The explain plan displays the steps a database uses to execute an SQL statement. The results of the plan display the order a database uses to search/join tables, the types of access used (indexed search or full table scan), and the names of indexes used. If you are using cost-based optimization, this statement also determines the cost of executing the statement. You can use explain plans to help tune SQL to improve performance.
Toad automatically generates an estimated explain plan when you select the Explain Plan tab in the Results pane.
Tip: If you occasionally closed the Results pane, you can restore it by selecting Editor | Windows | Script Results.
For SQL Server
Actual plan—Plan that was used to execute the SQL.
To generate an estimated explain plan
To generate an actual explain plan