At first, I had issues because Windows 7 doesn't install the Telnet client by default (also, SuperUser has a thread). So, after installing it (and restarting, like Windows asked, though completely unnecessary), I opened a command prompt, and went to run my new Telnet program.

I enter telnet, and receive:

'telnet' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

"That's odd," I think to myself. So, in Windows explorer, I navigate to \Windows\System32 and see telnet.exe sitting in that folder. If I double-click on the executable file, the Telnet command prompt opens for me without a problem. So, I return to my Windows Command Prompt, and enter:

'\Windows\System32\telnet.exe' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

And then (grep comes from cygwin):

C:\Users\ryan\Desktop>dir \Windows\System32 | grep telnet


I've disabled UAC and have no idea why my Command Prompt is lying to me. Anyone experience something similar?

Also, I've found that I can create a Windows shortcut to telnet, which will point to the right file and successfully open the Telnet prompt.

To recap: In Windows 7, I have installed Telnet and can see it in my System32 folder, but cannot run it via a Command Prompt.

  • more info on that here superuser.com/questions/110760/… Oct 14, 2010 at 22:07
  • Maybe my answer is late, but this has to do with 64bit operating system. I can guess you are having 64 bit of windows 7. What was going on, that in order to support 64 bit and 32 bit side by side, windows created something called "virtual directory" I don't know the details about it, but what I know that you can find stuff in explorer window, but you cannot find it in CMD window. and the reason is , on 64, some stuff are stored in another directory, and all 64 bit programs are able to see a virtual version of "system32" which combine the real system32 and the other directory, where old program
    – user114113
    Jan 17, 2012 at 21:04

3 Answers 3


At the moment you think you put it in c:\windows\system32

and you are having trouble running it from the command prompt.

forget the path environment variable for now. You have a weirder problem that you can't seem to even run it directly.

A good thing to do then, is Go to \windows\system32
C:\>CD \Windows\System32
C:\Windows\System32>telnet any luck? probably not Make a directory C:\blah

Open windows explorer. Copy telnet.exe to that directory

Open a command prompt

C:\>CD \Blah

See if it lists telnet there

Try dir /a Does it list it now?

Try c:\blah>attrib

That should list files a bit like dir, but showing attributes.

If you manage to put it somewhere where you can see it in the command prompt, then copy it to a few toy directories, and eventually into c:\windows\system32 and wipe your brow.. and try to figure out what's going on or what happened!

I don't have windows 7, but See if this happens for any other EXE files.. or is it just telnet.exe maybe windows 7 is playing games with that one exe file. If it is you should be able to find out! If you copy files into the directory, do you find the command prompt shows the others but not telnet.exe? make it a directory of your creation without much in it, so you can see what you're doing.


I no longer have this problem. Whether Microsoft fixed something or I did something, I don't know. If I encounter it again, I will re-open this question.


go to registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options, then create a new key named telnet.exe, then create a string value named Debugger and set value to Block.

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