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CLI for Postgres Database. With auto-completion and syntax highlighting.

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A REPL for Postgres

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This is a postgres client that does auto-completion and syntax highlighting.

Home Page:

MySQL Equivalent:

screenshots/pgcli.gif screenshots/image01.png

Quick Start

If you already know how to install python packages, then you can simply do:

$ pip install -U pgcli


$ sudo apt-get install pgcli # Only on Debian based Linux (e.g. Ubuntu, Mint, etc)
$ brew install pgcli  # Only on macOS

If you don’t know how to install python packages, please check the detailed instructions.


$ pgcli [database_name]


$ pgcli postgresql://[user[:password]@][netloc][:port][/dbname][?extra=value[&other=other-value]]


$ pgcli local_database

$ pgcli postgres://amjith:pa$$

For more details:

$ pgcli --help


  -h, --host TEXT            Host address of the postgres database.
  -p, --port INTEGER         Port number at which the postgres instance is
  -U, --username TEXT        Username to connect to the postgres database.
  -u, --user TEXT            Username to connect to the postgres database.
  -W, --password             Force password prompt.
  -w, --no-password          Never prompt for password.
  --single-connection        Do not use a separate connection for completions.
  -v, --version              Version of pgcli.
  -d, --dbname TEXT          database name to connect to.
  --pgclirc FILE             Location of pgclirc file.
  -D, --dsn TEXT             Use DSN configured into the [alias_dsn] section
                             of pgclirc file.
  --list-dsn                 list of DSN configured into the [alias_dsn]
                             section of pgclirc file.
  --row-limit INTEGER        Set threshold for row limit prompt. Use 0 to
                             disable prompt.
  --less-chatty              Skip intro on startup and goodbye on exit.
  --prompt TEXT              Prompt format (Default: "\u@\h:\d> ").
  --prompt-dsn TEXT          Prompt format for connections using DSN aliases
                             (Default: "\u@\h:\d> ").
  -l, --list                 list available databases, then exit.
  --auto-vertical-output     Automatically switch to vertical output mode if
                             the result is wider than the terminal width.
  --warn [all|moderate|off]  Warn before running a destructive query.
  --help                     Show this message and exit.

pgcli also supports many of the same environment variables as psql for login options (e.g. PGHOST, PGPORT, PGUSER, PGPASSWORD, PGDATABASE).

The SSL-related environment variables are also supported, so if you need to connect a postgres database via ssl connection, you can set set environment like this:

export PGSSLMODE="verify-full"
export PGSSLCERT="/your-path-to-certs/client.crt"
export PGSSLKEY="/your-path-to-keys/client.key"
export PGSSLROOTCERT="/your-path-to-ca/ca.crt"
pgcli -h localhost -p 5432 -U username postgres


The pgcli is written using prompt_toolkit.

  • Auto-completes as you type for SQL keywords as well as tables and columns in the database.

  • Syntax highlighting using Pygments.

  • Smart-completion (enabled by default) will suggest context-sensitive completion.

    • SELECT * FROM <tab> will only show table names.

    • SELECT * FROM users WHERE <tab> will only show column names.

  • Primitive support for psql back-slash commands.

  • Pretty prints tabular data.


A config file is automatically created at ~/.config/pgcli/config at first launch. See the file itself for a description of all available options.


If you’re interested in contributing to this project, first of all I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude. I’ve written a small doc to describe how to get this running in a development setup.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you need help. My email:, Twitter: @amjithr

Detailed Installation Instructions:


The easiest way to install pgcli is using Homebrew.

$ brew install pgcli


Alternatively, you can install pgcli as a python package using a package manager called called pip. You will need postgres installed on your system for this to work.

In depth getting started guide for pip -

$ which pip

If it is installed then you can do:

$ pip install pgcli

If that fails due to permission issues, you might need to run the command with sudo permissions.

$ sudo pip install pgcli

If pip is not installed check if easy_install is available on the system.

$ which easy_install

$ sudo easy_install pgcli


In depth getting started guide for pip -

Check if pip is already available in your system.

$ which pip

If it doesn’t exist, use your linux package manager to install pip. This might look something like:

$ sudo apt-get install python-pip   # Debian, Ubuntu, Mint etc


$ sudo yum install python-pip  # RHEL, Centos, Fedora etc

pgcli requires python-dev, libpq-dev and libevent-dev packages. You can install these via your operating system package manager.

$ sudo apt-get install python-dev libpq-dev libevent-dev


$ sudo yum install python-devel postgresql-devel

Then you can install pgcli:

$ sudo pip install pgcli


Pgcli can be run from within Docker. This can be useful to try pgcli without installing it, or any dependencies, system-wide.

To build the image:

$ docker build -t pgcli .

To create a container from the image:

$ docker run --rm -ti pgcli pgcli <ARGS>

To access postgresql databases listening on localhost, make sure to run the docker in “host net mode”. E.g. to access a database called “foo” on the postgresql server running on localhost:5432 (the standard port):

$ docker run --rm -ti --net host pgcli pgcli -h localhost foo

To connect to a locally running instance over a unix socket, bind the socket to the docker container:

$ docker run --rm -ti -v /var/run/postgres:/var/run/postgres pgcli pgcli foo


Pgcli can be run from within IPython console. When working on a query, it may be useful to drop into a pgcli session without leaving the IPython console, iterate on a query, then quit pgcli to find the query results in your IPython workspace.

Assuming you have IPython installed:

$ pip install ipython-sql

After that, run ipython and load the pgcli.magic extension:

$ ipython

In [1]: %load_ext pgcli.magic

Connect to a database and construct a query:

In [2]: %pgcli postgres://someone@localhost:5432/world
Connected: someone@world
someone@localhost:world> select * from city c where countrycode = 'USA' and population > 1000000;
| id   | name         | countrycode   | district     | population   |
| 3793 | New York     | USA           | New York     | 8008278      |
| 3794 | Los Angeles  | USA           | California   | 3694820      |
| 3795 | Chicago      | USA           | Illinois     | 2896016      |
| 3796 | Houston      | USA           | Texas        | 1953631      |
| 3797 | Philadelphia | USA           | Pennsylvania | 1517550      |
| 3798 | Phoenix      | USA           | Arizona      | 1321045      |
| 3799 | San Diego    | USA           | California   | 1223400      |
| 3800 | Dallas       | USA           | Texas        | 1188580      |
| 3801 | San Antonio  | USA           | Texas        | 1144646      |
Time: 0.003s

Exit out of pgcli session with Ctrl + D and find the query results:

9 rows affected.
[(3793, u'New York', u'USA', u'New York', 8008278),
 (3794, u'Los Angeles', u'USA', u'California', 3694820),
 (3795, u'Chicago', u'USA', u'Illinois', 2896016),
 (3796, u'Houston', u'USA', u'Texas', 1953631),
 (3797, u'Philadelphia', u'USA', u'Pennsylvania', 1517550),
 (3798, u'Phoenix', u'USA', u'Arizona', 1321045),
 (3799, u'San Diego', u'USA', u'California', 1223400),
 (3800, u'Dallas', u'USA', u'Texas', 1188580),
 (3801, u'San Antonio', u'USA', u'Texas', 1144646)]

The results are available in special local variable _, and can be assigned to a variable of your choice:

In [3]: my_result = _

Pgcli only runs on Python3.7+ since 4.0.0, if you use an old version of Python, you should use install pgcli <= 4.0.0.


A special thanks to Jonathan Slenders for creating Python Prompt Toolkit, which is quite literally the backbone library, that made this app possible. Jonathan has also provided valuable feedback and support during the development of this app.

Click is used for command line option parsing and printing error messages.

Thanks to psycopg for providing a rock solid interface to Postgres database.

Thanks to all the beta testers and contributors for your time and patience. :)

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