Last updated: October 21, 2017
Have you ever tried to telnet from the Command Prompt of your Windows 7, Windows 8.x or Windows 10 computer? If so, you may have seen the message, ‘telnet’ is not recognizable as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file. It’s always helpful to learn what you don’t have, with no recourse for solving the issue. What you would really like to know is how to enable telnet in Windows.
It’s true the relevance of using telnet has waned in recent years in light of SSH. Nonetheless, what was once enabled by default in Windows XP and Windows Vista is no longer enabled by default in Windows 7, Windows 8.x or Windows 10. Running a telnet client session in the Command Prompt of these later versions of Windows requires only that you activate the Telnet Client feature.The steps below describe how to accomplish that.
Enable the Telnet Client
1. Open the Control Panel on your computer. To do so in Windows 7, click the Start button, and select Control Panel. In Windows 8 and 10, click the Search icon on the Start screen, input Control Panel, and click Control Panel in the search results. In the Control Panel window, click Programs.
2. In the Programs window, under Programs and Features, click the Turn Windows features on or off link. If you encounter User Account Control (UAC), input your admin password to proceed.
3. Windows Features will open in a new window. Scroll down the alphabetical list of features to Telnet Client. Click the box to add a check mark for Telnet Client, then click OK.
4. Windows will initiate a process of searching for the required files, and applying changes, until the Telnet Client installation has completed. A progress bar will display during the search process. Be patient — the process can take a few seconds to a minute or so. Once completed, click Close.
Now that you have enabled the Microsoft Telnet Client, you can connect to a telnet server from your Command Prompt.
Connect to a Telnet Server
At the command line, type:
C:\>telnet serveraddress portnumber
The default telnet port is port 23. If you are seeking to telnet to a telnet server using port 23, you do not need to specify a port number on the command line since it is assumed. If you want to telnet to a server using any other port, you must specify the port number after the server address on the command line. Separate the server address and port number with a space.
Once you have completed your telnet session, close the session before closing the Command Prompt window. The Escape Character is:
…which is to say press down and hold the CTRL key and press the ] key at the same time. When the command line displays, type the following command to close the telnet session:
It is important to note that you do not need to restart your computer when you enable the Telnet Client. However, if you decide to disable the Telnet Client, a restart of your computer is required in order to complete that deactivation process.
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