How to Query a Table Using MySQL CLI

Let’s walk through the steps to create a new table in a MySQL database using the MySQL client.

1. Invoke mysql shell

Given a HOST and USER, we can log into our MySQL client using the following command.

mysql -h HOST -u USER -p

With this command, we’ll be prompted to enter a password:

Enter password:

2. List all databases

Let’s list all available databases on the MySQL server host.


3. Switch to a database

To access a specific database, we’ll use USE.

USE DatabaseName;

4. View current database

Let’s verify that we’ve switched to the desired database.


This should print the database we switched to above.

5. List all tables

Let’s list all tables in this database.


6. Run a query!

Let’s run a simple SELECT query.

SELECT * FROM tableName;

6.1. Pretty print in vertical mode (ego command)

We can pretty print in vertical mode using the ego command (\G) instead of a semicolon ;.

SELECT * FROM tableName \G

The results will be listed in vertical mode, each column value printed on a separate line.

6.2. Scroll through results with pager less

We can also scroll through our results with arrow keys using pager less with the -S flag.

pager less -S;
SELECT * FROM tableName;

Once we’re done with the pager, we can go back to the ordinary stdout output with nopager.