How to: Display the Estimated Execution Plan

This topic describes how to generate graphical estimated execution plans by using SQL Server Management Studio. When estimated execution plans are generated, the Transact-SQL queries or batches do not execute. Instead, the execution plan that is generated displays the query execution plan that SQL Server Database Engine would most probably use if the queries were actually executed.

To use this feature, users must have the appropriate permissions to execute the Transact-SQL query for which a graphical execution plan is being generated, and they must be granted the SHOWPLAN permission for all databases referenced by the query. For more information, see Showplan Security.

To display the estimated execution plan for a query

  1. On the toolbar, click Database Engine Query. You can also open an existing query and display the estimated execution plan by clicking the Open File toolbar button and locating the existing query.

  2. Enter the query for which you would like to display the estimated execution plan.

  3. On the Query menu, click Display Estimated Execution Plan or click the Display Estimated Execution Plan toolbar button. The estimated execution plan is displayed on the Execution Plan tab in the results pane. To view additional information, pause the mouse over the logical and physical operator icons and view the description and properties of the operator in the displayed ToolTip. Alternatively, you can view operator properties in the Properties window. If Properties is not visible, right-click an operator and click Properties. Select an operator to view its properties.

  4. To alter the display of the execution plan, right-click the execution plan and select Zoom In, Zoom Out, Custom Zoom, or Zoom to Fit. Zoom In and Zoom Out allow you to magnify or reduce the execution plan by fixed amounts. Custom Zoom allows you to define your own display magnification, such as zooming at 80 percent. Zoom to Fit magnifies the execution plan to fit the result pane.