Telnet was developed as a network protocol in 1969 and it was popular for many years, until the rise of Internet broadband and of more secure alternatives. You might be surprised to learn that even today there are still plenty of Telnet servers and resources available, including several active communities. If you are curious to learn more about Telnet, start with this guide in which we will show how to install a Telnet client in Windows, how to start and end a Telnet session, where to find documentation about Telnet commands and where to find Telnet servers to connect to.
NOTE: The information we'll share with you in this tutorial applies to Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.
How to install the Telnet client in Windows
In order to be able to connect to Telnet servers, you'll have to have the Telnet Client installed on your computer. This is a Windows feature that's not enabled by default and you'll have to install it manually.
Read this guide and learn How to Add or Remove (Un)Wanted Windows Features, Programs or Apps.
In the Windows Features window, check the Telnet Client option, press OK and wait for it to be installed. When done, press Close. There is no need to restart your computer.
How to start the Telnet client in Windows
Once the Telnet Client is installed, you can start it either from the Command Prompt or by using Windows' search function.
If you love Telnet's text based command lines you'll probably prefer using the Command Prompt. If that's the case, start the Command Prompt , type the command telnet inside it and press Enter on your keyboard .
The slightly faster way to open the Telnet Client is to search for the word "telnet".
In Windows 10, write "telnet" in Cortana's search box from the taskbar. Once the search results are displayed, click or tap on the Telnet shortcut.
If you're using Windows 8.1, switch to the Start screen and start writing "telnet". Once the search results are displayed, click or tap on Telnet.
In Windows 7, you can use the search box that's found in the Start Menu. Search for "telnet" and click on the appropriate search result.
No matter which method you choose, the end result is a Command Prompt window running a Telnet session.
How to connect to a Telnet server
In order to connect to a Telnet server, you have to run the command: o servername [port].
The port argument of the command is not mandatory. If you do not enter one, the default port 23 will be used.
How to disconnect from a Telnet server & close a Telnet session
When you want to disconnect from a Telnet server, use the "Ctrl + ]" keyboard combination.
Then, to completely close the Telnet session, write q or quit and press Enter.
Where to Learn Telnet Commands
If you want to know all the Telnet commands available and to find out more about what each of them does, check this list from Microsoft: Telnet commands.
Where to find Telnet servers
If you'd like to find Telnet servers to connect to and work with, there are several good websites available which offer plenty of Telnet resources. We would like to highlight two of them:
Jumpjet.com Telnet - it has a long and well organized list of Telnet places.
Telnet BBS - this site has the biggest list of Telnet accessible bulletin board systems on the Internet.
While doing our research about Telnet we were very surprised to see how active the Telnet community is, even though this technology faded in popularity many years ago. As you can see from this article, there are still plenty of Telnet servers available, as well as dedicated websites with both fun and useful resources.