Skip to content


Repository files navigation

usql is a universal command-line interface for PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle Database, SQLite3, Microsoft SQL Server, and many other databases including NoSQL and non-relational databases!

usql provides a simple way to work with SQL and NoSQL databases via a command-line inspired by PostgreSQL's psql. usql supports most of the core psql features, such as variables, backticks, backslash commands and has additional features that psql does not, such as multiple database support, copying between databases, syntax highlighting, context-based completion, and terminal graphics.

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

Unit Tests Go Reference Releases Discord Discussion


usql can be installed via Release, via Homebrew, via AUR, via Scoop or via Go:

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 extracted executable to somewhere on your $PATH (Linux/macOS) or %PATH% (Windows)

Installing via Homebrew (macOS and Linux)

Install usql from the xo/xo tap in the usual way with the brew command:

# install usql with most drivers
$ brew install xo/xo/usql

Support for ODBC databases is available through the --with-odbc install flag:

# add xo tap
$ brew tap xo/xo

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

Installing via AUR (Arch Linux)

Install usql from the Arch Linux AUR in the usual way with the yay command:

# install usql with most drivers
$ yay -S usql

Alternately, build and install using makepkg:

$ git clone && cd usql
$ makepkg -si
==> Making package: usql 0.12.10-1 (Fri 26 Aug 2022 05:56:09 AM WIB)
==> Checking runtime dependencies...
==> Checking buildtime dependencies...
==> Retrieving sources...
  -> Downloading usql-0.12.10.tar.gz...

Installing via Scoop (Windows)

Install usql using Scoop:

# Optional: Needed to run a remote script the first time
> Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope CurrentUser

# install scoop if not already installed
> irm | iex

# install usql with scoop
> scoop install usql

Installing via Go

Install usql in the usual Go fashion:

# install latest usql version with base drivers
$ go install

# alternately, install usql with most drivers (see below for info about build tags)
$ go install -tags most

See below for information on usql build tags.


When building usql out-of-the-box with go build or go install, only the base drivers for PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite3, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, CSVQ will be included in the build:

# build/install with base drivers (PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite3, Microsoft SQL Server,
# Oracle, CSVQ)
$ go install

Other databases can be enabled by specifying the build tag for their database driver.

# build/install with base, Avatica, and ODBC drivers
$ go install -tags 'avatica odbc'

For every build tag <driver>, there is also a no_<driver> build tag that will disable the driver:

# build/install most drivers, excluding Avatica, Couchbase, and PostgreSQL
$ go install -tags 'most no_avatica no_couchbase no_postgres'

By specifying the build tags most or all, the build will include most, and all SQL drivers, respectively:

# build/install with most drivers (excludes CGO drivers and problematic drivers)
$ go install -tags most

# build/install all drivers (includes CGO drivers and problematic drivers)
$ go install -tags all

Database Support

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

The list of drivers that usql was built with can be displayed using the \drivers command:

$ cd $GOPATH/src/

# build excluding the base drivers, and including cassandra and moderncsqlite
$ go build -tags 'no_postgres no_oracle no_sqlserver no_sqlite3 cassandra moderncsqlite'

# show built driver support
$ ./usql -c '\drivers'
Available Drivers:
  cql [ca, scy, scylla, datastax, cassandra]
  memsql (mysql) [me]
  moderncsqlite [mq, sq, file, sqlite, sqlite3, modernsqlite]
  mysql [my, maria, aurora, mariadb, percona]
  tidb (mysql) [ti]
  vitess (mysql) [vt]

The above shows that usql was built with only the mysql, cassandra (ie, cql), and moderncsqlite drivers. The output above reflects information about the drivers available to usql, specifically the internal driver name, its primary URL scheme, the driver's available scheme aliases (shown in [...]), and the real/underlying driver (shown in (...)) for wire compatible drivers.

Supported Database Schemes and Aliases

The following are the Go SQL drivers that usql supports, the associated database, scheme / build tag, and scheme aliases:

Database Scheme / Tag Scheme Aliases Driver Package / Notes
PostgreSQL postgres pg, pgsql, postgresql
MySQL mysql my, maria, aurora, mariadb, percona
Microsoft SQL Server sqlserver ms, mssql, azuresql
Oracle Database oracle or, ora, oci, oci8, odpi, odpi-c
SQLite3 sqlite3 sq, sqlite, file
ClickHouse clickhouse ch
CSVQ csvq cs, csv, tsv, json
Alibaba MaxCompute maxcompute mc
Alibaba Tablestore ots ot, tablestore
Apache Avatica avatica av, phoenix
Apache H2 h2
Apache Hive hive hi, hive2
Apache Ignite ignite ig, gridgain
AWS Athena athena s3, aws, awsathena
Azure CosmosDB cosmos cm
Cassandra cassandra ca, scy, scylla, datastax, cql
ChaiSQL chai ci, genji, chaisql
Couchbase couchbase n1, n1ql
Cznic QL ql cznic, cznicql
Databend databend dd, bend
Databricks databricks br, brick, bricks, databrick
DuckDB duckdb dk, ddb, duck, file
DynamoDb dynamodb dy, dyn, dynamo, dynamodb
Exasol exasol ex, exa
Firebird firebird fb, firebirdsql
FlightSQL flightsql fl, flight
Google BigQuery bigquery bq
Google Spanner spanner sp
Microsoft ADODB adodb ad, ado
ModernC SQLite3 moderncsqlite mq, modernsqlite
MySQL MyMySQL mymysql zm, mymy
Netezza netezza nz, nzgo
PostgreSQL PGX pgx px
Presto presto pr, prs, prestos, prestodb, prestodbs
RamSQL ramsql rm, ram
SAP ASE sapase ax, ase, tds
SAP HANA saphana sa, sap, hana, hdb
Snowflake snowflake sf
Trino trino tr, trs, trinos
Vertica vertica ve
VoltDB voltdb vo, vdb, volt
YDB ydb yd, yds, ydbs
GO DRiver for ORacle godror gr
ODBC odbc od
Amazon Redshift postgres rs, redshift
CockroachDB postgres cr, cdb, crdb, cockroach, cockroachdb
OLE ODBC adodb oo, ole, oleodbc
SingleStore MemSQL mysql me, memsql
TiDB mysql ti, tidb
Vitess Database mysql vt, vitess
Apache Impala impala im
NO DRIVERS no_base no base drivers (useful for development)
MOST DRIVERS most all stable drivers
ALL DRIVERS all all drivers, excluding bad drivers
BAD DRIVERS bad bad drivers (broken/non-working drivers)
NO <TAG> no_<tag> exclude driver with <tag>

Requires CGO
Wire compatible (see respective driver)

Any of the protocol schemes/aliases shown above can be used in conjunction when connecting to a database via the command-line or with the \connect and \copy commands:

# connect to a vitess database:
$ usql vt://user:pass@host:3306/mydatabase

$ usql
(not connected)=> \c vitess://user:pass@host:3306/mydatabase

$ usql
(not connected)=> \copy csvq://. pg://localhost/ 'select * ....' 'myTable'

See the section below on connecting to databases for further details building DSNs/URLs for use with 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 the commands contained in script.sql
$ usql pg://localhost/ -f script.sql

Command-line Options

Supported command-line options:

$ usql --help
usql, the universal command-line interface for SQL databases

  usql [OPTIONS]... [DSN]

  DSN                            database url

  -c, --command=COMMAND ...    run only single command (SQL or internal) and exit
  -f, --file=FILE ...          execute commands from file and exit
  -w, --no-password            never prompt for password
  -X, --no-rc                  do not read start up file
  -o, --out=OUT                output file
  -W, --password               force password prompt (should happen automatically)
  -1, --single-transaction     execute as a single transaction (if non-interactive)
  -v, --set=, --variable=NAME=VALUE ...
                               set variable NAME to VALUE
  -P, --pset=VAR[=ARG] ...     set printing option VAR to ARG (see \pset command)
  -F, --field-separator=FIELD-SEPARATOR ...
                               field separator for unaligned output (default, "|")
  -R, --record-separator=RECORD-SEPARATOR ...
                               record separator for unaligned output (default, \n)
  -T, --table-attr=TABLE-ATTR ...
                               set HTML table tag attributes (e.g., width, border)
  -A, --no-align               unaligned table output mode
  -H, --html                   HTML table output mode
  -t, --tuples-only            print rows only
  -x, --expanded               turn on expanded table output
  -z, --field-separator-zero   set field separator for unaligned output to zero byte
  -0, --record-separator-zero  set record separator for unaligned output to zero byte
  -J, --json                   JSON output mode
  -C, --csv                    CSV output mode
  -G, --vertical               vertical output mode
  -V, --version                display version and exit

Connecting to Databases

usql opens a database connection by parsing a URL and passing the resulting connection string to a 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 to the \connect, \c, and \copy commands.

Database connection strings look like the following:


Where the above are:

Component Description
driver driver scheme name or scheme 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&... additional database driver options (see respective SQL driver for available options)
/path/to/file a path on disk

± Some databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server, or Oracle Database support a path component (ie, /dbname) in the form of /instance/dbname, where /instance is the optional service identifier (aka "SID") or database instance

Driver Aliases

usql supports the same driver names and aliases as the dburl package. Databases have at least one or more aliases. See dburl's scheme documentation for a list of all supported aliases.

Short Aliases

All database drivers have a two character short form that is usually the first two letters of the database driver. For example, pg for postgres, my for mysql, ms for sqlserver, 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&opt2=b. Refer to the relevant database driver's documentation for available options.

Paths on Disk

If a URL does not have 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.

When the path is a Unix Domain Socket, usql will attempt to open it using the MySQL driver. When the path is a directory, usql will attempt to open it using the PostgreSQL driver. And, lastly, when the path is a regular file, usql will attempt to open the file using the SQLite3 driver.

Driver Defaults

As with URLs, most components in the URL are optional and many components can be left out. usql will attempt connecting using defaults where possible:

# connect to postgres using the local $USER and the unix domain socket in /var/run/postgresql
$ usql pg://

See the relevant documentation on database drivers for more information.

Connection Examples

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

# connect to a postgres database
$ usql pg://user:pass@host/dbname
$ usql pgsql://user:pass@host/dbname
$ usql postgres://user:pass@host:port/dbname
$ usql pg://
$ usql /var/run/postgresql
$ usql pg://user:pass@host/dbname?sslmode=disable # Connect without SSL

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

# connect to a sqlserver database
$ usql sqlserver://user:pass@host/instancename/dbname
$ usql ms://user:pass@host/dbname
$ usql ms://user:pass@host/instancename/dbname
$ usql mssql://user:pass@host:port/dbname
$ usql ms://

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

# connect to a oracle database
$ usql or://user:pass@host/sid
$ usql oracle://user:pass@host:port/sid
$ usql or://

# connect to a cassandra database
$ usql ca://user:pass@host/keyspace
$ usql cassandra://host/keyspace
$ usql cql://host/
$ usql ca://

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

# Note: when connecting to a SQLite database, if the "<driver>://" or
# "<driver>:" scheme/alias is omitted, the file must already exist on disk.
# if the file does not yet exist, the URL must incorporate file:, sq:, sqlite3:,
# or any other recognized sqlite3 driver alias to force usql to create a new,
# empty database at the specified 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\""

# connect with ODBC driver (requires building with odbc tag)
$ cat /etc/odbcinst.ini
Description=DB2 driver
FileUsage = 1
DontDLClose = 1

[PostgreSQL ANSI]
Description=PostgreSQL ODBC driver (ANSI version)
# connect to db2, postgres databases using ODBC
$ usql odbc+DB2://user:pass@localhost/dbname
$ usql odbc+PostgreSQL+ANSI://user:pass@localhost/dbname?TraceFile=/path/to/trace.log

Executing Queries and Commands

The interactive interpreter reads queries and meta (\) commands, sending the query to the connected database:

$ 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 | foobar
(3 rows)


Commands may accept one or more parameter, and can be quoted using either ' or ". Command parameters may also be backticked.

Backslash Commands

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

Query Execute
  \bind [PARAM]...                     set query parameters
  \g [(OPTIONS)] [FILE] or ;           execute query (and send results to file or |pipe)
  \crosstabview [(OPTIONS)] [COLUMNS]  execute query and display results in crosstab
  \G [(OPTIONS)] [FILE]                as \g, but forces vertical output mode
  \gexec                               execute query and execute each value of the result
  \gset [PREFIX]                       execute query and store results in usql variables
  \gx [(OPTIONS)] [FILE]               as \g, but forces expanded output mode
  \watch [(OPTIONS)] [DURATION]        execute query every specified interval

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

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

  \copy SRC DST QUERY TABLE            copy query from source url to table on destination url
  \copy SRC DST QUERY TABLE(A,...)     copy query from source url to columns of table on destination url
  \echo [-n] [STRING]                  write string to standard output (-n for no newline)
  \qecho [-n] [STRING]                 write string to \o output stream (-n for no newline)
  \warn [-n] [STRING]                  write string to standard error (-n for no newline)
  \o [FILE]                            send all query results to file or |pipe
  \i FILE                              execute commands from file
  \ir FILE                             as \i, but relative to location of current script

  \d[S+] [NAME]                        list tables, views, and sequences or describe table, view, sequence, or index
  \da[S+] [PATTERN]                    list aggregates
  \df[S+] [PATTERN]                    list functions
  \di[S+] [PATTERN]                    list indexes
  \dm[S+] [PATTERN]                    list materialized views
  \dn[S+] [PATTERN]                    list schemas
  \dp[S] [PATTERN]                     list table, view, and sequence access privileges
  \ds[S+] [PATTERN]                    list sequences
  \dt[S+] [PATTERN]                    list tables
  \dv[S+] [PATTERN]                    list views
  \l[+]                                list databases
  \ss[+] [TABLE|QUERY] [k]             show stats for a table or a query

  \pset [NAME [VALUE]]                 set table output option
  \a                                   toggle between unaligned and aligned output mode
  \C [STRING]                          set table title, or unset if none
  \f [STRING]                          show or set field separator for unaligned query output
  \H                                   toggle HTML output mode
  \T [STRING]                          set HTML <table> tag attributes, or unset if none
  \t [on|off]                          show only rows
  \x [on|off|auto]                     toggle expanded output

  \begin                               begin a transaction
  \begin [-read-only] [ISOLATION]      begin a transaction with isolation level
  \commit                              commit current transaction
  \rollback                            rollback (abort) current transaction

  \c DSN                               connect to database url
  \c DRIVER PARAMS...                  connect to database with 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
  \getenv VARNAME ENVVAR               fetch environment variable
  \! [COMMAND]                         execute command in shell or start interactive shell
  \timing [on|off]                     toggle timing of commands

  \prompt [-TYPE] <VAR> [PROMPT]       prompt user to set variable
  \set [NAME [VALUE]]                  set internal variable, or list all if no parameters
  \unset NAME                          unset (delete) internal variable

Features and Compatibility

An overview of usql's features, functionality, and compatibility with psql:

The usql project's goal is to support as much of psql's core features and functionality, and aims to be as compatible as possible - contributions are always appreciated!

Variables and Interpolation

To see the list of specially treated variables, run the \? variables command.

usql supports client-side interpolation of variables that can be \set and \unset:

$ usql
(not connected)=> \set
(not connected)=> \set FOO bar
(not connected)=> \set
FOO = 'bar'
(not connected)=> \unset FOO
(not connected)=> \set
(not connected)=>

A \set variable, NAME, will be directly interpolated (by string substitution) into the query when prefixed with : and optionally surrounded by quotation marks (' or "):

pg:booktest@localhost=> \set FOO bar
pg:booktest@localhost=> select * from authors where name = :'FOO';
  author_id | name
          7 | bar
(1 rows)

The three forms, :NAME, :'NAME', and :"NAME", are used to interpolate a variable in parts of a query that may require quoting, such as for a column name, or when doing concatenation in a query:

pg:booktest@localhost=> \set TBLNAME authors
pg:booktest@localhost=> \set COLNAME name
pg:booktest@localhost=> \set FOO bar
pg:booktest@localhost=> select * from :TBLNAME where :"COLNAME" = :'FOO'
pg:booktest@localhost-> \p
select * from authors where "name" = 'bar'
pg:booktest@localhost-> \raw
select * from :TBLNAME where :"COLNAME" = :'FOO'
pg:booktest@localhost-> \g
  author_id | name
          7 | bar
(1 rows)



Variables contained within other strings will not be interpolated:

pg:booktest@localhost=> select ':FOO';
(1 rows)

pg:booktest@localhost=> \p
select ':FOO';


Meta (\) commands support backticks on parameters:

(not connected)=> \echo Welcome `echo $USER` -- 'currently:' "(" `date` ")"
Welcome ken -- currently: ( Wed Jun 13 12:10:27 WIB 2018 )
(not connected)=>

Backticked parameters will be passed to the user's SHELL, exactly as written, and can be combined with \set:

pg:booktest@localhost=> \set MYVAR `date`
pg:booktest@localhost=> \set
MYVAR = 'Wed Jun 13 12:17:11 WIB 2018'
pg:booktest@localhost=> \echo :MYVAR
Wed Jun 13 12:17:11 WIB 2018


usql supports reading passwords for databases from a .usqlpass file contained in the user's HOME directory at startup:

$ cat $HOME/.usqlpass
# format is:
# protocol:host:port:dbname:user:pass
$ usql pg://
Connected with driver postgres (PostgreSQL 9.6.9)
Type "help" for help.



The .usqlpass file cannot be readable by other users, and the permissions should be set accordingly:

chmod 0600 ~/.usqlpass

Runtime Configuration (RC) File

usql supports executing a .usqlrc runtime configuration (RC) file contained in the user's HOME directory:

$ cat $HOME/.usqlrc
\set SYNTAX_HL_STYLE paraiso-dark
# display color prompt (default is prompt is "%S%m%/%R%#" )
\set PROMPT1 "\033[32m%S%m%/%R%#\033[0m"
$ usql
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE Thu Jun 14 02:36:53 WIB 2018
Type "help" for help.

(not connected)=> \set
SYNTAX_HL_STYLE = 'paraiso-dark'
(not connected)=>

The .usqlrc file is read at startup in the same way as a file passed on the command-line with -f / --file. It is commonly used to set startup environment variables and settings.

RC-file execution can be temporarily disabled at startup by passing -X or --no-rc on the command-line:

$ usql --no-rc pg://

Copying Between Databases

usql provides a \copy command that reads data from a source database DSN and writes to a destination database DSN:

$ usql
(not connected)=> \copy :PGDSN :MYDSN 'select book_id, author_id from books' 'books(id, author_id)'


usql's \copy is distinct from and does not function like psql's \copy.


The \copy command has two parameter forms:




  • SRC - is the source database URL to connect to, and where the QUERY will be executed
  • DST - is the destination database URL to connect to, and where the destination TABLE resides
  • QUERY - is the query to execute on the SRC connection, the results of which will be copied to TABLE
  • TABLE - is the destination table name, followed by an optional SQL-like column list of the form (COL1, COL2, ..., COLN)
  • (COL1, COL2, ..., COLN) - a list of the destination column names, 1-to-N

The usual rules for variables, interpolation, and quoting apply to \copy's parameters.


QUERY and TABLE must be quoted when containing spaces:

$ usql
(not connected)=> echo :SOURCE_DSN :DESTINATION_DSN
pg://postgres:P4ssw0rd@localhost/ mysql://localhost
(not connected)=> \copy :SOURCE_DSN :DESTINATION_DSN 'select * from mySourceTable' 'myDestination(colA, colB)'
Column Counts

The QUERY must return the same number of columns as defined by the TABLE expression:

$ usql
(not connected)=> \copy csvq:. sq:test.db 'select * from authors' authors
error: failed to prepare insert query: 2 values for 1 columns
(not connected)=> \copy csvq:. sq:test.db 'select name from authors' authors(name)
Datatype Compatibility and Casting

The \copy command does not attempt to perform any kind of datatype conversion.

If a QUERY returns columns with different datatypes than expected by the TABLE's column, the QUERY can use the source database's conversion/casting functionality to cast columns to a datatype that will work for TABLE's columns:

$ usql
(not connected)=> \copy postgres://user:pass@localhost mysql://user:pass@localhost 'SELECT uuid_column::TEXT FROM myPgTable' myMyTable
Importing Data from CSV

The \copy command is capable of importing data from CSV's (or any other database!) using the csvq driver:

$ cat authors.csv
1,Isaac Asimov
2,Stephen King
$ cat books.csv
1,1,I Robot
$ usql
(not connected)=> -- setting variables to make connections easier
(not connected)=> \set SOURCE_DSN csvq://.
(not connected)=> \set DESTINATION_DSN sqlite3:booktest.db
(not connected)=> -- connecting to the destination and creating the schema
(not connected)=> \c :DESTINATION_DSN
Connected with driver sqlite3 (SQLite3 3.38.5)
(sq:booktest.db)=> create table authors (author_id integer, name text);
(sq:booktest.db)=> create table books (book_id integer not null primary key autoincrement, author_id integer, title text);
(sq:booktest.db)=> -- adding an extra row to books prior to copying
(sq:booktest.db)=> insert into books (author_id, title) values (1, 'Foundation');
(sq:booktest.db)=> -- disconnecting to demonstrate that \copy opens new database connections
(sq:booktest.db)=> \disconnect
(not connected)=> -- copying data from SOURCE -> DESTINATION
(not connected)=> \copy :SOURCE_DSN :DESTINATION_DSN 'select * from authors' authors
(not connected)=> \copy :SOURCE_DSN :DESTINATION_DSN 'select author_id, title from books' 'books(author_id, title)'
(not connected)=> \c :DESTINATION_DSN
Connected with driver sqlite3 (SQLite3 3.38.5)
(sq:booktest.db)=> select * from authors;
 author_id |     name
         1 | Isaac Asimov
         2 | Stephen King
(2 rows)

sq:booktest.db=> select * from books;
 book_id | author_id |   title
       1 |         1 | Foundation
       2 |         1 | I Robot
       3 |         2 | Carrie
       4 |         2 | Cujo
(4 rows)


When importing large datasets (> 1GiB) from one database to another, it is better to use a database's native clients and tools.

Reusing Connections with Copy

The \copy command (and all usql commands) works with variables. When scripting, or when needing to perform multiple \copy operations from/to multiple sources/destinations, the best practice is to \set connection variables either in a script or in the $HOME/.usqlrc RC script.

Similarly, passwords can be stored for easy reuse (and kept out of scripts) by storing in the $HOME/.usqlpass password file.

For example:

$ cat $HOME/.usqlpass
$ usql
Type "help" for help.

(not connected)=> \set pglocal postgres://postgres@localhost:49153?sslmode=disable
(not connected)=> \set orlocal godror://system@localhost:1521/orasid
(not connected)=> \copy :pglocal :orlocal 'select staff_id, first_name from staff' 'staff(staff_id, first_name)'

Syntax Highlighting

Interactive queries will be syntax highlighted by default, using Chroma. There are a number of variables that control syntax highlighting:

Variable Default Values Description
SYNTAX_HL true true or false enables syntax highlighting
SYNTAX_HL_FORMAT dependent on terminal support formatter name Chroma formatter name
SYNTAX_HL_OVERRIDE_BG true true or false enables overriding the background color of the chroma styles
SYNTAX_HL_STYLE monokai style name Chroma style name

The SYNTAX_* variables are regular usql variables, and can be \set and \unset:

$ usql
(not connected)=> \set SYNTAX_HL_STYLE dracula
(not connected)=> \unset SYNTAX_HL_OVERRIDE_BG

Context Completion

When using the interactive shell, context completion is available in usql by hitting the <Tab> key. For example, hitting <Tab> can complete some parts of SELECT queries on a PostgreSQL databases:

$ usql
Connected with driver postgres (PostgreSQL 14.4 (Debian 14.4-1.pgdg110+1))
Type "help" for help.

pg:postgres@=> select * f<Tab>
fetch            from             full outer join

Or, for example completing backslash commands while connected to a database:

$ usql my://
Connected with driver mysql (10.8.3-MariaDB-1:10.8.3+maria~jammy)
Type "help" for help.

my:root@=> \g<Tab>
\g     \gexec \gset  \gx

Not all commands, contexts, or databases support completion. If you're interested in helping to make usql's completion better, see the section below on contributing.

Command completion can be canceled with <Control-C>.

Time Formatting

Some databases support time/date columns that support formatting. By default, usql formats time/date columns as RFC3339Nano, and can be set using \pset time <FORMAT>:

$ usql pg://
Connected with driver postgres (PostgreSQL 13.2 (Debian 13.2-1.pgdg100+1))
Type "help" for help.

pg:postgres@=> \pset
time                     RFC3339Nano
pg:postgres@=> select now();
(1 row)

pg:postgres@=> \pset time Kitchen
Time display is "Kitchen" ("3:04PM").
pg:postgres@=> select now();
(1 row)


usql's time format supports any Go supported time format, or can be any standard Go const name, such as Kitchen above. See below for an overview of the available time constants.

Time Constants

The following are the time constant names available in usql, corresponding time format value, and example display output:

Constant Format Display
ANSIC Mon Jan _2 15:04:05 2006 Wed Aug 3 20:12:48 2022
UnixDate Mon Jan _2 15:04:05 MST 2006 Wed Aug 3 20:12:48 UTC 2022
RubyDate Mon Jan 02 15:04:05 -0700 2006 Wed Aug 03 20:12:48 +0000 2022
RFC822 02 Jan 06 15:04 MST 03 Aug 22 20:12 UTC
RFC822Z 02 Jan 06 15:04 -0700 03 Aug 22 20:12 +0000
RFC850 Monday, 02-Jan-06 15:04:05 MST Wednesday, 03-Aug-22 20:12:48 UTC
RFC1123 Mon, 02 Jan 2006 15:04:05 MST Wed, 03 Aug 2022 20:12:48 UTC
RFC1123Z Mon, 02 Jan 2006 15:04:05 -0700 Wed, 03 Aug 2022 20:12:48 +0000
RFC3339 2006-01-02T15:04:05Z07:00 2022-08-03T20:12:48Z
RFC3339Nano 2006-01-02T15:04:05.999999999Z07:00 2022-08-03T20:12:48.693257Z
Kitchen 3:04PM 8:12PM
Stamp Jan _2 15:04:05 Aug 3 20:12:48
StampMilli Jan _2 15:04:05.000 Aug 3 20:12:48.693
StampMicro Jan _2 15:04:05.000000 Aug 3 20:12:48.693257
StampNano Jan _2 15:04:05.000000000 Aug 3 20:12:48.693257000

Generated using timestamp 2022-08-03T20:12:48.693257Z

Host Connection Information

By default, usql displays connection information when connecting to a database. This might cause problems with some databases or connections. This can be disabled by setting the system environment variable USQL_SHOW_HOST_INFORMATION to false:

$ usql pg://booktest@localhost
Type "help" for help.


SHOW_HOST_INFORMATION is a standard usql variable, and can be \set or \unset. Additionally, it can be passed via the command-line using -v or --set:

$ usql --set SHOW_HOST_INFORMATION=false pg://
Type "help" for help.

pg:booktest@=> \set SHOW_HOST_INFORMATION true
pg:booktest@=> \connect pg://
Connected with driver postgres (PostgreSQL 9.6.9)

Terminal Graphics

usql supports terminal graphics for Kitty, iTerm, and Sixel enabled terminals using the package. Terminal graphics are only available when using the interactive shell.

Detection and Support

usql will attempt to detect when terminal graphics support is available using the USQL_TERM_GRAPHICS, TERM_GRAPHICS and other environment variables unique to various terminals.

When support is available, the logo will be displayed at the start of an interactive session:

Charts and Graphs

The \chart meta command can be used to display a chart directly in the terminal:

See the section on the \chart meta command for details.

Enabling/Disabling Terminal Graphics

Terminal graphics can be forced enabled or disabled by setting the USQL_TERM_GRAPHICS or the TERM_GRAPHICS environment variable:

# disable

# force iterm graphics
$ TERM_GRAPHICS=iterm usql
Variable Default Values Description
TERM_GRAPHICS `` ``, kitty, `iterm`, `sixel`, `none` enables/disables term graphics
Terminals with Graphics Support

The following terminals have been tested with usql:

  • WezTerm is a cross-platform terminal for Windows, macOS, Linux, and many other platforms that supports iTerm graphics

  • iTerm2 is a macOS terminal that supports iTerm graphics

  • kitty is a terminal for Linux, macOS, and various BSDs that supports Kitty graphics

  • foot is a Wayland terminal for Linux (and other Wayland hosts) that supports Sixel graphics

Additional terminals that support Sixel graphics are catalogued on the Are We Sixel Yet? website.

Additional Notes

The following are additional notes and miscellania related to usql:

Release Builds

Release builds are built with the most build tag and with additional SQLite3 build tags (see:


The recommended installation method on macOS is via brew (see above) due to the way library dependencies for the sqlite3 driver are done on macOS. If the following (or similar) error is encountered when attempting to run usql:

$ usql
dyld: Library not loaded: /usr/local/opt/icu4c/lib/libicuuc.68.dylib
  Referenced from: /Users/user/.local/bin/usql
  Reason: image not found
Abort trap: 6

Then missing library dependency can be fixed by installing icu4c using brew:

$ brew install icu4c
Running `brew update --auto-update`...
==> Downloading ...

$ usql
(not connected)=>


usql is currently a WIP, and is aiming towards a 1.0 release soon. Well-written PRs are always welcome -- and there is a clear backlog of issues marked help wanted on the GitHub issue tracker! For technical details on contributing, see

Pick up an issue today, and submit a PR tomorrow!

Related Projects

  • dburl - Go package providing a standard, URL-style mechanism for parsing and opening database connection URLs
  • xo - Go command-line tool to generate Go code from a database schema