I'm looking for a way to use pg_restore to restore a newly-created database from a dump file, but only certain tables from that file. (There are a lot of extra tables in the database that are slow to restore and that I don't care about.)

I first tried pg_restore with the -t/--table flag, but it didn't enable the extensions I need for those tables. Not a big deal; I can manually run psql -c "CREATE EXTENSION ..." before the pg_restore command. My bigger issue is that the -t command seems to skip other things related to the tables, like constraints and indexes.

Indexes are annoying but I could run pg_restore --list and use awk/grep/etc. to get a list of indexes and pass them in to pg_restore with the -I/--index flag, so the process would be (I think):

  1. pg_restore -t table1 -t table2 --schema-only ...
  2. pg_restore -I index1 -I index2 ...
  3. pg_restore -t table1 -t table2 --data-only ...

But (a) that still won't set up the constraints for me, and (b) it feels like I'm going down a rabbit hole with this roundabout solution for something I thought would be straightforward.

I know you can tell pg_dump to only dump certain tables, but I was hoping to avoid that due to the long time it takes to make dumps of my database.

  • How about restoring the entire schema in a 1st step (--schema-only), which will create all indexes (empty) and constraints, and the data for certain tables in a 2nd step? Jan 30, 2015 at 15:19
  • Ah, of course! This worked beautifully (with --data-only for the second step). If you make that an official answer I'll accept it. Jan 30, 2015 at 22:31
  • Actually, I spoke too soon. It looks like the -t flag prevents sequences from being restored, even when I explicitly call pg_restore -t table_id_seq .... So after the restore all of my auto-incrementing IDs reset to 1. Do you know of any workarounds? Jan 30, 2015 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


if you're using the "custom" format , you can use the -l (ell) and -L options to do this.

  1. create your dump, using the "custom" format
  2. run pg_restore -l /path/to/dump/file > table_of_contents.txt
  3. edit table_of_contents.txt and just remove references to the tables you don't want anymore. (Make sure you get all of them. You can comment out a line with a semicolon.)
  4. restore your database with pg_restore ... -L table_of_contents.txt /path/to/dump/file


  • While kind of clunky, I suspect this works (I can no longer test to confirm that sequences work, but oh well) and I suppose one could script this to make it automatic. Nov 7, 2016 at 21:09

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