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What are Some Computer Pranks?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 16, 2024
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Computer pranks have become a fun and easy way to lighten up the mood in the office, or make for a memorable April Fool’s Day. As computers have proliferated homes, schools, and workplaces in the last decade, computer pranks have become more popular and increasingly more complex.

One computer prank that’s easy to orchestrate for the prankster and disorienting for the prank victim is the upside-down screen prank. This involves holding down the Alt key and Ctrl key simultaneously with one hand, and pressing the down arrow key with the other. On most computers, the screen image will then flip upside-down, and can be easily reversed back to normal by pressing the Alt and Ctrl keys again, along with the up arrow key.

Another prank that may result in lots of frustration and time-consuming troubleshooting is the blank screen prank. This can be achieved by turning the computer monitor’s brightness settings up to the maximum level, while turning its contrast settings down to the lowest level. The resulting effect is a puzzling combination of a screen that appears to be on judging by the power light, but is otherwise blank.

Manipulating the computer mouse is a popular basis for many simple computer pranks. One prank which will slow down the functioning of the mouse can be accomplished by switching the mouse pointer function to the lowest speed in the mouse’s settings. Another frustrating mouse prank involves placing a Post-It note directly over the ball on the bottom of the prank victim’s mouse. This disables the mouse, which is otherwise plugged in and looks as though it should be fully-functional. Another mouse prank that nearly renders the mouse useless involves switching the primary and secondary buttons of the mouse, so that a mouse set for left-handed use is now set for right-handed use, or vice versa.

Computer pranks can also be downloaded from the Internet, but are not as popular as manual computer pranks, as downloads always carry the risk of containing viruses or spyware that could potentially harm the computer. One downloadable prank which can be easily found in an online search replicates the infamous “Blue Screen of Death” error message. Pranksters can start the program after downloading so that it is running when the prank victim arrives at the computer, or re-name the program after another program the victim uses, so that the Blue Screen pops up when the victim attempts to open the program.

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Discussion Comments
By NathanG — On May 23, 2011

@topher - At our office some of the coworkers use emails for computer pranks to play on friends. One of the ladies at work used a manager’s computer when he was away briefly, and composed a prank email with his signature. In the email she pretended to be the manager complimenting one of the coworkers on their appearance.

The manager didn’t find it very funny, and the coworker was stunned. It’s all in good fun, I think—but I suppose it depends on the people you’re poking fun at.

By everetra — On May 21, 2011

I hate to rain on everyone’s parade, but I don’t find office computer pranks to be very funny. The main concern is whether indeed it is a prank or a virus, since viruses and malware can cause some of the erratic behavior that is described here.

At our office we have a zero tolerance policy for any computer pranks. There are other ways to have fun and lighten up the mood. Come in dressed as a chicken or something, but leave the computers alone.

By topher — On Apr 22, 2011

Another classic office prank is to take a screenshot of someone's desktop, then create a folder and move all their desktop icons into it. Set the screenshot as a background and then watch as they try to click on all their icons.

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