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How to Enable Telnet in Windows 7

Updated on December 7, 2012

First of all, What is telnet? It's a tool, specifically a "network protocol" used on LAN's (internal networks, like your home or office). It's essentially a remote Windows command "cmd" line interface.

There are two components to telnet, a "server" and a "client". In Windows 7 (starting with Windows Vista), telnet does not come pre-installed, but flipping it on is easy.

In this article I'll discuss how to enable both the telnet "Server" and the "Client". Using my Windows 7 desktop and a 7 test machine as the Server, I'll show communication on both sides and even give you a quick example of how to use telnet. Got your energy drink in hand? (I've got two).....Let's get to it!

Enabling the Windows 7 Telnet Client

Just like in Windows Vista, Windows 7 does not come with telnet installed. Here's how to activate the client:

  1. Control Panel --> Programs and Features --> "Turn Windows Features On or Off" , OR the even Cooler, faster way ......
  2. "Windows key" + "R" (for the "run bar") ---> appwiz.cpl --> "Turn Windows Features On or Off"
  3. 3. That's it! (no reboot required for the client). Now to set up the server on my test laptop.

Enabling the Windows 7 Telnet Server

1. On the Windows 7 Telnet "Server" use the "Windows Key" + "R" and type "appwiz.cpl". Then click the "Turn Windows Features On or Off" link, then select "Telnet Server".

TIP - Both machines can be Both a Telnet Server and Client if you want, meaning simply two-way communication. For the simplicity of this hub, I'm just setting up one as the client, and one as the server....

2. On the Telnet Server, make sure the "Telnet" service is enabled and on as well. If disabled, right click the service, enable and set to "automatic".

TIP - Super quick way to get to the Windows 7 Services MMC Console? Type "services.msc" in the run or search bar.

BUMMER! looks like we have to add a user to the "Telnet Users" group on the Server. No Prob! Here's how:

  1. On the telnet server, right click "Computer" and select "Manage"
  2. Click on "Local Users and Groups"
  3. Click on the "Telnet Users" group and click the "add" button
  4. Enter the name (that's already on this machine, in my example user "whoa") that you would like to use to connect with. Then, (admin tip), click "check name" to make sure you've got the right user and the telnet server recognizes the user. (follow my pics).
  5. Once you see the name in the format workgroup\user underlined, in my exapmle "BOX\WHOA", click "OK" and close.

PS -- I just showed you the proper way of adding a user to a local group on a Windows machine, sneaky, wasn't it? I'll try not to force to much more learning upon you (muwahahaha).

Quick Usage of Telnet

Woohoo! We are in. What does that mean? Let's play, er um, "Test", and find out...

  1. Once successfully authenticated, you'll see the "Microsoft Telnet Server" greeting and a prompt with your user. It may "appear" that you're in your own Windows command prompt, but you're actually connected to the remote machine.
  2. Let's test this connection by using a very simple Windows command, -- "Shutdown /s" , which means as you may have guessed, shutdown... the "/s" switch means shut down completely vs. the "/r" switch which means "restart". (I had to throw in the "/t" (time) switch so I could get a screenshot and have time to save it lol, 120 == 120 seconds. Let's see what happens on the remote laptop.

TIP - and don't tell your IT guy I told you this, but you know those days when you're in a hurry? and you see that "Windows Update" icon LOOMING by the shutdown button? Open a Windows cmd prompt and type "shutdown /s" (without the quotes). Don't get me wrong, please update as much as possible, but sometimes you just gotta get....

From the Client
From the Client
On the Server
On the Server
And from the client
And from the client


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    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Hi WestelCS, yep, an oldie but a goodie. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • WestelCS profile image

      Tim Anthony 4 years ago

      A vintage application protocol. Quite successful too. But not popularly used anymore. Anyway. Thank you for this valuable information. Nice post.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @ChristyWrites - Hi Christy! Thanks for the positive feedback and "up" :)

      @Brett.Tesol - Thanks for the feedback, sincerely appreciated :) , and thanks for the up, useful, pinned and tweeted!

      @Lipnancy - Thanks so much for all of your support :), really, really appreciated!

      (Awesome way to end my work week....eyes barely open lololol) Thanks all

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Keep up the good work! I really enjoy your fact filled hubs.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Awesome step by step guide. Not something I will personally use, but definitely useful for some.

      Shared, up, useful, pinned and tweeted.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Awesome work here Jeff, and the print-screens add a lot of value too. Happy to vote up. Keep up the great work.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @jponiato, excellent point :), there's a reason why telnet comes ootb "turned off" ever since vista. There are others way to communicate, ssh is a great example, thanks for your feedback and stopping by!

    • jponiato profile image

      jponiato 5 years ago from Mid-Michigan

      Lots of valuable information here. One thing to point out, the use of telnet is inherently insecure. Good for quick and easy access, but not appropriate for use in situations where private data is in play. SSH is a good alternative but more complex to set up.