In this post, we’ll show you how to get started with IntelliShell, Studio 3T’s full MongoDB shell integration.

With IntelliShell, there’s no need to type out complex connection details. Simply click on a connection, database, or collection and open an instance of the IntelliShell at that location. It supports effortless multi-line editing – so creating complex update or aggregation queries is a breeze – and the output is fully formatted, highlighted, and searchable. A complete command history is also available.

IntelliShell is hands down the richest editing experience available in any MongoDB GUI, and it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux. So, let’s get started.


Getting Started:

Install Studio 3T

In case you haven’t yet, you can download our MongoDB GUI for your particular platform and ‘bitness’.

For example, if you wish to download the 64-bit or the 32-bit Windows version, click on More Download Options in the ‘WINDOWS’ section. Likewise for Linux, but this time in the rightmost ‘LINUX’ column.

For ‘MAC’, you can download the Archive (.dmg) file with or without the bundled shell.

For Windows, there is a standard installer. For Mac, there is a standard ‘drag to the Applications folder’ style installer. On Linux, you can unpack the download to a location of your choice by issuing the command

tar -zvxf studio-3t-linux-x64-dist.tar.gz

(or tar -zvxf studio-3t-linux-x86-dist.tar.gz if you downloaded the 32-bit version) and then run the


launch script from within the unpacked directory.

If you’ve installed Studio 3T on a Windows x64 or a Mac, you’re ready to run IntelliShell without additional configuration. The mongo shell executable is bundled with Studio 3T on these systems.

If you’ve installed Studio 3T on a Windows x86 or Linux, or prefer to run your own mongo client tools on Windows x64 or Mac, read on to install the needed mongo client tools.

Install mongo client Tools

MongoDB provides a number of command line tools for client machines. Studio 3T’s IntelliShell requires one of these, the mongo shell executable, to be accessible on your machine. To install it, go to

MongoDB downloads page

Note the mongo shell is typically backward compatible with MongoDB database deployments of previous versions.

For example, if you have to work with, say, a legacy MongoDB 2.4 system, a current 2.6 system and a new 3.0 system, you do not need to install the distribution for all those different versions.

Simply install the latest version of the distribution and you’ll be able to use it with all of the different versions of MongoDB deployments you need to work with.

Also note that if you are going to work with a MongoDB deployment that requires SSL encryption to connect to it, be sure to download a distribution that supports SSL encryption.

As of this writing, the latest versions of the Windows and Linux distributions do (though on Linux, you must also have the OpenSSL libraries installed).

On Mac, the Homebrew package manager provides options to install an SSL-enabled version of the mongodb package.

You can also enable SSL support by building the tools from source, which is actually not as scary as it sounds.

The Windows MongoDB distribution is a standard Windows installer, the Mac and Linux distributions must be unpacked to a location of your choice using the command

tar -zvxf mongodb-<...>.tgz

where mongodb-<...>.tgz refers to the name of the file you downloaded. (On Mac, you can also just double click the file to unpack it.)

OK, we have everything we need installed, so let’s start Studio 3T.

Configure IntelliShell

Once you’ve installed the mongo client tools, we need to configure Studio 3T so that it knows where to find the mongo shell executable we just installed.

Click on the Preferences menu (located in the application menu on Mac and in the ‘Edit’ menu on Windows and Linux) and then on the IntelliShell tab.

If you have previously had MongoDB installed on your system and the mongo shell is available on your PATH, it will be shown in the second option:

IntelliShell Preferences window on Studio 3T

However, in this post we are going to select the particular version we just installed. To do this, select the third option and locate the mongo shell executable.

On Mac and Linux, this will be a binary file simply called mongo located in the ‘bin’ directory where you unpacked the distribution.

On Windows, it is a binary file called mongo.exe and is located in the ‘bin’ directory of the MongoDB install location in ‘Program Files’. It will be a path similar to ‘C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.0\bin\mongo.exe‘.

Now that that is configured, click OK, and we can start using Studio 3T’s IntelliShell.

Open IntelliShell

Right-click on a collection to open IntelliShell

You can open IntelliShell in three ways:

  • Right-click on your connection, database or collection and select Open IntelliShell
  • Click IntelliShell on the toolbar
  • Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+L / ⌘L

Note that if you do open at the connection level, you’ll be connected to the ‘test’ database as per the MongoDB default. So if your queries suddenly start returning no results – check you’re actually using the database you think you are!

We can now begin getting more done on the richest MongoDB shell experience currently available in a MongoDB GUI.

IntelliShell has autocompletion not only of collection names and shell methods, but also of document key names, operators and further completions on return values, just the way you want it.

IntelliShell for MongoDB


Speaking of autocompletion, you can always trigger it by pressing CTRL + Space. Or right-click anywhere in the IntelliShell editor pane and choose Open Auto-Completion.

Below is the list of IntelliShell keyboard shortcuts. We also recommend to check out the full list of Studio 3T hotkeys to save you even more time.

Ctrl + L (⌘+ L) – Open IntelliShell

Ctrl + Space (^ + Space) – Trigger autocompletion

Ctrl + F (⌘+ F) – Find

Ctrl + H (Shift +  + F) – Replace

Ctrl + / (⌘+ /) – Comment with line comment

Ctrl + O (⌘+ O) – Open script

Ctrl + S (⌘+ S) – Save script

Shift + Ctrl + S (Shift + ⌘+ S) – Save script as

F5 – Execute entire script

F6 – Execute statement at cursor

F9 – Execute selection

Enable Dark Theme

In case you prefer a dark editing mode, you can enable dark theme on IntelliShell following these steps.

Special Note for Secondary Replica Set Members

Note that if you are connected to a replica set and want to run IntelliShell on a secondary member (for example, the replica set connection has a read preference of secondary or secondaryPreferred), you will first need to run rs.slaveOk() to be able to query freely.

This is because, by default, MongoDB does not permit read operations from non-master (that is, slave or secondary) instances.

In MongoDB, reads to a primary have strict consistency, meaning that the data it provides reflects the latest writes at all times. This is more familiar and easier to work with when coming from other database systems.

Reads to secondaries in MongoDB however, have eventual consistency, meaning that changes to the system can propagate gradually and readable members are not required to reflect the latest writes at all times. This is less common and may surprise some users coming from other database systems.

By calling rs.slaveOk() you are indicating to the system that you acknowledge that reads will be eventually consistent and wish to be able to query the secondary anyway.

Following the principle of self-documenting code, rs.slaveOk() should really be called rs.iUnderstandThatHereReadsAreEventuallyConsistent AndIAmHappyToLiveWithTheConsequences SoPleaseLetMeQueryFreely(), but unless you have the amazing IntelliShell code completion available to you, that would be a little straining on the fingers.

OK, that’s it for this post. Using the MongoDB shell has never been so tasty, and I hope you’re now successfully up and running with Studio 3T’s IntelliShell.

Please also feel free to check out our Schema Explorer and SQL Querying on MongoDB tools, as I expect they’ll also help in making you a much more powerful and productive MongoDB user.

We’re always very keen to hear about your experiences and ideas for Studio 3T. If you’d like to tell us about them please visit our feedback page or click the ‘Feedback‘ toolbar button in the app.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2015.