How do I open SQL Server Management Studio?

I installed it but I don't see where I can open it.

  • 3
    Does Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Express show up in the Control Panel under Add Remove Programs?
    – heavyd
    Mar 1, 2010 at 21:04
  • hilarious. After installing SQL Management Studio, you must go to SQL Installation Center/Add features to install SQL Management Studio. (v2014) Oct 31, 2019 at 9:43

12 Answers 12


Click on the Windows Start button, click on the "Run" option and try to run the following command:


Works for me, your mileage may vary (as they say).

  • it helped me as i am using windows 8 and there is no start button but run command there
    – Devjosh
    Nov 7, 2012 at 15:48

Unless things have changed since I tried this, then, if you downloaded the file described as 'Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Management Studio Express' and installed it without carefully reading the screen prompts, then you may not have actually installed the Management Studio.

The reason is that the installation file is (despite the name) not just the Management Studio, but actually the Sql Server express plus the management tools, so it is possible you might have installed the sql server and not the management tools.

To add the Management Studio to your existing installation, you re-run the installation program and then first select 'New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing Sql Server 2008 instance'.

After several screens, you get to a choice to either 'Perform a new installation of Sql Server 2008' or to 'Add features to an existing instance of Sql Server 2008'

You might naturally think that the second option was the correct one, but this did not work for me and others on the internet, one of whom had discovered that the trick is to pretend you want to install a new installation of Sql Server 2008 which then later gives you the option to select what you want to install and you need to select 'Management Tools - Basic'

Not exactly straightforward and appears to have caught several people out.


On my XP machine the shortcut points to:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Binn\VSShell\Common7\IDE\Ssms.exe

  • 2
    I could kiss you for this answer, and I wouldn't normally do that very easily.
    – ProfK
    Jan 29, 2012 at 7:36

Mine is under Start -> Programs -> SQL Server 2005 -> SQL Server Management Studio

  • mine is 2008 i dont see it there!
    – every_answer_gets_a_point
    Mar 1, 2010 at 20:22

For SQL Management Studio 2014 you can find smss.exe in

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\120\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio
  • For the current version, the same directory except replace 120 with 140.
    – CEGRD
    Mar 19, 2019 at 12:18

As you said you can't find the shortcut, are you 100% you installed it?

SQL Server Management Studio (express) is typically installed separately to SQL Server.

Here is a link for the 2008 version.

  • Yea, I can only think if you can't see it under Start->Programs->Microsoft SQL Server 2008 then it didn't install properly.
    – BBlake
    Mar 30, 2010 at 12:21

For SQL Server 2005, click Start -> Run then type sqlwb

This will open SQL Server Management Studio


You have to download this too... apparently, then the instructions given above will work. They are separate downloads.



From Introducing SQL Server Management Studio

On the taskbar, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server SQL Server 2008, and then click SQL Server Management Studio.

  • its not there i dont see it
    – every_answer_gets_a_point
    Mar 1, 2010 at 20:25

Use search, find Ssms.exe. If you found it, scan it for virus first (who knows what those sly virus makers name their stuff), then if no virus found, start it. If the file is not found, re-install the program.


Today, I installed SQL Server Management studio 18.3.1 on a managed environment, where the installer failed to create a shortcut.

I found it in:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE\Ssms.exe"

Some time ago, I couldn't SQL Server Management Studio 17.x on a 32-bit OS, because it indicated that it required a 64-bit OS.

To my surprise, the program itself is 32-bit, verified by the 7-zip method, given in How to check if an EXE is 32-bit or 64-bit on Windows 10 and is installed in C:\Program Files (x86).


For SQL server 2012:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\smss.exe

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .