show the current database

    select current_database();


    show create table tablename;

    Output a CREATE TABLE statement for the given table

    No equivalentThe closest you can get with Postgres is to use pg_dump –schema-only -t tablename
    show engines;

    List all server engines

    No equivalentPostgres does not use separate engines
    CREATE object …

    Create an object: database, table, etc.

    CREATE object … Mostly the sameMost CREATE commands are similar or identical. Lookup specific help on commands (for example: \h CREATE TABLE)

    If there are any commands not listed you would like to see, or if there are errors in the above, please let me know. There are differences in how you invoke mysql and psql, and in the flags that they use, but that’s a topic for another day.

    Updates: Added PSQL_PAGER and \o |tee filename, thanks to the Davids in the comments section. Added \t back in, per Joe’s comment.

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