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  • Description
  • Behavior
  • Output
  • Examples


mongosh Method

This page documents a mongosh method. This is not the documentation for database commands or language-specific drivers, such as Node.js.

For the database command, see the explain command.

For MongoDB API drivers, refer to the language-specific MongoDB driver documentation.

For the legacy mongo shell documentation, refer to the documentation for the corresponding MongoDB Server release:

mongo shell v4.4

Returns information on the query plan for the following methods:

Returns information on mapReduce().

To use db.collection.explain(), append one of the aforementioned methods to db.collection.explain():


For example,

db.products.explain().remove( { category: "apparel" }, { justOne: true } )

For more examples, see Examples. See also db.collection.explain().help().

The db.collection.explain() method has the following parameter:


Optional. Specifies the verbosity mode for the explain output. The mode affects the behavior of explain() and determines the amount of information to return. The possible modes are:

  • "queryPlanner" (Default)

  • "executionStats"

  • "allPlansExecution"

For backwards compatibility with earlier versions of cursor.explain(), MongoDB interprets true as "allPlansExecution" and false as "queryPlanner".

For more information on the modes, see Verbosity Modes.


Using explain ignores all existing plan cache entries and prevents the MongoDB query planner from creating a new plan cache entry.

The behavior of db.collection.explain() and the amount of information returned depend on the verbosity mode.

For write operations, db.collection.explain() returns information about the write operation that would be performed but does not actually modify the database.

You cannot run the explain command/db.collection.explain() in executionStats mode or allPlansExecution mode for an aggregation pipeline that contains the $out stage. Instead, you can either:

  • run the explain in queryPlanner mode or

  • run the explain in executionStats mode or allPlansExecution mode but without the $out stage to return information for the stages that precede the $out stage.

The db.collection.explain() method wraps the explain command and is the preferred way to run explain.

db.collection.explain().find() is similar to db.collection.find().explain() with the following key differences:

db.collection.explain().aggregate() is equivalent to passing the explain option to the db.collection.aggregate() method.

To see the list of operations supported by db.collection.explain(), run:


db.collection.explain().find() returns a cursor, which allows for the chaining of query modifiers. To see the list of query modifiers supported by db.collection.explain().find() as well as cursor-related methods, run:


You can chain multiple modifiers to db.collection.explain().find(). For an example, see Explain find() with Modifiers.

db.collection.explain() operations can return information regarding:

  • explainVersion, the output format version (for example, "1").

  • command, which details the command being explained.

  • queryPlanner, which details the plan selected by the query optimizer and lists the rejected plans.

  • executionStats, which details the execution of the winning plan and the rejected plans.

  • serverInfo, which provides information on the MongoDB instance.

  • serverParameters, which details internal parameters.

The verbosity mode (i.e. queryPlanner, executionStats, allPlansExecution) determines whether the results include executionStats and whether executionStats includes data captured during plan selection.

Explain output is limited by the maximum Nested Depth for BSON Documents, which is 100 levels of nesting. Explain output that exceeds the limit is truncated.

For details on the output, see Explain Results.

By default, db.collection.explain() runs in "queryPlanner" verbosity mode.

The following example runs db.collection.explain() in "queryPlanner" verbosity mode to return the query planning information for the specified count() operation:

db.products.explain().count( { quantity: { $gt: 50 } } )

The following example runs db.collection.explain() in "executionStats" verbosity mode to return the query planning and execution information for the specified find() operation:

{ quantity: { $gt: 50 }, category: "apparel" }

The following example runs db.collection.explain() in "allPlansExecution" verbosity mode. db.collection.explain() returns the queryPlanner and executionStats for all considered plans for the specified findAndModify() operation:


The execution of this explain will not modify data but runs the query predicate of the update operation. For candidate plans, MongoDB returns the execution information captured during the plan selection phase.

db.products.explain( "allPlansExecution" ).findAndModify( {
query: { name: "Tom", state: "active", rating: { $gt: 10 } },
sort: { rating: 1 },
update: { $inc: { score: 1 } }
} )

db.collection.explain().find() construct allows for the chaining of query modifiers. For example, the following operation provides information on the find() method with sort() and hint() query modifiers.

{ quantity: { $gt: 50 }, category: "apparel" }
).sort( { quantity: -1 } ).hint( { category: 1, quantity: -1 } )

For a list of query modifiers available, run the following in mongosh:


db.collection.explain().find() returns a cursor to the explain results. If run interactively in mongosh, mongosh automatically iterates the cursor using the .next() method. For scripts, however, you must explicitly call .next() (or its alias .finish()) to return the results:

var explainResult = db.products.explain().find( { category: "apparel" } ).next();
← db.collection.estimatedDocumentCount()