The case is simple: You have a MySQL database where you have only an SQL query interface and you want to know the database structure with queries. You can list tables with show tables; command, but how do you see the individual column names?

(SELECT statement shows Empty set if no data is present and can NOT be thus used.)

  • Please note, the accepted solution is the bottom one about desc command. Curious, it is the shortest, but has least votes. For me, also it is the best one. – mico May 10 '13 at 7:50
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    you asked for a simple SQL query. Your answer is not SQL, so that may explain the low number of votes. You should probably change the title of your query to: "How to show the column names of a table" – Lennart Dec 9 '16 at 18:01
  • Good idea, now my answer makes a better match to the question. – mico Dec 9 '16 at 18:04
select column_name from information_schema.columns where table_name='table'
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    Meanwhile I found out this query also useful: show create table <table_name> where instead of <table_name> you put the table name in plain text. This gives also the types while your one suits for a listing purpose very well. – mico Sep 29 '11 at 9:49
  • As said by @mico : "show create table tbl_name\G" might be your solution. See dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.7/en/show-create-table.html The "\G" part is here only to format output. Regards. – tdaget Mar 2 '17 at 7:43

The best solution that I found out by myself was the desc table_name command. More information is on List MySQL Tables. This command gives the description of one database table, which is exactly what I was trying to find out.


To make sure you list columns in a table in the current database, use the DATABASE() or SCHEMA() function. It returns NULL if you are not in a current database. This query will show the columns in a table in the order the columns were defined:

SELECT column_name,column_type
FROM information_schema.columns
WHERE table_schema = DATABASE()
AND table_name='table'
ORDER BY ordinal_position;

I'm not sure I understand what you mean with table titles, but you can get most of the information about tables and their columns from the INFORMATION_SCHEMA


how do you see the individual table titles?

Do you mean table comments?

use stack;
create table t(v integer primary key) comment 'My Special Table';

show tables;
| Tables_in_stack |
| t               |

select table_name, table_comment from information_schema.tables where table_name='t';
| table_name | table_comment    |
| t          | My Special Table |
  • I wanted those column names and have already a couple of ways thanks to fast answers. Thanks about this comment thing also, Jack. – mico Sep 29 '11 at 10:18
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    Do you mind rewording your question a little to make it clearer it is columns you are after? – Jack Douglas Sep 29 '11 at 10:25
SHOW COLUMNS FROM mydb.mytable;

where mydb - is the database that contains needed table

mytable - is the needed table

It return info of columns (for examp. names of columns, type, e t c)

  • 1
    Little code snippets without explanation of how they solve the OP's problem are discouraged. Please try to add more details to your answer. – Erik Dec 9 '16 at 17:48

You need to join information_schema.tables and information_schema.columns together to get the list of tables and their columns' details.

information_schema.columns not only shows detail about tables but also views. There is no way to filter only table details from this system view.

Hence you need to join.

Example query:

from information_schema.tables t , information_schema.columns c where 2=2 
and t.table_schema=c.table_schema
and t.table_name=c.table_name
and t.table_type ='BASE TABLE' 
order by t.table_schema, t.table_name, c.column_name 

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