Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development

Introduction to MySQL

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Accessing MySQL

In order to create tables, add records, and request information from a database, some sort of client is necessary to communicate with the MySQL server. Later in the book, PHP scripts will act in this role, but being able to use another interface is necessary. Although there are oodles of client applications available, I'll focus on two: the mysql client and the Web-based phpMyAdmin. A third option, the MySQL Query Browser, is not discussed in this book but can be found at the MySQL Web site (, should you not be satisfied with these two choices.

The rest of this chapter assumes you have access to a running MySQL server. If you are working on your own computer, see Appendix A, "Installation," for instructions on installing MySQL, starting MySQL, and creating MySQL users (all of which must already be done in order to finish this chapter). If you are using a hosted server, your Web host should provide you with the database access. Depending upon the hosting, you may be provided with phpMyAdmin, but not be able to use the command-line mysql client.

Using the mysql Client

The mysql client is normally installed with the rest of the MySQL software. Although the mysql client does not have a pretty graphical interface, it's a reliable, standard tool that's easy to use and behaves consistently on many different operating systems.

The mysql client is accessed from a command-line interface, be it the Terminal application in Linux or Mac OS X circle-a.jpg, or a DOS prompt in Windows circle-b.jpg. If you're not comfortable with command-line interactions, you might find this interface to be challenging, but it becomes easy to use in no time.

To start the application from the command line, type its name and press Return or Enter:


Depending upon the server (or your computer), you may need to enter the full path in order to start the application. For example:

/Applications/MAMP/Library/bin/mysql (Mac OS X, using MAMP)

C:\xampp\mysql\bin\mysql (Windows, using XAMPP)

When invoking this application, you can add arguments to affect how it runs. The most common arguments are the username, password, and hostname (computer name, URL, or IP address) you want to connect using. You establish these arguments like so:

mysql -u username -h hostname –p

The -p option will cause the client to prompt you for the password. You can also specify the password on this line if you prefer—by typing it directly after the -p prompt—but it will be visible, which is insecure. The -hhostname argument is optional, and you can leave it off unless you cannot connect to the MySQL server without it.

Within the mysql client, every statement (SQL command) needs to be terminated by a semicolon. These semicolons are an indication to the client that the query is complete and should be run. The semicolons are not part of the SQL itself (this is a common point of confusion). What this also means is that you can continue the same SQL statement over several lines within the mysql client, which makes it easier to read and to edit, should that be necessary.

As a quick demonstration of accessing and using the mysql client, these next steps will show you how to start the mysql client, select a database to use, and quit the client. Before following these steps,

  • The MySQL server must be running.
  • You must have a username and password with proper access.

Both of these ideas are explained in Appendix A.

As a side note, in the following steps and throughout the rest of the book, I will continue to provide images using the mysql client on both Windows and Mac OS X. While the appearance differs, the steps and results will be identical. So in short, don't be concerned about why one image shows the DOS prompt and the next a Terminal.

To use the mysql client

  1. Access your system from a command-line interface.

    On Unix systems and Mac OS X, this is just a matter of bringing up the Terminal or a similar application.

    If you are using Windows and installed MySQL on your computer, choose Run from the Start menu (or press Windows Key+R), type cmd in the window circle-c.jpg, and press Enter (or click OK) to bring up a DOS prompt.

  2. Invoke the mysql client, using the appropriate commandcircle-d.jpg.
    /path/to/mysql/bin/mysql -u username -p

    The /path/to/mysql part of this step will be largely dictated by the operating system you are running and where MySQL was installed. I've already provided two options, based upon installations of MAMP on Mac OS X or XAMPP on Windows (both are installed in Appendix A).

    The basic premise is that you are running the mysql client, connecting as username, and requesting to be prompted for the password. Not to overstate the point, but the username and password values that you use must already be established in MySQL as a valid user (see Appendix A).

  3. Enter the password at the prompt and press Return/Enter.

    The password you use here should be for the user you specified in the preceding step. Ife you used the proper username/password combination (i.e., someone with valid access), you should be greeted as shown incircle-e.jpg. If access is denied, you're probably not using the correct values (see Appendix A for instructions on creating users).


    circle-e.jpgIf you are successfully able to log in, you'll see a welcome message like this.

    If you are successfully able to log in, you'll see a welcome message like this.

  4. Select the database you want to usecircle-f.jpg.
    USE test;

    The USE command selects the database to be used for every subsequent command. The test database is one that MySQL installs by default. Assuming it exists on your server, all users should be able to access it.

  5. Quit out of mysqlcircle-g.jpg.

    You can also use the command quit to leave the client. This step—unlike most other commands you enter in the mysql client—does not require a semicolon at the end.

  6. Quit the Terminal or DOS console session.

    The command exit will terminate the current session. On Windows, it will also close the DOS prompt window.

Using phpMyAdmin

phpMyAdmin ( is one of the best and most popular applications written in PHP. Its sole purpose is to provide an interface to a MySQL server. It's somewhat easier and more natural to use than the mysql client but requires a PHP installation and must be accessed through a Web browser. If you're running MySQL on your own computer, you might find that using the mysql client makes more sense, as installing and configuring phpMyAdmin constitutes unnecessary extra work (although all-in-one PHP and MySQL installers may do this for you). If using a hosted server, your Web host is virtually guaranteed to provide phpMyAdmin as the primary way to work with MySQL and the mysql client may not be an option.

Using phpMyAdmin isn't hard, but the next steps run through the basics so that you'll know what to do in the following chapters.

To use phpMyAdmin

  1. Access phpMyAdmin through your Web browsercircle-h.jpg.

    The URL you use will depend upon your situation. If running on your own computer, this might be http://localhost/phpMyAdmin/. If running on a hosted site, your Web host will provide you with the proper URL. In all likelihood, phpMyAdmin would be available through the site's control panel (should one exist).

    Note that phpMyAdmin will only work if it's been properly configured to connect to MySQL with a valid username/password/hostname combination. If you see a message like the one in circle-i.jpg, you're probably not using the correct values (see Appendix A for instructions on creating users).

  2. If possible and necessary, use the list on the left to select a database to usecircle-j.jpg.

    What options you have here will vary depending upon what MySQL user phpMyAdmin is connecting as. That user might have access to one database, several databases, or every database. On a hosted site where you have just one database, that database will probably already be selected for you. On your own computer, with phpMyAdmin connecting as the MySQL root user, you would see a pull-down menu or a simple list of available .jpg

  3. Click on a table name in the left column to select that table circle-k.jpg.

    You don't always have to select a table—in fact you never will if you just use the SQL commands in this book, but doing so can often simplify some tasks.

  4. Use the tabs and links (on the right side of the page) to perform common tasks.

    For the most part, the tabs and links are shortcuts to common SQL commands. For example, the Browse tab performs a SELECT query and the Insert tab creates a form for adding new records.

  5. Use the SQL tab circle-l.jpgor the SQL query window circle-m.jpgto enter SQL commands.

    The next three chapters, and a couple more later in the book, will provide SQL commands that must be run to create, populate, and manipulate tables. These might look like

    INSERT INTO tablename (col1, col2) VALUES (x, y)

    These commands can be run using the mysql client, phpMyAdmin, or any other interface. To run them within phpMyAdmin, just enter them into one of the SQL prompts and click Go.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020