I have 50+ tables in a database.

I don't want to use the following SQL on each table in a database.

select * from {table_name}

So, is it possible to display the first 10 records for each table inside the same database using sql?


I'd be careful about using sp_MSforeachtable, as it uses the same code pattern as sp_MSforeachdb. I've pointed out the problems with sp_MSforeachdb here (work backward) and was told it wouldn't be fixed on Connect (before they killed it, and so this link no longer works) here.

Instead I would do something like this (which also includes the table name in the output, probably useful):

DECLARE @sql nvarchar(max) = N'';

SELECT @sql += N'

SELECT TOP (10) [table] = N''' + REPLACE(name, '''','') + ''', * 
    FROM ' + QUOTENAME(SCHEMA_NAME([schema_id]))
  + '.' + QUOTENAME(name) + ';'
FROM sys.tables AS t;

PRINT @sql;
-- EXEC sys.sp_executesql @sql;

When you're satisfied with the PRINT output (note that it will truncate at 8K), uncomment the EXEC.

| improve this answer | |
  • This works well. What is the best way to export all of the results as one file? For example, I have 15 tables, so I now have 15 sets of data that were returned. – user58700 Feb 27 '17 at 23:32
  • 1
    @systech Well, do you have 15 tables with the same structure? If so, you could build a UNION ALL. If not, then you could use an app to do it, or concatenate everything into a big ugly string, but what would you be doing with a file that had data from 15 different tables in it? – Aaron Bertrand Feb 28 '17 at 0:08
  • I have inherited a database that has 15 tables, and I would like to see the first 10 or so rows of each table. The above code helps with that, but I would like to export them all to one document or file, in order to get an idea of what each table contains. – user58700 Feb 28 '17 at 6:13
  • thanks, I stole from your answer to make my question : dba.stackexchange.com/questions/194859/… – jimjim Jan 8 '18 at 6:13

Use sp_MSforeachtable

EXEC sp_MSforeachtable 'select top(10) * from ?'

To show the table Name you should change it like this :

EXEC sp_MSforeachtable 'select "?" as table_Name , * from ?'
| improve this answer | |
  • How do I let it shows the name of the table that the records is showing – Jack Feb 27 '13 at 8:12
  • @Jack I updated my answer, the second query retrieves table names too. – Maryam Arshi Feb 27 '13 at 8:24
  • I'd be careful about using undocumented, unsupported procedures like this. I have pointed out serious problems with sp_MSforeachdb, which will never be fixed, and I believe it is possible for the same symptoms to appear in sp_MSforeachtable under slightly different circumstances. – Aaron Bertrand Feb 27 '13 at 20:19
  • @MaryamArshi, Sorry to untick your solution because Aaron Solution is much better but I have upvote you. – Jack Feb 28 '13 at 1:02
  • 2
    @Jack The main idea of being here is to learn and teach best solutions, so I am always happy to know there is a better solution than mine. – Maryam Arshi Feb 28 '13 at 5:40

sp_MSforeachtable is great. but if you want to somehow limit which tables to look at (for example, just 'dbo' schema) you can generate select scripts like this:

select 'Select Top 10 * From ' + SCHEMA_NAME(schema_id) + '.' + name 
from sys.objects 
where type = 'U' -- and SCHEMA_NAME(schema_id)  = 'dbo'
| improve this answer | |
  • Why not sys.tables which doesn't need the type filter? – Aaron Bertrand Feb 27 '13 at 20:17
  • @AaronBertrand if you like so.. – Jānis Feb 28 '13 at 8:26

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