Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

Summary: Ready to get your prank on? This isn't your average, run-of-the-mill Windows prank list, so pull up a chair and stay a while! There's plenty to learn here and lots of laughter to be had by you at your victim's expense!


 |  Image 8 of 12

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Thumbnail 11
  • Thumbnail 12
  • Based on another age-old prank, here, you basically create a shortcut on the desktop that looks like the Internet Explorer icon, but when double-clicked, triggers a shutdown mechanism with a message that says whatever you want it to say. Here's how you do it:

    1 - Right-click on the desktop, hover over "New," then click "Shortcut."
    2 - When the window pops up, paste all of the following into the box:

    shutdown -s -t 2000 -c "10 unsuccessful logins have been detected. All information across all hard drives will now be completely deleted unless you click the cancel button below."

    3 - Click the "Next" button.
    4 - Enter "Internet Explorer" (without quotes) as the name for your shortcut, then click the "Finish" button.
    5 - Right-click on your new shortcut, then click "Properties."
    6 - Click the "Change Icon..." button.
    7 - If you get a pop-up that says your file contains no icons, click the "OK" button. If you don't get that popup, proceed to the next step.
    8 - When the list of icons pops up, scroll through them until you see the Internet Explorer icon (reference the picture above), then double-click it when you find it.
    9 - Click the "Apply" button, then the "OK" button.

    You've now created a shutdown shortcut that's sure to scare the pants off of your victim! You can type whatever you want your message to display, but the unsuccessful logins sounded good to me -- especially the "cancel button" part, since there is no cancel button! Now, if you want to abort the shutdown sequence for them prior to it occurring, then follow these simple steps:

    1 - Click the Start button
    2 - In the search box, type the following and then hit enter:

    shutdown -a

    Voila. Now the shutdown has been aborted and you can delete your shortcut no harm, no foul. Alternately, you could create a shutdown abort shortcut that you can double-click, too! Simply follow steps 1-4 from above, except name it something like "abort." Or, if you wanted to go the complete opposite direction (see: malicious and cruel), create the shutdown shortcut and then add it to the startup folder, like so:

    1 - Click the Start button
    2 - Click "All Programs"
    3 - Scroll down to "Startup," right-click it, then select "Open."
    4 - Click and drag the shutdown shortcut you created into the Startup folder.

    [Related Gallery: 20 of the coolest gadgets and must-haves for your office!]

  • Yet another simple but great prank that yields excellent results from the right people is making them think their monitor was cracked while they were away. Here's what you do:

    1 - Find and download a realistic-looking cracked screen wallpaper, like one of these.
    2 - Save and set the image as your background.
    3 - Hide all desktop icons by right-clicking on the desktop, hover over "View," then uncheck "Show desktop icons."
    4 - Hide the taskbar by right-clicking on a blank section of the taskbar, then "Properties," then the box next to "Auto-hide the taskbar," and finally, the "Apply" button.
    5 - Unplug the mouse and keyboard from the system so they can't interact with the computer.

    Now you're all set! For added effect, do something like this guy did and eat an apple down to the core, rub some of it on the monitor's screen, then leave it on the desk somewhere in front of the monitor. This will give the appearance that the monitor's screen was cracked by an apple core that was thrown across the room.

    [Related Gallery: 20 of the coolest gadgets and must-haves for your office!]

  • This prank and the one that follows both make use of harmless lightweight applications that aren't from Microsoft, so they may not work for you if you work for a company with a strict policy. With that said, the first app is Start Killer and it hides the Start button while leaving the rest of the taskbar intact. This app is GREAT for combining with the "ultimate desktop prank!" Here's what you do:

    1 - Download Start Killer straight from the developer's page.
    2 - Install the app and run it.

    That's it! When you run it, you will notice the Start button disappear. Down in your task tray, you will notice the app's icon (it's a knife). From it, you can exit the app or change settings, like hiding the icon from the task tray or having it start on system start-up. Now, even though the Start button is gone, the Start menu will still work when the Windows key is pressed. So if you want to be really thorough about it, you can also disable Windows hot keys via the registry. Here's how:
    1 - Click the Start button.
    2 - Type "regedit" (without quotes) in the search box and hit Enter.
    3 - If you get a UAC pop-up, just click "Continue."
    4 - In the left-hand side, navigate to the following tree:


    5 - In the right-hand side, right-click within the large white area, hover over "New," then click "DWORD (32-bit) Value."
    6 - Type "NoWinKeys" (without quotes) and hit Enter.
    7 - Double-click on NoWinKeys, then type 1 into the box labeled "Value Data" and click "OK."

    Bye-bye Start button and Start menu (though it may require a restart to take effect). To re-enable Windows hot keys, simply delete the registry key you created or give it a value of 0 instead of 1.

    [Related Gallery: 20 of the coolest gadgets and must-haves for your office!]

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

    appears that barrel roll does not work using ie9 on win 7 pro computer.
    Must I install google chrome / firefox
    thank you
    • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

      @TALKIN Ah, you're right! I guess Google checks the user agent of the browser and scoffs at Microsoft (go figure). It appears to work only with Chrome and Firefox. I will update the gallery to reflect this soon. Thanks for the feedback!

      [b]Update[/b]: It is due to a lack of support for WebGL in IE, which the barrel roll trick utilizes.
      • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

        @StephenChapman I doubt that it is scoffing. It is probably using HTML, JavaScript, or CSS that IE doesn't support.
      • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

        @grant I should have looked a bit deeper. Indeed, it appears to be a lack of support for WebGL in IE9 (or any other version prior to) which causes it not to work.
      • doesn't work in Linux

        @StephenChapman I couldn't get it to work on a number of different distributions and with 3 different browsers. Apparently it's a windows0only phenomenon. =(
  • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try


    I have followed ZDTv & ZDNet for a looooong time and I still Love It, Awesome job & thanks for the laughs!
    • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

      @zinfandale@... Hey, thanks! Always happy to hear from our long-time readers. Glad you enjoyed the gallery!
  • This is Awesome

    Great article, gave me a few laughs! Thanks
    • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

      @smu122 Thanks for reading! Hopefully, you have a few new tricks up your sleeve now. The upside-down desktop really is so simple, yet incredibly effective. =)
  • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

    Changing the background to the desktop is a fun one I used to do in Windows 3.1.
  • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

    On the mouse tricks you forgot switching the mouse buttons
    • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

      @bwillingham@... They changed how to do that in Windows 7, which is what step 11 in "mouse hijinks" now does!
  • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

    omg....this is so fun to do to family members. I supervise a computer sale and service store. My family is always calling me freaking out about their computers. I do this to the ones that keep getting Malware to scare them. Still havent told them....it's a joke......LOL!!! So funny!!!
  • My version

    Add a new shortcut named something like "Advanced desktop 4.0", make it launch that shutdown command, give it an appropriate icon.
    Take a scren shot and flip it 180 degrees. Now hide all shortcuts but the new one. Make that picture the wallpaper, and flip the desktop and hide the taskbar. Now it will look like an ordinary desktop except for that icon - move it on top "itself" on the wallpaper, change it's icon to a transparent one and give it a name consisting of spaces (no visible characters).
    Clicking all other icons will now have no effect, but clicking that one will make the shutdown window appear - upside down! :D
    • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

      @Natanael_L See, now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about, hahaha. Excellent idea! Hope to see more people contribute their own, too. So many excellently evil combinations to choose from!
      • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

        @StephenChapman Childish. Mr Chapman, that is the singularly most thoughtless post I've ever read from you, and you've pushed out some hairy bombs in your time.

        Havent we had enough of LULZ that you think its clever to upset someone, prevent them from working and waste company time and resources undoing them?

        I do love a wind-up, but if anyone touched my work they'd get punched in the testicles for their trouble at the very least. I'd expect the same from any co-worker as well. But perhaps here in the UK, we prefer our jokes to come from our leaders, I dont know...

        Bad show, Mr Chapman. Are you so irresponsible you cant see the wave of misery and lost resources you just caused publishing this idiocy? Granted its all out there, but most people arent inventive enough to try it without being told.

        How about 10 Mac pranks? 10 Linux ones? Oh, my mistake. People who value their computer and/or OS wouldnt touch it with a ****** stick.
      • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

        Heh heh!

        I'll bet sharing an office with you and Natanael_L is...interesting.

        Yeah, interesting. :)

        Seriously, thanks for the laughs!
  • humor lost

    As an IT person who ends up fixing crap like this, I'd have a hard time distinguishing between one of these "tricks" and a generally misfunctioning Windows machine. Fiddle for 15 minutes, then rebuild...
    • RE: Ten epic Windows 7 pranks you absolutely must try

      @gdstark13 Yeah, I see your point. But it's just plain cruel for someone to play one of these pranks on someone and let it escalate all the way to someone in your position before coming clean!
      • Other IE pranks, I can't find

        Stephen, great pranks, dude! :) I actually was looking for a certain IE prank you write a lil text thing for, that I had a year ago but deleted part of, & I can't find it online now. I'll add the part I have below. You're supposed to make an IE file that accesses this text file somehow, but of course, I don't recall how to do it. How about can you find out from a smart PC peep, or ask people? The best part is that you can add any text you want to it and it will print that on the screen when someone clicks the fake IE icon you must create-which, as said, I don't recall how to do. Just copying it & changing it to open using IE doesn't work. It's supposed to run it. So, here's the text, on wordpad.
        Dim fso, ws, file, APP_PATH
        Set ws = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
        APP_PATH = """C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe"""
        ws.run APP_PATH

        set shl = createobject("wscript.shell")
        shl.sendkeys "This is God! I saw what you did! Don't ever do it again!(Change this to whatever you want.)"
        wscript.sleep 8000
        Thanks! Love ZDNET! :)