sqlcmd - Start the utility

Applies to: SQL Server Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance Azure Synapse Analytics Analytics Platform System (PDW)

The sqlcmd utility lets you enter Transact-SQL statements, system procedures, and script files at the command prompt, in SQLCMD mode in SQL Server Management Studio, and in a Windows script file or in an operating system (Cmd.exe) job step of a SQL Server Agent job.


Windows Authentication is the default authentication mode for sqlcmd. To use SQL Server Authentication, you must specify a user name and password by using the -U and -P options.


By default, SQL Server Express installs as the named instance sqlexpress.

Start the sqlcmd utility and connect to a default instance of SQL Server

  1. On the Start menu, select Run. In the Open box type cmd, and then select OK to open a Command Prompt window. (If you haven't connected to this instance of the SQL Server Database Engine before, you may have to configure SQL Server to accept connections.)

  2. At the command prompt, type sqlcmd.

  3. Press ENTER.

    You now have a trusted connection to the default instance of SQL Server that is running on your computer.

    1> is the sqlcmd prompt that specifies the line number. Each time you press ENTER, the number increases by one.

  4. To end the sqlcmd session, type EXIT at the sqlcmd prompt.

Start the sqlcmd utility and connect to a named instance of SQL Server

  1. Open a Command Prompt window, and type sqlcmd -SmyServer\instanceName. Replace myServer\instanceName with the name of the computer and the instance of SQL Server that you want to connect to.

  2. Press ENTER.

    The sqlcmd prompt (1>) indicates that you are connected to the specified instance of SQL Server.


    Entered Transact-SQL statements are stored in a buffer. They are executed as a batch when the GO command is encountered.

Next steps

Learn more about sqlcmd and related concepts in the following articles: