Crash Course in MongoDB Shell (Mongo CLI)

This guide is single (long) page summary of official MongoDB documentation

Display databse in use


List of all available databases

show dbs

List of all accessible databases

show databases

Switch database

use my_test_db

Remove database


Returns reference to another databse


Collection level operations

List of all collections

show collections

Executing queries on my_collection


Alternative way to access my-collection

Notice: a hyphen present in the collection name


Pretty print


Main operations available on db.<collection>

  • find() - lists all documents in the collection and returns cursor
  • insert() - inserts a new document into the collection
  • update() - updates existing document
  • save() - inserts either a new or updates an existing document
  • remove() - deletes documents
  • drop() - removes entire collection
  • ensureIndex() - creates new index if one doesn't exist

Write Operations


Insert Pattern

db.<collection>.insert( { *field* : *value* } )

Resources: insert docs

Insert single record

    name: "Tom Smith", 
    email: "",
    scores: [22, 31, 47, 48, 50] 

Insert multiple records

    { name: "Tom Brown", email: "", scores: [33, 40, 47] },
    { name: "John Black", email: "", scores: [45, 32, 55] },
    { name: "Eliot Thomson", email: "", scores: [15] }


Delete all records from collection



Update Pattern

db.<collection>.update( *criteria*, *action*, *options* )
Resources: update docs

Update operators

  • $currentDate - Sets a field value to current date (Date or Timestamp)
  • $inc - Increments field value by passed value
  • $mul - Multiplies field value by the specified amount
  • $rename - Renames a field
  • $set - Sets the value of a field
  • $unset - Removes the specified field

Resources: Full list of field update operators

Update options

  • upsert - if set to true, it will create new document if there are none find matching the query criteria. The default value is false
  • multi - if set to true, updates multiple documents that meet the query criteria

Update one document record

Example 1

Warning: operator $set has been used, field value will be replaced

db.users.update({ name: "Tom Smith" }, { $set : {name: "Tommy Smith" }})

Example 2

Warning: operator $set not used, document will be replaced

db.users.update({ name: "Tom Smith" }, { name: "Tommy Smith" })

Update one record with multiple update operations

Field name will be remaned to full_name and new field nick name will be added.

    { name: "Eliot Thomson" }, 
        $rename : { name: "full_name" },
        $set : { nick: "Ely" }

Update multiple document records

Update option: multi = true
Note: Field updated = true will be added to multiple documents containing field: name

    { name : { $exists: true }}, 
    { $set: { updated: true }}, 
    { multi: true }

Creates new document if criteria match not found

Update option: upsert = true
Note: New document will be added if there is no documents matching specified query criteria

    { email: "" },
    { $set: { 
        name: "Simon Bone", 
        pseudo: "Bone", 
        email: "" 
    { upsert: true }

Read Operations

Introduction to query interface to selecting documents

db.<collection>.find( *criteria*, *projection* ).*modifier()*

Resources: official docs to read operations

Selecting documents based on criteria

Query criteria (selectors)

Resources: Official docs to query selectors

Comparison criteria

  • $gt - match greater than query value
  • $gte - match greater than or eaqual to query value
  • $in - match if value exist in query array
  • $lt - match lower than query value
  • $lte - match lower than or euqal to query value
  • $ne - match all not equal to query value
  • $nin - match all not in query array

Logical criteria

  • $and - joins queries with logical AND
  • $nor - joins queries with logical XOR
  • $not - negate query with logical !
  • $or - joins queries with logical OR

Element criteria

  • $exists - match documents with existing field
  • $type - match documents with field of numeric BSON type

Evaluation criteria

  • $mod - matches result of modulo operation on the field value
  • $regex - matches regular expression
  • $text - matches finding string in fields with text index
  • $where - matches reults of evaluating JavaScript expression

Geospatial criteria

  • $geoIntersects - matches geometries that intersect with a GeoJSON geometry
  • $geoWithin - matches geometries within a bounding GeoJSON geometry.
  • $nearSphere - matches geospatial objects in proximity to a point on a sphere, requires a geospatial index
  • $near - matches geospatial objects in proximity to a point, requires a geospatial index

Array criteria

  • $all - matches field values containing all elements in the array
  • $elemMatch - matches field values specified by array of conditions
  • $size - matches documents with array field of specified size


  • $comment - appends a comment to a query predicate. Useful for log entries.


Resources: Official docs to projections

Showing, hiding fields

{<fieldname>: 0, <fieldname>: 1}

_id field is included in the results by default, but it can be suppressed with {id: 0}

Projecting array type fields with operators

element matching operator $elemMatch
db.<collection>.find({}, {<fieldname>: { $elemMatch: {<fieldname>: <value>}}}
slicing operator $slice
db.<collection>.find({}, {<fieldname>: { $slice: <number>}}`

Positive number returns only first n documents, negative number returns last n document

first element positional operator $
db.<collection>.find( { <array>: <value> ... },
                    { "<array>.$": 1 } )                    
db.<collection>.find( { <array.field>: <value> ...},
                    { "<array>.$": 1 } )

Using $ has following limitations

  • Only one positional $ operator may appear in the projection document.
  • Only one array field may appear in the query document.
  • The query document should only contain a single condition on the array field being projected. Multiple conditions may override each other internally and lead to undefined behavior.
projection functionality in the aggregation framework pipeline

related projection functionality in the aggregation framework pipeline, should be used with $project

Document selecting examples

Find documents with existing field name

db.users.find({"name" : {$exists: true}})

Find documents containging text key word

warning: performing $text search requires text index on searched field
db.users.ensureIndex( { name: "text" } )

db.users.find({ $text: { $search: "tom" }})

Find documents conforming to regular expression

note: below query returns same result as above text search
warning: executing regular expression is always slower than text search

db.users.find({"name" : {$regex : /^Tom.*/i}})

Find documents with specified length of array field

db.users.find({"scores" : {$size : 3} })

Find documents conforming to evaluated JavaScript expression

Note: query returns results same as above matching array length
Warning: evaluating js expression is always slower than native queries

db.users.find( { $where: "this.scores.length === 3" } );

Find documents matching queries joined with logical $and

db.users.find({ $and: [
    { scores: { $size: 3 } }, 
    {name: { $exists: true }}

Find documents matching query negation with logical $not

db.users.find({ scores : { $not: {$size : 3 } } })

Find documents matching array of conditions with $elemMatch

db.users.find({ scores: { $elemMatch: { $gt:40, $lt: 50 } } })

Find combine conditions array matches with $elemMatch

note: $elemMatch can be used both as query operator and projection operator
Resource: interesting $elemMatch

db.users.find({ $and : [
    { scores: { $elemMatch: { $lt: 50 } } },
    { scores: { $not : { $elemMatch: { $lt: 30 } } } },

note: $and queries are evaluate in order. Following query is evaluated only previous query returns results

Projecting selected document

Projection criteria

  • $ - projects only the first element in an array that matches the query condition, use with array logical criteria
  • $elemMatch - projects the first element in an array that matches the specified $elemMatch condition
  • $meta - projects the document’s score assigned during $text operation,
  • $slice - limits the number of elements projected from an array, it supports skip and limit slices.

Projection examples

Project documents with only one specified field

db.users.find({}, {scores: 1})

Exclude specified field from results

db.users.find({}, {scores: 0})

Return limited number of array elements

note: positive index returns first n number of elements

db.users.find({}, {scores: { $slice: 2}})

note: negative index returns last n number of elements

db.users.find({}, {scores: { $slice: -3}})

Modifying selected and/or projected documents

Example cursor modifier methods

This document lists most often methods, check official docs for full list of cursor methods

Examples of modified document selection

Limits document passed to the pipeline


Orders document passed to the pipeline

Example 1

note: {name: 1} requests ascending sorting

db.users.find({}).sort({name: 1})

Example 2

note: {name: 1} requests descending sorting

db.users.find({}).sort({name: -1})

Combining modifiers

db.users.find({}).limit(2).sort({name: -1})

Order, limit and skip documents passed to the pipeline

Example 1

db.users.find().sort({name: 1}).limit(2).skip(2)

Example 2

note: changing order of limit() and sort() doesn't change execution order

db.users.find({}).sort({name: -1}).limit(2)


Aggregation is a process of collecting data from multiple documents, performing computations on those documents and returning single result.

There are 3 ways to perform aggregation in MongoDB:

  • aggregation pipeline,
  • map-reduce,
  • single purpose aggregation methods and commands

Aggregation pipeline (todo)

Examples of Aggregation Pipeline Operators

Resources: Full list of Aggregation Pipeline Operators

Stage Operators
  • $group - groups input documents by a specified identifier expression and applies the accumulator expression(s), if specified, to each group
  • $limit - passes only the first n documents to the pipeline
  • $match - applies filter to documents passed to a pipeline
  • $skip - skips the first n documents
  • $sort - reorders the document stream by a specified sort key

Map-reduce (todo)

Single purpose aggregation methods and commands


<collection>.count() returns single numeric value for specified query criteria

db.<collection>.count(<query criteria>)

Not specifying query criteria will count number of all of the documents



<collection>.distinct() returns array of unique values for the field in matching documents



Official group documentiation

Returns array of documents{
   key: { <field_name>: 1 },
   cond: { <criteria> },
   reduce: function(current, result) { *reduce operations* },
   initial: { *initial conditions* }

reduce operations pattern

reduce: function(current, result) {
    result.<some_field_name> += 1;

initial conditions pattern

    <some_field_name> : 0

group() does not support data in sharded collections, also the result of the group operation must be no larger than 16 megabytes.

Official guides

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