Telnet: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about Telnet.

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What is Telnet?

Telnet is a simple, text-based program that allows you to connect to another computer by using the Internet. If you've been granted the right to connect to that computer by that computer's owner or administrator, Telnet will allow you to enter commands used to access programs and services that are on the remote computer, as if you were sitting right in front of it. Telnet can be used for many things, including accessing e‑mail, databases, or files.

How do I install Telnet?

By default, Telnet is not installed with Windows, but you can install it by following the steps below.

To install Telnet Client

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click Control Panel, and then click Programs.
  2. Under Programs and Features, click Turn Windows features on or off. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. In the Windows Features dialog box, select the Telnet Client check box.

  4. Click OK. The installation might take several minutes.


  • If you're using Windows Server 2008 R2, you should use Server Manager to install telnet.

How do I use Telnet in Windows?

Before you can use Telnet, you must install Telnet Client on your computer by following the steps in the section above. After Telnet Client is installed, here's how to open it:

To open Telnet Client

  • Open Telnet by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, typing Telnet in the search box, and then clicking OK.

Telnet doesn't look like Windows. Why?

The Microsoft Telnet client is a text-based program that runs at the command prompt window. You can only type text commands and you can't use a mouse, but that's probably okay because you don't need those things to accomplish most things you'll want to use Telnet for.

Can I use Telnet on any computer?

Yes and no. Telnet is a technology that uses a client (the computer that you are connecting from, such as your desktop computer), and a server (the computer that you are connecting to, such as an e‑mail server). Access depends on what the administrator lets you do with Telnet access, and your rights on that system. Telnet client is available on Windows, which means that you can connect to almost any Telnet server.

Is Telnet the only way to connect to another computer?

No. Telnet is a connection method that can be used across computers that use different operating systems, such as Linux, Unix, or Windows. If you are only using computers running the Windows operating system, you might find it easier to use the Windows Remote Desktop feature. For more information about Remote Desktop, see Connect to another computer using Remote Desktop Connection.

I've got the Telnet window open. Now what?

Type the commands you want to run.

To see which commands are available, type a question mark (?) and then press Enter. Some commands are used by themselves; you just type the command, press Enter, and you're done. Other commands have additional parameters. To see the additional parameters, type the command followed by a question mark and then press Enter. For more details about Telnet commands, see Telnet commands.

Where can I find information about using a Telnet server?

For information about setting up a Telnet server, see the Windows Server Telnet webpage on TechNet.