cqlsh (startup options)

Describes the options available when starting the CQL shell.

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


cqlsh [options] [host_name[:port_number]]
Table 1. Legend
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.
CQL shell version number.
-h, --help
Shows the CQL shell help instructions.
-C, --color
Display output using 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.
Use SSL.
-u, --username role_name
Use a login role to connect to the database.
-p, --password password
Login role password.
-k, --keyspace keyspace_name
Start the CQL shell session using the keyspace.
-f, --filename 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.
Show additional debugging information.
--encoding output_encoding
Output encoding. Default encoding: utf8.
--cqlshrc folder_name
Directory 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, --execute "cql_statement"
Execute the CQL statement and exit. To direct the command output to a file see saving CQL output.
--connect-timeout seconds
Connection timeout in seconds.

Default: 5

--request-timeout seconds
CQL request timeout in seconds.

Default: 10

-t, --tty
Enable tty-prompt.

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.

Environment variables

You can use environment variables to overwrite default values for cqlsh commands. For example, the increase the timeout values of a user running cqlsh on a particular machine.
Overwrite the default 600 seconds (10 minutes) request timeout for search-specific CQL statements. To prevent timeouts, increase this value. Typical use case is to ensure no timeouts occur when large indexes are reloaded.
This timeout applies only to for search CQL index management commands (ALTER SEARCH INDEX, COMMIT SEARCH INDEX, CREATE SEARCH INDEX, DESCRIBE SEARCH INDEX, DROP SEARCH INDEX, RELOAD SEARCH INDEX, REBUILD SEARCH INDEX) and is used only if the cqlsh request timeout is equal to the 10 second default value:
cqlsh --request-timeout 10
To increase the timeout request timeout for search-specific CQL statements to 15 minutes:


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 Understanding the CQL command syntax 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:

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

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.