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13.7.5.11 SHOW DATABASES Syntax

SHOW {DATABASES | SCHEMAS}
    [LIKE 'pattern' | WHERE expr]

SHOW DATABASES lists the databases on the MySQL server host. SHOW SCHEMAS is a synonym for SHOW DATABASES as of MySQL 5.0.2. The LIKE clause, if present, indicates which database names to match. The WHERE clause can be given to select rows using more general conditions, as discussed in Section 19.18, “Extensions to SHOW Statements”.

You see only those databases for which you have some kind of privilege, unless you have the global SHOW DATABASES privilege. You can also get this list using the mysqlshow command.

If the server was started with the --skip-show-database option, you cannot use this statement at all unless you have the SHOW DATABASES privilege.

MySQL implements databases as directories in the data directory, so this statement simply lists directories in that location. However, the output may include names of directories that do not correspond to actual databases.