Using Options on the Command Line

Program options specified on the command line follow these rules:

  • Options are given after the command name.

  • An option argument begins with one dash or two dashes, depending on whether it is a short form or long form of the option name. Many options have both short and long forms. For example, -? and --help are the short and long forms of the option that instructs a MySQL program to display its help message.

  • Option names are case sensitive. -v and -V are both legal and have different meanings. (They are the corresponding short forms of the --verbose and --version options.)

  • Some options take a value following the option name. For example, -h localhost or --host=localhost indicate the MySQL server host to a client program. The option value tells the program the name of the host where the MySQL server is running.

  • For a long option that takes a value, separate the option name and the value by an “=” sign. For a short option that takes a value, the option value can immediately follow the option letter, or there can be a space between: -hlocalhost and -h localhost are equivalent. An exception to this rule is the option for specifying your MySQL password. This option can be given in long form as --password=pass_val or as --password. In the latter case (with no password value given), the program prompts you for the password. The password option also may be given in short form as -ppass_val or as -p. However, for the short form, if the password value is given, it must follow the option letter with no intervening space. The reason for this is that if a space follows the option letter, the program has no way to tell whether a following argument is supposed to be the password value or some other kind of argument. Consequently, the following two commands have two completely different meanings:

    shell> mysql -ptest
    shell> mysql -p test

    The first command instructs mysql to use a password value of test, but specifies no default database. The second instructs mysql to prompt for the password value and to use test as the default database.

  • Within option names, dash (“-”) and underscore (“_”) may be used interchangeably. For example, --skip-grant-tables and --skip_grant_tables are equivalent. (However, the leading dashes cannot be given as underscores.)

  • For options that take a numeric value, the value can be given with a suffix of K, M, or G (either uppercase or lowercase) to indicate a multiplier of 1024, 10242 or 10243. For example, the following command tells mysqladmin to ping the server 1024 times, sleeping 10 seconds between each ping:

    mysql> mysqladmin --count=1K --sleep=10 ping

Option values that contain spaces must be quoted when given on the command line. For example, the --execute (or -e) option can be used with mysql to pass SQL statements to the server. When this option is used, mysql executes the statements in the option value and exits. The statements must be enclosed by quotation marks. For example, you can use the following command to obtain a list of user accounts:

mysql> mysql -u root -p --execute="SELECT User, Host FROM mysql.user"
Enter password: ******
| User | Host      |
|      | gigan     |
| root | gigan     |
|      | localhost |
| jon  | localhost |
| root | localhost |

Note that the long form (--execute) is followed by an equal sign (=).

If you wish to use quoted values within a statement, you will either need to escape the inner quotation marks, or use a different type of quotation marks within the statement from those used to quote the statement itself. The capabilities of your command processor dictate your choices for whether you can use single or double quotation marks and the syntax for escaping quote characters. For example, if your command processor supports quoting with single or double quotation marks, you can use double quotation marks around the statement, and single quotation marks for any quoted values within the statement.

Multiple SQL statements may be passed in the option value on the command line, separated by semicolons:

shell> mysql -u root -p -e "SELECT VERSION();SELECT NOW()"
Enter password: ******
| VERSION()       |
| 5.1.5-alpha-log |
| NOW()               |
| 2006-01-05 21:19:04 |
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