PostgreSQL for MySQL Users – Alternatives to the DESCRIBE Statement

PostgreSQL for MySQL Users – Alternatives to the DESCRIBE Statement

The lack of a DESCRIBE statement in PostgreSQL may puzzle users familiar with MySQL. This article briefly introduces the alternatives available in PostgreSQL to describe tables.

Here are some examples of DESCRIBE TABLE alternatives in PostgreSQL:

Command Line via psql

  • Commands: <table_name> and <table_name> for more details.
  • Pros: Provides a lot of information about the table.
  • Cons: The command-line interface may be less appealing to those not accustomed to it.

Querying Information Schema

SELECT column_name, data_type FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = <table_name>;
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  • Pros: Quick and easy to use.
  • Cons: Does not provide information on constraints and indexes.

Using DbVisualizer

  • Method: Install DbVisualizer, navigate its graphical interface to access detailed table descriptions.
  • Pros: Detailed and user-friendly.
  • Cons: Setup time required.


Why doesn’t PostgreSQL have a DESCRIBE command like MySQL?
It’s due to PostgreSQL’s commitment to SQL standards, which do not include the DESCRIBE command as used in MySQL.

What is PostgreSQL’s equivalent to DESCRIBE?
In PostgreSQL, DESCRIBE typically describes prepared statements, not table structures.

What’s the easiest way to describe a PostgreSQL table?
DbVisualizer offers a robust and intuitive approach for detailed table descriptions.


For users new to PostgreSQL or those migrating from MySQL, understanding these alternatives is essential for effective database management. Dive deeper by reading the more extensive article DESCRIBE TABLE PostgreSQL Alternatives.

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