How to Create a User in PostgreSQL: Your Ultimate Guide for Success

By Cristian G. Guasch • Updated: 09/22/23 • 9 min read

If you’re like me, managing databases is a critical part of your daily routine. When working with PostgreSQL, one common task that I often find myself undertaking is creating new users. It may seem daunting at first, but fear not! I’m here to walk you through the process.

To begin with, PostgreSQL operates on the concept of roles to manage database access permissions. A role can be thought of as a user or a group – depending on how it’s used. Creating a new user in PostgreSQL involves defining a new role and then granting it the necessary permissions.

Understanding how to create a user in PostgreSQL isn’t just about memorizing commands. It’s about grasping how these roles interact with databases and other roles within the system. So let’s get our hands dirty and delve into the nuts and bolts of PostgreSQL user creation!

Understanding User Management in PostgreSQL

When it comes to database management, one of the key aspects I often underline is user administration. In PostgreSQL, this process takes on a fairly straightforward yet flexible approach. Let’s delve deeper into what it involves.

To start off, it’s essential to know that PostgreSQL uses roles for authentication. A role can be thought of as a user or a group, depending on how it’s used. Traditionally we’d use the term ‘user’, but in the context of PostgreSQL, we’re talking about ‘roles’. Now here’s where things get interesting: you can grant permissions to roles and also assign them to other roles – creating nested hierarchies if needed.

Creating a new role is pretty straightforward in SQL command line:


Replace username and password with your preferred credentials.

Now you might ask, “What if I make an error? Can I change the details later?” The answer is yes! You can easily alter existing roles using similar syntax:

ALTER ROLE username WITH PASSWORD 'new_password';

However common pitfall here is forgetting that these changes won’t take effect until the next login session. So remember to disconnect and reconnect after making any changes!

In addition to creating users (roles), you’ll often find yourself needing to grant them privileges – like access to certain databases or tables. Here’s how:


One key thing though: be cautious about granting all privileges unless necessary; always adhere to principle of least privilege when assigning permissions.

In conclusion (without starting with those words!), understanding user management in PostgreSQL revolves around mastering roles and their intricacies – from creation and modification, right through to assigning permissions. It may seem complex at first sight but once you’ve got these basics down pat, you’ll find it’s a breeze to manage users effectively in your PostgreSQL databases.

Steps to Create a New User in PostgreSQL

Let’s dive right into how you can create a new user in PostgreSQL. First things first, you’ll need to log into the PostgreSQL database cluster command line utility known as psql. You can do this by typing psql in your command prompt or terminal.

$ psql -U postgres

The ‘-U’ option here allows you to specify the username that you’d like to login with. In our case, we’re logging in as ‘postgres’.

Once logged in, it’s time to create your new user. Use the CREATE USER command followed by the name of your user and then WITH PASSWORD, followed by your chosen password enclosed within single quotes.

postgres=# CREATE USER mynewuser WITH PASSWORD 'mypassword';

There you have it! It’s that simple. But don’t forget: never use easy-to-guess passwords!

Now, keep something important in mind: Your newly created user doesn’t have any permissions yet. So if they tried to login and do tasks, they’d be stopped dead in their tracks. To give them permissions, use the GRANT CONNECT statement:

postgres=# GRANT CONNECT ON DATABASE mydatabase TO mynewuser;

In this code snippet, ‘mydatabase’ is the name of your database where ‘mynewuser’ is being granted connection privileges.

Often folks forget about granting necessary permissions and wonder why their new users can’t get anything done. I’ve seen this mistake happen so many times! Remember, creating a user is only half of the task – granting appropriate rights comes next!

As a final step consider using \du command within psql utility which will list all users within PostgreSQL along with their assigned roles – perfect for double-checking your work!

postgres=# \du

That’s it! You’ve successfully created a new user in PostgreSQL and granted them the necessary permissions. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Assigning Privileges to the PostgreSQL User

Once you’ve created your new user in PostgreSQL, it’s time for an essential task: assigning privileges. By granting specific permissions, you’re shaping what your user can and cannot do within the database system.

To assign privileges, we’ll use the GRANT command. It’s as simple as running a line of code like this:

GRANT SELECT, INSERT ON TABLE my_table TO my_new_user;

In this example, our new user my_new_user now has permission to perform ‘SELECT’ and ‘INSERT’ operations on my_table. But remember, PostgreSQL is quite versatile. You could grant all available privileges using the keyword ALL, or specify them individually like ‘SELECT’, ‘INSERT’, ‘UPDATE’, ‘DELETE’, etc., depending on what tasks you want your user to handle.

One common mistake is forgetting that these permissions don’t apply retroactively. If you add new tables after setting up a role with certain privileges, those tables won’t be included under those permissions. To solve this issue, you’d need to run another GRANT command explicitly for those new tables.

Now let’s talk about revoking access because there might come a time when you need to limit a user’s permissions or remove their access altogether. In these situations, use the REVOKE command. Here’s how it looks:

REVOKE SELECT ON TABLE my_table FROM my_new_user;

With this command executed successfully, our user no longer has SELECT rights on my_table.

Always keep in mind that managing users and their abilities within PostgreSQL requires careful attention. Improperly assigned privileges may lead to unexpected problems such as unauthorized data access or unanticipated modification of records. Be sure always to double-check your commands before executing them!

And there you have it! That’s how one assigns (and revokes) privileges to a PostgreSQL user. As you continue navigating through PostgreSQL, remember this guide and adjust your commands as necessary for each specific user role.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting During User Creation

Creating a new user in PostgreSQL can sometimes be a walk in the park. But let’s face it, there are times when you’ll run into issues that leave you scratching your head. So, I thought it’d be helpful to share some of the most common problems folks encounter during this process and how to troubleshoot them.

One problem that often pops up is permission related. You’ve probably seen an error message like “permission denied for database”. This typically happens when you’re trying to create a user without sufficient privileges. To fix this, make sure you’re logged in as a superuser or another user with the necessary rights.

CREATE USER mynewuser WITH PASSWORD 'mypassword';

Another issue could be syntax errors. PostgreSQL has specific syntax requirements for creating users. Here’s an example:


If even one keyword is misspelled or misplaced, it’ll throw off the whole command and result in an error message.

While we’re on the topic of syntax, let’s talk about password security rules. If your chosen password doesn’t meet PostgreSQL’s complexity requirements – which include having at least one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, and one digit – you won’t be able to create your user account.

The last hurdle I’m going to touch on today is connection limitations. By default, PostgreSQL allows 100 concurrent connections per database session. If more are attempted simultaneously, those extra attempts will fail until other connections are closed.

Understanding these pitfalls not only helps us avoid them but also makes us better equipped to tackle any future challenges that might come our way while working with PostgreSQL – whether we’re creating new users or performing other tasks.

Conclusion: Simplifying PostgreSQL User Management

Managing users in PostgreSQL doesn’t have to be a daunting task. I’ve found that understanding the basics, combined with a little practice, can go a long way toward simplifying the process.

Consider this basic command for creating a new user:

CREATE USER new_username WITH PASSWORD 'new_password';

It’s straightforward and easy to understand. However, there are common mistakes that even seasoned developers make when dealing with PostgreSQL user management. For example, forgetting to set appropriate permissions for a newly created user is one of them.

To assign privileges, you could use something like this:

GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON database_name TO new_username;

This line of code assigns all privileges on the specified database to your newly created user. Easy, isn’t it?

However, I’d recommend being cautious when granting all privileges – it’s often better to grant only necessary permissions based on what each particular user needs to do. It minimizes potential security risks.

Don’t let these potential pitfalls discourage you though! With persistence and regular practice, managing PostgreSQL users becomes second nature.

Remember also that modern tools can simplify your work greatly. There are many fantastic graphical interfaces out there for managing databases and their users – pgAdmin being one popular choice amongst many available options.

In conclusion (but not really), I hope this guide provided you with valuable insights into how easy it can be to create and manage users in PostgreSQL. As always: practice makes perfect!

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