Office Pranks

Let’s talk about harmless office pranks. I don’t really talk about the hard core BOFH stuff here – just harmless fun. I’m sure everyone has at least one or two of these things to share. Whether you were the one doing it, or if you were the one it was done to or if you just heard about it from a friend. Let’s hear them. Here are few sample pranks to start this thread:

The Wallpaper

This is a classic – simple to accomplish but effective.

  1. Take a screen shot of your victim’s desktop
  2. Hide all the desktop icons
  3. Set task bar to auto-hide
  4. Set the screen shot you took as their wallpaper

When you hear frantic annoyed clicking and swearing you are allowed to laugh.

The VNC Prank aka The Ghost in the Machine

Also known as “ZOMG! Someone is hacking me!”. I actually did this once but since my victim could pretty much see my monitor from her desk, and I couldn’t stop myself from giggling she quickly figured out what was up.

  1. Install some sort of VNC server/client on your victim’s machine – any remote control software will do really
  2. When they leave the computer unattended, quickly initiate connection and run back to your desk
  3. Wait for the victim to start working again and then once they get back into their rhythm start messing with them.

You can make this as subtle or as crazy as you want but I found out that less is more. For example, when your victim is trying to click on an icon, simply move the mouse out of the way. Don’t jerk it away – just nudge it so that they will miss the icon. When they type something just randomly type a key or two here and there to throw them off. Inserting the last letter your victim has back-spaced is fun too.

If you do something obvious like start moving windows around, or type full sentences or open websites the victim will either catch on or assume they are getting “hacked” and run to get the IT and the FBI.

Keyboard Layout Swap

If you have a hunt & peck style typist in your office, you can simply pop out 2-4 keys and swap them around. Try to leave the QWERTY line un-changed because that’s the one everyone knows about. I did it once, long time ago but it was unintentional. I simply had to retrieve some paper clips that got underneath the keys, and put the keys in the wrong order. I never noticed it but the next person using that machine was totally befuddled. :P

There is updated version of this for touch typists – simply switch their keyboard layout. Obvious choice is to use Dvorak layout but that one is easy to figure out. It’s probably best to pick one that is basically QWERTY but with 2 or 3 keys in off positions. German layout is a good one since it is essentially QWERTY but with Z and Y swapped around, and German letters placed where you would expect brackets and punctuation marks to be.

The Fake BSOD

One word: BlueScreen Screen Saver. Ok, it’s actually 3 words. Or 2 words and a compacted word, so theoretically 4. But you get the idea. Install it, configure it and wait for the screams of agony to begin. Personally I like to set the timer to 15-20 minutes so the BSOD only happens when people leave their computer unattended for a long time. It is a good way to drive home the point about saving your work before leaving your desk. :)

Desk To The Wall

This one I learned from a cow-orker. Never tried it but it sounded hilarious and it can be applied to just about anyone. It affects both the clueless and cluefull the same way. Note that this is a long term project which requires commitment and staying at work late (or coming in early). Your victim should have an office with an old-fashioned desk. This doesn’t really work well in cubicles.

Here is the procedure: wait till your victim leaves (or come into work before they do) and sneak into their office. Most people like to sit with their back to the wall, and the desk facing the opposite door. This is the setup you are looking for. Each day push the desk about 1/2 and inch towards the wall effectively squeezing your victims space behind it. Don’t move it to much or they will notice it immediately. Small incremental changes are what counts.

You and your friends can now bet on when the victim will notice that the change took place. Once this happens and the desk gets adjusted back to a normal position you can start over. This time push it away from the wall.

The Magic of Number 3

Another long term, low tech project that may require some commitment. Every day sneak into your victims office/cubicle and do any or all of the following:

  1. Remove all but 3 staples from their stapler
  2. Remove all but 3 pages from their printer
  3. Take away all but 3 paper clips from their desk
  4. Remove all but 3 led inserts from their mechanical pencil
  5. etc..

Important note: if the item you routinely take away is missing (ie. the stapler is empty, there is no paper in the printer) make sure to re-stock the supplies with exactly 3 items (ie. 3 staples, 3 pages, etc..).

I do not claim I invented any of these. In fact I’m sure I didn’t. Few people can probably claim to have “invented” an original prank. These things are sort of like algorithms or scientific laws. You discover them rather than invent them. :P

Now it’s your turn! Have you ever done any of the above? Are you planning to? Have you used a modified/better version? Do you have an awesome prank that is not listed here? Let us know!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Office Pranks

  1. chris GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    German layout is a good one since it is essentially QWERTY but with Z and Y swapped around [making it QWERTZ]


    Reply  |  Quote
  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Ah, yes – I corrected it. Oh well, I was close enough. :)

    Reply  |  Quote
  3. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Similar to your Ghost in the Machine prank…

    Years ago, I worked at a government office that used OS Warp (or whatever it was called) and something called Saber Menus. Essentially, this was a pre-Windows 3.1.1 “gui” environment for DOS. As administrators, we could remotely connect to any user’s machine. I watched this woman open a program, remotely of course, and then she tried to scroll down the massive list of files…as she did so I kept hitting page down :) She then hit arrow up, and I hit page up. She kept trying this to zero in on the file. Finally, she stopped and exited the program. So I loaded WordPerfect and started typing Ha ha ha ha ha ha :0

    Reply  |  Quote
  4. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I haven’t done much in the way of computer pranks, but I shared a large table with someone else for a while. It was an IT shop sow we had tons of hardware lying all over. I plugged an extra keyboard into the back of my deskmate’s tower. Periodically I’d type, very quickly, “Get to work.” Took him most of the day before he figured it out. Months later I got him again with a mouse by periodically jiggling it.

    When I worked at a software company, the guy in charge of IT did the fuzzy internet thing on april fools day. Basically he got on our firewall and played this trick,but made the images fuzzy rather than upside down. What was really funny was that he only changed jpgs, so all the gifs & pngs were fine, and he cycled it – on for 5 minutes, off for 15 minutes. Downstairs us code monkeys figured it out pretty quick, but management, the artists, and sales didn’t even complain until nearly 3pm.

    Reply  |  Quote
  5. Fr3d UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Some good stuff there :D

    Another one to try is the broken monitor image – run the photo using a slideshow tool (or similar), unplug the mouse and keyboard, and wait… ;)

    You could also take a screenshot of the current desktop, and overlay the above image using Photoshop so it looks even more realistic.

    Reply  |  Quote
  6. gp ARGENTINA Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    the “tape in the optical mouse led” was a classic one where i worked :D

    Reply  |  Quote
  7. Wikke BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    In the computer locals in my school, all pcs were with the backs to each other.
    We switched mouses / keyboards between two opposite computers and left.

    Easily discovered when you are with two, but as teenagers, we found this fun :P

    A good one is to place something under the ‘Del’-key of a keyboard, preferrably with a computer-literate person.
    Every time the computer boots, it loads the BIOS setup :) hard time figuring that out.

    Reply  |  Quote
  8. Richard AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    This made me laugh so much as it brought back many memories. I worked in small office environment where I was the IT support person. If I got bored (sometimes to frequently) pranks would happen, the desk movement was good value, likewise one guy I would take one screw out of his desk every day, mmm didn;t take too long for it to get unsteady. Another good one was to change font, background,foreground, every colour to black, that got a good reaction. Have also done the VNC bit and that is brilliant, just moving the mouse or typing the odd key just makes life fun. The screenshot one is great. The best part with my pranks is that they would come to me to fix them, thats the classic part !

    Reply  |  Quote
  9. Aquila DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I had a boss once that was quite the Nazi, so I guess what we did was more like revenge than prank. We changed his desktop wallpaper in RegEdit with a picture of a guy called Hermann Göring in uniform. Hearing him screaming about this like a…well…Nazi brought tears to our eyes, especially when he replaced the picture, but for “some reason” the picture was back the next day. I don’t think he was a happy man, those types usually aren’t, but taking it out on the rest of us was not fair, so I guess he deserved it.

    Anyway, thanks Luke, I always enjoy reading your stuff, especially when you go all apeshit about stupid end users. Your nemesis, Bob the Retard, has clones around the world. Yesterday, I explained to him why there was a Received column in his Inbox and a Sent column in his Sent Items folder, not the other way around (I kid you not). After I left him, I suspected he didn’t get it.

    Reply  |  Quote
  10. Pingback: Terminally Incoherent » Blog Archive » April Fools Jokes UNITED STATES WordPress

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *