Lesson 1-1 - Start SQL Server Management Studio

THIS TOPIC APPLIES TO: yesSQL ServeryesAzure SQL DatabaseyesAzure SQL Data Warehouse yesParallel Data Warehouse

To begin this tutorial, let's take a look at SQL Server Management Studio.

Opening SQL Server Management Studio

To open SQL Server Management Studio

  1. How you start Management Studio (SSMS), depends upon your operating system.

    • For newer versions of Windows with a Start Page, on the Start Page, type SQL Server Management Studio and the program appears. Click the program to open SSMS. You might want to right-click the program and pin it to the Start Page.
    • For older versions of Windows, on the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server 2017, and then click SQL Server Management Studio. Alternately from the Run dialog box, type SSMS.exe and then click OK.


    If SSMS doesn't appear, you may not have successfully installed SSMS. Install SSMS from the download center. SSMS is not automatically installed with SQL Server 2016. Use the latest version to access all of the features.

  2. In the next step, you connect to SQL Server using the Object Explorer component of SSMS. If the Object Explorer pane is not visible, on the View menu, click Object Explorer. In the Object Explorer menu, click the Connect button, and then click Database Engine. The Connect to Server dialog box should appear. (If you have previously installed SSMS, the user settings might be causing the Connect to Server dialog box to appear automatically.)

  3. In the Connect to Server dialog box, complete the Server name box. You can connect to one of three types of SQL Server. Each type has a slightly different format for the Server name box. Pick one of the following formats:

    • A default instance of SQL Server: When you install SQL Server on a computer, you can specify that the instance of SQL Server will be a default (unnamed instance) or a named instance. If you are connecting to a default instance of SQL Server, insert the name of the computer. For example, if you are running SSMS on a computer named Accounting and you are connecting to a default instance of SQL Server installed on that computer, type Accounting in the Server name box.
    • A named instance of SQL Server: During setup of SQL Server, you can specify a name for the instance; for example, on a computer named Accounting, you could specify a named instance named Receivables. To connect to a named instance, in the Server name box, type the computer name backslash instance name; for example Accounting\Receivables.
    • An Azure SQL Database: The format of the server name for SQL Database is SQL_Server_name.database.windows.net, for example mydb2.database.windows.net. If you have trouble determining your server name, visit the Azure portal for help creating a connection string.
  4. In the Authentication area, select a method of authentication.

    • If you are the administrator of the computer and just installed SQL Server, try Windows Authentication. This also works if You are configured as a domain user that has access to the SQL Server. Since the login attempt uses the credentials you used to log in to Windows, both the User name and Password boxes are grayed out.
    • If you know the name and password of a user account, select SQL Server Authentication, and then provide the User name and Password.
    • If you have the latest version of SSMS, you have 3 more options, starting with Active Directory Authentication. For information about these more advanced options, see Universal Authentication with SQL Database and SQL Data Warehouse (SSMS support for MFA).

Management Studio Components

Management Studio presents information in windows dedicated to specific types of information. Database information is shown in Object Explorer and document windows.

  • Object Explorer is a tree view of all the database objects in a server. This can include the databases of the SQL Server Database Engine, Analysis Services, Reporting Services, and Integration Services. Object Explorer includes information for all servers to which it is connected. When you open Management Studio, you are prompted to connect Object Explorer to the settings that were last used. You can double-click any server in the Registered Servers component to connect to it, but you do not have to register a server to connect.

  • The document window is the largest portion of Management Studio. The document windows can contain query editors and browser windows. By default, the Summary page is displayed, connected to the instance of Database Engine on the current computer.

Showing Additional Windows

To show the Registered Servers window

  1. On the View menu, click Registered Servers.

    The Registered Servers window appears above or adjacent to Object Explorer. You can drag it and dock it in various locations. Registered Servers lists servers that you manage frequently. You can add and remove servers from this list. The only servers listed are the SQL Server instances on the computer where you are running Management Studio.

  2. If your server does not appear, in Registered Servers, right-click Database Engine, click Tasks, and then click Update Local Server Registration. To add additional SQL Servers or a SQL Database, right-click a location in Registered Servers, and then click New Server Registration. Complete the Login area, like you completed the Connect to Server dialog box.

Next Task in Lesson

Connect with Registered Servers and Object Explorer