Pranks for the memories

David Whitley writes: Office pranks are a time-honoured tradition, and now that just about everyone has their own computer, a whole new world of possibilities has opened up. Let’s face it, if your colleagues didn’t want their machine tampered with, they shouldn’t have left it unattended when they went for lunch, should they?

An oldie but a goldie, simply go to your colleague’s monitor and switch the contrast down to the bare minimum. This makes the screen entirely black, no matter how often they switch the computer on and off, pull the plugs out and scream.
If your colleagues truly despise a song, think how delighted they’ll be to hear it every time they open a program, receive an email or minimise a window.
First, get hold of a truly irritating tune (perhaps Barbie Girl by Aqua or The Logical Song by Scooter) and then save it to their computer. You’ll need to convert it to .wav format (download a free converter at
Next, go into the computer’s control panel, then “sounds and audio devices”. Under the sounds menu, there is a list that allocates a noise to certain actions. To change these, choose the action, click “browse”, find your song then “apply” it. Depending on how vindictive you’re feeling, Barbie Girl can be applied to just about everything one could possibly want to do on a computer.
Ideal for sorting out people who don’t proofread their letters. Go into Microsoft Word, where you will find “autocorrect options” under the “tools” menu.
This is where you can pre-program common typos to be automatically replaced with the correct version. However, it is also where you can change ordinary words to potty-mouthed obscenities that will get people into trouble should they send the document without checking.
If you’re going for a short-term laugh, replace a common word such as “and”, with something filthy, such as “f—“. This is likely to be spotted quite soon so consider changing less common words to something not quite so obvious, such as “both” to “booty” or “funds” to “funbags”.
Imagine the panic if nothing on your desktop responds when you click it? Now imagine how funny it would be if it happened to the git who sits opposite.
This can be arranged. When he or she is out, jump onto the machine and close all the programs down so you’re left with the display they get when the computer first loads up. Hit “print screen” on the keyboard and then open up a drawing program, such as Paint.
Hit “control v” and it will paste in your screenshot of their desktop. Save this as a jpeg.
Now you need to return to the desktop and drag the icons (my documents, recycle bin, etc) into a new folder, so that this is the only folder remaining. Then go to control panel and “display”. Under the “desktop” menu is where you can change the background. Browse to find your screen shot and make sure it’s stretched to fit the screen.
“Apply” this, and when your colleague returns, they will find something that looks like their desktop, but isn’t. They’ll try to click on folders that aren’t there and generally get quite angry. To reverse, drag all the icons out of your new folder and revert to the original background. And be quick – they’ll be back before you know it with a busybody from the help desk.
What’s your favourite office prank? Tell us at

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