Using Object Explorer

Object Explorer, a component of SQL Server Management Studio, connects to Database Engine instances, Analysis Services, Integration Services, Reporting Services, and SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2. It provides a view of all the objects in the server and presents a user interface to manage them. The capabilities of Object Explorer vary slightly depending on the type of server, but generally include the development features for databases, and management features for all server types.

Viewing Object Explorer

Object Explorer is visible in the Management Studio by default. If you cannot see Object Explorer, on the View menu, click Object Explorer.

Connecting Object Explorer to a Server

To use Object Explorer you must first connect to a server. Click Connect on the Object Explorer toolbar and choose the type of server from the drop-down list. The Connect to Server dialog box opens. To connect, you must provide at least the name of the server and the correct authentication information.

Optional Object Explorer Connection Settings

When connecting to a server, you can specify additional connection information in the Connect to Server dialog box. The Connect to Server dialog box will retain the last used settings, and new connections, such as new code editor windows, will use those settings.

To specify optional connection settings, follow these steps:

  1. Click Connect on the Object Explorer toolbar, and click the type of server to connect to. The Connect to Server dialog box appears.

  2. In the Server Name box, type the name of your SQL Server instance.

  3. Click Options. The Connect to Server dialog box displays additional options.

  4. Click the Connection Properties tab to configure the additional settings. The settings that are available vary depending upon the server type. The following settings are available for the Database Engine.



    Connect to database

    Choose from the available databases on the server. This list will only show databases that you have permission to view.

    Network protocol

    Select from Shared Memory, TCP/IP, or Named Pipes.

    Network packet size

    Configure in bytes. The default setting is 4096 bytes.

    Connection timeout

    Configure in seconds. The default setting is 15 seconds.

    Execution timeout

    Configure in seconds. The default setting (0) indicates that execution will never time out.

    Encrypt connection

    Forces encryption.

  5. To add the specified server to your list of registered servers, click the Registered Server tab, click on the location where you want the new server to appear, and then complete the connection.


Use the Additional Connection Parameters page to add more connection parameters to the connection string. For more information, see Connect to Server (Additional Connection Parameters Page).

Register a Server from Object Explorer

When connected to a server, you can easily register the server for future use. In Object Explorer, right-click the server name, and then click Register. In the Register Server dialog box, specify where in the server group tree you want to place the server. In the Server name box, you can replace the server name with a more meaningful server name. For example, you could register server APSQL02 with a more meaningful name such as "Accounts Payable".

Viewing Objects in Object Explorer

Object Explorer uses a tree structure to group information into folders. To expand folders, click the plus sign (+) or double-click the folder. Expand folders to show more detailed information. Right-click folders or objects to perform common tasks. Double-click objects to perform the most common task.

The first time you expand a folder, Object Explorer will query the server for information to populate the tree. You can perform other functions while the tree is populating. While Object Explorer is populating the tree, you can click Stop to halt the process. Further actions, such as filtering the list, will only act upon the portion of the folder that was populated, unless you refresh the folder to start population again.

To conserve resources when there are many objects, the folders in the Object Explorer tree do not automatically refresh their list of contents. To refresh the list of objects within a folder, right-click the folder, and then click Refresh.

Object Explorer can only display up to 65,536 objects. After you have exceeded 65,536 visible objects, you cannot scroll through additional objects in the Object Explorer tree view. To view additional objects in Object Explorer, close nodes that you are not using or apply filtering to reduce the number of objects.

Filtering the List of Objects in Object Explorer

When a folder contains a large number of objects, it may be difficult to find the object you are looking for. In such cases, use the filter feature of Object Explorer to reduce the list to a smaller size. For example, you may want to find a specific database user or the most recently created table in lists that contain hundreds of objects. Click on the folder that you want to filter, and then click the filter button to open the Filter Settings dialog box. You can filter the list by name, create date, and sometimes schema, and provide additional filtering operators like Starts with, Contains, and Between.


Only one object can be selected at a time in Object Explorer. To select multiple items, press F7 to open the Object Explorer Details Page. The Object Explorer Details Page supports multi-select.

Opening a Connected Query Editor

When Object Explorer is connected to a server, you can open a new Code Editor window using the connection settings of Object Explorer. To open a new Code Editor window, right-click the server name in Object Explorer, and then click New Query. To open a Code Editor window using a particular database, right-click the database name, and then click New Query. When opening a new query for an Analysis Services server, you can select DMX, MDX, or XMLA queries.

Starting PowerShell

You can start a PowerShell session by right-clicking most folders and objects in the Object Explorer tree and selecting Start PowerShell. This starts a PowerShell session that has the SQL Server PowerShell support enabled, and the path set to the object you right-clicked in Object Explorer. You can then enter PowerShell commands in an interactive PowerShell environment. For more information, see SQL Server PowerShell Overview.

PowerShell does not have F1 help, but it does include a Get-Help cmdlet that provides information about using PowerShell. For more information about using Get-Help, see SQL Server PowerShell Help.

Configuring Object Explorer Options

To configure the Object Explorer settings, on the Tools menu, click Options, and then click SQL Server Object Explorer.