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Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: Fri Oct 31 10:41:31 EDT 2014
Index Return to Main Contents


sqlite3 - A command line interface for SQLite version 3



sqlite3 [options] [databasefile] [SQL]



sqlite3 is a terminal-based front-end to the SQLite library that can evaluate queries interactively and display the results in multiple formats. sqlite3 can also be used within shell scripts and other applications to provide batch processing features.



To start a sqlite3 interactive session, invoke the sqlite3 command and optionally provide the name of a database file. If the database file does not exist, it will be created. If the database file does exist, it will be opened.

For example, to create a new database file named "mydata.db", create a table named "memos" and insert a couple of records into that table:

$ sqlite3 mydata.db
SQLite version 3.8.8
Enter ".help" for instructions
sqlite> create table memos(text, priority INTEGER);
sqlite> insert into memos values('deliver project description', 10);
sqlite> insert into memos values('lunch with Christine', 100);
sqlite> select * from memos;
deliver project description|10
lunch with Christine|100

If no database name is supplied, the ATTACH sql command can be used to attach to existing or create new database files. ATTACH can also be used to attach to multiple databases within the same interactive session. This is useful for migrating data between databases, possibly changing the schema along the way.

Optionally, a SQL statement or set of SQL statements can be supplied as a single argument. Multiple statements should be separated by semi-colons.

For example:

$ sqlite3 -line mydata.db 'select * from memos where priority > 20;'

    text = lunch with Christine
priority = 100



The interactive interpreter offers a set of meta-commands that can be used to control the output format, examine the currently attached database files, or perform administrative operations upon the attached databases (such as rebuilding indices). Meta-commands are always prefixed with a dot (.).

A list of available meta-commands can be viewed at any time by issuing the '.help' command. For example:

sqlite> .help

%backup ?DB? FILE      Backup DB (default "main") to FILE
%bail on|off           Stop after hitting an error.  Default OFF
%clone NEWDB           Clone data into NEWDB from the existing database
%databases             List names and files of attached databases
%dump ?TABLE? ...      Dump the database in an SQL text format
                         If TABLE specified, only dump tables matching
                         LIKE pattern TABLE.
%echo on|off           Turn command echo on or off
%eqp on|off            Enable or disable automatic EXPLAIN QUERY PLAN
%exit                  Exit this program
%explain ?on|off?      Turn output mode suitable for EXPLAIN on or off.
                         With no args, it turns EXPLAIN on.
%fullschema            Show schema and the content of sqlite_stat tables
%headers on|off        Turn display of headers on or off
%help                  Show this message
%import FILE TABLE     Import data from FILE into TABLE
%indices ?TABLE?       Show names of all indices
                         If TABLE specified, only show indices for tables
                         matching LIKE pattern TABLE.
%load FILE ?ENTRY?     Load an extension library
%log FILE|off          Turn logging on or off.  FILE can be stderr/stdout
%mode MODE ?TABLE?     Set output mode where MODE is one of:
                         csv      Comma-separated values
                         column   Left-aligned columns.  (See .width)
                         html     HTML <table> code
                         insert   SQL insert statements for TABLE
                         line     One value per line
                         list     Values delimited by .separator string
                         tabs     Tab-separated values
                         tcl      TCL list elements
%nullvalue STRING      Use STRING in place of NULL values
%once FILENAME         Output for the next SQL command only to FILENAME
%open ?FILENAME?       Close existing database and reopen FILENAME
%output ?FILENAME?     Send output to FILENAME or stdout
%print STRING...       Print literal STRING
%prompt MAIN CONTINUE  Replace the standard prompts
%quit                  Exit this program
%read FILENAME         Execute SQL in FILENAME
%restore ?DB? FILE     Restore content of DB (default "main") from FILE
%save FILE             Write in-memory database into FILE
%schema ?TABLE?        Show the CREATE statements
                         If TABLE specified, only show tables matching
                         LIKE pattern TABLE.
%separator STRING ?NL? Change separator used by output mode and .import
                         NL is the end-of-line mark for CSV
%shell CMD ARGS...     Run CMD ARGS... in a system shell
%show                  Show the current values for various settings
%stats on|off          Turn stats on or off
%system CMD ARGS...    Run CMD ARGS... in a system shell
%tables ?TABLE?        List names of tables
                         If TABLE specified, only list tables matching
                         LIKE pattern TABLE.
%timeout MS            Try opening locked tables for MS milliseconds
%timer on|off          Turn SQL timer on or off
%trace FILE|off        Output each SQL statement as it is run
%vfsname ?AUX?         Print the name of the VFS stack
%width NUM1 NUM2 ...   Set column widths for "column" mode
                         Negative values right-justify



sqlite3 has the following options:
Stop after hitting an error.
Force batch I/O.
Query results will be displayed in a table like form, using whitespace characters to separate the columns and align the output.
-cmd command
run command before reading stdin
Set output mode to CSV (comma separated values).
Print commands before execution.
-init file
Read and execute commands from file , which can contain a mix of SQL statements and meta-commands.
Turn headers on or off.
Show help on options and exit.
Query results will be output as simple HTML tables.
Force interactive I/O.
Query results will be displayed with one value per line, rows separated by a blank line. Designed to be easily parsed by scripts or other programs
Query results will be displayed with the separator (|, by default) character between each field value. The default.
-mmap N
Set default mmap size to N .
-nullvalue string
Set string used to represent NULL values. Default is '' (empty string).
-separator separator
Set output field separator. Default is '|'.
Print memory stats before each finalize.
Show SQLite version.
-vfs name
Use name as the default VFS.



sqlite3 reads an initialization file to set the configuration of the interactive environment. Throughout initialization, any previously specified setting can be overridden. The sequence of initialization is as follows:

o The default configuration is established as follows:

mode            = LIST
separator       = "|"
main prompt     = "sqlite> "
continue prompt = "   ...> "

o If the file ~/.sqliterc exists, it is processed first. can be found in the user's home directory, it is read and processed. It should generally only contain meta-commands.

o If the -init option is present, the specified file is processed.

o All other command line options are processed.


The sqlite3-doc package.  


This manual page was originally written by Andreas Rottmann <>, for the Debian GNU/Linux system (but may be used by others). It was subsequently revised by Bill Bumgarner <> and further updated by Laszlo Boszormenyi <> .




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