Everyone like to have a laugh and there’s plenty of amusement to be had messing around with other people’s PCs or
laptops. Here are 10 harmless but brilliant Windows pranks.
Whether your intended victim is a computer whiz or a novice, these hilarious Windows
PC pranks are great fun to try. These tricks will also teach you how to know when others are trying to prank you.
All of the tricks are reversible, and we’d recommend sticking around so you can ‘fix’ your victim’s computer once the prank is over… or at least leave some instructions telling them how to undo what has been done!
1. Remove all desktop icons
This is the oldest, yet still the best PC prank. You’d be surprised how many people haven’t seen this trick, and even if they have, it’s still a good laugh.
All you need is a minute or two alone with their PC. Close or minimise all open applications and take a screenshot of the desktop. Pressing the PrtScrn or Print Screen button (you might need to also hold Shift if it’s a dual-function key) takes the screenshot.
You then need to paste it into any image editing program (MS Paint will do) and save it somewhere.
Next, clear all the desktop icons into a folder somewhere and set the taskbar at the bottom to auto-hide (right click on it and choose Properties, then click ‘Auto-hide the taskbar’.
Now head to the Control Panel and set the image as the desktop background. For a quicker way, right-click on the desktop and choose Properties in XP, or Personalize in Windows Vista, 7 or 8.
Sit back and watch as the unsuspecting user tries in vain to get their Start menu to open or launch and programs.
As a twist, you could leave one or two applications open on the desktop before you take the screenshot – perhaps a NSFW YouTube video if you’re feeling particularly nasty.
2. Fun with mice
Gone are the days when you could quickly remove someone’s mouse ball, but you can still stop their optical or laser mouse working properly by sticking a few layers of tape over the light underneath their mouse.
If you have more time, you can go to the Mouse Properties in the Control Panel (search Mouse in the Start menu for speed) and change a few settings to make life difficult.
First, switch the primary and secondary buttons. That’s confusing enough, but you can also change the pointer (the Normal Select – the default pointer) to the Busy icon to make it seem like the PC isn’t responding properly.
With some mice – and laptop touchpads – you can reverse the scroll direction, which will throw people when they try and scroll down a document or web page.
3. Keyboard layouts
Nothing is more frustrating than when the keys you press don’t produce the letters you expect. To create confusion, head to your friend’s PC and change the keyboard layout to Dvorak.
To do it quickly, search Keyboard Layout in the Start menu and click on ‘Change keyboards or other input methods’. Then, if necessary, click Change keyboards.. and then Add. Scroll down and under English (United Kingdom) select United States-Dvorak (you might have to click Show more if you can’t see it).
The Dvorak layout is completely different from Qwerty, so the user won’t be able to even type their log-in password properly.
Auto-correct is a great tool, and you can put it to uses the Microsoft never intended. Whether in Office or Outlook, you can find the auto-correct options in the Tools menu or, in later versions, under Options in the File menu.
Here, you can create custom entries and your imagination is the limit. You could auto-correct their name to something insulting, change a word they frequently miss-spell to an all-caps message (“IT’S DEFINITELY NOT DEFINATELY!!!!!”) or you could be subtler and change a few common words to miss-spelt versions. Chances are, they won’t notice until someone else – an email recipient perhaps – points it out.
If you opt for the latter trick, use it with caution.
5. Phantom drives
Back in the day, you could get a utility called Office Poltergeist which let you do things to other PCs on the network such as opening the DVD drive and playing sounds. It’s not available any more, and as it was a Trojan (a harmless one, but a Trojan nonetheless)
anti-virus software tended to block it.
You can, however, create a quick script which will cause your friend or colleague’s DVD drive to open and close.
Copy and paste this into Notepad:
Set oWMP = CreateObject(“WMPlayer.OCX.7”)
Set colCDROMs = oWMP.cdromCollection
if colCDROMs.Count >= 1 then
For i = 0 to colCDROMs.Count – 1
For i = 0 to colCDROMs.Count – 1
Save it somewhere, then find it in Windows Explorer and change the extension from .txt to .vbs. Double-click it and any drives in the victim’s PC will open and shut.
To stop this, you’ll have to start the Task Manager and end the task ‘Wscript’ in the processes tab.
Everyone like to have a laugh and there’s plenty of amusement to be had messing around with other people’s PCs or laptops. Here are 10 harmless but brilliant Windows pranks.
6. Start Windows Narrator
A little-known Windows feature is Narrator – unless you’re visually impaired that it. Narrator reads out everything you do on your PC, including typing and clicking. Simply search Narrator in the Start menu and run the program on your friend’s PC or laptop.
For maximum fun, enable all of Narrator’s options, including Start Narrator Minimized. If you’re feeling cheeky, you can set Narrator to start with Windows, so it will continue to work even if they reboot their PC.
Turn their speakers up to an annoying level, and sit back and watch as they try and work out what’s going on.
7. Restart the PC from a shortcut
This one should fox even advanced Windows users. Pick a shortcut to a program you know they use frequently (or change lots of shortcuts if you have time). A good one to go for is their preferred web browser, so do some spying before you try this prank.
Right-click on the shortcut and change its ‘target’ to:
“%windir%system32shutdown.exe -r -t 00”
Now, when they double-click on the shortcut, their computer will restart. Simple.
8. Fun with startup programs
As most people quickly discover, lots of programs load when Windows starts. Most are utilities – anti-virus, Skype, updaters and more. Typically, it all happens in the background and the only thing you notice is that your computer is a bit unresponsive for a minute or two after you first get to the desktop.
However, you can add a few more programs to your mate’s startup folder that are a bit more obvious.
Under Windows XP, in Windows Explorer, go to:
C:Documents and SettingsAll usersStart MenuProgramsStartup
Or in Windows 7, head to:
Here you can copy shortcuts to programs, or even include a text document with a nice (or naughty) welcome message.
9. Task Scheduler
You can have yet more fun with another innocent tool in Windows. Usually, Task Scheduler is used to run things like regular backups and disk defragging utilities.
It’s pretty obvious that you can use it for nefarious purposes, such as scheduling programs to launch at inopportune moments.
You’ll need a few minutes alone with the target PC. Search Task Scheduler in the Start menu and then Create a new task under the Action menu.
Under the Actions tab, you can choose to start a program, send an email or display a message, so there’s plenty of amusement to be had if you have time to set up multiple tasks.
Under the Triggers tab you can click new and then choose when this bogus ‘task’ will happen.
With a bit of imagination, you can cause all sorts of havoc with this prank.
10. Extra keyboard and mouse
For an easy bit of office fun, plug in a USB dongle for a wireless keyboard and mouse and occasionally move the mouse or type on the keyboard while your chosen victim is trying to work. They’ll have no idea that a second keyboard and mouse is attached, and both with work at the same time.
Most have a range of a good few metres, so you should be able to stretch out the prank for a good while before you’re caught.