Updated: 06/07/2019 by Computer Hope

About telnet

Telnet is software that allows users to remotely access another computer such as a server, network device, or other computer. With telnet, users can connect to a device or computer, manage a network device, set up a device, transfer files, etc.


Today, you should be using SSH instead of telnet for security reasons unless SSH is not an option.

  • See the telnet definition for further information about the term telnet as well as related dictionary terms.

Telnet programs

There are also numerous third-party telnet and SSH programs available for connecting to remote computers. Users who use telnet often or want or need additional features should consider a third-party telnet program.

Unix and Linux telnet

Most Unix-like operating systems including Ubuntu, Debian, Solaris, OS X and FreeBSD include a telnet binary which can be used to connect to a remote host with the telnet protocol. At a terminal prompt, run the command:

telnet hostname connect to the remote system identified by hostname. You can also run:

telnet start a telnet prompt, where you can enter telnet commands. For instance, at the telnet prompt, type:

open hostname open a connection to the remote system hostname.

For a list of common telnet commands, see our Unix and Linux telnet command page.

Microsoft Windows telnet

Microsoft has included telnet on Windows 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP.

Windows 3.11 users

To access Microsoft Telnet from Windows 3.11 open File Manager, open the Windows directory, and double-click on telnet.exe.

Other Microsoft Windows users

To access Microsoft Telnet from Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT,  Windows 2000, or Windows XP, click Start, Run, type "telnet" and press Enter. Some setups of Microsoft Windows may prohibit users from running the telnet command. Check with your system administrator if you cannot open the program.

Once you are in the telnet window, click the below version of Windows you are using for additional steps and information on how to use telnet.

Windows 3.11, 95, 98, ME, NT users

Once the telnet window is open, click on the Connect drop-down option and select Remote System from the drop-down menu. Once connected, type in the hostname that will be the either the domain, shell account or IP address. The port should remain to telnet and the TermType should remain at vt100 unless you know that it is different.

Skip to the below what next section for additional information steps on what to do once connected.

Windows 2000 and XP users

Windows 2000 and Windows XP users will be able to navigate through Telnet using a command line similar to MS-DOS. If you have run the telnet command from the run line, type "open <address>" where <address> is the address of where you are attempting to connect.

Additional information and available commands for the Windows 2000 and Windows XP can also be found on the telnet command page.

Skip to the below what next section for additional information steps on what to do once connected.

What next

If done properly, you will either get to a prompt where you can perform the commands necessary, or should receive a prompt for the username and password. If you have an account set up on the computer you are attempting to connect to, enter it now. If you do not have an account for the server, you can try connecting anonymously by entering your name and e-mail address as shown below.

username: anonymous
password: [email protected]

If this feature is supported on the server, you would then be logged in anonymously to that server.

Technical Support

Reference Questions
Telnet Telnet defined and related information.
CH000609 Unable to telnet to other computer.
CH000610 How to create a log of Windows telnet session.