Everyday PSQL Commands

PostgreSQL Cheat Sheet.


  • psql query Parameters
  • Common connect and query
  • Query Postgres db version
  • Pg dump and restore

Why do you need schems

  • Schemas allow you to organize database objects e.g., tables into logical groups to make them more manageable.
  • Schemas enable multiple users to use one database without interfering with each other.

PSQL Query Parameters

  • -d, –dbname=DBNAME database name
  • -h, –host=HOSTNAME database server hostname or ip
  • -t, a table
  • -p, –port=PORT database server port number (default: 5432)
  • -U, –username=NAME connect as specified database user
  • -W, –password force password prompt
  • –role=ROLENAME do SET ROLE

Common commands and queries

Connect to PostgreSQL database

psql -U user_name template1;

psql -h localhost -p 5432 -U user_name template1;

Switch to another db

\c template0  -- without username
\c template0 user_name  -- with username

List and descriptions

  1. List available databases \l
  2. List available tables \dt

     -- find that table name contains 'table_nam', case insensitive
     template1=> \dt *table_nam*
  3. Describe a table \d table_name
  4. List available schema \dn
  5. List available functions \df. Use \df+ or \ef to view or edit a founction.
  6. List available views \dv
  7. List users and their roles \du
  8. List sequences in current schema: \ds, or

     SELECT c.relname FROM pg_class c WHERE c.relkind = 'S';
     select sequence_schema, sequence_name from information_schema.sequences;
  9. List Command history \s save commandline history to a file named history.txt

     \s moss.cmd.txt
  10. Execute psql commands from a file \i
  11. Turn on and off query execution time \timing

    template1=> \timing
    Timing is on.
    template1=> select now();
     2046-10-15 17:55:52.075797+13
    (1 row)
    Time: 20.232 ms
    template1=> \timing
    Timing is off.
  12. Edit command in your own editor \e. It will open vim.
  13. Create or View/Edit a function in the editor
    • \ef It generates an editable function template.

         -- common options:  IMMUTABLE  STABLE  STRICT  SECURITY DEFINER
        AS $function$
    • \ef myFuncName It opens a vim to view existing function.
    • After editing a function, you shall execute the updated function

        \ef function_name()
            [edit function and save]
  14. Quit psql \q

Query current schmea, or search_path

SHOW search_path;

SELECT current_schema();

Query current psql version

template1=> SELECT version();
-- PostgreSQL 9.6.14 on x86_64-pc-linux-gnu (Debian 9.6.14-1.pgdg90+1), compiled by gcc (Debian 6.3.0-18+deb9u1) 6.3.0 20170516, 64-bit

template1=> SELECT current_setting('server_version_num')
-- 90614 (9.6.14)

template1=> SHOW server_version_num;
--  90614 (9.6.14)

How can I query if a column exists in a table using an SQL statement

SELECT column_name
FROM information_schema.columns
WHERE table_name='your_table' and column_name='your_column';

select count(1)
from events
where time between (now() - '1 week'::interval) and (now() - '2 weeks'::interval);

How to query records with timestamp

FROM table
WHERE update_date >= '2013-05-03'::date
AND update_date < ('2013-05-03'::date + '1 day'::interval);

How to count the number of occurrences of a given substring

FROM table
WHERE (length(hey_field) - length(replace(hey_field, 'needle_field', '')) = occurrence);

How to rename a database

Before renaming a database, you have to make sure there is no active connections to the database. If there are active connections and you need to rename it ASAP, you need to talk to the connection owners. You also need to modify the connection string related to the old database and change it to the new one.

-- query
SELECT  * FROM pg_stat_activity WHERE datname = 'db_name';

-- terminate pid
SELECT pg_terminate_backend (pid) FROM pg_stat_activity WHERE datname = 'db_name';

-- name


   relname  as table_name,
   pg_size_pretty(pg_total_relation_size(relid)) As "Total Size",
   pg_size_pretty(pg_indexes_size(relid)) as "Index Size",
   pg_size_pretty(pg_relation_size(relid)) as "Actual Size"
FROM pg_catalog.pg_statio_user_tables
ORDER BY pg_total_relation_size(relid) DESC limit 2;
      table_name      | Total Size | Index Size | Actual Size
 very_big_table       | 74 GB      | 53 GB      | 21 GB
 smaller_table        | 90 MB      | 38 MB      | 52 MB
(2 rows)
\d pg_indexes
            View "pg_catalog.pg_indexes"
   Column   | Type | Collation | Nullable | Default
 schemaname | name |           |          |
 tablename  | name |           |          |
 indexname  | name |           |          |
 tablespace | name |           |          |
 indexdef   | text |           |          |

SELECT indexname, indexdef
FROM pg_indexes
WHERE tablename = 'my_table-name' order by indexname desc;

Backup and Restore

pg_dump -d <databasename> -h <hostname> -p <port> -n <schemaname> -f <location of the dump file>

pg_restore is a utility for restoring a PostgreSQL database from an archive created by pg_dump in one of the non-plain-text formats.

It will issue the commands necessary to reconstruct the database to the state it was in at the time it was saved.

The dump and restore processes should be in one transaction. This mode can be specified by passing the -1 or --single-transaction command-line options to psql.

For one table

root@postgresql-local:/$ pg_dump -U user_name -d template -n public -t users > template_public_users.psql

root@postgresql-local:/$ psql -U user_name -d org < org_public_users.psql -- restore

For one Schema

pg_dump -U user_name -d template1 -n schema_name > schema_name.dmp

For one Database

pg_dump -U user_name dbname > dbname.dmp

Since a database is too big, you may want to compress a large db

pg_dump -U postgres -d database_name | gzip > database_name.gz
gunzip -c database_name.gz | psql -U postgres database_name

Export and import schema and table definition

  1. schema definition without data

     pg_dump -U postgres -s -d myDatabase -n my_schema > my_schema_dump.txt
  2. We need the customers definition because

    1. We need to reuse definition while creating new customers table
    2. we want to make sure new customers table remains the same definition
     pg_dump -U postgres -s -d myDatabase -n my_schema -t my_schema.customers > customers_dump.txt

PSQL Stored Procedures

DO $$ Block

  1. Excute sql

     Do $$
            execute format('drop database %I ', 'bak_20180404_2014_12');
     $$ ;
  2. Excute based on conditions

             IF EXISTS (SELECT FROM orders) THEN
                DELETE FROM orders;
                INSERT INTO orders VALUES (1,2,3);
             END IF;
    • Need a ; at the end of each statement, except for the final END
    • need END IF; at the end of the IF statement.


\$ cd /var/log/postgres/9.2
\$ ls -alht

-rw-------. 1 postgres postgres 2.4M Jul  3 08:36 postgresql-Thu.log
-rw-------. 1 postgres postgres 7.7M Jul  2 09:59 postgresql-Wed.log
-rw-------. 1 postgres postgres 2.5M Jul  1 09:59 postgresql-Tue.log
-rw-------. 1 postgres postgres 4.9M Jun 30 09:59 postgresql-Mon.log
-rw-------. 1 postgres postgres 1.3M Jun 29 09:59 postgresql-Sun.log
-rw-------. 1 postgres postgres 968K Jun 28 09:59 postgresql-Sat.log
-rw-------. 1 postgres postgres 2.5M Jun 27 09:59 postgresql-Fri.log

\$ sudo less postgresql-Sun.log | grep haha

Some handy queries

Top 10 WRITE Tables

select schemaname as "Schema Name", relname as "Table Name", n_tup_ins+n_tup_upd+n_tup_del as "no.of writes" from pg_stat_all_tables where schemaname not in ('snapshots',' pg_catalog') order by n_tup_ins+n_tup_upd+n_tup_del desc limit 10;

Top 10 READ Tables

SELECT schemaname as "Schema Name", relname as "Table Name",seq_tup_read+idx_tup_fetch as "no. of reads" FROM pg_stat_all_tables WHERE (seq_tup_read + idx_tup_fetch) > 0 and schemaname NOT IN ('snapshots','pg_catalog') ORDER BY seq_tup_read+idx_tup_fetch desc limit 10;

Largest Tables in DB

SELECT QUOTE_IDENT(TABLE_SCHEMA)||'.'||QUOTE_IDENT(table_name) as table_name,pg_relation_size(QUOTE_IDENT(TABLE_SCHEMA)|| '.'||QUOTE_IDENT(table_name)) as size, pg_total_relation_size(QUOTE_IDENT(TABLE_SCHEMA)||'.'|| QUOTE_IDENT(table_name)) as total_size, pg_size_pretty(pg_relation_size(QUOTE_IDENT(TABLE_SCHEMA)|| '.'||QUOTE_IDENT(table_name))) as pretty_relation_size, pg_size_pretty(pg_total_relation_size(QUOTE_IDENT(TABLE_ SCHEMA)||'.'||QUOTE_IDENT(table_name))) as pretty_total_ relation_size FROM information_schema.tables WHERE QUOTE_ IDENT(TABLE_SCHEMA) NOT IN ('snapshots') ORDER BY size DESC LIMIT 10;

Table Size

SELECT schemaname, relname, pg_total_relation_size(schemaname || '.' || relname ) , pg_size_pretty(pg_total_relation_size(schemaname || '.' || relname )) FROM pg_stat_user_tables ORDER BY 3 DESC;

Index Size

SELECT schemaname, relname, indexrelname, pg_total_relation_size(schemaname || '.' || indexrelname ) , pg_size_pretty(pg_total_relation_size(schemaname || '.' || indexrelname )) FROM pg_stat_user_indexes ORDER BY 1,2,3,4 DESC;

Index Utilization

SELECT schemaname, relname, indexrelname, idx_scan, idx_tup_fetch, idx_tup_read FROM pg_stat_user_indexes ORDER BY 4 DESC,1,2,3;

Slow Running Queries on DB from Last 5 Min

select now()-query_start as Running_Since,pid, datname, usename, application_name, client_addr, left(query,60) from pg_stat_activity where state in ('active','idle in transaction') and (now() - pg_stat_activity.query_start) > interval '2 minutes';


  1. PSQL 24.1. SQL Dump
  2. 17 Practical psql Commands That You Don’t Want To Miss
  3. 5 Tips to Backup and Restore Database in PostgreSQL
  4. postgresql-if-statement
  5. PostgreSQL Schema
  6. PostgreSQL Configuration: Best Practices for Performance and Security