Top 10 Harmless Geek Pranks To Play On Co-Workers

Since the dawn of time, geeks have been playing harmless pranks on their beloved (but unsuspecting) associates, and it's up to all of us to carry the torch forward. On the eve of April Fools' Day, when you've got local network access to your coworkers' and family systems, cubicles just crying out to be filled with packing peanuts and webapps that can do all sorts of things automatically, there's no better time to baffle, confuse, perplex, and just plain mess with your loved ones and associates. Hit the jump for our top 10 favourite harmless geek pranks.

#10 Install the Blue Screen of Death Screensaver

Make your co-worker think their PC crashed when they get back from lunch. The BSOD ("Blue Screen of Death") screensaver is a free download from Microsoft (ironically.) For other operating system "support," check out the Linux BSOD 'saver with support for Apple, Windows, and Linux crash screens.

#9 Fake a Desktop with Screenshot Wallpaper

Freak out your co-worker or family member by faking out their Windows desktop with an unclickable facade: Take a screenshot of their current desktop, then set it as the desktop wallpaper. Hide the actual taskbar and disable desktop icons (right-click the desktop and choose "Arrange Icons By" and uncheck "Show Desktop Icons.") When your victim returns to the computer, watch the futile clicking begin.

#8 Schedule a Phone Call with a Text-to-Speech Message from

Wake up calls aren't just for the morning, you know. Pop your victim's phone number, a time, and a custom message into, a free wakeup call service, and they'll get a call with the message read Silicon Sally text-to-speech style back to them. (Read the original post here)

#7 Fill an Office with Packing Peanuts (Or Make It Look That Way)

Actually filling your co-worker's cubicle with packing peanuts can be a pain in the arse, but if there's a glass wall involved, it's easy to make it look like you did. Check out Hack N Mod's nifty gallery of what looks like a glass room filled with packing material.

#6 Remote Control Your Co-Workers' Computer with VNC

How would it feel to have your mouse taken over by a ghost and do things on your computer you never intended while you watched? You can inflict this feeling of utter confusion on your victim using VNC, a computer remote control protocol. You'll need to install the VNC server on your victim's computer first, and have their IP address, so this one will work best in the office when you're on the same network. Here's how to remote control a computer with VNC. Mac users, here's how to remote control Leopard with TightVNC.

#5 Message Co-Workers with NET SEND

Hidden in the depths of the Windows command line is a nifty little utility called Net Send, which pops up very official-looking alert messages on any computer you send them to. If you know your co-workers' IP address, you can net send them goofy messages, like this person on the Geeknewz boards:

A good prank that I have played on some friends involves the net send command. What I did was I used the net send command to send a message that said "Microsoft has detected that you have a small penis. Please consider upgrading for better performance" to other people on my local network. When you use the net send command in the command prompt, you specify the computer you want it sent to by typing the computer name, it also says on the message which computer it came from, so I changed my computer name to Microsoft, so it appeared, to the technically challenged, that the message actually came from Microsoft. In case you were interested, the syntax for the net send is:

net send computername message

Here's more on how to use net send.

#4 "Break" Your Victim's LCD Screen with Wallpaper

Want to put a crack into that shiny new widescreen monitor? Download the broken LCD desktop wallpaper, set it as your victim's desktop wallpaper and hide the taskbar and icons.

#3 Hijack Firefox with the Total Confusion Pack Extension (Enabled on April 1st Only)

Does your victim use Firefox? Install the "Total Confusion Pack" Firefox extension, which enables the following "features" on April 1st only:

  • Two Steps Back: Make the back button go back twice — not every time, but only on random instances.
  • Rick Rollr: Switch out 2% of the video clips your victim watches with the infamous Rick Astley video.
  • The Devil's Inbox: Make the number of unread email in your victim's Gmail inbox exactly 666.
  • Highs and Lows/Sarcarsm Enhancer/For real: Add LOL, *sigh*, "for real," "Whatever" and various other commentary to web page text.
  • Watch it: Make it look as if the page was loading forever. (Now this is just plain mean.)

Download the Firefox Total Confusion Pack here.

#2 Customise the Office HP Printer's Console Message

Baffle your coworkers with an "Insert Coin" message on the office printer using the HP Printer Job Language (HPPJL) command set. Here's how to customise the printer's Ready prompt to read whatever you want. (Read the original post here)

#1 Turn Web Pages Upside Down

If your office or housemates all use the same Wi-Fi network and you've got some network admin skills, run the web traffic to their computers through custom scripts that turn images upside down, blur them, or redirect all web page requests to This is the most difficult trick in the list to implement, but it's pretty clever. Here's more on how to set up Upside-Down-Ternet.

For more good pranks, check out Wired's Top 10 April Fools' Pranks for Nerds, and Ask MetaFilter's thread on the topic.

What's your personal prank to play on friends and colleagues? Share the love in the comments.


    i remember using the 9th prank in the list. but what i did last time was just delete one shortcut of the victim's commonly used program and placing the wallpaper of the screenshot before removing the shortcut. the other programs overlap the programs shown in the screenshot but only the commonly used program's icon is visible. he eventually called the tech support saying that his programs had become courrupt.

    Loved them all.. i pic the broken lcd as my wallpaper! thanks for sharing XD

    Messenger service has been off by default since XP SP2, so that one's out unless your IT guy sucks.

    These are great. I am going to do that peanut thing.

    you know, "hit the jump" or "after the jump" means that there is break between the phrase and the article, usually an advertisement or an interruption of the content of some sort. hense the "jump". but you can' say hit the jump when there is no jump.


    if u want 2 do da upside down thing, all u hav 2 do is ctrl-alt-down arrow key. if the pep ur doing it on doesnt no then its just as good. if u want 2 reverse it then do da same thing but w/ da up arrow. it completely turns da hole desktop over.

    the best is the desktop switch... too bad that wakerupper is not working, probably in response to this post.

    I've tried number 5 quite a few times and made a hell lot of laughs. I did the VNC thing too!

    Looks like number 7 would be a good laugh! But cleaning up the mess after you've had your fun would be a little pain in the you know what!

    I once made a powerpoint with error messages wich were clickable, it said " we own your house!" and my aunty beleived it... gullible FOOLS!

    Awesome tricks for geeks... people are bound to fall from them, not sure if I would like to apply one of those for my co-workers but would surely recommend. Thanks for sharing...
    Internet tools and gadgets are really becoming interesting day by day.

    Those are freaking awesome. I'm going to have to do the Blue Screen of Death on my buddies laptop.

    The blue screen of death is absolutely hysterical. I plan on doing this to a few friends. Another good office prank are the plastic roaches and mice. They can really scare some of your more squeamish colleagues out of their wits.

    hahaha I love 'em! Too bad its too late now, but there's always next year!

    Wow! Is thera anybody who wants to read the website upside down? :)

    I think I'm gonna miss Google for this. Anyway, good stuffs.

    I didn't do this on april fools day, but I had a couple of years ago, I was the aid to our high school IT Teacher. I had a linux computer set up and was running the bsod screensaver on it. I left the monitor on when I went to class, and apparently everyone was freaking out when they noticed it.

    These pranks remind me of things that would happen on the show The Office on NBC. My personal favorite is filling a room with packing peanuts! Thanks for the giggle...

    Y'all forgot this one:
    Putting a shortcut to "Restart" in the Startup folder.

    I like the BSOD screen saver and the unclickable desktop. Really funny stuff!

    Good one..Since the dawn of time, geeks have been playing harmless pranks on their beloved (but unsuspecting) associates

    haha long live the geeks. great post!

    Great post - I *really* like the Customise the Office HP Printer's Console Message!

    my favorite is just hitting ctrl alt and left right or down while i walk by and leaving them confused what happened. i did this at school once and for 3 days people just turned the module sideways it was hilarious.

    Does anyone else remember the "You've been bearded" worm. It was a virus, but totally harmless. that is, if you consider a disgustingly naked woman being changed to your background "harmless." I have tried to find it, but I haven't seen it around since the late 90's. I sent it to all of my college buddies on the last day of school my freshman year. oh dear god the stories I heard at the beginning of my sophomore year.

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