April Fool’s Day has officially gone tech. Each year an increasing array of online or tech-based pranks are taking over the office and even the home. As a result, the best laughs these days are definitely to be had near a computer or smartphone.
With the official day-of-pranks looming on the horizon, we take a look at some of the harmless tech fun that you can have with your friends and loved ones on April the 1st this year.
1. Build your own “news” page
This prank can only be done on a friend or family member with whom you share a computer, or a friend whose computer you have access to. There are a number of ways that you can copy a webpage and seemingly edit it in your browser. These changes, of course, won’t affect what every other web user is seeing, and they will not stay in place when you navigate from the page, but you can certainly make what is seen on your screen look different for as long as the ‘page’ is left open.
This means you can take an official news page, such as the BBC homepage and change the news to say whatever you want it to say. There are two main ways to approach this. Either change the actual news stories or leave the stories in place but change the photos that accompany them. News article about a man arrested for indecent exposure?
Why not change the mugshot to a picture of your friend’s dad? What about the one where your mum has been caught shoplifting on CCTV? Just adding any old family picture to a news story will have the desired effect.
2. Plant a “garden” in a keyboard
This very excellent April the 1st prank takes some careful planning. You’ll need access to your friend’s keyboard and a bit of time. Start by lifting the cover off the keyboard and filling the spaces between the keys with moist (but not wet) tissue paper. Then cover the tissue with cress seeds. As we all remember from school projects, cress grows fast, and can start sprouting in 24 hours. If you plan this well, the green sprouts should start appearing between the letters on the morning of April Fools Day!
3. Change shortcuts in iOS dictionary
If you have access to your friend’s smartphone, this can really have some hilarious effects. Changing the shortcut settings in iOS will affect what comes up in autocorrect. Go to Settings, then General, Keyboard, and Add new shortcut. From here you can create new shortcuts, by entering words that they regularly use and pretending they are shortcuts for other words. For example, set up LOL as a shortcut for “lover of loafers.” That means every time they write LOL, their recipient will receive a message that says Lover of Loafers.
You can make this as impactful as you want. It’s also possible to change the autocorrect words in Word or Google Docs.
4. Change their screensaver to the Blue Screen of Death
We’ve all suffered the so-called “Blue Screen of Death” (BSOD) before. It’s that worrying blue screen that tells us something has gone seriously wrong with our Windows computer. It invariably means ringing IT and receiving an annoyed visit from one of the IT department team. Changing your friend or co-worker’s screensaver to a screenshot of the BSOD, will mean every time the screensaver kicks in, the “Blue Screen” appears, sending shivers of worry through their veins, until they touch their mouse of course.
5. Block sites on your VPN
If your family has a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and you just happen to be the admin of your network, why not block them from their favorite websites for the day. Blocking teenagers from Instagram, husbands from BBC sports or your wife from retail sites can all have the same hilarious effect.
You can even block individuals for the day – although you may have some angry teenagers on your hands.
6. “Freeze” their desktop
This works on both smartphones and PCs. Take a screenshot of your friend’s desktop when you get the chance and then use this image to by making it their new desktop wallpaper. This only works if you also remove their actual shortcuts and hide their taskbar. Watch as they try to hit on applications and shortcuts that aren’t really there.
Unlike the above fake “Blue Screen of Death.” this one takes a while to solve and can make for much extended hilarity and hopefully a call to IT that will result in all sorts of embarrassment.
7. Change their Google email name
Change the name that appears when a friend sends an email. You can do this in the Google mail settings. Make it silly, funny or simply outrageous, but do bear in mind that if they use this email address to send serious work emails, it could have disastrous effects for them.
8. Change their ring tone
It’s really easy to change a ringtone, especially if you have time to make a quick recording and change it to something truly customised. Can you even get your friend’s mum to say their full name and upload the recording to your friend’s phone?
A full-named telling off from their mother is more than likely to send shivers down their spine. If not… fart noises anyone?
9. A few more loopy ideas
Did you know you can also change the settings in a PC display so that everything is upside down? Or that you can change your mouse settings so that using it sends the cursor loopy?
Alternatively, plug in a USB for a wireless mouse but leave their normal mouse in the usual place. Watch the fallout as you control their cursor and they try to understand what is going on.
10. Prank news
If you don’t have the time, or the creativity, to come up with your own online or tech-based prank, then simply find a good April Fool’s news story and send to a friend or loved one. Each year every reputable news outlet, be it the BBC, the Guardian or the Telegraph, produces one fake story which they publish amongst the real news.
If you find yourself awake early on April the 1st, you should be able to find it, and you may even be able to catch friends out by sending them a link to it before they’ve even realised what day it is.
11. YouTube an old school prank
If you think the best pranks are still the old ones.. a bucket of water over a door, a tarantula in the biscuit tin or killer clowns lurking in the shadows, then why not film your prank and upload it to YouTube. If you need inspiration, YouTube is already home to thousands of excellent April Fool Pranks.
As with all April Fools pranks, be sure you don’t risk getting your friends or family members into actual trouble, whether that’s at work or even with the law. As long as you understand the boundaries of what is acceptable, you can certainly have a bit of fun with some of these online or tech pranks this year in place of more traditional April Fool tricks.