How to Create an Index using the MongoDB Shell


Indexing data in a database makes querying for that information much more efficient. Without indexing MongoDB must scan every document individually while indexiing greatly reduces the number of documents MongoDB must scan.

How does an index work? An index works by storing a specified field ordered by value so they’re efficiently searchable. The fields chosen for indexing are typically the fields that will be queried most often. If 99% of the time a collection is queried by the phone field, then that’s a great field to index.


  • For this tutorial you should have MongoDB installed and running.
  • You should also have a database and collection to experiment with indexing.


The goal of this tutorial is to create an index for our ‘Last Name’ field on our demoCollection in our demoDatabase.


Select Database

First select the database you’ll be working with with the use <databaseName> command.

use demoDatabase


Pick an Index

Now we will print our collection using db..find().pretty() to show all the fields and pick a field to index by. In our example we will use ‘Last Name’ as the index. We want to reiterate that you want to index by fields which are often queried by.

> db.demoCollection.find().pretty()
        "_id" : ObjectId("5c786562ad685885625ab0b7"),
        "First Name" : "Donna",
        "Last Name" : "Dee",
        "Gender" : "Female",
        "Age" : 21
        "_id" : ObjectId("5c786562ad685885625ab0b8"),
        "First Name" : "Alfred",
        "Last Name" : "Amus",
        "Gender" : "Male",
        "Age" : 39
        "_id" : ObjectId("5c786562ad685885625ab0b9"),
        "First Name" : "Tessa",
        "Last Name" : "Sanders",
        "Gender" : "Female",
        "Age" : 39
        "_id" : ObjectId("5c786562ad685885625ab0ba"),
        "First Name" : "Caitlyn",
        "Last Name" : "Anderson",
        "Gender" : "Female",
        "Age" : 21
        "_id" : ObjectId("5c786562ad685885625ab0bb"),
        "First Name" : "Bob",
        "Last Name" : "Caster",
        "Gender" : "Male",
        "Age" : 65


Create Index with the createIndex() method.

Next, use the createIndexmethod on the collection and pass in the field you want to index by with a value of 1.

db.demoCollection.createIndex({"Last Name": 1})
        "createdCollectionAutomatically" : false,
        "numIndexesBefore" : 1,
        "numIndexesAfter" : 2,
        "ok" : 1

You should see a "ok" : 1, confirming success.


We have successfully indexed our collection on the Last Name field which will make querying on the Last Name field much more efficient. This is a simplistic example but there are tons of options with indexes including:

  • Compound Index
  • Multikey Index
  • Geospatial Index
  • Text Indexes
  • Hashed Indexes
  • Unique Indexes
  • Partial indexes
  • Sparse Indexes
  • TTL Indexes

We hope you can use this basic example to move onto some of the more advanced concepts and to speed up your queries.

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