cqlsh (startup options) 

Describes the options available when starting the CQL shell.

Execute the cqlsh python script to start the CQL shell; CQL shell is a python-based command line client for executing CQL commands interactively. CQL shell supports tab completion.


bin/cqlsh [options] [host [port]]
Syntax conventions Description
UPPERCASE Literal keyword.
Lowercase Not literal.
Italics Variable value. Replace with a user-defined value.
[] Optional. Square brackets ( [] ) surround optional command arguments. Do not type the square brackets.
( ) Group. Parentheses ( ( ) ) identify a group to choose from. Do not type the parentheses.
| Or. A vertical bar ( | ) separates alternative elements. Type any one of the elements. Do not type the vertical bar.
... Repeatable. An ellipsis ( ... ) indicates that you can repeat the syntax element as often as required.
'Literal string' Single quotation ( ' ) marks must surround literal strings in CQL statements. Use single quotation marks to preserve upper case.
{ key : value } Map collection. Braces ( { } ) enclose map collections or key value pairs. A colon separates the key and the value.
<datatype1,datatype2> Set, list, map, or tuple. Angle brackets ( < > ) enclose data types in a set, list, map, or tuple. Separate the data types with a comma.
cql_statement; End CQL statement. A semicolon ( ; ) terminates all CQL statements.
[--] Separate the command line options from the command arguments with two hyphens ( -- ). This syntax is useful when arguments might be mistaken for command line options.
' <schema> ... </schema> ' Search CQL only: Single quotation marks ( ' ) surround an entire XML schema declaration.
@xml_entity='xml_entity_type' Search CQL only: Identify the entity and literal value to overwrite the XML element in the schema and solrConfig files.
Short Long Description
  --version cqlsh version number.
-h --help Help message.
-C --color Always use color output.
  --no-color Never use color output.
  --browser="launch_browser_cmd %s" Browser to display the CQL command help. See Web Browser Control for a list of supported browsers. Replace the URL in the command with %s.
  --ssl Use SSL.
-u user_name --username="user_name" Connect with the user account.
-p password --password="password" User's password.
-k keyspace_name --keyspace=keyspace_name Automatically switch to the keyspace.
-f file_name --file=file_name Execute commands from a CQL file, then exit.
Note: After starting cqlsh, use the SOURCE command and the path to the file on the cqlsh command line.
  --debug Show additional debugging information.
  --encoding="output_encoding" Output encoding. Default encoding: utf8.
  --cqlshrc="/folder_name" Folder that contains the cqlshrc file. Use tilde (~) for paths relative to the user's home directory.
  --cqlversion="version_number" CQL version to use. Version displays after starting cqlsh.
-e "cql_statement" --execute="cql_statement" Execute the CQL statement and exit. To direct the command output to a file see saving CQL output.
  --connect-timeout="timeout" Connection timeout in seconds; default: 5.
  --request-timeout="timeout" CQL request timeout in seconds; default: 10.
-t --tty Force time-to-live (tty) mode.

Specifying a hostname or IP address after the cqlsh command (and options) connects the CQL session to a specified node.

By default, CQL shell launches a session with the local host on You can only connect CQL shell to remote hosts that have a higher or equal version than the local copy. When no port is specified, the connection uses the default port: 9042.


Starting the CQL shell

On startup, cqlsh shows the name of the cluster, IP address, and connection port. The cqlsh prompt initially is cqlsh>. After you specify a keyspace, it's added to the prompt.

  1. Start the CQL shell:

    The host information appears.

    Connected to Test Cluster at
    [cqlsh 5.0.1 | Cassandra 3.3.0 | CQL spec 3.4.0 | Native protocol v4]
    Use HELP for help.
  2. Switch to the cycling keyspace:
    USE cycling;
    The prompt now includes the keyspace name.

Querying using CQL commands

At the cqlsh prompt, type CQL commands. Use a semicolon to terminate a command. A new line does not terminate a command, so commands can be spread over several lines for clarity.
SELECT * FROM calendar 
WHERE race_id = 201 ;
The results display in standard output.
 race_id | race_start_date                 | race_end_date                   | race_name
     201 | 2015-02-18 08:00:00.000000+0000 | 2015-02-22 08:00:00.000000+0000 | Women's Tour of New Zealand

The lexical structure of commands includes how upper- and lower-case literals are treated in commands, when to use quotation marks in strings, and how to enter exponential notation.

Saving CQL output in a file 

Using the -e option to the cqlsh command followed by a CQL statement, enclosed in quotation marks, accepts and executes the CQL statement. For example, to save the output of a SELECT statement to myoutput.txt:

bin/cqlsh -e "SELECT * FROM mytable" > myoutput.txt

Setting the CQL help browser

Set the browser to display the CQL help to Chrome on Mac OS X:
bin/cqlsh --browser="/Applications/Google\ Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS/Google\ Chrome %s"
[cqlsh 5.0.1 | Cassandra 3.9 | CQL spec 3.4.2 | Native protocol v4]
Use HELP for help.
2016-11-11 13:59:22.068 Google Chrome[89120:2909863] NSWindow warning: adding an unknown subview: <FullSizeContentView: 0x7fa35ae9af40>. Break on NSLog to debug.
2016-11-11 13:59:22.069 Google Chrome[89120:2909863] Call stack:
    "+callStackSymbols disabled for performance reasons"
Note: cqlsh help displays in the terminal. CQL help is only available online in HTML.

Connecting to a remote node

Specify a remote node IP address:

Connected to West CS Cluster at
[cqlsh 5.0.1 | Cassandra 3.3.0 | CQL spec 3.4.0 | Native protocol v4]
Use HELP for help.