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1.0 (stable)

The ATTACH statement adds a new database file to the catalog that can be read from and written to.


Attach the database file.db with the alias inferred from the name (file):

ATTACH 'file.db';

Attach the database file.db with an explicit alias (file_db):

ATTACH 'file.db' AS file_db;

Attach the database file.db in read only mode:

ATTACH 'file.db' (READ_ONLY);

Attach a SQLite database for reading and writing (see the sqlite extension for more information):

ATTACH 'sqlite_file.db' AS sqlite_db (TYPE SQLITE);

Attach the database file.db if inferred database alias file does not yet exist:


Attach the database file.db if explicit database alias file_db does not yet exist:

ATTACH IF NOT EXISTS 'file.db' AS file_db;

Create a table in the attached database with alias file:

CREATE TABLE file.new_table (i INTEGER);

Detach the database with alias file:

DETACH file;

Show a list of all attached databases:


Change the default database that is used to the database file:

USE file;


Attach Syntax

ATTACH allows DuckDB to operate on multiple database files, and allows for transfer of data between different database files.


The DETACH statement allows previously attached database files to be closed and detached, releasing any locks held on the database file.

Note that it is not possible to detach from the default database: if you would like to do so, issue the USE statement to change the default database to another one. For example, if you are connected to a persistent database, you may change to an in-memory database by issuing:

ATTACH ':memory:' AS memory_db;
USE memory_db;

Warning Closing the connection, e.g., invoking the close() function in Python, does not release the locks held on the database files as the file handles are held by the main DuckDB instance (in Python's case, the duckdb module).

Detach Syntax

Name Qualification

The fully qualified name of catalog objects contains the catalog, the schema and the name of the object. For example:

Attach the database new_db:

ATTACH 'new_db.db';

Create the schema my_schema in the database new_db:

CREATE SCHEMA new_db.my_schema;

Create the table my_table in the schema my_schema:

CREATE TABLE new_db.my_schema.my_table (col INTEGER);

Refer to the column col inside the table my_table:

SELECT new_db.my_schema.my_table.col FROM new_db.my_schema.my_table;

Note that often the fully qualified name is not required. When a name is not fully qualified, the system looks for which entries to reference using the catalog search path. The default catalog search path includes the system catalog, the temporary catalog and the initially attached database together with the main schema.

Also note the rules on identifiers and database names in particular.

Default Database and Schema

When a table is created without any qualifications, the table is created in the default schema of the default database. The default database is the database that is launched when the system is created – and the default schema is main.

Create the table my_table in the default database:

CREATE TABLE my_table (col INTEGER);

Changing the Default Database and Schema

The default database and schema can be changed using the USE command.

Set the default database schema to new_db.main:

USE new_db;

Set the default database schema to new_db.my_schema:

USE new_db.my_schema;

Resolving Conflicts

When providing only a single qualification, the system can interpret this as either a catalog or a schema, as long as there are no conflicts. For example:

ATTACH 'new_db.db';
CREATE SCHEMA my_schema;

Creates the table new_db.main.tbl:

CREATE TABLE new_db.tbl (i INTEGER);

Creates the table default_db.my_schema.tbl:

CREATE TABLE my_schema.tbl (i INTEGER);

If we create a conflict (i.e., we have both a schema and a catalog with the same name) the system requests that a fully qualified path is used instead:

CREATE TABLE new_db.tbl (i INTEGER);
Error: Binder Error: Ambiguous reference to catalog or schema "new_db" -
use a fully qualified path like "memory.new_db"

Changing the Catalog Search Path

The catalog search path can be adjusted by setting the search_path configuration option, which uses a comma-separated list of values that will be on the search path. The following example demonstrates searching in two databases:

ATTACH ':memory:' AS db1;
ATTACH ':memory:' AS db2;
CREATE table db1.tbl1 (i INTEGER);
CREATE table db2.tbl2 (j INTEGER);

Reference the tables using their fully qualified name:

SELECT * FROM db1.tbl1;
SELECT * FROM db2.tbl2;

Or set the search path and reference the tables using their name:

SET search_path = 'db1,db2';

Transactional Semantics

When running queries on multiple databases, the system opens separate transactions per database. The transactions are started lazily by default – when a given database is referenced for the first time in a query, a transaction for that database will be started. SET immediate_transaction_mode = true can be toggled to change this behavior to eagerly start transactions in all attached databases instead.

While multiple transactions can be active at a time – the system only supports writing to a single attached database in a single transaction. If you try to write to multiple attached databases in a single transaction the following error will be thrown:

Attempting to write to database "db2" in a transaction that has already modified database "db1" -
a single transaction can only write to a single attached database.

The reason for this restriction is that the system does not maintain atomicity for transactions across attached databases. Transactions are only atomic within each database file. By restricting the global transaction to write to only a single database file the atomicity guarantees are maintained.

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Last modified: 2024-07-16