Using Tnsnames.ora File in SQL Developer

Tnsnames.ora is an SQL*Net/Oracle Network Manager configuration file that contains client-side network configuration parameters and describes available Oracle databases and how to connect to them. The file contains the connection name, protocol, address, network port, and instance name. The tnsnames.ora file translates the Oracle Net service alias in the connection string to a network address, protocol, service, and instance name.

The tnsnames.ora plain text file is located on both the client and the server. Typically, this file is located under the oracle_home\network\admin directory.

By default, tnsnames.ora resides in the following location:

  • Windows — Oracle_HOME\network\admin;
  • Linux — Oracle_HOME/network/admin.

sql developer tns file location


In addition, the tnsnames.ora file location can be defined by the TNS_ADMIN environment variable.

You can make changes to the file using any text editor. On Windows, you can use notepad.exe, on *NIX systems — vi. Let’s look at an example of simple tnsnames.ora file that describes one Oracle service alias.

de_mun_sap12 = 
(ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(Host =])(Port = 1522))
(SERVICE_NAME = de_mun_sap12)

This file describes one alias de_mun_sap12 that a user can use to connect to an Oracle database. You can get the Oracle database connection settings from the listener.ora file. The listener.ora resides on the Oracle server and contains server-side network configuration parameters.

Hint. The tnsnames.ora file is syntax sensitive. Always check the correctness of new settings when making changes to this file.

In some cases, when you specified the correct settings in the tnsnames.ora file and checked the correctness of the connection using tnsping, SQL Developer does not list available DB connections.

Note. If you have installed the Oracle client software and configured connections in tnsnames.ora, Oracle SQL Developer automatically populates the Connections navigator pane. The alias list contains net service names defined in tnsnames.ora.

By default, Oracle SQL Developer looks for the tnsnames.ora file in the oracle_home /network/admin/tnsnames.ora folder, as well in the following registry keys:



Hint. On Windows, you can use the system and local versions of the tnsnames.ora file. The system version is located in the oracle_home\network\admin\tnsnames.ora. The local version of the tnsnames.ora file may be located in the current working directory from which the application is running. Those, you can have multiple local tnsnames.ora files in different directories from which you run your application (although this is not recommended).

SQL Developer look for a tnsnames.ora file in the following file system and registry locations:

  • $HOME/.tnsnames.ora;
  • $TNS_ADMIN/tnsnames.ora;
  • TNS_ADMIN lookup key in the registry;
  • /etc/tnsnames.ora (Linux environment);
  • $ORACLE_HOME/network/admin/tnsnames.ora;

If the list of connections is empty, then SQL Developer didn’t find the tnsnames.ora file in the specified directories. You can specify the path to the tnsnames.ora file manually.

  1. Start SQL Developer and go to Tools > Preferences;
    tns file for sql developer
  2. In the Preferences option, expand the Database component, click on Advanced, and under the “Tnsnames Directory” browse to the folder where your tnsnames.ora file is located;

    Hint. Don’t try to use a symbolic link to tnsnames.ora file on Windows. SQL Developer doesn’t know how to use it.

    how to load tns file in sql developer

  3. Restart SQL Developer;
  4. Now in SQL Developer select Connections and click New Connection;
  5. Select the TNS connection type from the drop-down list;
    oracle sql developer tns file location
  6. And you are done! Now all network aliases from tnsnames.ora will appear in the list of available connections.

If the specified Oracle instances are not available in SQL Developer, verify connectivity to them using the tnsping tool. The tnsping command uses information from the tnsnames.ora file to check connectivity with the Oracle database host.

For example, use the following command for the tnsnames.ora example above:

tnsping de_mun_sap12

tnsnames.ora sql developer

The following lines should appear:

Used TNSNAMES adapter to resolve the alias
Attempting to contact ….

If the connection is successful, OK will appear. If incorrect Net Service Names are specified in the tnsname file, you will get an error:

TNS-03505: Failed to resolve name

If the file contains a valid server address but does not have a listener running on it, the tnsping command will return an error:

TNS-12541: TNS:no listener

You can also use the trcroute utility, which shows the successful tracing route packet that passed from the client to the listener.

trcroute de_mun_sap12

If the listener is not available, this command will return errors:

TNS-12543: TNS:unable to connect to destination

TNS-12541: TNS:no listener

TNS-12560: TNS:protocol adapter error

TNS-03601: Failed in route information collection
Brian Jackson started this blog in 2011. Brian has a huge passion for WordPress and technology for over a decade. Brian enjoys blogging, movies, and hiking.


  1. Simple enough. So when I create a new connection I should see a list of the definitions in the tnsnames.oca file? I don’t. Perhaps I need to select the TNS type of connection? I tried that too.

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