8.8.1 Optimizing Queries with EXPLAIN

The EXPLAIN statement can be used to obtain information about how MySQL executes a statement:

With the help of EXPLAIN, you can see where you should add indexes to tables so that the statement executes faster by using indexes to find rows. You can also use EXPLAIN to check whether the optimizer joins the tables in an optimal order. To give a hint to the optimizer to use a join order corresponding to the order in which the tables are named in a SELECT statement, begin the statement with SELECT STRAIGHT_JOIN rather than just SELECT. (See Section 13.2.8, “SELECT Syntax”.)

If you have a problem with indexes not being used when you believe that they should be, run ANALYZE TABLE to update table statistics, such as cardinality of keys, that can affect the choices the optimizer makes. See Section, “ANALYZE TABLE Syntax”.


EXPLAIN can also be used to obtain information about the columns in a table. EXPLAIN tbl_name is synonymous with DESCRIBE tbl_name and SHOW COLUMNS FROM tbl_name. For more information, see Section 13.8.1, “DESCRIBE Syntax”, and Section, “SHOW COLUMNS Syntax”.