Everyone like to have a laugh and there's plenty of amusement to be had messing around with other people's PCs or laptops. Here are 10 harmless but brilliant Windows pranks.
Whether your intended victim is a computer whiz or a novice, these hilarious Windows PC pranks are great fun to try. These tricks will also teach you how to know when others are trying to prank you.
All of the tricks are reversible, and we'd recommend sticking around so you can 'fix' your victim's computer once the prank is over... or at least leave some instructions telling them how to undo what has been done!
1. Remove all desktop icons
This is the oldest, yet still the best PC prank. You'd be surprised how many people haven't seen this trick, and even if they have, it's still a good laugh.
All you need is a minute or two alone with their PC. Close or minimise all open applications and take a screenshot of the desktop. Pressing the PrtScrn or Print Screen button (you might need to also hold Shift if it's a dual-function key) takes the screenshot.
You then need to paste it into any image editing program (MS Paint will do) and save it somewhere.
Next, clear all the desktop icons into a folder somewhere and set the taskbar at the bottom to auto-hide (right click on it and choose Properties, then click 'Auto-hide the taskbar'.
Now head to the Control Panel and set the image as the desktop background. For a quicker way, right-click on the desktop and choose Properties in XP, or Personalize in Windows Vista, 7 or 8.
Sit back and watch as the unsuspecting user tries in vain to get their Start menu to open or launch and programs.
As a twist, you could leave one or two applications open on the desktop before you take the screenshot - perhaps a NSFW YouTube video if you're feeling particularly nasty.
2. Fun with mice
Gone are the days when you could quickly remove someone's mouse ball, but you can still stop their optical or laser mouse working properly by sticking a few layers of tape over the light underneath their mouse.
If you have more time, you can go to the Mouse Properties in the Control Panel (search Mouse in the Start menu for speed) and change a few settings to make life difficult.
First, switch the primary and secondary buttons. That's confusing enough, but you can also change the pointer (the Normal Select - the default pointer) to the Busy icon to make it seem like the PC isn't responding properly.
With some mice - and laptop touchpads - you can reverse the scroll direction, which will throw people when they try and scroll down a document or web page.
3. Keyboard layouts
Nothing is more frustrating than when the keys you press don't produce the letters you expect. To create confusion, head to your friend's PC and change the keyboard layout to Dvorak.
To do it quickly, search Keyboard Layout in the Start menu and click on 'Change keyboards or other input methods'. Then, if necessary, click Change keyboards.. and then Add. Scroll down and under English (United Kingdom) select United States-Dvorak (you might have to click Show more if you can't see it).
The Dvorak layout is completely different from Qwerty, so the user won't be able to even type their log-in password properly.
Auto-correct is a great tool, and you can put it to uses the Microsoft never intended. Whether in Office or Outlook, you can find the auto-correct options in the Tools menu or, in later versions, under Options in the File menu.
Here, you can create custom entries and your imagination is the limit. You could auto-correct their name to something insulting, change a word they frequently miss-spell to an all-caps message ("IT'S DEFINITELY NOT DEFINATELY!!!!!") or you could be subtler and change a few common words to miss-spelt versions. Chances are, they won't notice until someone else - an email recipient perhaps - points it out.
If you opt for the latter trick, use it with caution.
5. Phantom drives
Back in the day, you could get a utility called Office Poltergeist which let you do things to other PCs on the network such as opening the DVD drive and playing sounds. It's not available any more, and as it was a Trojan (a harmless one, but a Trojan nonetheless) anti-virus software tended to block it.
You can, however, create a quick script which will cause your friend or colleague's DVD drive to open and close.
Copy and paste this into Notepad:
Set oWMP = CreateObject("WMPlayer.OCX.7")
Set colCDROMs = oWMP.cdromCollection
if colCDROMs.Count >= 1 then
For i = 0 to colCDROMs.Count - 1
For i = 0 to colCDROMs.Count - 1
Save it somewhere, then find it in Windows Explorer and change the extension from .txt to .vbs. Double-click it and any drives in the victim's PC will open and shut.
To stop this, you'll have to start the Task Manager and end the task 'Wscript' in the processes tab.
Next page: 5 more PC pranks and tricks