Harmless office pranks

Ok. So today is another somewhat-partially-semi-productive day at work. It is at these times that it is absolutely essential that I tug at my brain cells that are designed for pranks. Ok, tugged. I am not going to play any pranks on you, my reader (or am I? :D) because I love you so much. Here are a few harmless pranks you could play in your office, and whom you should make your target. Now, I have played some of these before – but I must warn you – make sure your target is a good sport – so that a fun war starts between the two of you. Or try your level best to be completely anonymous, so that NOTHING is traced back to you. That’s your call. 🙂 Just make a judgment call before you do anything – you don’t want to get fired, right?

This feature might be a two-part post – the first is computer related pranks and the other might be cubicle related. If I work on the latter, it will be out sometime later this year. My colleagues are great sports and it is great fun playing pranks on them. It always starts a playful war which we remember for years to come.

Computer pranks are fairly simple to execute – I have played these pranks myself. For most of these you need your target’s computer at a time when he/she is not around and has left it unlocked. It is more fun if you are around to see it happening – depending on the level of  ‘sinisterness’, get more people involved. Also, some of them will make them think their computer has been hit by a virus. Make sure you are around to tell them that they have been pranked upon – and to undo the prank too! 😀 You don’t want the computer administrators to come over and reprimand you when they figure out YOU did it!

1. The shutdown prank
This is a not-so-famous prank and it’s really unnerving for whoever’s sitting at the computer. It configures the icon to shutdown the computer with a given time limit and a message. Warning: This does not quite work as expected in Windows Vista. It works great with XP.
Someone who plays games on their work computer. Too much.
> Pick an icon on the desktop or the start button (wherever the game is)
> Right click on it and go to properties, go to the Shortcut tab on top.
> In the Target field, remove the existing one and type in [shutdown -s -t 90 -c “Your message here”] without the parentheses. The number 90 is a 90 seconds timeout. Try it once on your own computer before going ahead with it.
> To abort the shutdown, go to Start>Run and type “shutdown -a” without quotes.
> Get creative with “Your message here” – you could write an official like message that “This computer has shown increased activity in facebook/orkut/sleazy websites and is shutting down to prevent further misuse” or “This computer has shown increased activity in games and is shutting down to prevent further misuse”
Variation: You can also modify the IE/Firefox buttons and watch that person freak out whenever he/she tries to open the browser! Make sure you are around to savor the panic! 🙂

2. The keyboard/mouse swap
This one is hilarious if it happens right. It requires two coworkers who sit close by. Wait till your coworkers have left office after shutting down their machines. Swap the keyboards and/or mice. Enjoy your day the next day.
Variation: Add a USB mouse to your one coworker’s desk and have access to that mouse at your desk. Works with USB mice. At the oppportune moment, nudge it or close a harmless window!

3. The sluggish mouse
If an optical mouse, take a small piece of clear tape and stick it over the laser. The results are hilarious!

4. The Microsoft Word AutoCorrect prank
This is my all time favorite and I have done it so many times! What you need is an unlocked computer. Open Microsoft Word and go to Tools > AutoCorrect options. Select the AutoCorrect tab and towards the bottom, you will see Replace and With.
Under Replace, type “the” and under With, type “that damn”. For example, “the fiscal year” becomes “that damn fiscal year”
Every instance of “the” will be replaced with “that damn” as and when your target types it. You can obviously make so many variations – parallel to pyarelal, someone’s name like mine – Kokonad to coconut etc.

5. The frozen desktop
Anyone who has been dumb enough to leave their computer unlocked in a workplace!
Probably the oldest prank. But fun nevertheless.
> Close ALL open windows.
> Take a screenshot of the desktop (hit PrintScreen button on keyboard).
> Open MS Paint and hit CTRL+V (to paste). Save the file.
> Now change the wallpaper of your target to this saved image.
> To make it more fun, hide all icons so there are only images remaining. Right click on desktop and go to “Arrange icons by” and uncheck “Show desktop items”. Your target is going to think the icons are supposed to work, but they never do!
Optional: Auto-hide the taskbar as well. To do this, right click on the taskbar, go to properties, check the option for “Auto-hide the taskbar”

6. Mousing around
Go to mouse settings in control panel and make the cursor speed very fast or very slow. Watching someone drag their mouse across the office to move it an inch on screen is funny! Or you could go to pointer settings and make the default one an hourglass, so they will be left wondering what is keeping the computer busy.

7. Remap the keyboard
This is extreme fun because the keyboard no longer types what is written on the key. All keyboards are typically QWERTY keyboards – there is another standard – called the DVORAK keyboard. Change the keyboard layout to DVORAK and sit back to enjoy all the fun.

You must practise these at home a couple of times to make sure you know how to undo them, and also to be fast at it when you are actually executing them. Again, it is important to make a judgment call – you DO NOT want to get fired for this!

A sneak preview on cubicle related pranks: Use sticky labels for everything on your colleague’s desk – pen, mug, monitor, mouse, book, board etc. It’s amusing to see reactions! Or, wrap everything in aluminum foil. Everything.

Related Posts

  1. Harmless Office Pranks – Part 2
  2. Music and pranks
  3. Its not funny!!!
  4. Dear Google, you crack me up!
  5. Wah… Tag boliye!

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37 Responses to “Harmless office pranks”
  1. Shazia says:

    You are EVIL. If somebody plays any of these pranks on me, they will be killed. I hope nobody I know is reading this post of yours. On a different note, I would love to try at least one of these on a junior of mine :).

    Shazia´s latest blog post – DELETE

  2. Gaurav says:

    wow really cool ones….but dude, get ready for mails like, “i tried your pranks on my boss…got fired….YOU, yes, you are resposible for that!!!!”… :)…..Oh! btw i love the word ‘harmless’ in title…..nobody is counting mental agony 🙂

    Gaurav´s latest blog post – Penguin Poop!

  3. adisha says:

    You are just a little devil aren’t you ?? :)) Showed them to my hubby and he was laughing like anything …. 🙂

    Keep Smiling 🙂

    adisha´s latest blog post – Excuses and Love

  4. Sayontan says:

    A couple more:
    1. If you have a Linux / Unix based OS, create a plan file for your account (that would be a file called “.plan” in your home directory). In that file put in some scary text like “Your account has been locked for violation of lab policies. Please log out and contact XYZ right away.” The next time somebody runs a “finger” command for you, that person is going to get shocked.

    2. You can telnet to port 25 on any machine with internet capability and pretend to be someone you are not – you can actually claim to be from a legitimate business organization and have the right email address for it, in fact. You can then send an email to an unsuspecting user congratulating him on some initiative. This is different from creating a dummy account on a free email provider – here the email address looks bonafide. We have had this prank pulled on a genius from my under-grad class, where he received a distress mail from Stanford Research asking him to help them out with their crises.

    Sayontan´s latest blog post – Atop Ballmer Peak

  5. Sana says:

    I’ve tried the Auto-Correct prank…forgot about it completely until my labmate finally opened up MS Word one day…was hilarious…

    Here’s another one…leave your speakers on, remote desktop into your computer and voice synth the heck out of whoever is in the lab…which would be kinda obvious but if you have a hidden webcam it would work very nicely…could even try adding a soundtrack 🙂

    Sana´s latest blog post – Sunday to be Monday

  6. Kadambari says:

    Whoa! One thing I concluded is ‘NEVER’ to work at the same place as you. You could drive someone absolutely nuts. Imagine such a prank on a Monday morning! Hehe.. But yea.. really creative!! (And evil too) 😛

    Kadambari´s latest blog post – Curry Flurry

  7. DC says:

    Evil..I like.. i love.
    Some of them are breathtakingly brilliant 🙂

  8. Archana says:

    Haha you would make for a great partner in crime at work – – not so sure how I would feel if I was the target though! 😛

    These are pretty ingenious Kokonad. I could see something like this being played out in the sitcom ‘The Office’.

    Archana´s latest blog post – Barbie Loves MAC

  9. This post is AWESOME! I’m sharing this. I’ve done the “frozen desktop thing” with a friend at IIT. Needless to say, that led to an interesting conversation.

  10. rads says:

    WoW I just love these and my god you are wicked, I once tried playing this prank which involves an exe file that prompts you to enter your name and then shows a monkey reading “(Your name) is a monkey” and when you try to close it, it generates multiple windows and keeps doing so until the user gets panicked and goes for Alt+Ctrl+Del. But thankfully I played it on my friend who works for another company coz I did’nt want to be a victim of that or get fired. That guy had a shock of his life and sadly he lost some of the data that was unsaved causing him to redo all the work again. He swore that he’ll kill me if he ever meets me again but I purposely avoided meeting him for sometime until everything had cooled out 😀

    rads´s latest blog post – Best ways to promote a blog

  11. ankur says:

    one of my friend played a similar prank.
    they used to place a 1cent coin on a co-worker’s keyboard.. just above the space bar everyday. (cost 3$ per year)
    its amazing to see the response.. starts with a surprise.. but then ends up with real frustration and panariod… a pleasant sight to watch each morning

    ankur´s latest blog post – Mob Violence

  12. Ashwathy says:

    oh. my. good. lord!
    u ARE an evil genius!! LOL 😀

    i sure have to try these out. let me bookmark this page!! heheh

    Ashwathy´s latest blog post – Faith…

  13. Kokonad says:

    Hee hee… for the first time someone called me evil and I liked it! 😛

    Thanks! LOL @ Mental agony!

    Whee! Little devil! 😀 I am glad you guys liked it!

    Heh heh, I did not know about that .plan thing! That is SO funny! I didn’t know you can still do that port 25 thing – I thought it no longer exists! Btw, I remember your telling me about that Stanford prank!

    I laughed aloud when I read your comment – playing a prank and forgetting about it and then having the time of your life when it surfaces – man that HAS to hilarious! 😀 I use remote desktop to my lab all the time! I am going to do it now! Thanks for the idea, Sana! (And also, welcome to my blog!)

    But why? 🙁 I am such a fun filled colleague! 😛 I will make your job worth coming to every Monday morning!

    Thank you, thank you! 🙂

    Oh I am TOTALLY inspired by Jim Halpert. BIG TIME. My colleague and I love his pranks and we are always playing some prank or the other. She even gifted me a Dwight Schrute bobble head! Some of my favorite ‘The Office’ pranks include nickels in the phone handset, imitating the Dwight, desk in the toilet, and throwing Andy’s phone in the false ceiling! I am sure there are so many more that I have forgotten – but they are priceless! Oh even that bluetooth phone prank!

    #Aditya Sengupta:
    Thank you for sharing it! 🙂 I hope several people are inspired by it! There are so many of such pranks all over the internet!

    Heh heh – yeah, sometimes they can go messy! 😀 Pick your target wisely, I say! 😛

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Man that is a priceless prank! I am going to do it someday!

    😀 Please do, and also tell me how people reacted to them!

  14. Neelima says:

    LOL! that was really wicked!!
    I wonder how many of these you have tried..and wonder what were the reactions of the victims!! Must have been hilarious..
    That frozen desktop thingy is something i must try out.. i’ll find a victim and hope nobody in my office is reading this.. 😀

    Neelima´s latest blog post – Flight to Srinagar – Photo of the Week

  15. Indyeah says:

    Shazia is right..this is the creation of an evil mind 😈


    damn good! 😀
    will try a few out :mrgreen:

    Indyeah´s latest blog post – Be what you want to be..

  16. Ash says:


    Ash´s latest blog post – The Red Lodge {5}

  17. Kokonad says:

    Thank you, thank you! In this post, all I have been called is evil, devil and wicked! 😛 Let me see, mine is a very small group of people working in an office – so I could not maintain much of anonymity… but I have done 1, 2, 4, 5, 6. Unfortunately, 2 did not work as well as I thought it would – but I don’t doubt its potential! 😀
    Do let me know how the frozen desktop thing works out!

    Heh heh, thank you, thank you! Do let me know how you fared in your pranks! Try it out on a few co-teachers, may be? 😛

    Welcome to my blog, Ashwathy! I must say how much I am in awe by your photography! *WoW*
    Thank you for commenting, do keep dropping by!

  18. Deepika says:

    Hilarious! But I’ll be screwed for doing it. 🙂

  19. Sayontan says:

    Here is one more. If someone leaves his / her machine unlocked, go ahead and change the startup sound to shout something like “Hey Everybody! I am watching p*** over here!”. The next time the person logs in at his workplace, everybody will know what he has been doing.

    Sayontan´s latest blog post – Atop Ballmer Peak

  20. TW says:

    Hehe.. this would work so well for beating Monday morning blues ;)))

    TW´s latest blog post – I am back!

  21. Kokonad says:

    Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    Heh heh… now I have *several* ideas in that area!

    I agree, I agree… but I must add that they work perfectly on any other day too! 😛

  22. Reva says:

    How about putting up a caricature of your boss and using it as a dart board? In the boss”s cubicle 😛

  23. Kokonad says:

    Ha ha ha… I have half a mind to dare you to do that, your Revaness! 😛

  24. Debleena says:

    now i understand how ppl get thru 5 years of phD…….:)…u actually did all these?

  25. Anubhav says:

    4th is amazing,i might try that soon.Lot of scope creativity there:P. I used to do some registry pranks with hostel mates.Most easy being hiding all drives/icons in ‘My computer’ or disabling right click :D.

  26. Anubhav says:

    I just realised 4th can become very dangerous in workplaces where MS Outlook 2003 is used,which uses Word as a default editor. How abt replacing ‘Hi’ or ‘Dear’ 😉

  27. Kokonad says:

    Oh yeah, lots of scope for being creative! But I think you are right – I use Outlook Exchange 2003 – and I had disabled that option (saves on memory) but many don’t do that! It IS dangerous, if pranked unwisely 🙂
    Actually, hostel IS one of the safest place to play pranks! Most people don’t realize it, think they have been infected by a virus and end up reinstalling the whole OS! 😀

  28. This is so awesome !! Amazing ideas bro!

    Cant wait for my vacations to get over to try them on my friends !!!
    This is one link I am NEVER going to share with anyone !! 😀

  29. Another really funny idea:

    If you have a same laptop as your friend, this is what you can do:
    Completely drain you battery, i mean absolutely empty it. Then replace it with your friend’s battery.
    😀 and watch him go mad !!

    I once tried this, and put in a completely juice-less battery in my friend’s computer! Unfortunately, he was going to give a presentation to a prof, and his computer wouldn’t start !! He was beyond his wits about what happened !!

    Another time, I had taken out the whole battery itself, and my friend had not noticed. As soon as he took out the charger – zoop! He was really mad at me that time !!! 😀

  30. Kokonad says:

    Welcome to my blog, and thanks for all the comments! I can understand your sentiments – it took a lot from me too, to share this information! 🙂
    Ooh, and your prank is DANGEROUS! No wonder he was mad at you…

  31. Nix says:

    I did #2 but a little differently. We all have laptops with docking stations, the docking stations have heaps of spare USB slots, so I plugged in an extra keyboard, hid the cable and put it under my desk. We started off nice and subtle, only typing in a letter here and there, and heard the boss backspacing like mad. Then, when you know he’s reading the email, hold down the enter key. It opens up a zillion email screens and it stressed him out completely…it was fantastic!
    Another one I did was unplug his external monitor from the docking station, and plugged in another monitor cable into it so it looks like it’s still plugged in – this one had him stumped the whole morning!!

  32. Mythri says:

    Got a link from Rads! Love your style of writing and this posts is sooo cool….need to try some at work, especially the ‘The frozen desktop’ one!!!!!
    Mythri´s latest post – Air France mid air crash Snopes!

  33. Kokonad says:

    Welcome to my blog, Nix! That prank SOUNDS TERRIFIC! I need to do something like that… it’s not possible to plug in a wired keyboard… but it’s definitely possible with a wireless keyboard! Heh heh heh! Thanks so much for dropping by and giving that tip… I think I need to consolidate all the additional prank tips that I have received in the comments section and form a new post! 😀

    Thank you, Mythri! You must try this at work! Just a word of caution that cannot be emphasized enough: choose your target wisely! 🙂
    Welcome to my blog! Thanks for commenting! And I loved your blog too – you have a new subscriber! 🙂

  34. LOL!! Seriously LOL!! 😀 You are such a twisted maniac! I am so glad we don’t work together. You have given me great ideas to try on DH’s laptop!! 😉
    TheThoughtfulTrain´s latest post – Of Unpredictable Behaviours and A Sweet Lesson ..

  35. Kokonad says:

    Heh heh heh! 😀 [proud of self]


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