April Fools’ Day is upon us – that time of year where big brands farm out unfunny press releases and start-ups try to outdo each other with hilarious pretend news stories.
For some more localised hilarity at home and/or the workplace, here’s five of the best tried and tested pranks you can pull at home using phones, laptops and TVs.
The classic ‘None of my icons are working’ screengrab prank
If you’ve figured out with the ‘PrntScrn’ button does then you’ve probably pulled this prank at least once.
This simple trick sees you taking a screenshot of the victim’s desktop and then setting that screenshot as the background image. Once you’ve done that, clear all of the shortcuts and folders off of their desktop.
The beauty of this is that everything looks normal – until the victim realises that tapping and clicking on the app icons doesn’t actually do anything. They’re just clicking a background image. Morons.
The good thing is that the taskbars, start menus and everything else will still function as normal. But the static, un-clickable desktop icons will trick the non-tech savvy into thinking they’ve been infected with some sort of terrible virus from the Internets.
If you’re feeling nice, you might want to move everything into a new sub folder and keep that saved somewhere in Explorer/Finder, so once the ruse has been blown, everything can be easily restored.
Change the links in the bookmarks toolbar
If you know your friend has got shortcuts to their favourite websites in their toolbar, then when they’re not looking, simply right click on that and change the URL to something nice and family-friendly like ‘Special Fried Rice’ (NSFW).
In Chrome this is found under ‘Edit’ and under ‘Properties’ on Firefox.
If your target is of a right-leaning political persuasion, it might be funny to replace all of his or her favourites with links to Green Party pages. Similarly, if you’ve got friends who are dogmatic, hardcore vegans (preferably with a sense of humour) you could drop links in to McDonald’s and KFC websites.
Master the art of the Fake Retweet
With the launch of the Retweet tool and the hallowed Verified Account, this once time-honoured way of causing mischief on Twitter has lost some of its impact over the years, but used properly it can still be effective.
For those of you not in the know, a Fake Retweet involves you writing a manual retweet – that’s RT, followed by your friend’s handle, kids – and then having some fun with the remaining space. See in the example below where I abuse my own Twitter handle (disclaimer: I am not really a facist).
As with the above example if you’re good mates with a fastidious, militant atheist, maybe Fake Retweeting links to ‘Which of Jesus’ disciples are you?’ on Buzzfeed could be Just The Thing to Really Get Into the April Fools’ Spirit.
Ideally, you want something that’s barely on the edge of aural perception, just enough for someone to notice that there’s an annoying sound but not so loud that they can tell where it’s coming from.
If any of your family members, housemates or colleagues have hearing aids or suffer from tinnitus, then it’s a really a good idea that you don’t do this.
The Haunted Smart TV
Set up a Chromecast and have the following link ready your phone’s browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QjrBjdb2T8#t=0m33s
Because Chromecast can be used to turn on a TV set remotely, this makes it perfect for pranking the unsuspected.
Wait for someone to sit down in front of the TV, open up YouTube on your phone and cast the video to the TV.
You’ll have to make sure that your Chromecast is plugged directly into the mains for this to work. If it’s drawing power from the USB port on your TV, then you’ll need to switch the TV on first, somewhat ruining the element of surprise. It’s also far spookier to have the TV come to life, apparently of its own volition.
Good alternatives to the Exorcist projectile vomit clip would be to load up this video and then whisper ‘They’re heeeere…’ a la Poltergeist.
Or, if you want to party like it’s 2008, there’s always this…