I love a good geeky prank, and the new Desktop Goose utility from 18-year-old Sam Chiet is the perfect app to bring around on a flash drive. Your friends will hate you. Your school’s IT department will really hate you. But little is more fun, and silly, than watching the star animal of Untitled Goose Game wander around your Windows desktop, honking and stealing your mouse cursor (among other annoyances).
Desktop Goose reminds me a lot of all the other weird-arse programs and hardware I’d drop on unsuspecting computers years ago—for joking around, of course, never maliciously. Back when I worked at Maximum PC, we had a lot of fun hooking up a USB mouse jiggler to the internal USB headers of a staffer’s computer, and watch them go crazy trying to figure out why their cursor kept going wild. (You can also secretly connect a wireless mouse dongle and mess with them that way.)
It was child’s play to set up someone with a new, annoying screensaver. You could also use an app like NirCmd to cause someone’s computer to beep randomly (or eject their optical drive, assuming they still have one). If you’re especially evil, you could use PowerShell to create random Windows prompts about cat facts throughout a person’s day. Or you could put clear tape over someone’s CMOS sensor to really cause them some confusion.
I’m more a fan of silly apps that confuse a person—like Taskbar Eliminator, which you could use to completely hide it from view on someone’s PC. And there’s always the ol’ “take a screenshot of their desktop and hide all the icons” trick, as well as various other annoyances like disabling the Windows key or right-clicks via the registry or a group policy setting.
You can also play with a person’s hosts file. If you know the IP address of a website they frequent—say, Facebook—you can redirect them elsewhere, something they won’t be able to fix no matter what browser they use. The Blue Screen of Death screensaver is always fun (for Windows and Mac). And if you’re an Excel wizard, you can use your powers really muck with someone’s day in the office.
And sometimes, pranks are just cruel. To really drive someone nuts, you could do something like drop the Cenafy extension in their Chrome browser. This gives them a one-in-one-hundred chance to have their ears blown off with that annoying “JOHN CENNNAAAA” WWE introduction song whenever they load any website.
Anyway, my point is that Desktop Goose is hardly the first prank utility we’ve seen, but it’s one of my new favourites. Not only is it fairly innocent (and everyone loves The Goose), but I’m thrilled to see someone take it upon themselves to take the flag of utility-based PC pranks and run with it. We need more PC pranksters, and I’m glad the goose is here to show us the way. Who wants to make a Baby Yoda version, next?
This article has been updated since its original publication.