hakk blog

How to Install Telnet on MacOS (Catalina and Big Sur)

Have you tried to use Telnet on MacOS only to find out it wasn’t there? You’re not alone, many have been disappointed to find out that Telnet has been removed from modern versions of the system software starting from MacOS Mojave and newer. These instructions will work for MacOS Mojave and newer, I happen to be running Big Sur and this is what I did to get Telnet back.

Installing Telnet on MacOS with Homebrew

First I would like to mention that there is an easier route, that is using Homebrew. I see a lot about it and many people seem happy with it but I have an aversion to putting it on my machine. If you don’t already have Homebrew on your machine, navigate over to the brew website and follow the installation instructions. I would caution against following them exactly though for security purposes. I would do it like this instead:

$ curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install.sh

Open and inspect the install.sh script to see what it does and make sure you feel comfortable running it on your machine. And then run it.

$ ./install.sh

After installing Homebrew, install Telnet

$ brew install telnet

Installing Telnet on MacOS by Building Telnet from Source

This was the method I used. There are some prerequisite steps though, if you don’t already have them you’ll need to install the MacOS command line tools.

Step 1: Installing the command line tools

Open a terminal and enter the following line, you’ll then be shown a pop up prompt.

$ xcode-select --install

Click install when the prompt pops up.

command line tools install prompt
command line tools install prompt

After that you’ll be shown a license which you’ll have to agree to in order to install.

command line tools license agreement
command line tools license agreement

After that you’ll see the download progress and the install will happen after that. Unfortunately I forgot to get screen shots of the following message boxes.

command line tools download progress
command line tools download progress

Step 2: Getting the Telnet source

For this step you’ll be getting the GNU network utilities navigate to the download page and find the latest source. At the time I’m writing this it’s 1.9.4:

$ curl -o http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/inetutils/inetutils-1.9.4.tar.gz

Step 3: Extract the source

$ tar -xvf inetutils-1.9.4.tar.gz

Step 4: Configure and build

Now that the source is extracted change into the directory:

$ cd inetutils-1.9.4

Run the configure command:

$ ./configure

Run the make command to build:

$ make

And then install:

$ sudo make install

Either way you choose is fairly easy, the build for this is pretty straight forward and was very quick. I don’t think it even took me 10 minutes to build and install.