Harmless Computer Pranks

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With April’s fools day is just around the corner, I’ve gone looking for some pranks that you can do to pull a fast on someone. Whether it’s your roommate, coworker, friend, or significant other if they have left their computer unlocked there is always something you can do to pull a prank.

None of these things will cause actual damage. If you’re a decent human being you’ll even help fix it after you’ve had your fun. But until they ask for help, it’s time to pull some harmless computer pranks like a geek.

Set the Desktop to be a Screen Shot

This is a classic, but it never gets old. Move the mouse off the screen and press the Prt Scrn button on your keyboard

Open up our trusty friend paint (now paint 3D). Paste your screen shot here (you can just press Ctrl+v). You’ll want to crop if the task bar at the bottom. You don’t want to make it obvious.

If you are doing this to a techie then turn your picture upside down as well. Just trust me. Save your picture and set it as the desktop image.

You’re not done yet. You need to make it convincing by getting rid of the icons. Create a folder move all the icons into it then move the folder into another location not on the desktop. You could delete them but if you just relocate them than it’s easier to put them back.

Turn the Screen Upside Down

This is something that most teachers know about, but isn’t something that less tech savvy people do. You can change the direction of your screen. It’s really designed for mounting screens on walls and stuff, but we’re going to use it for fun.

Simply press Ctrl+Alt+an arrow key. Remember how I told you to flip that screen shot upside down? If you flip the screen upside down, it’ll make the desktop image look right side up. This will just make the fun last longer.

Or you could leave it upside down for your tech savvy friend and they’ll add to their prank all by themselves.

Change Icon Name and Picture

Your computer stores a gallery of icon images. You can change any icon to any picture that you. Right click on an icon and go to properties. At the bottom there is a spot that says change icon. This can only be done to a shortcut The short cuts are the ones with the little arrow in the bottom left corner.

Icons are hidden all through your computer. You just need to find the file or program that has the icon you want and select it. This can literally be anything. If you pick something that doesn’t have an icon your computer will tell. Because you can only change a shortcut, you can find where the real file is at to change the icon back afterwards.

Boot Linux from USB Memory Stick

This one might throw some tech savvy off. Linux is a free operating system that takes minimal amount of space to install. You can install it on pretty much anything. You don’t even need to partition the hard drive.

They will still have access to all of their files, but they won’t be able to find them easily. There are two steps to this and it is quite involved. Give yourself plenty of time. The first is to install Linux on the portable device like a CD or USB storage device.

The second is to change their computer’s boot order to look at the CD drive or USB drive before looking at their hard drive for an operating system.

  1. Download the operating system Ubuntu and the installer. The Linux file will be an iso called ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso and the installer will be called Universal-USB-Installer-
  2. Run the installer. It’ll come up with a prompt asking for the operating system, the iso and the USB drive
  3. Select Ubuntu from the drop down for the first item
  4. Navigate to you downloads and select ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.iso. If you sort by date modified you can look at the stuff that was downloaded today.
  5. Pick your USB drive and select the FAT 32 formatting option. CAUTION: This will erase everything on the USB drive. Make sure you have everything backed up.
  6. Click Create and then yes.

Congratulations! You have now installed Linux on a flash drive. Now you only need to get your boot order set up correctly. This will require you to restart your computer and you won’t have internet access for this next part. I recommend either printing this page or pulling it up on a separate device.

Unfortunately I can’t take screen shots. So the photos might be a little blurry. Every computer has a different looking BIOS Mine is powered by UEFI, but yours may not be. You’ll need to look for things that are similar to what I have

  1. Turn your computer off.
  2. When you turn your computer on you’ll need to look for a Boot Menu. It is usually on the bottom.
  3. Select Enter Configuration.
  4. At the top you’ll look for Boot If your screen looks differently, you’ll still want to look for the word boot.
  5. There should be a boot order. This is the order the computer looks in to find an operating system.
  6. Change the first option to USB: <it’ll have information about one of your USB drives>.
  7. You can change the boot order for the USB drives as well.
  8. Save and Exit
  9. Now when they start their computer it’ll start in the Ubuntu version of Linux.
  10. It will take you to the Ubuntu installer screen when it first starts. I only used run without installing because I don’t actually want Linux on my computer. You can’t see it in my picture because the contrast isn’t good enough for my phone to pick up the difference.

To get it to go back to Windows, turn the computer off, remove the USB drive, and then turn the computer back on.

Change Keyboard Layout to Dvorak

Every country has a keyboard with keys in different places. To make a computer be flexible to this, you can tell the computer what keyboard you are using.

This is only important if you want the letter on the keyboard to be what you are trying to type. As you can imagine, this will really mess up someone’s ability to type up their report.

  1. Click Start and type in settings
  2. Select Time and Language
  3. Select Region and Language
  4. Click on English and then Options
  5. Click Add a keyboard
  6. Find the Dvorak keyboard and select it.
  7. click the QWERT keyboard and select remove.

Plug in a Wireless Mouse and Keyboard

This one will only work if you are close to them and can see what they are doing. Just plug your wireless mouse and keyboard into their computer.

How much you mess with them depends on you. Their computer will still respond to their keyboard and mouse. You can make it hard for them to click on stuff and spell stuff right.

If you want the fun to last longer, get a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. People normally don’t keep track of what devices they have setup on Bluetooth. Their computer needs to have Bluetooth for this to work though.

Reverse Mouse Wheel Direction

We all expect our input devices to behave a certain way. When something happens differently than expected it’s confusing and frustrating. If you know what’s happening and are watching, it can be hilarious… At least at first.

You can go into the Settings and then devices there are options you can change for your mouse. One of the options is how your computer responds to the wheel on your mouse. This isn’t available on all computers.

Now you’ll be about to turn left to go right … I mean scroll down to go up.

Setup the Task Scheduler

Windows has a task scheduler. I’m not sure under what normal condition you would want to use this, but can you imagine how confused it will make someone when their browser opens the same web page every couple of minutes?

  1. Click the start button.
  2. Type in task scheduler.
  3. Click create a task.
  4. Name the task.
  5. Go to triggers and create a new trigger.
  6. Change the task to begin the task on startup.
  7. Under the advanced settings tell it to repeat every 5 minutes and click OK.
  8. Under the actions tab click new.
  9. Under the Program/script you’ll pick your favorite web browser.

Change Mouse Pointer to Spinning Wheel

When I was a kid it was all the rate to change the mouse pointer. There were even mouse pointer themes that you could get. These days, they don’t really seem to matter much, and no one really remembers this can be done.

If you change the pointer to a sword our a unicorn it’ll be obvious, but if you change the pointer to something we’re used to seeing they’ll never know. Change the pointer to spinning circle and they’ll think their computer has a problem.

  1. Click start and type in control panel.
  2. Click on Mouse then on the pointers tab.
  3. Click on normal select then on browser.
  4. Pick the busy Icon and click open.
  5. Hit OK.


Pranks can be fun, but don’t let them go to far. When people start to get upset, it’s definitely time to bail them out. Have fun and enjoy the Easter prank day.


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  1. Man, these are great.

    I would love to try some of this out on someone.

    I could put that task scheduler prank to good use!!

    Thank you for the information!!

    1. Just remember that some people can take a joke better than others. Be wise in your pranking and remember to help them out when they stop laughing.

  2. I am sure my teacher does not know about turning the screen upside down lol. I will definitely try and see how it goes. But I think he will understand the joke very soon.

    1. Give it a shot. It’ll be worth the laugh. When my niece was 2 she accidentally did it to my dad’s computer. He didn’t know it was possible and thought he needed a new computer lol.

  3. haha theres some great cheeky pranks here might have to use on today considering its April fools! I’d only have to turn my mums laptop screen upside down and she would have a meltdown!

    1. Sometimes the simplest pranks are the best ones. It all depends on the computer level of the person you are pranking.

  4. These are GREAT! I’ve tried the screenshot prank on my brother before. It was a blast. Lets just say he always locks his PC no matter what, even if I’m not around, lol. Yes I’m a prankster and a bit of a techie so I love messing with other peoples stuff, as long as it’s harmless of course. I’m not all about creating havoc for people….well not anymore now that I’m in my 20s. Cheers for these great pranks

    1. Sometimes pulling pranks is fun, but you just have to know when it has gone far enough. I’m only a fan of the harmless stuff. I hope you were able to get someone for April 1st.

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