At times I find myself telnetting from Windows XP to another server and that I state a wrong port number such as

c:\> telnet xxxxx.yy pp

After hitting Enter, I realize that I entered the wrong port number and would like to abort the telnet process with a ctrl-c, however, telnet doesn't seem to respond even to ctrl-c. So, I have to wait a few seconds until telnet returns with a

Connecting to xxxxx.yy... 
Could not open connection to the host, on port pp: Connect failed

It's rather annoying to wait for the error message, especially when I already know it will eventually come.

So, is there a way to immediately stop the telnet process?

  • right, good point. updated answer. Nov 14, 2009 at 12:04

1 Answer 1


Edit: Of course, it's never that simple. As you've observed, Microsoft's telnet doesn't respond to ^] while waiting for a connection.

If you don't want to wait around, you only have two options:

  • Kill the telnet process (from another command shell or the task manager), or

  • Use another telnet client. PuTTY is a good choice, since it will launch as a separate window; even if you get the port wrong and the PuTTY window freezes, your command shell will be available to launch another instance with the correct port number.

Use the escape character (defaults to Ctrl+]). This brings up a telnet prompt at which you can close or quit the connection.

> telnet

Welcome to Microsoft Telnet Client

Escape Character is 'CTRL+]'

Microsoft Telnet> 

You can change this to nearly anything you like on your commandline by using the -e flag:

C:\>telnet /?

telnet [-a][-e escape char][-f log file][-l user][-t term][host [port]]
 -e      Escape character to enter telnet client prompt.

C:\>telnet -e '

Welcome to Microsoft Telnet Client

Escape Character is '''

Microsoft Telnet>
  • The problem is: telnet doesn't respond to ctrl-] while it is in the process of connecting to the server. Nov 14, 2009 at 11:06
  • 5
    which pretty much means it won't respond to anything. bad telnet client, bad. Nov 14, 2009 at 12:06
  • Just curious: what escape-character did you try with the -e flag? A newline? A backspace?
    – Arjan
    Nov 14, 2009 at 12:44
  • me? single-quote ('), exactly as shown. that output was captured from a winXP cmd.exe terminal. Nov 14, 2009 at 16:01
  • Ahhh, I thought the single quote in telnet -e ' was the opening quote for something, like in telnet -e 'q'. Confused by the syntax highlighting I guess. :-)
    – Arjan
    Nov 14, 2009 at 18:24

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