A universal command-line interface for PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle Database, SQLite3, Microsoft SQL Server, and other SQL databases.

Installing | Using | Commands | Building | Database Support | Releases


usql provides a simple way of working with SQL databases via a command-line inspired by PostgreSQL's psql tool and has a few additional features that psql does not, such as syntax highlighting and context-based completion.

Database administrators and developers that would prefer to work with non-PostgreSQL databases with a tool like psql, will find usql intuitive, easy-to-use, and a great replacement for the command-line clients/tools available for other databases.


usql can be installed by via Release, via Go, or via Homebrew:

Installing via Release
  1. Download a release for your platform
  2. Extract the usql or usql.exe file from the .tar.bz2 or .zip file
  3. Move the executable to somewhere on your $PATH (Linux/OSX) or %PATH% (Windows)
Installing via Go

usql can be installed in the usual Go fashion:

# install usql with basic database support (includes PosgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite3, and MS SQL drivers)
$ go get -u

Support for additional databases can be specified with build tags:

# install usql with most drivers (excludes drivers requiring CGO)
$ go get -u -tags most

# install usql with all drivers (includes drivers requiring CGO, namely Oracle and ODBC drivers)
$ go get -u -tags all
Installing via Homebrew (OSX)

usql is available in the xo/xo tap, and can be installed in the usual way with the brew command:

# add tap
$ brew tap xo/xo

# install usql with "most" drivers
$ brew install usql

Additional support for Oracle and ODBC databases can be installed by passing --with-* parameters during install:

# install xo with oracle support
$ brew install --with-oracle xo

# install usql with oracle and odbc support
$ brew install --with-oracle --with-odbc usql


After installing, usql can be used similarly to the following:

# connect to a postgres database
$ usql postgres://booktest@localhost/booktest

# connect to an oracle database
$ usql oracle://user:pass@host/oracle.sid

# connect to a postgres database and run script.sql
$ usql pg://localhost/ -f script.sql
Connecting to a Database

usql opens a database connection by parsing a URL and passing the resulting connection string to the database driver. Database connection strings (aka "data source name" or DSNs) have the same parsing rules as URLs, and can be passed to usql via command-line, or via to the \connect or \c commands.

usql connection strings look like the following:


Where the above are:

Component Description
driver driver name or alias
transport tcp, udp, unix or driver name (for ODBC and ADODB)
user username
pass password
host hostname
dbname* database name, instance, or service name/ID
?opt1=a&... database driver options (see respective SQL driver for available options)
/path/to/file a path on disk

* for Microsoft SQL Server, the syntax to supply an instance and database name is /instance/dbname, where /instance is optional. For Oracle databases, /dbname is the unique database ID (SID).

Driver Aliases

The same driver names and aliases from the dburl package. Please refer to the dburl documentation for supported aliases. All databases have a two character short form that is usually the first two letters of the database driver. For example, my for mysql, or for oracle, or sq for sqlite3.

Passing Driver Options

Driver options are specified as standard URL query options in the form of ?opt1=a&obt2=b. Please refer to the relevant database driver's documentation for available options.

Paths on Disk

If a URL does not specify a driver scheme, usql will check if it is a path on disk. If the path exists, usql will attempt to use an appropriate database driver to open the path.

If the specified path is a Unix Domain Socket, usql will attempt to open it using the MySQL driver. If the path is a directory, usql will attempt to open it using the PostgreSQL driver. If the path is a regular file, usql will attempt to open the file using the SQLite3 driver.

Connection String Examples

The following are example connection strings and additional ways to connect to databases with usql:

# connect to a postgres database
$ usql pg://user:pass@localhost/dbname
$ usql pgsql://user:pass@localhost/dbname
$ usql postgres://user:pass@localhost:port/dbname
$ psql /var/run/postgresql

# connect to a mysql database
$ usql my://user:pass@localhost/dbname
$ usql mysql://user:pass@localhost:port/dbname
$ usql /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

# connect to a mssql (Microsoft SQL) database
$ usql ms://user:pass@localhost/dbname
$ usql mssql://user:pass@localhost:port/dbname

# connect to a mssql (Microsoft SQL) database using Windows domain authentication
$ runas /user:ACME\wiley /netonly "usql mssql://host/dbname/"

# connect to a oracle database
$ usql or://user:pass@localhost/dbname
$ usql oracle://user:pass@localhost:port/dbname

# connect to a sqlite database that exists on disk
$ usql dbname.sqlite3

# NOTE: when not a "<driver>://" or "<driver>:" scheme, the file must
# already exist; if it doesn't, please prefix with file:, sq:, sqlite3: or any
# other sqlite3 driver alias recognized by the dburl package, and a new, empty
# database will be created by the sqlite3 driver at that path:
$ usql sq://path/to/dbname.sqlite3
$ usql sqlite3://path/to/dbname.sqlite3
$ usql file:/path/to/dbname.sqlite3

# connect to a adodb ole resource (windows only)
$ usql adodb://Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0/myfile.mdb
$ usql "adodb://Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0/?Extended+Properties=\"Text;HDR=NO;FMT=Delimited\""
Executing Queries and Commands

usql provides a command intrepreter that intreprets \ commands and sends SQL queries to a database similar to psql:

$ usql sqlite://example.sqlite3
Connected with driver sqlite3 (SQLite3 3.17.0)
Type "help" for help.

sq:example.sqlite3=> create table test (test_id int, name string);
sq:example.sqlite3=> insert into test (test_id, name) values (1, 'hello');
sq:example.sqlite3=> select * from test;
  test_id | name
        1 | hello
(1 rows)

sq:example.sqlite3=> select * from test
sq:example.sqlite3-> \p
select * from test
sq:example.sqlite3-> \g
  test_id | name
        1 | hello
(1 rows)

sq:example.sqlite3=> \c postgres://booktest@localhost
error: pq: 28P01: password authentication failed for user "booktest"
Enter password:
Connected with driver postgres (PostgreSQL 9.6.6)
pg:booktest@localhost=> select * from authors;
  author_id |      name
          1 | Unknown Master
          2 | blah
          3 | aoeu
(3 rows)



usql recognizes backslash (\ ) commands similar to psql. Currently available commands:

$ usql
Type "help" for help.

(not connected)=> \?
  \q                    quit usql
  \copyright            show usql usage and distribution terms
  \drivers              display information about available database drivers
  \g [FILE] or ;        execute query (and send results to file or |pipe)
  \gexec                execute query and execute each value of the result
  \gset [PREFIX]        execute query and store results in usql variables

  \? [commands]         show help on backslash commands
  \? options            show help on usql command-line options
  \? variables          show help on special variables

Query Buffer
  \e [FILE] [LINE]      edit the query buffer (or file) with external editor
  \p                    show the contents of the query buffer
  \r                    reset (clear) the query buffer
  \w FILE               write query buffer to file

  \echo [STRING]        write string to standard output
  \i FILE               execute commands from file
  \ir FILE              as \i, but relative to location of current script

  \begin                begin a transaction
  \commit               commit current transaction
  \rollback             rollback (abort) current transaction

  \c URL                connect to database with url
  \c DRIVER PARAMS...   connect to database with SQL driver and parameters
  \Z                    close database connection
  \password [USERNAME]  change the password for a user
  \conninfo             display information about the current database connection

Operating System
  \cd [DIR]             change the current working directory
  \setenv NAME [VALUE]  set or unset environment variable
  \! [COMMAND]          execute command in shell or start interactive shell

  \prompt [TEXT] NAME   prompt user to set internal variable
  \set [NAME [VALUE]]   set internal variable, or list all if no parameters
  \unset NAME           unset (delete) internal variable

The usql project's goal is to support all standard psql commands.


When building usql with go, only drivers for PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite3 and Microsoft SQL Server will be enabled by default. Other databases can be enabled by specifying the build tag for their database driver. Additionally, the most and all build tags include most, and all SQL drivers, respectively:

# install all drivers
$ go get -u -tags all

# install with most drivers (same as all but excludes Oracle/ODBC)
$ go get -u -tags most

# install with base drivers and Oracle/ODBC support
$ go get -u -tags 'oracle odbc'

For every build tag <driver>, there is also the no_<driver> build tag disabling the driver:

# install all drivers excluding avatica and couchbase
$ go get -u -tags 'all no_avatica no_couchbase'
Release Builds

Release builds are built with the most build tag. Additional SQLite3 build tags are also specified for releases.

Using as a Package

An effort has been made to keep usql's packages modular, and reusable by other developers wishing to leverage usql's code base. As such, it is possible to build a SQL command-line interface (e.g, for use by some other project as an "official" client) using the core usql source tree.

Please refer to main.go to see how usql puts together its packages. usql's code is also well-documented -- please refer to the GoDoc listing to see the various APIs available.

Database Support

usql works with all Go standard library compatible SQL drivers supported by

The databases supported, the respective build tag, and the driver used by usql are:

Driver Build Tag Driver Used
Microsoft SQL Server mssql
MySQL mysql
PostgreSQL postgres
SQLite3 sqlite3
Oracle oracle
MySQL mymysql
PostgreSQL pgx
Apache Avatica avatica
ClickHouse clickhouse
Couchbase couchbase
Cznic QL ql
Firebird SQL firebird
Microsoft ADODB adodb
ODBC odbc
Presto presto
Sybase SQL Anywhere sqlany
VoltDB voltdb
Google Spanner spanner (not yet public)
MOST DRIVERS most all drivers excluding Oracle and ODBC (requires CGO and additional dependencies)
ALL DRIVERS all all drivers
  • dburl - a Go package providing a standard, URL style mechanism for parsing and opening database connection URLs
  • xo - a command-line tool to generate Go code from a database schema


usql aims to eventually provide a drop-in replacement for PostgreSQL's psql command. This is on-going -- an attempt has been made in good-faith to provide support for the most frequently used aspects/features of psql. Compatability (where possible) with psql, takes general development priority.

  1. Fix multiline behavior to mimic psql properly (on arrow up/down through history)
  2. PAGER
  3. \qecho + \o support
  4. fix table output / formatting
  5. context-based completion (WIP)
  6. \encoding and environment/command line options to set encoding of input (to convert to utf-8 before feeding to SQL driver) (how important is this ... ?)
  7. better --help support/output cli, man pages
Command Processing + psql compatibility
  1. the \j* commands (WIP)
  2. \watch
  3. \errverbose
  4. formatting settings (\pset, \a, etc)
  5. all \d* commands from psql (WIP, need to finish work extracting introspection code from xo)
  6. remaining psql cli parameters
Not important / "Nice to haves" / extremely low priority:
  1. correct operation of interweaved -f/-c commands, ie: -f 1 -c 1 -c 2 -f 2 -f 3 -c 3 runs in the specified order
  1. test suite for databases, doing a minimal set of SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE
Future Database Support
  1. Cassandra
  2. InfluxDB
  3. CSV via SQLite3 vtable
  4. Google Sheets via SQLite3 vtable
  5. Atlassian JIRA JQL (why not? lol)
  6. Google Spanner
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