7 Computer Pranks to Try on Your Friends

Have some fun at work with these mischievous computer pranks—but don't be surprised when your cubemates strike back.

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Tape the bottom of the mouse

Tape the bottom of the mouseiStock/TommL
Place a small piece of Scotch tape over the bottom of an optical mouse—where the light comes out—and watch with delight as your coworker struggles to move the cursor around the screen.

"Freeze" their desktop

"Freeze" their desktop
Take a screenshot of your amigo's desktop (Command-Shift-3 on Macs, Alt+Print Screen on Windows) and then set it as their background. Fiddle with her icons and snicker deviously to yourself as she tries to click on things that are just part of the image.

Change their homepage

Change their homepage
Go into your buddy's browser and edit their preferences such that their homepage points to a site of your choosing. It can even be a ridiculous image URL. Watch in amazement as they launch, say, Firefox, expect to get to your company's intranet page, and then find themselves at hampsterdance.com. Genius!

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Change their error sounds

Change their error sounds
Once you've determined your frenemy's operating system, search Google for the right way to change their error or alert sound—you'll need to tinker with the system preferences. (Here's a guide for Mac OS X, and another for Windows 7.) One idea: The unmistakable sound of wind breaking.

Enlist a "Windows narrator"

Enlist a "Windows narrator"
Recent versions of Windows come equipped with "narrator" software. Ostensibly for the visually impaired, it also makes for some good mischief. Set it to "echo user's keystrokes" and blast the volume—your pal's computer will now loudly announce each letter he types.

Create a bogus shortcut

Create a bogus shortcut
It's easy to create a shortcut on someone's desktop, change the icon (in the example to the left, one need only select the Safari icon and select "copy" in the Mac "Get Info" window), and get them all mixed up. Make a shortcut to Minesweeper that looks like Excel and watch as your cubemate looks to be slacking off.

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Tinker with autocorrect

Tinker with autocorrect
In Microsoft Word, go to "Tools" and then "AutoCorrect" to replace common words with fun alternatives, or your neighbor's name with something... more creative. When they type the given word, it'll automatically be replaced with whatever you've chosen.

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16 thoughts on “7 Computer Pranks to Try on Your Friends

  1. I wouldn’t think it was funny at all if someone did these things to me. Whenever I have problems with my computer, I get angry and frustrated. And I DO have a sense of humor, so don’t tell me to “lighten up” or “get a life.” These “harmless” pranks are just mean!

  2. This is anecdotal of course, but in all the offices where I’ve worked, most employees are friends or at least friendly. Sure, there are certain people who you wouldn’t want to prank or joke with, but they are easily spotted and no one lets them ruin their fun. And at the end of the day we still get our work done!

    So to the people saying RD needs to be “ashamed of themselves” and are irresponsible for posting this, and that these pranks will get you fired and no one should put up with this kind of thing at work etc. etc. — is your workplace really that uptight in general, or is it just you?
    Either way, these are meant to be played on your FRIENDS, not your boss (unless they are a friend) or vague acquaintances. I just hope I never have to work in some impersonal office where everyone is on guard or even hostile, like it appears some of you do. Anyway, that’s just my two cents and I genuinely feel for you if that is your situation.

    1. Nah, they’re they people who have these jokes played on them…often.

  3. Why is everyone so serious? The comments about this article make it sound like RD suggested swabbing some deadly virus on your co-workers keyboard, or hiding a box full of dead puppies under their desk. Holy cow! I work in a conservative corporate environment and once played a small prank like the ones mentioned. The lady I did it to stills laughs about it to this day. And before you say it, I’m not known as being an irresponsible jokester. Sometimes you just need to lighten the mood.

    1. Thisguy is right. And besides, you COULD just be at their house, wait for them to go to he bathroom, and pull a prank on ’em.

  4. This is a really sad, sorry article. no one should mess with someone else’s equipment, especially at work! This is a reflection of the increasingly common attitude of no respect for the property of others.

  5. Nothing beats my coworker and I re arranging the keys on our boss’ keyboard. He was a hunt and peck guy and we switched enter and esc and moved all the most used keys around. We did it for an April Fool’s joke, but it was a couple of weeks later when he used his keyboard. My co worker had to leave, and I amost swallowed my face laughing. He was ranting and raving about having to buy anew key board, “everything was garbage and garbled!” We had totally forgotten about doing it.

  6. The most irresponsible piece Readers Digest has ever run. Shame on you. BTW, today’s employees are smart enough to lock their workstations even if they leave their desks for few moments. And those who don’t need to get in the habit of doing so. Moreover, as Peter has said, sure recipe to get fired. An apology from RD is in order.

  7. Readers Digest should not have run this, Seriously. IF you and your cubemates have a culture that allows this THEN they will think it is funny. In general, though, people will think it is annoying and they will strike back by telling the boss you have tampered with their computer. And maybe respond further by putting a board with a nail in it under your left rear tire.

    1. Yes! You’re right. What RD presents here as a funny thing can really become an annoying, very annoying, thing. I can’t think of any culture that’d simply ALLOW this.

    2. They mean your FRIENDS, not your coworkers. Jeez, they’re just trying to make your life more interesting, when YOU’RE just shooting them down. Dang it people, why do you have to be so mean. Damon, I liked it. Good job. I’m definitely going to do the mouse thing and the background thing.

  8. Excellent ideas to get you fired or at least overlooked come promotion time.

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