Getting a MySQL Execution Plan

Put explain in front of an SQL statement to retrieve the execution plan.


The plan is shown in tabular form (some less important columns removed):

~| table | type | possible_keys | key  |~| rows | Extra
~| NULL  | NULL | NULL          | NULL |~| NULL | No tables...

The most important information is in the TYPE column. Although the MySQL documentation refers to it as “join type”, I prefer to describe it as “access type” because it actually specifies how the data is accessed. The meaning of the type value is described in the next section.

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About the Author

Photo of Markus Winand
Markus Winand tunes developers for high SQL performance. He also published the book SQL Performance Explained and offers in-house training as well as remote coaching at