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10 Hilarious Practical Joke Ideas to Play on a Friend’s Computer

Joe Keeley Updated 09-03-2020

Pranks don’t just have to be for April Fools’ Day. It’s satisfying to mess around with your friend’s computer no matter the time of year! You can catch them off guard by pulling some computer pranks.

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We’ve rounded up a list of funny things to do to your friend’s computer. These funny practical jokes are ultimately harmless, but you should make sure you’re on hand to reverse the effects before they get too annoyed.

1. Flip Their Screen

No, we don’t want you to actually turn their monitor upside down. That’d be a bit obvious! Instead, press Windows key + I to open Settings and go to System > Display.

Display orientation

Beneath Display orientation, select either Landscape (flipped) or Portrait (flipped). Click Keep changes when prompted.

You might also be able to press Ctrl + Alt + Arrow key, but this depends on the graphics driver.

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2. Display a Fake Windows Update

We’ve all had to sit in front of our computers while they seem to endlessly update. How about displaying a fake Windows update screen that actually never ends?

Fake Windows update

The website FakeUpdate is perfect for this. Click the update screen design you want to use and press F11 to set it full screen. For added effect, their cursor won’t appear either. When the prank is over, press Esc to exit.

3. Change Their Desktop Wallpaper

Changing their desktop wallpaper is a quick and easy computer prank. For example, you could set their wallpaper to an image of a cracked screen or something embarrassing like a goofy picture of your victim.

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Alternatively, there’s a classic prank you can pull if their desktop is full of shortcuts (though there are far better ways to use your desktop than for shortcuts 5 Better Ways to Use Your Windows Desktop Than for Shortcuts Your desktop space is too valuable to be cluttered with shortcuts. We show you how to make better use of it. Your desktop makeover will increase your inspiration, creativity, or productivity. Read More .)

Go to their desktop and press Print screen to take a screenshot. Open Paint, press Ctrl + V to paste the screenshot, then Ctrl + S to save. Navigate to where you saved the picture, right click it and click Set as desktop background.

Finally, go back to their desktop. Right click in an empty space and select View > Show desktop icons. This will hide all of their actual desktop icons, but they will still appear on the wallpaper image itself—your victim can click on the icons forever, but nothing will happen.

4. Control Their Computer With a Wireless Mouse

Wireless mouse and keyboard

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Get a wireless mouse and/or keyboard and plug the receiver into their computer. Move yourself to a position where you can see their reaction, but keep within the wireless range.

Then, simply press some keys or move the mouse when your victim is at their computer. You could be subtle and make them think their peripherals are breaking or you could go all out and type something silly like “The truth is out there.”

5. Make Their Cursor Look Busy

It can be annoying when your computer hangs and the cursor turns into that blue rotating circle. As such, a simple prank is to change your friend’s cursor to look like that all the time. Their computer won’t slow down, but they’ll be confused.

Press Windows key + I to open Settings. Go to Devices > Mouse > Additional mouse options. This will open Mouse Properties.

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Here you will see other options that make for good pranks too, like changing the Button configuration or Double-click speed.

Mouse properties

For our purposes, go to the Pointers tab. Double click on Normal Select. You will be presented with a list of cursors. Double click on aero_busy, then click OK to save your changes.

6. Change Their System Sounds

Windows will play sounds when certain things happen, like on login or when an email is received. You can cause mischief by changing these sounds.

System sounds

Do a system search for change system sounds. This will open the Sounds window. Click the event you want to change the sound for, then click Browse and choose a different WAV file. Click OK when done.

You could record your own sound or opt for an annoying song or scary noise.

7. Add a Typo to Their AutoCorrect

We all rely on AutoCorrect to fix our spelling as we type. But what if AutoCorrect goes rogue?

Open Microsoft Word and go to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options.

AutoCorrect

On the AutoCorrect tab, ensure Replace text as you type is ticked. Use the left box to input the word you want to be changed when typed. Use the right box to input what that should change to. Then click Add > OK.

You could change a common word like “the” to “turtles” or go subtle with a word they’re less likely to type.

8. Change the Behavior of a Desktop Icon

Some people rely on desktop icons to launch files and programs. Send their world into chaos by messing with these.

Shortcut properties

Right click a desktop icon and click Properties. Your various prank options are:

  • Go to the General tab and give the shortcut a different name.
  • Go to the Shortcut tab to change the Target so it opens a different program.
  • Also, on the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon to make the icon something different like a warning symbol.

9. Adjust the Screen’s Color

Press Windows key + I to open Settings and go to Ease of Access > Color filters. This is one of Windows 10’s many helpful accessibility tools.

Color filters

Slide Turn on color filters to On. Beneath Select a color filter to see elements on the screen better, select an option. A good one is Grayscale, since it removes all color from the screen.

10. Open a Random Program Using Task Scheduler

Task Scheduler is a tool to automate things on a computer. Do a system search for task scheduler to find it.

You can create a task to open a program at random points. Click Create Task. Give the task a Name.

Triggers in Task Scheduler

Go to the Triggers tab and click New. Tick Delay task for up to (random delay) and Repeat task every, then choose a time interval for both. Click OK.

Go to the Actions tab and click New. Click Browse and choose a program that you want to open automatically. Click OK.

Adjust the Conditions and Settings to your liking, then click OK to create the task.

Even More Funny Computer Pranks

Hopefully, you and your friend have a good laugh about the computer pranks you pull! Remember to reverse them, else your friendship might not last much longer.

If you want some more digital prank ideas (perhaps to pull on a different friend), check out these geeky pranks to play with web apps Play Geeky Pranks on Your Friends With These 7 Web Apps Do you want to banish boredom and have some fun? Use these cool web apps to pull tech pranks on your friends just for laughs. Read More .

Related topics: Fun Websites, Prank.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. dragonmouth
    March 9, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    If anybody pulled any of these pranks on me, I would do to them what Minnesota Fats had done to Fast Eddie Feslon in the Hustler.

    For a prank, I would replace Windows with an esoteric Linux distro.

  2. TinMac
    June 26, 2018 at 3:52 am

    Hi mate
    I'm going to try that 'Fake Boot Virus' one as my erstwhile flat mate is being a pain. Like the time I posted a Face book picture of me with his beloved double bass and then told him during the ensuing rapid response flustered phone call (took around 2 minutes ) that 'It was only a small crack' heh.

    About '86 odd when Acorns slugged it out with Spectrums we used to use a basic program

    !0 blah blah
    .......
    (gets it onto bleeps (no music in them there days))
    50 for n=1 to n+1
    next n

    Basically forgotten the precise program

    the thing would ould into a super annoying 2001 style loop
    and we would waltz off with the hardware.

    As in A ZX81

    Woo Hoo

  3. sinistersister
    March 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    when i plan to leave my current job and don't care how many blood vessels pop on my boss' forehead, i will keep this handy. just have to be sure i quit before getting fired for any of this...sadly, our IT department will likely be just as completing perplexed when someone calls to have this "issues" corrected. i imagine there will be a lot useless "have you tried re-booting" going on. can't say that i would try any of this with someone i genuinely like...but then again, April Fool's day is coming up. hmmmm, laughs or employment. tough, tough call.

  4. Johny Joseph Prakash C
    March 7, 2011 at 5:05 am

    it's very funny ,thanks lot !!??

  5. Chirag Malkani
    March 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    You can also change the orientation of the screen........
    Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys

    • Aibek
      March 7, 2011 at 6:01 am

      doesn't work for me :-(

  6. Chirag Malkani
    March 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    You can also change the orientation of the screen........
    Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys

  7. Patrick Dobeson
    March 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Several years ago we had a really dumb IT manager. In the company we had a Microsoft subscription and received from time to tiem a pack of CDs with Microsoft applications in all available languages.

    We installed Microsoft Windows in "euskera" language (it's a difficult language spoken in some areas in the north of spain, the placed a screen copy as desktop bacground and swap the mouse buttons.

    One week later (yes, a whole week later) he came to us to repair his computer.

    • Aibek
      March 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      :-) that was a good test for him that he unfortunately failed

  8. Patrick Dobeson
    March 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Several years ago we had a really dumb IT manager. In the company we had a Microsoft subscription and received from time to tiem a pack of CDs with Microsoft applications in all available languages.

    We installed Microsoft Windows in "euskera" language (it's a difficult language spoken in some areas in the north of spain, the placed a screen copy as desktop bacground and swap the mouse buttons.

    One week later (yes, a whole week later) he came to us to repair his computer.

  9. Tony M.
    March 5, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Darn, Andrew ... You stole my thunder. One day at work few years ago, I was editing a document and using a particular keyboard shortcut. However, in my haste, I had accidentally done a Control-Alt-ArrowKey and it changed my display just as you described. Fortunately for me, my fingers hadn't wandered and I was able to see exactly what I did. On my system, using the RightArrow or LeftArrow keys, the display would flip 90°. It was infectious. Before you knew what happened, everyone was running around in this building with 2,000 personnel flipping people's screens all over the place. It was a blast!

  10. Sharief Shari
    March 5, 2011 at 4:06 am

    nice :)

  11. jscott56
    March 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Depending on the video card, you may be able to rotate the screen by 90, 180 or 270 degrees. This is soooooooo funny!

  12. diafol
    March 4, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I'm with MikeVertx here. Annoying, not funny. I'd end up in jail for pulling the offender's teeth out one by one.

  13. Snert
    March 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I agree with MikeVertx.
    It's hard enough making deadlines without some fool messing up your machine.
    It's not funny when it happens to you.

  14. Snert
    March 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I agree with MikeVertx.
    It's hard enough making deadlines without some fool messing up your machine.
    It's not funny when it happens to you.

  15. Guest 1
    March 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    My favorite prank involves a wireless mouse. When your friend/coworker isn't around there computer, plug the receiver into a USB slot not easily visible and let Windows install the drivers. Then enjoy the entertainment as you randomly click the mouse buttons from your desk.

  16. Randyman5775
    March 4, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    You missed my favorite prank -- open the task manager, go to the processes tab and turn off explorer.exe -- it turns off windows explorer, so all of the desktop icons and the taskbar disappear. It's easy to restart -- open task manager again, click on File, then New Task, and enter "explorer.exe", and it comes right back up.

    • Tina
      March 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

      This can easily be solved with a reboot. The funny thing is, most people don't even try a reboot before they freak out. ;)

  17. Mike Boston
    March 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Pranking coworkers computers is grounds for dismissal where I work. So Not Funny!

    • Waughlisa
      March 5, 2011 at 3:18 am

      Theres always one eh

  18. Glynn Sole
    March 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Press ctrl + aly + scroll down button. The screen turns upside down. A very fast trick, you can even do it to somebody who is sitting at theior computer if you distract them for a second you can do this so fast they don't know what you did.
    (pressing scroll left/right turns the screen accordingly)

  19. Mub999
    March 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    i used alt+shift+prtscr on my school. It turns everything bigger and dark

    • Aibek
      March 5, 2011 at 11:01 am

      nothing happens when I try this on Windows 7 (64 bit). any ideas?

  20. Glynn Sole
    March 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Press ctrl + aly + scroll down button. The screen turns upside down. A very fast trick, you can even do it to somebody who is sitting at theior computer if you distract them for a second you can do this so fast they don't know what you did.
    (pressing scroll left/right turns the screen accordingly)

  21. Anonymous
    March 4, 2011 at 4:15 am

    these are actually annoying not funny.

    • Randy
      March 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      i guess they r not funny, my buddy socked me in the eye, black eye included, and wont speak to me. oh well, its still funny to me!

  22. Tina
    March 4, 2011 at 3:32 am

    Awesome pranks in the article and the comments! This could be one hell of an April Fool's day! :D

    • Aibek
      March 4, 2011 at 5:48 am

      agreed

  23. killer
    March 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    My favorite is just so simple. It's especially good for those with cluttered desktops. You know the ones who use it for a dumping ground? Right click the desktop and hover over "view." Uncheck "show desktop icons." The user comes back to a blank desktop. Panic sets in quickly for these folks.

  24. Nick
    March 3, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I have not played but those ****** viruses played really well with my pc

  25. Michael Real
    March 3, 2011 at 4:42 am

    This is really entertaining. I've pranked 3 friends already! Thanks for sharing these computer jokes! I think my prank count will rise in the rush office hours! lol

  26. Andrew Gould
    March 3, 2011 at 12:23 am

    On many video cards, the shortcut Ctrl-Alt-Down Arrow will turn their display upside-down.

    • Tony M.
      March 5, 2011 at 5:32 am

      Darn, Andrew ... You stole my thunder. One day at work few years ago, I was editing a document and using a particular keyboard shortcut. However, in my haste, I had accidentally done a Control-Alt-ArrowKey and it changed my display just as you described. Fortunately for me, my fingers hadn't wandered and I was able to see exactly what I did. On my system, using the RightArrow or LeftArrow keys, the display would flip 90°. It was infectious. Before you knew what happened, everyone was running around in this building with 2,000 personnel flipping people's screens all over the place. It was a blast!

  27. Hera_miah
    March 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I once created a bat file to load winword.exe (microsoft word) a few 100 times and sent it via msn to a mate who is not computer savvy. He obviously double clicked the file as after a few seconds he went off line as his pc had crashed trying to load word so many times! That was funny!

    • Aibek
      March 3, 2011 at 1:13 am

      :-) nice one

  28. anon
    March 2, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    That last one is great. I have to try it on some of my friends (who all rely on me for computer support).

    But do you really think you should be publishing stuff like that publicly? Can you imagine all the couples and friendships that could be broken up by that? My God, man! :D

    • Anonymous
      March 3, 2011 at 12:11 am

      Haha...thanks! I can just imagine the relationships it will break up....just call me the matchbreaker. :-)

  29. Reinhold
    March 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    The last one, the shutdown prank is a classic. Although i find it much easier, just to create a .bat file containing:
    @echo off
    shutdown /s /t 0 /f
    and save it to the Startup folder. Even better, save it to another place, and create a shortcut in the Startup folder. That way, you can rename the shortcut to whatever you want (bttray, sys, etc.), to make it seem less suspicious.

    Another evil prank is to create a .bat file containing:
    @echo off
    :prank
    start c:windowssystem32sol.exe
    start c:windowsSystem32mshearts.exe
    @echo off
    goto prank

    Opening this file, at any time, will make the system open an infinite number of Solitaire AND Hearts games. effectively halt the computer to a complete stop.. So you might want to save the work before you execute this prank ;)

    • Anonymous
      March 3, 2011 at 12:12 am

      Thanks Reinhold - I like the simple approach! And that second idea is brilliant. :-)

  30. jveezy
    March 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Another variation on the desktop prank: Create a bunch of folders on the desktop and change the folder names to something embarrassing. Either this or something else embarrassing like changing the background to Ron Jeremy or something like that. Take a screenshot and reverse your changes.

    Then set the screenshot to be the screensaver and set it to activate quickly (after a minute or two of inactivity). If they're not tech-savvy enough they won't be able to figure out why every time they try to fix the problem it goes away.

    • Aibek
      March 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

      good one

  31. Lee
    March 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Another thing you can do when replacing the desktop background with a screenshot is just right click the desktop, go to View, and click Show Desktop Icons. This way there wont be a random folder somewhere, or you wont have to spend a long time waiting for any large files they may have stored on their desktop to transfer. Also, you can screenshot their desktop with a common application open (like a browser) so they try to use it and think it's frozen.

    • Aibek
      March 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

      thanks for share! :-)

  32. anon
    March 3, 2011 at 12:39 am

    That last one is great. I have to try it on some of my friends (who all rely on me for computer support).

    But do you really think you should be publishing stuff like that publicly? Can you imagine all the couples and friendships that could be broken up by that? My God, man! :D

  33. Reinhold
    March 3, 2011 at 12:34 am

    The last one, the shutdown prank is a classic. Although i find it much easier, just to create a .bat file containing:
    @echo off
    shutdown /s /t 0 /f
    and save it to the Startup folder. Even better, save it to another place, and create a shortcut in the Startup folder. That way, you can rename the shortcut to whatever you want (bttray, sys, etc.), to make it seem less suspicious.

    Another evil prank is to create a .bat file containing:
    @echo off
    :prank
    start c:\windows\system32\sol.exe
    start c:\windows\System32\mshearts.exe
    @echo off
    goto prank

    Opening this file, at any time, will make the system open an infinite number of Solitaire AND Hearts games. effectively halt the computer to a complete stop.. So you might want to save the work before you execute this prank ;)

  34. jveezy
    March 3, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Another variation on the desktop prank: Create a bunch of folders on the desktop and change the folder names to something embarrassing. Either this or something else embarrassing like changing the background to Ron Jeremy or something like that. Take a screenshot and reverse your changes.

    Then set the screenshot to be the screensaver and set it to activate quickly (after a minute or two of inactivity). If they're not tech-savvy enough they won't be able to figure out why every time they try to fix the problem it goes away.