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Quick Tip: Enable Telnet under Windows 7

Pete Brown - 01 May 2010

Telnet can be a nice easy way to debug DNS and see the raw result of a web request. There are lots of other tools that do this, but I keep returning to Telnet; maybe because at one point in my career, Telnet was the internet.

Enabling Telnet

Open the control panel, and go to Programs and Features.

Select "Turn Windows features on or off"


Next, select the Telnet Client. Don't select Telnet Server unless you plan to open your machine up for that kind of access - a vector you probably don't want.



After the obligatory waiting period (we want to make sure you don't use Telnet in anger or in a crime of passion), Telnet will be enabled. That's it. Now you can do cool things at the command line.

Using Telnet

To telnet to a web server, type:

telnet hostname 80

Where hostname is the name of the server. You can also use an IP address.


After that, you type in the request. For example, GET index.html and hit enter to see the response.

You can change the terminal type. To see all available options type telnet /? at the command line.

posted by Pete Brown on Saturday, May 1, 2010
filed under:      

4 comments for “Quick Tip: Enable Telnet under Windows 7”

  1. Dennysays:
    LOL, just in the last few years I have had to teach a guy to use telnet, he had an MS cert for beeing a system engineer but did not know how to use telnet.
    heck i have used telnet to read and write email in the past!

    and at an isp i used to work for we used telnet to check a customers mailbox and delete emails for them some times.... this was dialup internet and someone would send them a huge attachment that they could not download due to the size of it. so we would pop / and delete the email and tell them to have the file sent a different way.

  2. Josh Einsteinsays:
    While I'm still a young whippersnapper compared to you guys (I got into the BBS scene as it was dying around 1996-1999) I remember trying hard to "save" the BBS legacy by embracing telnet while other SysOps were clinging to their v.32bis modems insisting AOL would never catch on. But I can't begrudge someone for not knowing what telnet was. Let's face it, it was relegated to the uber geeks and its not really something you wanna brag about at a party.

    Having said that, I've recently become frustrated with the amount of "setup" I must do to get an environment the way I like it. Now I run 3 machines at a time (my ultra-powerful multimonitor desktop, my pretty-powerful too big to be portable laptop, and my not-at-all-powerful light and portable tablet) and I reinstall Windows often. So whenever I have to do something like this I cringe. Instead I've adapted to a life revolving around apps that I consider "Live Mesh-Friendly". I have a Utilities folder sync'd with Live Mesh and its the first thing I set up on any new machine.

    Putty I've found to be the best "portable" telnet utility. I used to use Secure CRT which is still great but it's not exactly xcopy-able. Unfortunately this has left me resorting to mostly free/open source (read: shittier) applications but hey it sure beats installing a million things 3 times a year.

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