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Chapter 4: Configuring PuTTY

This chapter describes all the configuration options in PuTTY.

PuTTY is configured using the control panel that comes up before you start a session. Some options can also be changed in the middle of a session, by selecting "Change Settings" from the window menu.

Section 4.1: The Session panel

The Session configuration panel contains the basic options you need to specify in order to open a session at all, and also allows you to save your settings to be reloaded later.

4.1.1 The host name section

The top box on the Session panel, labelled "Specify your connection by host name", contains the details that need to be filled in before PuTTY can open a session at all.

4.1.2 Loading and storing saved sessions

The next part of the Session configuration panel allows you to save your preferred PuTTY options so they will appear automatically the next time you start PuTTY. It also allows you to create saved sessions, which contain a full set of configuration options plus a host name and protocol. A saved session contains all the information PuTTY needs to start exactly the session you want.

Note that PuTTY does not allow you to save a host name into the Default Settings entry. This ensures that when PuTTY is started up, the host name box is always empty, so a user can always just type in a host name and connect.

If there is a specific host you want to store the details of how to connect to, you should create a saved session, which will be separate from the Default Settings.

Each saved session is independent of the Default Settings configuration. If you change your preferences and update Default Settings, you must also update every saved session separately.

4.1.3 "Close Window on Exit"

Finally in the Session panel, there is an option labelled "Close Window on Exit". This controls whether the PuTTY session window disappears as soon as the session inside it terminates. If you are likely to want to copy and paste text out of the session after it has terminated, you should arrange this option to be off.

"Close Window On Exit" has three settings. "Always" means always close the window on exit; "Never" means never close on exit (always leave the window open). The third setting, and the default one, is "Only on clean exit". In this mode, a session which terminates normally will cause its window to close, but one which is aborted unexpectedly by network trouble or a confusing message from the server will leave the window up.

Section 4.2: The Logging panel

The Logging configuration panel allows you to save log files of your PuTTY sessions, for debugging, analysis or future reference.

The main option is a radio-button set that specifies whether PuTTY will log anything at all. The options are

4.2.1 "Log file name"

In this edit box you enter the name of the file you want to log the session to. The "Browse" button will let you look around your file system to find the right place to put the file; or if you already know exactly where you want it to go, you can just type a pathname into the edit box.

There are a few special features in this box. If you use the & character in the file name box, PuTTY will insert details of the current session in the name of the file it actually opens. The precise replacements it will do are:

For example, if you enter the host name c:\puttylogs\log-&h-&y&m&d-&t.dat, you will end up with files looking like

4.2.2 "What to do if the log file already exists"

This control allows you to specify what PuTTY should do if it tries to start writing to a log file and it finds the file already exists. You might want to automatically destroy the existing log file and start a new one with the same name. Alternatively, you might want to open the existing log file and add data to the end of it. Finally (the default option), you might not want to have any automatic behaviour, but to ask the user every time the problem comes up.

Section 4.3: The Terminal panel

The Terminal configuration panel allows you to control the behaviour of PuTTY's terminal emulation.

4.3.1 "Auto wrap mode initially on"

Auto wrap mode controls what happens when text printed in a PuTTY window reaches the right-hand edge of the window.

With auto wrap mode on, if a long line of text reaches the right-hand edge, it will wrap over on to the next line so you can still see all the text. With auto wrap mode off, the cursor will stay at the right-hand edge of the screen, and all the characters in the line will be printed on top of each other.

If you are running a full-screen application and you occasionally find the screen scrolling up when it looks as if it shouldn't, you could try turning this option off.

Auto wrap mode can be turned on and off by control sequences sent by the server. This configuration option only controls the default state. If you modify this option in mid-session using "Change Settings", you will need to reset the terminal (see section before the change takes effect.

4.3.2 "DEC Origin Mode initially on"

DEC Origin Mode is a minor option which controls how PuTTY interprets cursor-position control sequences sent by the server.

The server can send a control sequence that restricts the scrolling region of the display. For example, in an editor, the server might reserve a line at the top of the screen and a line at the bottom, and might send a control sequence that causes scrolling operations to affect only the remaining lines.

With DEC Origin Mode on, cursor coordinates are counted from the top of the scrolling region. With it turned off, cursor coordinates are counted from the top of the whole screen regardless of the scrolling region.

It is unlikely you would need to change this option, but if you find a full-screen application is displaying pieces of text in what looks like the wrong part of the screen, you could try turning DEC Origin Mode on to see whether that helps.

DEC Origin Mode can be turned on and off by control sequences sent by the server. This configuration option only controls the default state. If you modify this option in mid-session using "Change Settings", you will need to reset the terminal (see section before the change takes effect.

4.3.3 "Implicit CR in every LF"

Most servers send two control characters, CR and LF, to start a new line of the screen. The CR character makes the cursor return to the left-hand side of the screen. The LF character makes the cursor move one line down (and might make the screen scroll).

Some servers only send LF, and expect the terminal to move the cursor over to the left automatically. If you come across a server that does this, you will see a stepped effect on the screen, like this:

First line of text
                  Second line
                             Third line

If this happens to you, try enabling the "Implicit CR in every LF" option, and things might go back to normal:

First line of text
Second line
Third line

4.3.4 "Use background colour to erase screen"

Not all terminals agree on what colour to turn the screen when the server sends a "clear screen" sequence. Some terminals believe the screen should always be cleared to the default background colour. Others believe the screen should be cleared to whatever the server has selected as a background colour.

There exist applications that expect both kinds of behaviour. Therefore, PuTTY can be configured to do either.

With this option disabled, screen clearing is always done in the default background colour. With this option enabled, it is done in the current background colour.

Background-colour erase can be turned on and off by control sequences sent by the server. This configuration option only controls the default state. If you modify this option in mid-session using "Change Settings", you will need to reset the terminal (see section before the change takes effect.

4.3.5 "Enable blinking text"

The server can ask PuTTY to display text that blinks on and off. This is very distracting, so PuTTY allows you to turn blinking text off completely.

When blinking text is disabled and the server attempts to make some text blink, PuTTY will instead display the text with a bolded background colour.

Blinking text can be turned on and off by control sequences sent by the server. This configuration option only controls the default state. If you modify this option in mid-session using "Change Settings", you will need to reset the terminal (see section before the change takes effect.

4.3.6 "Answerback to ^E"

This option controls what PuTTY will send back to the server if the server sends it the ^E enquiry character. Normally it just sends the string "PuTTY".

If you accidentally write the contents of a binary file to your terminal, you will probably find that it contains more than one ^E character, and as a result your next command line will probably read "PuTTYPuTTYPuTTY..." as if you had typed the answerback string multiple times at the keyboard. If you set the answerback string to be empty, this problem should go away, but doing so might cause other problems.

4.3.7 "Local echo"

With local echo disabled, characters you type into the PuTTY window are not echoed in the window by PuTTY. They are simply sent to the server. (The server might choose to echo them back to you; this can't be controlled from the PuTTY control panel.)

Some types of session need local echo, and many do not. In its default mode, PuTTY will automatically attempt to deduce whether or not local echo is appropriate for the session you are working in. If you find it has made the wrong decision, you can use this configuration option to override its choice: you can force local echo to be turned on, or force it to be turned off, instead of relying on the automatic detection.

4.3.8 "Local line editing"

Normally, every character you type into the PuTTY window is sent immediately to the server the moment you type it.

If you enable local line editing, this changes. PuTTY will let you edit a whole line at a time locally, and the line will only be sent to the server when you press Return. If you make a mistake, you can use the Backspace key to correct it before you press Return, and the server will never see the mistake.

Since it is hard to edit a line locally without being able to see it, local line editing is mostly used in conjunction with local echo (section 4.3.7). This makes it ideal for use in raw mode or when connecting to MUDs or talkers. (Although some more advanced MUDs do occasionally turn local line editing on and turn local echo off, in order to accept a password from the user.)

Some types of session need local line editing, and many do not. In its default mode, PuTTY will automatically attempt to deduce whether or not local line editing is appropriate for the session you are working in. If you find it has made the wrong decision, you can use this configuration option to override its choice: you can force local line editing to be turned on, or force it to be turned off, instead of relying on the automatic detection.

Section 4.4: The Keyboard panel

The Keyboard configuration panel allows you to control the behaviour of the keyboard in PuTTY.

4.4.1 Changing the action of the Backspace key

Some terminals believe that the Backspace key should send the same thing to the server as Control-H (ASCII code 8). Other terminals believe that the Backspace key should send ASCII code 127 (usually known as Control-?) so that it can be distinguished from Control-H. This option allows you to choose which code PuTTY generates when you press Backspace.

If you are connecting to a Unix system, you will probably find that the Unix stty command lets you configure which the server expects to see, so you might not need to change which one PuTTY generates. On other systems, the server's expectation might be fixed and you might have no choice but to configure PuTTY.

If you do have the choice, we recommend configuring PuTTY to generate Control-? and configuring the server to expect it, because that allows applications such as emacs to use Control-H for help.

4.4.2 Changing the action of the Home and End keys

The Unix terminal emulator rxvt disagrees with the rest of the world about what character sequences should be sent to the server by the Home and End keys.

xterm, and other terminals, send ESC [1~ for the Home key, and ESC [4~ for the End key. rxvt sends ESC [H for the Home key and ESC [Ow for the End key.

If you find an application on which the Home and End keys aren't working, you could try switching this option to see if it helps.

4.4.3 Changing the action of the function keys and keypad

This option affects the function keys (F1 to F12) and the top row of the numeric keypad.

If you don't know what any of this means, you probably don't need to fiddle with it.

4.4.4 Controlling Application Cursor Keys mode

Application Cursor Keys mode is a way for the server to change the control sequences sent by the arrow keys. In normal mode, the arrow keys send ESC [A through to ESC [D. In application mode, they send ESC OA through to ESC OD.

Application Cursor Keys mode can be turned on and off by the server, depending on the application. PuTTY allows you to configure the initial state, and also allows you to disable application mode completely.

4.4.5 Controlling Application Keypad mode

Application Keypad mode is a way for the server to change the behaviour of the numeric keypad.

In normal mode, the keypad behaves like a normal Windows keypad: with NumLock on, the number keys generate numbers, and with NumLock off they act like the arrow keys and Home, End etc.

In application mode, all the keypad keys send special control sequences, including Num Lock. Num Lock stops behaving like Num Lock and becomes another function key.

Depending on which version of Windows you run, you may find the Num Lock light still flashes on and off every time you press Num Lock, even when application mode is active and Num Lock is acting like a function key. This is unavoidable.

Application keypad mode can be turned on and off by the server, depending on the application. PuTTY allows you to configure the initial state, and also allows you to disable application mode completely.

4.4.6 Using NetHack keypad mode

PuTTY has a special mode for playing NetHack. You can enable it by selecting "NetHack" in the "Initial state of numeric keypad" control.

In this mode, the numeric keypad keys 1-9 generate the NetHack movement commands (hjklyubn). The 5 key generates the . command (do nothing).

Better still, pressing Shift with the keypad keys generates the capital forms of the commands (HJKLYUBN), which tells NetHack to keep moving you in the same direction until you encounter something interesting.

For some reason, this feature only works properly when Num Lock is on. We don't know why.

4.4.7 Enabling a DEC-like Compose key

DEC terminals have a Compose key, which provides an easy-to-remember way of typing accented characters. You press Compose and then type two more characters. The two characters are "combined" to produce an accented character. The choices of character are designed to be easy to remember; for example, composing "e" and "`" produces the "è" character.

If you enable the "Application and AltGr act as Compose key" option, the Windows Application key and the AltGr key will both have this behaviour.

4.4.8 "Control-Alt is different from AltGr"

Some old keyboards do not have an AltGr key, which can make it difficult to type some characters. PuTTY can be configured to treat the key combination Ctrl + Left Alt the same way as the AltGr key.

By default, this checkbox is checked, and the key combination Ctrl + Left Alt does something completely different. PuTTY's usual handling of the left Alt key is to prefix the Escape (Control-[) character to whatever character sequence the rest of the keypress would generate. For example, Alt-A generates Escape followed by a. So Alt-Ctrl-A would generate Escape, followed by Control-A.

If you uncheck this box, Ctrl-Alt will become a synonym for AltGr, so you can use it to type extra graphic characters if your keyboard has any.

Section 4.5: The Bell panel

The Bell panel controls the terminal bell feature: the server's ability to cause PuTTY to beep at you.

In the default configuration, when the server sends the character with ASCII code 7 (Control-G), PuTTY will play the Windows Default Beep sound. This is not always what you want the terminal bell feature to do; the Bell panel allows you to configure alternative actions.

4.5.1 "Set the style of bell"

This control allows you to select various different actions to occur on a terminal bell:

4.5.2 "Taskbar/caption indication on bell"

This feature controls what happens to the PuTTY window's entry in the Windows Taskbar if a bell occurs while the window does not have the input focus.

In the default state ("Disabled") nothing unusual happens.

If you select "Steady", then when a bell occurs and the window is not in focus, the window's Taskbar entry and its title bar will change colour to let you know that PuTTY session is asking for your attention. The change of colour will persist until you select the window, so you can leave several PuTTY windows minimised in your terminal, go away from your keyboard, and be sure not to have missed any important beeps when you get back.

"Flashing" is even more eye-catching: the Taskbar entry will continuously flash on and off until you select the window.

4.5.3 "Control the bell overload behaviour"

A common user error in a terminal session is to accidentally run the Unix command cat (or equivalent) on an inappropriate file type, such as an executable, image file, or ZIP file. This produces a huge stream of non-text characters sent to the terminal, which typically includes a lot of bell characters. As a result of this the terminal often doesn't stop beeping for ten minutes, and everybody else in the office gets annoyed.

To try to avoid this behaviour, or any other cause of excessive beeping, PuTTY includes a bell overload management feature. In the default configuration, receiving more than five bell characters in a two-second period will cause the overload feature to activate. Once the overload feature is active, further bells will have no effect at all, so the rest of your binary file will be sent to the screen in silence. After a period of five seconds during which no further bells are received, the overload feature will turn itself off again and bells will be re-enabled.

If you want this feature completely disabled, you can turn it off using the checkbox "Bell is temporarily disabled when over-used".

Alternatively, if you like the bell overload feature but don't agree with the settings, you can configure the details: how many bells constitute an overload, how short a time period they have to arrive in to do so, and how much silent time is required before the overload feature will deactivate itself.

Section 4.6: The Window panel

The Window configuration panel allows you to control aspects of the PuTTY window.

4.6.1 Setting the size of the PuTTY window

The "Rows" and "Columns" boxes let you set the PuTTY window to a precise size. Of course you can also drag the window to a new size while a session is running.

4.6.2 What to do when the window is resized

These options allow you to control what happens when the user tries to resize the PuTTY window.

When you resize the PuTTY window, one of four things can happen:

You can control which of these happens using the "Lock terminal size against resizing" and "Lock font size against resizing" options. If you lock both, the window will refuse to be resized at all. If you lock just the terminal size, the font size will change when you resize the window. If you lock just the font size, the terminal size will change when you resize the window.

4.6.3 Controlling scrollback

These options let you configure the way PuTTY keeps text after it scrolls off the top of the screen (see section 3.1.2).

The "Lines of scrollback" box lets you configure how many lines of text PuTTY keeps. The "Display scrollbar" options allow you to hide the scrollbar (although you can still view the scrollback using Shift-PgUp and Shift-PgDn). You can separately configure whether the scrollbar is shown in full-screen mode and in normal modes.

If you are viewing part of the scrollback when the server sends more text to PuTTY, the screen will revert to showing the current terminal contents. You can disable this behaviour by turning off "Reset scrollback on display activity". You can also make the screen revert when you press a key, by turning on "Reset scrollback on keypress".

Section 4.7: The Appearance panel

The Appearance configuration panel allows you to control aspects of the appearance of PuTTY's window.

4.7.1 Controlling the appearance of the cursor

The "Cursor appearance" option lets you configure the cursor to be a block, an underline, or a vertical line. A block cursor becomes an empty box when the window loses focus; an underline or a vertical line becomes dotted.

The "Cursor blinks" option makes the cursor blink on and off. This works in any of the cursor modes.

4.7.2 Controlling the font used in the terminal window

This option allows you to choose what font, in what size, the PuTTY terminal window uses to display the text in the session. You will be offered a choice from all the fixed-width fonts installed on the system. (VT100-style terminal handling can only deal with fixed- width fonts.)

4.7.3 Controlling the window title

The "Window title" edit box allows you to set the title of the PuTTY window. By default the window title will contain the host name followed by "PuTTY", for example - PuTTY. If you want a different window title, this is where to set it.

PuTTY allows the server to send xterm control sequences which modify the title of the window in mid-session. There is also an xterm sequence to modify the title of the window's icon. This makes sense in a windowing system where the window becomes an icon when minimised, such as Windows 3.1 or most X Window System setups; but in the Windows 95-like user interface it isn't as applicable. By default PuTTY's window title and Taskbar caption will change into the server-supplied icon title if you minimise the PuTTY window, and change back to the server-supplied window title if you restore it. (If the server has not bothered to supply a window or icon title, none of this will happen.) By checking the box marked "Avoid ever using icon title", you can arrange that PuTTY will always display the window title, and completely ignore any icon titles the server sends it.

4.7.4 "Hide mouse pointer when typing in window"

If you enable this option, the mouse pointer will disappear if the PuTTY window is selected and you press a key. This way, it will not obscure any of the text in the window while you work in your session. As soon as you move the mouse, the pointer will reappear.

This option is disabled by default, so the mouse pointer remains visible at all times.

4.7.5 Controlling the window border

PuTTY allows you to configure the appearance of the window border to some extent.

The checkbox marked "Sunken-edge border" changes the appearance of the window border to something more like a DOS box: the inside edge of the border is highlighted as if it sank down to meet the surface inside the window. This makes the border a little bit thicker as well. It's hard to describe well. Try it and see if you like it.

You can also configure a completely blank gap between the text in the window and the border, using the "Gap between text and window edge" control. By default this is set at one pixel. You can reduce it to zero, or increase it further.

Section 4.8: The Behaviour panel

The Behaviour configuration panel allows you to control aspects of the behaviour of PuTTY's window.

4.8.1 "Warn before closing window"

If you press the Close button in a PuTTY window that contains a running session, PuTTY will put up a warning window asking if you really meant to close the window. A window whose session has already terminated can always be closed without a warning.

If you want to be able to close a window quickly, you can disable the "Warn before closing window" option.

4.8.2 "Window closes on ALT-F4"

By default, pressing ALT-F4 causes the window to close (or a warning box to appear; see section 4.8.1). If you disable the "Window closes on ALT-F4" option, then pressing ALT-F4 will simply send a key sequence to the server.

4.8.3 "System menu appears on ALT-Space"

If this option is enabled, then pressing ALT-Space will bring up the PuTTY window's menu, like clicking on the top left corner. If it is disabled, then pressing ALT-Space will just send ESC SPACE to the server.

Some accessibility programs for Windows may need this option enabling to be able to control PuTTY's window successfully. For instance, Dragon NaturallySpeaking requires it both to open the system menu via voice, and to close, minimise, maximise and restore the window.

4.8.4 "System menu appears on Alt alone"

If this option is enabled, then pressing and releasing ALT will bring up the PuTTY window's menu, like clicking on the top left corner. If it is disabled, then pressing and releasing ALT will have no effect.

4.8.5 "Ensure window is always on top"

If this option is enabled, the PuTTY window will stay on top of all other windows.

4.8.6 "Full screen on Alt-Enter"

If this option is enabled, then pressing Alt-Enter will cause the PuTTY window to become full-screen. Pressing Alt-Enter again will restore the previous window size.

The full-screen feature is also available from the System menu, even when it is configured not to be available on the Alt-Enter key. See section

Section 4.9: The Translation panel

The Translation configuration panel allows you to control the translation between the character set understood by the server and the character set understood by PuTTY.

4.9.1 Controlling character set translation

During an interactive session, PuTTY receives a stream of 8-bit bytes from the server, and in order to display them on the screen it needs to know what character set to interpret them in.

There are a lot of character sets to choose from. The "Received data assumed to be in which character set" option lets you select one. By default PuTTY will attempt to choose a character set that is right for your locale as reported by Windows; if it gets it wrong, you can select a different one using this control.

A few notable character sets are:

4.9.2 "Caps Lock acts as Cyrillic switch"

This feature allows you to switch between a US/UK keyboard layout and a Cyrillic keyboard layout by using the Caps Lock key, if you need to type (for example) Russian and English side by side in the same document.

Currently this feature is not expected to work properly if your native keyboard layout is not US or UK.

4.9.3 Controlling display of line drawing characters

VT100-series terminals allow the server to send control sequences that shift temporarily into a separate character set for drawing lines and boxes. PuTTY has a variety of ways to support this capability. In general you should probably try lots of options until you find one that your particular font supports.

Section 4.10: The Selection panel

The Selection panel allows you to control the way copy and paste work in the PuTTY window.

4.10.1 Controlling the pasting of line drawing characters

By default, when you copy and paste a piece of the PuTTY screen that contains VT100 line and box drawing characters, PuTTY will translate them into the "poor man's" line-drawing characters +, - and |. The checkbox "Don't translate line drawing chars" disables this feature, so line-drawing characters will be pasted as if they were in the normal character set. This will typically mean they come out mostly as q and x, with a scattering of jklmntuvw at the corners. This might be useful if you were trying to recreate the same box layout in another program, for example.

4.10.2 Pasting in Rich Text Format

If you enable "Paste to clipboard in RTF as well as plain text", PuTTY will write formatting information to the clipboard as well as the actual text you copy. Currently the only effect of this will be that if you paste into (say) a word processor, the text will appear in the word processor in the same font PuTTY was using to display it. In future it is likely that other formatting information (bold, underline, colours) will be copied as well.

This option can easily be inconvenient, so by default it is disabled.

4.10.3 Changing the actions of the mouse buttons

PuTTY's copy and paste mechanism is modelled on the Unix xterm application. The X Window System uses a three-button mouse, and the convention is that the left button selects, the right button extends an existing selection, and the middle button pastes.

Windows typically only has two mouse buttons, so in PuTTY's default configuration, the right button pastes, and the middle button (if you have one) extends a selection.

If you have a three-button mouse and you are already used to the xterm arrangement, you can select it using the "Action of mouse buttons" control.

4.10.4 "Shift overrides application's use of mouse"

PuTTY allows the server to send control codes that let it take over the mouse and use it for purposes other than copy and paste. Applications which use this feature include the text-mode web browser links, the Usenet newsreader trn version 4, and the file manager mc (Midnight Commander).

When running one of these applications, pressing the mouse buttons no longer performs copy and paste. If you do need to copy and paste, you can still do so if you hold down Shift while you do your mouse clicks.

However, it is possible in theory for applications to even detect and make use of Shift + mouse clicks. We don't know of any applications that do this, but in case someone ever writes one, unchecking the "Shift overrides application's use of mouse" checkbox will cause Shift + mouse clicks to go to the server as well (so that mouse-driven copy and paste will be completely disabled).

4.10.5 Default selection mode

As described in section 3.1.1, PuTTY has two modes of selecting text to be copied to the clipboard. In the default mode ("Normal"), dragging the mouse from point A to point B selects to the end of the line containing A, all the lines in between, and from the very beginning of the line containing B. In the other mode ("Rectangular block"), dragging the mouse between two points defines a rectangle, and everything within that rectangle is copied.

Normally, you have to hold down Alt while dragging the mouse to select a rectangular block. Using the "Default selection mode" control, you can set rectangular selection as the default, and then you have to hold down Alt to get the normal behaviour.

4.10.6 Configuring word-by-word selection

PuTTY will select a word at a time in the terminal window if you double-click to begin the drag. This panel allows you to control precisely what is considered to be a word.

Each character is given a class, which is a small number (typically 0, 1 or 2). PuTTY considers a single word to be any number of adjacent characters in the same class. So by modifying the assignment of characters to classes, you can modify the word-by-word selection behaviour.

In the default configuration, the character classes are:

So, for example, if you assign the @ symbol into character class 2, you will be able to select an e-mail address with just a double click.

In order to adjust these assignments, you start by selecting a group of characters in the list box. Then enter a class number in the edit box below, and press the "Set" button.

This mechanism currently only covers ASCII characters, because it isn't feasible to expand the list to cover the whole of Unicode.

Section 4.11: The Colours panel

The Colours panel allows you to control PuTTY's use of colour.

4.11.1 "Bolded text is a different colour"

When the server sends a control sequence indicating that some text should be displayed in bold, PuTTY can handle this two ways. It can either change the font for a bold version, or use the same font in a brighter colour. This control lets you choose which.

By default the box is checked, so non-bold text is displayed in light grey and bold text is displayed in bright white (and similarly in other colours). If you uncheck the box, bold and non-bold text will be displayed in the same colour, and instead the font will change to indicate the difference.

4.11.2 "Attempt to use logical palettes"

Logical palettes are a mechanism by which a Windows application running on an 8-bit colour display can select precisely the colours it wants instead of going with the Windows standard defaults.

If you are not getting the colours you ask for on an 8-bit display, you can try enabling this option. However, be warned that it's never worked very well.

4.11.3 Adjusting the colours in the terminal window

The main colour control allows you to specify exactly what colours things should be displayed in. To modify one of the PuTTY colours, use the list box to select which colour you want to modify. The RGB values for that colour will appear on the right-hand side of the list box. Now, if you press the "Modify" button, you will be presented with a colour selector, in which you can choose a new colour to go in place of the old one.

PuTTY allows you to set the cursor colour, the default foreground and background, and the precise shades of all the ANSI configurable colours (black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, and white). In addition, if you have selected "Bolded text is a different colour", you can also modify the precise shades used for the bold versions of these colours.

Section 4.12: The Connection panel

The Connection panel allows you to configure options that apply to more than one type of connection.

4.12.1 "Terminal-type string"

Most servers you might connect to with PuTTY are designed to be connected to from lots of different types of terminal. In order to send the right control sequences to each one, the server will need to know what type of terminal it is dealing with. Therefore, each of the SSH, Telnet and Rlogin protocols allow a text string to be sent down the connection describing the terminal.

PuTTY attempts to emulate the Unix xterm program, and by default it reflects this by sending xterm as a terminal-type string. If you find this is not doing what you want - perhaps the remote terminal reports "Unknown terminal type" - you could try setting this to something different, such as vt220.

If you're not sure whether a problem is due to the terminal type setting or not, you probably need to consult the manual for your application or your server.

4.12.2 "Auto-login username"

All three of the SSH, Telnet and Rlogin protocols allow you to specify what user name you want to log in as, without having to type it explicitly every time. (Some Telnet servers don't support this.)

In this box you can type that user name.

4.12.3 Using keepalives to prevent disconnection

If you find your sessions are closing unexpectedly ("Connection reset by peer") after they have been idle for a while, you might want to try using this option.

Some network routers and firewalls need to keep track of all connections through them. Usually, these firewalls will assume a connection is dead if no data is transferred in either direction after a certain time interval. This can cause PuTTY sessions to be unexpectedly closed by the firewall if no traffic is seen in the session for some time.

The keepalive option ("Seconds between keepalives") allows you to configure PuTTY to send data through the session at regular intervals, in a way that does not disrupt the actual terminal session. If you find your firewall is cutting idle connections off, you can try entering a non-zero value in this field. The value is measured in seconds; so, for example, if your firewall cuts connections off after ten minutes then you might want to enter 300 seconds (5 minutes) in the box.

Note that keepalives are not always helpful. They help if you have a firewall which drops your connection after an idle period; but if the network between you and the server suffers from breaks in connectivity then keepalives can actually make things worse. If a session is idle, and connectivity is temporarily lost between the endpoints, but the connectivity is restored before either side tries to send anything, then there will be no problem - neither endpoint will notice that anything was wrong. However, if one side does send something during the break, it will repeatedly try to re-send, and eventually give up and abandon the connection. Then when connectivity is restored, the other side will find that the first side doesn't believe there is an open connection any more. Keepalives can make this sort of problem worse, because they increase the probability that PuTTY will attempt to send data during a break in connectivity. Therefore, you might find they help connection loss, or you might find they make it worse, depending on what kind of network problems you have between you and the server.

Keepalives are only supported in Telnet and SSH; the Rlogin and Raw protocols offer no way of implementing them.

4.12.4 "Disable Nagle's algorithm"

Nagle's algorithm is a detail of TCP/IP implementations that tries to minimise the number of small data packets sent down a network connection. With Nagle's algorithm enabled, PuTTY's bandwidth usage will be slightly more efficient; with it disabled, you may find you get a faster response to your keystrokes when connecting to some types of server.

The Nagle algorithm is disabled by default.

Section 4.13: The Telnet panel

The Telnet panel allows you to configure options that only apply to Telnet sessions.

4.13.1 "Terminal-speed string"

Telnet allows the client to send a text string that describes the terminal speed. PuTTY lets you configure this, in case you find the server is reacting badly to the default value. (I'm not aware of any servers that do have a problem with it.)

4.13.2 Setting environment variables on the server

The Telnet protocol also provides a means for the client to pass environment variables to the server. Many Telnet servers have stopped supporting this feature due to security flaws, but PuTTY still supports it for the benefit of any servers which have found other ways around the security problems than just disabling the whole mechanism.

To add an environment variable to the list transmitted down the connection, you enter the variable name in the "Variable" box, enter its value in the "Value" box, and press the "Add" button. To remove one from the list, select it in the list box and press "Remove".

4.13.3 "Handling of OLD_ENVIRON ambiguity"

The original Telnet mechanism for passing environment variables was badly specified. At the time the standard (RFC 1408) was written, BSD telnet implementations were already supporting the feature, and the intention of the standard was to describe the behaviour the BSD implementations were already using.

Sadly there was a typing error in the standard when it was issued, and two vital function codes were specified the wrong way round. BSD implementations did not change, and the standard was not corrected. Therefore, it's possible you might find either BSD or RFC-compliant implementations out there. This switch allows you to choose which one PuTTY claims to be.

The problem was solved by issuing a second standard, defining a new Telnet mechanism called NEW_ENVIRON, which behaved exactly like the original OLD_ENVIRON but was not encumbered by existing implementations. Most Telnet servers now support this, and it's unambiguous. This feature should only be needed if you have trouble passing environment variables to quite an old server.

4.13.4 Passive and active Telnet negotiation modes

In a Telnet connection, there are two types of data passed between the client and the server: actual text, and negotiations about which Telnet extra features to use.

PuTTY can use two different strategies for negotiation:

The obvious disadvantage of passive mode is that if the server is also operating in a passive mode, then negotiation will never begin at all. For this reason PuTTY defaults to active mode.

However, sometimes passive mode is required in order to successfully get through certain types of firewall and Telnet proxy server. If you have confusing trouble with a firewall, you could try enabling passive mode to see if it helps.

4.13.5 "Keyboard sends telnet Backspace and Interrupt"

If this box is checked, the Backspace key on the keyboard will send the Telnet special backspace code, and Control-C will send the Telnet special interrupt code. You probably shouldn't enable this unless you know what you're doing.

4.13.6 "Return key sends telnet New Line instead of ^M"

Unlike most other remote login protocols, the Telnet protocol has a special "new line" code that is not the same as the usual line endings of Control-M or Control-J. By default, PuTTY sends the Telnet New Line code when you press Return, instead of sending Control-M as it does in most other protocols.

Most Unix-style Telnet servers don't mind whether they receive Telnet New Line or Control-M; some servers do expect New Line, and some servers prefer to see ^M. If you are seeing surprising behaviour when you press Return in a Telnet session, you might try turning this option off to see if it helps.

Section 4.14: The Rlogin panel

The Rlogin panel allows you to configure options that only apply to Rlogin sessions.

4.14.1 "Terminal-speed string"

Like Telnet, Rlogin allows the client to send a text string that describes the terminal speed. PuTTY lets you configure this, in case you find the server is reacting badly to the default value. (I'm not aware of any servers that do have a problem with it.)

4.14.2 "Local username"

Rlogin allows an automated (password-free) form of login by means of a file called .rhosts on the server. You put a line in your .rhosts file saying something like, and then when you make an Rlogin connection the client transmits the username of the user running the Rlogin client. The server checks the username and hostname against .rhosts, and if they match it does not ask for a password.

This only works because Unix systems contain a safeguard to stop a user from pretending to be another user in an Rlogin connection. Rlogin connections have to come from port numbers below 1024, and Unix systems prohibit this to unprivileged processes; so when the server sees a connection from a low-numbered port, it assumes the client end of the connection is held by a privileged (and therefore trusted) process, so it believes the claim of who the user is.

Windows does not have this restriction: any user can initiate an outgoing connection from a low-numbered port. Hence, the Rlogin .rhosts mechanism is completely useless for securely distinguishing several different users on a Windows machine. If you have a .rhosts entry pointing at a Windows PC, you should assume that anyone using that PC can spoof your username in an Rlogin connection and access your account on the server.

The "Local username" control allows you to specify what user name PuTTY should claim you have, in case it doesn't match your Windows user name (or in case you didn't bother to set up a Windows user name).

Section 4.15: The SSH panel

The SSH panel allows you to configure options that only apply to SSH sessions.

4.15.1 Executing a specific command on the server

In SSH, you don't have to run a general shell session on the server. Instead, you can choose to run a single specific command (such as a mail user agent, for example). If you want to do this, enter the command in the "Remote command" box.

4.15.2 "Don't allocate a pseudo-terminal"

When connecting to a Unix system, most interactive shell sessions are run in a pseudo-terminal, which allows the Unix system to pretend it's talking to a real physical terminal device but allows the SSH server to catch all the data coming from that fake device and send it back to the client.

Occasionally you might find you have a need to run a session not in a pseudo-terminal. In PuTTY, this is generally only useful for very specialist purposes; although in Plink (see chapter 7) it is the usual way of working.

4.15.3 "Enable compression"

This enables data compression in the SSH connection: data sent by the server is compressed before sending, and decompressed at the client end. Likewise, data sent by PuTTY to the server is compressed first and the server decompresses it at the other end. This can help make the most of a low-bandwidth connection.

4.15.4 "Preferred SSH protocol version"

This allows you to select whether you would like to use SSH protocol version 1 or version 2.

PuTTY will attempt to use protocol 1 if the server you connect to does not offer protocol 2, and vice versa.

4.15.5 "Imitate SSH 2 MAC bug"

This option should now be unnecessary. It existed in order to work around a bug in early versions (2.3.0 and below) of the SSH server software from The symptom of this problem would be that PuTTY would die unexpectedly at the beginning of the session, saying "Incorrect MAC received on packet".

Current versions of PuTTY attempt to detect these faulty servers and enable the bug compatibility automatically, so you should never need to use this option any more.

4.15.6 Encryption algorithm selection

PuTTY supports a variety of different encryption algorithms, and allows you to choose which one you prefer to use. You can do this by dragging the algorithms up and down in the list box (or moving them using the Up and Down buttons) to specify a preference order. When you make an SSH connection, PuTTY will search down the list from the top until it finds an algorithm supported by the server, and then use that.

If the algorithm PuTTY finds is below the "warn below here" line, you will see a warning box when you make the connection:

The first cipher supported by the server
is single-DES, which is below the configured
warning threshold.
Do you want to continue with this connection?

This warns you that the first available encryption is not a very secure one. Typically you would put the "warn below here" line between the encryptions you consider secure and the ones you consider substandard. By default, PuTTY supplies a preference order intended to reflect a reasonable preference in terms of security and speed.

Single-DES is not supported natively in the SSH 2 draft protocol standards. One or two server implementations do support it, by a non-standard name. PuTTY can use single-DES to interoperate with these servers if you enable the "Enable non-standard single-DES in SSH 2" option; by default this is disabled and PuTTY will stick to the standard.

Section 4.16: The Auth panel

The Auth panel allows you to configure authentication options for SSH sessions.

4.16.1 "Attempt TIS or CryptoCard authentication"

TIS and CryptoCard authentication are simple challenge/response forms of authentication available in SSH protocol version 1 only. You might use them if you were using S/Key one-time passwords, for example, or if you had a physical security token that generated responses to authentication challenges.

With this switch enabled, PuTTY will attempt these forms of authentication if the server is willing to try them. You will be presented with a challenge string (which will be different every time) and must supply the correct response in order to log in. If your server supports this, you should talk to your system administrator about precisely what form these challenges and responses take.

4.16.2 "Attempt keyboard-interactive authentication"

The SSH 2 equivalent of TIS authentication is called "keyboard-interactive". It is a flexible authentication method using an arbitrary sequence of requests and responses; so it is not only useful for challenge/response mechanisms such as S/Key, but it can also be used for (for example) asking the user for a new password when the old one has expired.

PuTTY leaves this option enabled by default, but supplies a switch to turn it off in case you should have trouble with it.

4.16.3 "Allow agent forwarding"

This option allows the SSH server to open forwarded connections back to your local copy of Pageant. If you are not running Pageant, this option will do nothing.

See chapter 9 for general information on Pageant, and section 9.4 for information on agent forwarding. Note that there is a security risk involved with enabling this option; see section 9.5 for details.

4.16.4 "Allow attempted changes of username in SSH2"

In the SSH 1 protocol, it is impossible to change username after failing to authenticate. So if you mis-type your username at the PuTTY "login as:" prompt, you will not be able to change it except by restarting PuTTY.

The SSH 2 protocol does allow changes of username, in principle, but does not make it mandatory for SSH 2 servers to accept them. In particular, OpenSSH does not accept a change of username; once you have sent one username, it will reject attempts to try to authenticate as another user. (Depending on the version of OpenSSH, it may quietly return failure for all login attempts, or it may send an error message.)

For this reason, PuTTY will by default not prompt you for your username more than once, in case the server complains. If you know your server can cope with it, you can enable the "Allow attempted changes of username" option to modify PuTTY's behaviour.

4.16.5 "Private key file for authentication"

This box is where you enter the name of your private key file if you are using public key authentication. See chapter 8 for information about public key authentication in SSH.

Section 4.17: The Tunnels panel

The Tunnels panel allows you to configure tunnelling of other connection types through an SSH connection.

4.17.1 X11 forwarding

If your server lets you run X Window System applications, X11 forwarding allows you to securely give those applications access to a local X display on your PC.

To enable X11 forwarding, check the "Enable X11 forwarding" box. If your X display is not the primary display on your local machine (which it almost certainly will be unless you have deliberately arranged otherwise), you need to enter its location in the "X display location" box.

See section 3.4 for more information about X11 forwarding.

4.17.2 Port forwarding

Port forwarding allows you to tunnel other types of network connection down an SSH session. See section 3.5 for a general discussion of port forwarding and how it works.

The port forwarding section in the Tunnels panel shows a list of all the port forwardings that PuTTY will try to set up when it connects to the server. By default no port forwardings are set up, so this list is empty.

To add a port forwarding:

To remove a port forwarding, simply select its details in the list box, and click the "Remove" button.

4.17.3 Controlling the visibility of forwarded ports

The source port for a forwarded connection usually does not accept connections from any machine except the SSH client or server machine itself (for local and remote forwardings respectively). There are controls in the Tunnels panel to change this:

Section 4.18: Storing configuration in a file

PuTTY does not currently support storing its configuration in a file instead of the Registry. However, you can work around this with a couple of batch files.

You will need a file called (say) PUTTY.BAT which imports the contents of a file into the Registry, then runs PuTTY, exports the contents of the Registry back into the file, and deletes the Registry entries. This can all be done using the Regedit command line options, so it's all automatic. Here is what you need in PUTTY.BAT:

regedit /s putty.reg
regedit /s puttyrnd.reg
start /w putty.exe
regedit /e puttynew.reg HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY
copy puttynew.reg putty.reg
del puttynew.reg
regedit /s puttydel.reg

This batch file needs two auxiliary files: PUTTYRND.REG which sets up an initial safe location for the PUTTY.RND random seed file, and PUTTYDEL.REG which destroys everything in the Registry once it's been successfully saved back to the file.



Here is an example PUTTYRND.REG file:


You should replace a:\putty.rnd with the location where you want to store your random number data. If the aim is to carry around PuTTY and its settings on one floppy, you probably want to store it on the floppy.

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