Windows 10 How to activate the Telnet Client

Despite its age, Telnet is still used by some applications, leading many to wonder what it is. You have to enable the Telnet client separately in Windows 10 to even use it, which makes those who wonder if there are any security issues they should be aware of.

Those to trying to run Telnet without it enabled will face errors such as “Telnet is not recognized as an internal or external command” and “CreateProcess ‘telnet’ is not recognized (C++)”.

What is Telnet?

At its core, Telnet, or “teletype network” is a communications protocol developed in 1969. It lets users connect to a remote device or host remotely via a Telnet client to manage files other functions as if they were a regular user. The default telnet port is typically 23.

As you can image, Telnet can be quite useful, letting users remotely run programs, check emails and weather, or even run simple games if they wish. In recent times, though, Telnet has been largely replaced by SSH (Secure Shell) due to its complete lack of encryption. Everything you do over Telnet is transmitted in plaintext, meaning someone snooping on the network can steal account information and other private communications. This wasn’t too scary in 1969, but now there are billions of people on the internet who can hack you.

This is a big reason why Telnet is disabled in Windows 10 by default, but it still has its uses. Some very old, legacy equipment only accepts Telnet, especially in the scientific field. It also has a small nostalgia-driven enthusiast community and is used by amateur radio operators.

Now that you know what Telnet is and its inherent risks, we can move onto how to enable the Telnet Client in Windows 10.

Windows 10: How to Enable Telnet

Time needed: 2 minutes.

The most user-friendly route to enable the Telnet client in Windows 10 is via the Control Panel.

  1. Open the Control Panel


    Press Start and type “Control Panel”. Click the first result.

    Windows 10 - Open Control Panel

  2. Enter the program settings menu


    Select the “Programs” category.

    Windows 10 - Control Panel - Programs

  3. Open the Windows features menu


    Under “Programs and Features”, choose the sub-heading “Turn Windows features on or off”.

    Windows 10 - Control Panel - Turn Windows features on or off

  4. Enable Telnet in Windows 10 Features


    Scroll down the list of features until you find the folder named “Telnet Client”. Tick it, then press “OK” to enable Telnet in Windows 10.

    Windows 10 - Windows Features

  5. Open Telnet


    You can verify that Telnet is enabled by pressing the Start key and searching for “Telnet”. Click the application to run the client.

    Windows 10 - Search - Telnet

  6. Run your commands


    Telnet will open a Windows PowerShell window with a list of supported commands. You can now use these at your leisure to access other computers with Telnet support.

    Windows 10 - Telnet