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7 April Fool’s Day Pranks To Play On Your Friends’ PC

Tina Sieber 31-03-2014

It’s this time of year again when you can make your tech illiterate coevals regret they’re friends with a geek. Or if you’re smart, use the occasion to remind them that they know someone who can solve anything. Up to you. Either way, have fun!

Mess With Desktop Icons

If you’re looking for a super easy and 100% harmless way to trick someone, play with their desktop icons. First, take a screenshot The Ultimate Guide on How to Take a Screenshot Most people would think taking a screenshot was a simple and straightforward process, and that it would be much the same on every platform they encounter. Well, they'd be wrong. The process of taking screenshots... Read More of the current desktop. Next, hide all desktop icons: right-click the desktop, go to View and unselect Show desktop icons.

Desktop Properties

If you want to make this slightly more frustrating, change the wallpaper to the screenshot you took earlier: right-click the desktop, go to Personalize, click on Desktop Background in the lower left, and browse for the respective image.

Custom Desktop Background

The desktop will look exactly like it did before, only that none of the icons will be clickable.

Flip The Screen

In Windows, you can change the screen orientation: right-click the desktop and select Screen Resolution. Under Orientation, choose one other than the default Landscape. To turn the screen upside-down, go with Landscape (flipped). As a result, everything will be upside down.

Screen Orientation

Change Mouse Settings

You can do a lot of fun things with someone’s mouse. Search for Mouse and go into Mouse Properties. Here you can switch the primary and secondary buttons, i.e. left- and right-click funtionality, customize the pointer style, increase or decrase the pointer speed (super annoying!), or adjust the scroll speed of the mouse wheel.

Mouse Pointer Properties

In case your victim is not using a mouse, you could disabled their touchpad Discover The Hidden Features Of Your Touchpad [Windows] With the rise of laptops and netbooks, the touchpad has become a key input device. Yet, in the Windows environment, working with the touchpad has been a drag more than a delight. While the hardware... Read More .

Create A Fake Computer Virus

Do your friends need a little reminder that it’s important to run an antivirus tool and update defintions regularly? This prank might make them act. Create a simple, but fake computer virus 4 Fake Virus Pranks to Freak Out Your Friends A fake virus prank is a fun way to mess with your friend's PC without causing lasting damage! A fake virus is a harmless joke. Read More and expect their frantic calls for help.

Windows Computer Pranks offers two fake viruses; one of them uses the Windows speech function to read custom messages. Alternatively, you could create a custom series of pop-up windows using the method shown in the YouTube video below.

We covered more fake viruses in a previous article on April Fool’s Day pranks 5 Free April Fools Pranks to Play on Friends Here are several ideas for April Fools pranks to play on your friends and family, assuming they enjoy being pranked...! Read More , which included Dr.Windows, a tool for creating fun dialogs and error messages.

Break The Internet

This is a bit of an advanced prank that involves scripts and editing IP tables on your network. You can turn the Internet upside down or blur it. Find the thorough description in this Upside-Down-Ternet article.

If that sounds a little hardcore and if you have Administrator access to the victim’s computer, you could edit their Windows Hosts file How To Block Websites On Your PC Without Using Software [Windows] Any website you visit potentially tracks your browsing habits, loads annoying ads, or distributes malicious software. Most of the time, common sense and standard malware protection software can help you steer clear of the worst... Read More to block their favorite websites What Is the Windows Host File? And 6 Surprising Ways to Use It The Windows Hosts file allows you to define which domain names (websites) are linked to which IP addresses. It takes precedence over your DNS servers, so your DNS servers may say is linked to... Read More or re-direct them to wherever you want.

Block Website

Enhance Their Workspace

Maybe your friends are not foolish enough to give you direct access to their computer. In that case, attack their workspace. For example you could wrap their every desktop item in old newspapers or cover their keyboard, monitor, and desk in a Post-Its pattern. For more inspiration, visit These Office Pranks.

Wrapped Desk

Rearrange Keyboard Keys

Nothing irritates a non-geek more than scrambled keys on a keyboard. Someone who can touch-type Learn How to Touch-Type With These 8 Top Tools & Tutorials Learning how to touch type could mean the difference between 10 words a minute to more than 40. That could also mean the difference between adding half a day to your productivity. Or, more than... Read More , however, might not even notice. So this is the perfect trick to play on someone you wish would learn how to type properly 6 Free Typing Tutors Online That Teach You How To Touch Type [Chrome] Believe it or not this is my day job. I get paid to produce content for the Web, writing mostly about technology in all its forms. This means my working day consists of two things... Read More .

Scrambled Keyboard

Alternatively, if you don’t want to go to the length of manually changing keys, you could enable a different keyboard layout on the OS level. This method would also trick touch typers.

The more extreme the alternative layout, the more frustrating, thus the Dvorak layout is a good choice. Search for Region and Language and switch to the Keyboards and Languages tab. Click the Change keyboards… button, then click Add, browse to English (United States), expand Keyboard, and check United States-Dvorak. Finally, change the Default input language to the respective keyboard.

Keyboard Layout

More Awesome Pranks

You can use many default Windows features that we have covered previously to play evil tricks on your friends, for example enabling the screensaver 5 Ways to Make Your Own Screensavers (Windows) Read More and set it to a BSOD How To Analyze A Windows Blue Screen Of Death With WhoCrashed Read More error image, customizing power settings Windows 7 Power Options and Sleep Modes Explained When Windows 7 launched, one of Microsoft's selling points was that it was designed to help your battery last longer. One of the main features users will actually notice is that the screen dims before... Read More to very odd behaviors, changing the default sounds Never Be Embarrassed By Your Computer's Speakers Blasting Sound Again [Windows] Have you ever pulled out your laptop in public and had to fumble for the mute button as its speakers blasted loud sounds? Or have you used your computer late at night and accidentally woke... Read More , or using Windows Task Scheduler Run Programs Automatically Using Windows Task Scheduler Read More to launch random programs throughout the day. It pays off to know how things work around Windows, especially if you end up being the pranked person.

What Prank Will You Play?

So are you going to trick someone this April Fool’s Day? What’s your favorite prank and who’s your target? Please share your plans and outcomes in the comments for years to come!

Image Credits: Matthew Batchelder Via Flickr, Cubicle Prank by disterics via Flickr, Wrapped Desk by Jeremy Vandel via Flickr, Scrambled Keyboard by yxejamir via Flickr,

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  1. Glen Schult
    April 1, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Swap out their system with a more obscure Linux system.

    • Tina Sieber
      April 2, 2017 at 8:58 am

      Or a Windows lookalike and see whether they notice. :)

  2. Wally
    April 3, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Happy April Fool's Day. I tried the flipping the desktop trick.

    My wife hunted me down that morning and said, "We have a problem. You know those movies where the Devil is around and the cross is turned upside by itself? The desktop icons on my computer are upside down and the mouse is making the cursor work backwards!" Really? . . . ah yes -- my April Fool's joke.

    She loved it.

  3. catweazle666
    April 3, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Back in the old days of DOS command lines, a neat trick was to type: PROMPT $P$G FORMAT C: /Y

    This resulted in the command line reading:

    C: FORMAT C: /Y [cursor].

    Guaranteed to cause consternation.

    If you were feeling really mean, then a quick COPY CON command would add it to AUTOEXEC.BAT, so it didn't go away after a reboot..

    Good for winding up salesmen in computer shops, too.

  4. xord
    April 2, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Combine the desktop icon, flipping screen and mouse trick. The last time i've done it, it took almost 2 hours just to get it right.

  5. Chubonga
    April 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Nothing is better than a good ol' script :)

  6. Steve G
    April 1, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Tinfoil can provide for a shocking experience. I like the idea of taping off someones cubicle and dumping packing popcorn into it though, nothing like the classics!

  7. Baron Raibert
    April 1, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Install a "blue screen of death" screen saver on all the linux boxes.

  8. Saa
    April 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    There's an extension for Chrome called ncage that replaces all images with pictures of Nicolas Cage. It's a good SFW alternative to the one Pedro mentioned.

  9. Optical Cheese
    April 1, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I don't actually touch type - I look down at the keys- but I type pretty fast so I figure I could survive! This would be quite helpful, except I was somewhat thinking more along the lines of schoolwise pranks.

  10. Ajay K
    April 1, 2014 at 8:35 am

    good one

  11. Simen
    March 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    My all-time favorite is changing the browser icon's target to a custom program that displays either spiders or a bsod screen and then shuts down the computer.

    No one opens email attachments around April 1 (esp not if you have played a prank on them before, wonder why), so you have to prepare it a few weeks in advance. The easiest is to send it as a 'legit' program (last time I did this, I said I'd made a program that runs Chrome as x64 or something), and make the installer schedule some havoc on April 1.

  12. Christopher
    March 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Do a print screen of their desktop, save the pic as the background and disable/remove the shortcuts and/or icons. Then watch them trying to load their programmes.

  13. dragonmouth
    March 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Replace Windows with Linux. Drives Windows Weenies batty.

    • D
      March 31, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Installing Linux isn't a joke, it's a favour. Friends don't let other friends run insecure OS's.

  14. Pedro
    March 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    My favorite prank is installing chrome extension that makes all pages to gray, or flip only web pages, getting them to use laptop upside down. Another one is Jimmy Wales asking for founding for Wikipedia in ALL pages it really annoyed my roommates.
    I also had a script that changed every image in one Web page with naked girls. It was very good seeing they freaking out with virus in they computer, running all kind of Antivirus.

    • nothing
      March 31, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      ha ha very funny pedro!!!!!

    • Mark Hansen
      April 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Facebook feed -> Everyone's posting nude pics now ? :)
      That's an awesome script though, I wish someone would prank me with such a script though. Does anyone use the internet for anything but porn anyway? ;)