ALTER TABLE

The ALTER TABLE command changes the definition of a table. Full description of this command you can find on the official docs page.

Description

ALTER TABLE changes the definition of an existing table. Note that the lock level required may differ for each subform. An ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock is acquired unless explicitly noted. When multiple subcommands are given, the lock acquired will be the strictest one required by any subcommand.

Usage

General view of the command
ALTER TABLE [ IF EXISTS ] [ ONLY ] name [ * ]
    action [, ... ]
ALTER TABLE [ IF EXISTS ] [ ONLY ] name [ * ]
    RENAME [ COLUMN ] column_name TO new_column_name
ALTER TABLE [ IF EXISTS ] [ ONLY ] name [ * ]
    RENAME CONSTRAINT constraint_name TO new_constraint_name
ALTER TABLE [ IF EXISTS ] name
    RENAME TO new_name
ALTER TABLE [ IF EXISTS ] name
    SET SCHEMA new_schema
ALTER TABLE ALL IN TABLESPACE name [ OWNED BY role_name [, ... ] ]
    SET TABLESPACE new_tablespace [ NOWAIT ]
ALTER TABLE [ IF EXISTS ] name
    ATTACH PARTITION partition_name { FOR VALUES partition_bound_spec | DEFAULT }
ALTER TABLE [ IF EXISTS ] name
    DETACH PARTITION partition_name [ CONCURRENTLY | FINALIZE ]

where action is one of:

    ADD [ COLUMN ] [ IF NOT EXISTS ] column_name data_type [ COLLATE collation ] [ column_constraint [ ... ] ]
    DROP [ COLUMN ] [ IF EXISTS ] column_name [ RESTRICT | CASCADE ]
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name [ SET DATA ] TYPE data_type [ COLLATE collation ] [ USING expression ]
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name SET DEFAULT expression
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name DROP DEFAULT
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name { SET | DROP } NOT NULL
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name DROP EXPRESSION [ IF EXISTS ]
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name ADD GENERATED { ALWAYS | BY DEFAULT } AS IDENTITY [ ( sequence_options ) ]
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name { SET GENERATED { ALWAYS | BY DEFAULT } | SET sequence_option | RESTART [ [ WITH ] restart ] } [...]
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name DROP IDENTITY [ IF EXISTS ]
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name SET STATISTICS integer
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name SET ( attribute_option = value [, ... ] )
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name RESET ( attribute_option [, ... ] )
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name SET STORAGE { PLAIN | EXTERNAL | EXTENDED | MAIN }
    ALTER [ COLUMN ] column_name SET COMPRESSION compression_method
    ADD table_constraint [ NOT VALID ]
    ADD table_constraint_using_index
    ALTER CONSTRAINT constraint_name [ DEFERRABLE | NOT DEFERRABLE ] [ INITIALLY DEFERRED | INITIALLY IMMEDIATE ]
    VALIDATE CONSTRAINT constraint_name
    DROP CONSTRAINT [ IF EXISTS ]  constraint_name [ RESTRICT | CASCADE ]
    DISABLE TRIGGER [ trigger_name | ALL | USER ]
    ENABLE TRIGGER [ trigger_name | ALL | USER ]
    ENABLE REPLICA TRIGGER trigger_name
    ENABLE ALWAYS TRIGGER trigger_name
    DISABLE RULE rewrite_rule_name
    ENABLE RULE rewrite_rule_name
    ENABLE REPLICA RULE rewrite_rule_name
    ENABLE ALWAYS RULE rewrite_rule_name
    DISABLE ROW LEVEL SECURITY
    ENABLE ROW LEVEL SECURITY
    FORCE ROW LEVEL SECURITY
    NO FORCE ROW LEVEL SECURITY
    CLUSTER ON index_name
    SET WITHOUT CLUSTER
    SET WITHOUT OIDS
    SET TABLESPACE new_tablespace
    SET { LOGGED | UNLOGGED }
    SET ( storage_parameter [= value] [, ... ] )
    RESET ( storage_parameter [, ... ] )
    INHERIT parent_table
    NO INHERIT parent_table
    OF type_name
    NOT OF
    OWNER TO { new_owner | CURRENT_ROLE | CURRENT_USER | SESSION_USER }
    REPLICA IDENTITY { DEFAULT | USING INDEX index_name | FULL | NOTHING }

and partition_bound_spec is:

IN ( partition_bound_expr [, ...] ) |
FROM ( { partition_bound_expr | MINVALUE | MAXVALUE } [, ...] )
  TO ( { partition_bound_expr | MINVALUE | MAXVALUE } [, ...] ) |
WITH ( MODULUS numeric_literal, REMAINDER numeric_literal )

and column_constraint is:

[ CONSTRAINT constraint_name ]
{ NOT NULL |
  NULL |
  CHECK ( expression ) [ NO INHERIT ] |
  DEFAULT default_expr |
  GENERATED ALWAYS AS ( generation_expr ) STORED |
  GENERATED { ALWAYS | BY DEFAULT } AS IDENTITY [ ( sequence_options ) ] |
  UNIQUE index_parameters |
  PRIMARY KEY index_parameters |
  REFERENCES reftable [ ( refcolumn ) ] [ MATCH FULL | MATCH PARTIAL | MATCH SIMPLE ]
    [ ON DELETE referential_action ] [ ON UPDATE referential_action ] }
[ DEFERRABLE | NOT DEFERRABLE ] [ INITIALLY DEFERRED | INITIALLY IMMEDIATE ]

and table_constraint is:

[ CONSTRAINT constraint_name ]
{ CHECK ( expression ) [ NO INHERIT ] |
  UNIQUE ( column_name [, ... ] ) index_parameters |
  PRIMARY KEY ( column_name [, ... ] ) index_parameters |
  EXCLUDE [ USING index_method ] ( exclude_element WITH operator [, ... ] ) index_parameters [ WHERE ( predicate ) ] |
  FOREIGN KEY ( column_name [, ... ] ) REFERENCES reftable [ ( refcolumn [, ... ] ) ]
    [ MATCH FULL | MATCH PARTIAL | MATCH SIMPLE ] [ ON DELETE referential_action ] [ ON UPDATE referential_action ] }
[ DEFERRABLE | NOT DEFERRABLE ] [ INITIALLY DEFERRED | INITIALLY IMMEDIATE ]

and table_constraint_using_index is:

    [ CONSTRAINT constraint_name ]
    { UNIQUE | PRIMARY KEY } USING INDEX index_name
    [ DEFERRABLE | NOT DEFERRABLE ] [ INITIALLY DEFERRED | INITIALLY IMMEDIATE ]

index_parameters in UNIQUE, PRIMARY KEY, and EXCLUDE constraints are:

[ INCLUDE ( column_name [, ... ] ) ]
[ WITH ( storage_parameter [= value] [, ... ] ) ]
[ USING INDEX TABLESPACE tablespace_name ]

exclude_element in an EXCLUDE constraint is:

{ column_name | ( expression ) } [ opclass ] [ ASC | DESC ] [ NULLS { FIRST | LAST } ]
Arguments
Parameter Description

IF EXISTS

Do not throw an error if the table does not exist. A notice is issued in this case

name

The name (optionally schema-qualified) of an existing table to alter. If ONLY is specified before the table name, only that table is altered. If ONLY is not specified, the table and all its descendant tables (if any) are altered. Optionally, * can be specified after the table name to explicitly indicate that descendant tables are included

column_name

Name of a new or existing column

new_column_name

New name for an existing column

new_name

New name for the table

data_type

Data type of the new column, or new data type for an existing column

table_constraint

New table constraint for the table

constraint_name

Name of a new or existing constraint

CASCADE

Automatically drop objects that depend on the dropped column or constraint (for example, views referencing the column), and in turn all objects that depend on those objects

RESTRICT

Refuse to drop the column or constraint if there are any dependent objects. This is the default behavior

trigger_name

Name of a single trigger to disable or enable

ALL

Disable or enable all triggers belonging to the table. This requires superuser privilege if any of the triggers are internally generated constraint triggers such as those that are used to implement foreign key constraints or deferrable uniqueness and exclusion constraints

USER

Disable or enable all triggers belonging to the table except for internally generated constraint triggers such as those that are used to implement foreign key constraints or deferrable uniqueness and exclusion constraints

index_name

The name of an existing index

storage_parameter

The name of a table storage parameter

value

The new value for a table storage parameter. This might be a number or a word depending on the parameter

parent_table

A parent table to associate or de-associate with this table

new_owner

The user name of the new owner of the table

new_tablespace

The name of the tablespace to which the table will be moved

new_schema

The name of the schema to which the table will be moved

partition_name

The name of the table to attach as a new partition or to detach from this table

partition_bound_spec

The partition bound specification for a new partition

Example

To add a column of the varchar type to a table:

ALTER TABLE distributors ADD COLUMN address varchar(30);

To add a column with a non-null default:

ALTER TABLE measurements
  ADD COLUMN mtime timestamp with time zone DEFAULT now();

To add a column and fill it with a value different from the default to be used later:

ALTER TABLE transactions
  ADD COLUMN status varchar(30) DEFAULT 'old',
  ALTER COLUMN status SET default 'current';

To drop a column from a table:

ALTER TABLE distributors DROP COLUMN address RESTRICT;

To change the types of two existing columns in one operation:

ALTER TABLE distributors
    ALTER COLUMN address TYPE varchar(80),
    ALTER COLUMN name TYPE varchar(100);

To change an integer column containing Unix timestamps to timestamp with time zone via a USING clause:

ALTER TABLE foo
    ALTER COLUMN foo_timestamp SET DATA TYPE timestamp with time zone
    USING
        timestamp with time zone 'epoch' + foo_timestamp * interval '1 second';

Compatibility

The forms ADD (without USING INDEX), DROP [COLUMN], DROP IDENTITY, RESTART, SET DEFAULT, SET DATA TYPE (without USING), SET GENERATED, and SET sequence_option conform with the SQL standard. The other forms are PostgreSQL extensions of the SQL standard. Also, the ability to specify more than one manipulation in a single ALTER TABLE command is an extension.

ALTER TABLE DROP COLUMN can be used to drop the only column of a table, leaving a zero-column table. This is an extension of SQL, which disallows zero-column tables.

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