How to View User Privileges in MySQL?

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user privileges in MySQL

Would you consider handing the key to your office to somebody on the streets? 

In the digital world, user privileges act as these keys. Anyone who has the right privileges can access specific parts of your MySQL database. By default, MySQL operates with a root user with full privileges. In addition, other users can have varying levels of access. 

However, the general theory is that not all users should have unrestricted access for security reasons. 

In this tutorial, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to manage and grant privileges to specific users, ensuring your database remains secure and efficiently managed. We will start with an introduction to GRANT, the primary statement used for managing user privileges in MySQL. Next, we will discuss the process of viewing the user privileges.

Table Of Contents

  1. What is GRANT?
  2. Importance of Managing User Privileges
  3. How to View User Privileges in MySQL?
    1. Step #1: Connect as Root (Optional)
    2. Step #2: List All Users
    3. Step #3: View User Privileges
  4. Conclusion
  5. FAQs

What is GRANT?

GRANT is a powerful SQL statement used in MySQL for managing user access within the database. 

It allows database administrators to control access rights for users or roles within the MySQL database system.  These access rights include execute permissions for statements like SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, and EXECUTE.

The Basic Syntax

The basic syntax of the GRANT statement is as follows:

mysql> GRANT privilege_type ON object_name TO user_name;


privilege_type: This specifies the specific privilege(s) you want to grant. You can list multiple privileges separated by commas.

ON object_type: This defines the object on which the user grants the privilege. It can be a database name, a specific table name within a database, or a column within a table 

TO user_account_name@’host_name‘: This specifies the user account to whom the privileges are granted.

Now that you know about the GRANT statement, let us understand why it plays a crucial role in managing user privileges.

Importance of Managing User Privileges

Managing user privileges is crucial for several reasons, including:

Enhanced Security

MySQL has a single, powerful root user with unrestricted access. Unauthorized access to this user can cause security vulnerabilities. Proper user privileges grant necessary access to specific users, minimizing the risk of unauthorized modifications, data breaches, or accidental deletion.

Implementation of the Least Privilege Principle

User privilege management is a great way of implementing the idea of least privilege that dictates that the system should only provide users with the minimum level of access required for their tasks. This prevents unnecessary exposure to sensitive information or functionalities.

Improved Data Integrity

Uncontrolled access can lead to accidental or malicious data manipulation. By assigning specific privileges, admins can ensure that users can only modify data they are authorized to work with. This helps maintain the accuracy and consistency of the database.

Reduced Risk of Errors

Users with limited access are less likely to make mistakes that could damage the database.

Efficient Workflow

A well-organized privilege structure promotes efficient database operations. Users with planned access can work without requiring full control. As a result of these predictable access, users can streamline workflows and reduce bottlenecks.

By now you have a basic understanding of the GRANT statement and its importance. Let us now discuss how to view user privileges in MySQL.

How to View User Privileges in MySQL?

Viewing user privileges in MySQL is crucial for ensuring data security and integrity. We recommend the following steps to view user privileges in MySQL. However, before that, let us take a quick look at the prerequisites. 

The Prerequisites

Before diving in, ensure you have the following:

  • You have MySQL installed and configured on your server
  • You have access to a MySQL root account.
  • You can access terminal or a command line

Step #1: Connect as Root (Optional)

Open the terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) and connect to the MySQL server as a root user with this command:

# mysql -u root -p

Next, enter your root password when prompted and click Enter.

Note: Logging in as the root user is optional. However, the root user has the necessary SELECT permission to view privileges assigned to all other users.

Step #2: List All Users

We recommend you to skip this step if you know the exact username and host for which you’d like to check the privileges. 

However, if you’re unsure of specific usernames and hosts, you can list all users and their associated hosts with the following statement.

mysql> SELECT user,host FROM mysql.user;

SELECT user,host FROM mysql.user

The output displays all users and their associated hosts. You can select the username and the associated host from this list.

Step #3: View User Privileges

Now that you have the list of all users and their hosts, you can check the privileges granted to them.

mysql> SHOW GRANTS FOR <username>@<host>;

For instance, to check the permissions for the user test_user, execute this statement:

mysql> SHOW GRANTS FOR test_user;


The output displays a table listing all access privileges granted to the user.

Note: If you do not specify a hostname, the statement displays the privileges of the default host %. 

You can omit the user details to check the permissions of the currently logged-in user. The statement in this case will be as follows:



The output displays a table that lists all access privileges of the currently logged-in user.


You can now successfully view privileges for a single user within your MySQL database

Understanding user privileges ensures better security and control over database operations, contributing to a more robust and efficient database management strategy.


Q. What is the basic syntax to check user privileges in MySQL?

The basic syntax to check user privileges in MySQL is SHOW GRANTS FOR ‘username’@’hostname’;.

Q. How can I display privileges for the current user in MySQL?

To display privileges for the current user in MySQL, use SHOW GRANTS;. This command displays the privileges associated with the currently logged-in user.

Q. What administrative privileges can the MySQL root user typically have?

The MySQL root user has broad privileges including the ability to grant and revoke privileges, create and drop databases, manage users, and perform administrative functions.

Q. What is the significance of the SELECT privilege in MySQL?

The SELECT privilege allows users to retrieve data from tables within a database. It is essential for basic querying and viewing data.

Q. When should I use the FLUSH PRIVILEGES command in MySQL?

Use FLUSH PRIVILEGES; after making changes to the user privileges in MySQL using GRANT or REVOKE statements. This ensures that the changes take effect immediately.

Q. How do I grant special privileges to a MySQL user?

Special privileges in MySQL, such as GRANT OPTION or proxy privileges, can be granted using the GRANT statement. For example, GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO ‘username’@’hostname’ WITH GRANT OPTION; grants special privileges.

Q. What are some common privileges that can be granted to MySQL users?

Common privileges include SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, CREATE, DROP, ALTER, SHOW DATABASES, and GRANT OPTION. These privileges dictate what actions users can perform within databases and tables.

Q. How can I list all privileges granted to a specific user in MySQL?

To list all privileges granted to a specific user in MySQL, use SHOW GRANTS FOR ‘username’@’hostname’;. This command provides a detailed view of the user’s access permissions across databases and tables.

Q. What is the syntax to alter user privileges in MySQL?

The syntax to alter user privileges in MySQL involves using GRANT and REVOKE statements. For example, GRANT SELECT, INSERT ON database.* TO ‘username’@’hostname’; grants SELECT and INSERT privileges to a user on a specific database.

Q. What is meant by the list of privileges in MySQL?
In MySQL, a list of privileges refers to the specific actions or operations that a user is allowed or restricted to perform on databases, tables, or other database objects. These privileges include permissions like SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, CREATE, DROP, and others.

Q. How do I manage user permissions at the database level in MySQL?

User permissions at the database level in MySQL are managed using the GRANT and REVOKE statements. For example, GRANT SELECT, INSERT ON database.* TO ‘username’@’hostname’; grants SELECT and INSERT permissions on all tables within a specific database to a user.

Q. What does GRANT USAGE mean in MySQL privileges?

In MySQL, GRANT USAGE grants the privilege to connect to the MySQL server, but it does not grant any other privileges on databases or tables. It is often used to allow access without any specific database-level permissions.

Q. How does MySQL handle privilege checks in the definer context?

Privilege checks in the definer context in MySQL are performed based on the permissions of the user who defined the stored routine or view (DEFINER). When the routine or view is executed, MySQL checks if the definer has the necessary privileges to perform the actions defined in the routine or view.

Q. What are authentication credentials and how are they used for access control in MySQL?

Authentication credentials in MySQL refer to the combination of username and password used by a user to authenticate and gain access to the MySQL server. MySQL uses authentication plugins to verify these credentials and enforce access control based on the privileges assigned to the user.

Q. How can I secure authentication and administrator privileges in MySQL?

Ensure strong passwords, use secure authentication types like SHA-256, and grant administrator privileges selectively to trusted users. Regularly review and update access controls for enhanced server security.

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