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How to Prank Your Friend with a Scary Computer Background

Updated on April 8, 2013
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Dreamhowl is fluent in computer care, settings, and social networking. Her grasp of basic HTML makes theme tweaking a breeze!

What is a Computer Background?

Computer wallpaper is an image used as the background on a computer screen at your own leisure. Most operating systems (i.e. Windows or Mac) come with default background images for the user to choose from; on a Windows PC, these are located in a folder called “Sample Pictures”. Computer users can download image files or use their own photographs as a computer background if desired.

You can change the computer background in Windows via the Control Panel.
You can change the computer background in Windows via the Control Panel. | Source

Computer pranks on friends are harmless and easy to do, especially if your friend leaves their computer unattended often. Changing your friend’s computer background to something strange or frightening is a simple way to catch them off-guard. If you've never changed a computer background before, follow these easy steps:

  • Right-click the desktop and select “Personalize”

  • Select the “Desktop Background” option

  • Select “Browse” to navigate to the file’s location

  • Select the file and click “Open”

  • Click on the image file and click “OK”

Following this process will help change the images on your computer background (or your friend’s!). You can choose to stretch the image to fit your screen resolution, tile it so that it repeats on your screen or center the image. If centering the image keeps it from covering the whole computer screen, you can change your background color to match that of the picture. The options are practically limitless.

Browsing for files allows the user to search for images in a different folder.
Browsing for files allows the user to search for images in a different folder. | Source

Now that you know how to change a computer background, you need to find some scary images to prank your friends with. There are many ways to freak out your friends by messing with their background images. You can go with generic creepy images or computer backgrounds that would scare your friend in particular - the choice is yours!

You can have you computer background tiled, stretched or centered,
You can have you computer background tiled, stretched or centered, | Source

How to Find a Scary Computer Background

Creepy background images are all over the internet - simple search Google for “scary computer backgrounds” or “scary computer wallpapers” and you will find dozens of images. But what sort of images will scare your friend? Maybe your friend has a fear of clowns, or dislikes ghosts. You can search for a certain type of background image to swap with your friend’s computer background when they aren’t looking.

Searching for scary computer wallpapers online is quick and easy to do!
Searching for scary computer wallpapers online is quick and easy to do! | Source

Once you’ve decided on a creepy background picture, the next step is swapping it out and scaring your friend. There are a few situations where you can scare your friend with a background image. For example, you can:

  • change the background image on your computer

  • change the background image on friend’s computer

  • change the background image on a school computer

If you are using your personal computer, try to make a big deal of your previous computer background before you swap it for the scary one. Maybe your background is some fanart of your favorite video game, or a photograph you took when you were on vacation. Mention it so your friend knows what your computer background is. Then, when they step away, change it to something terrifying ... and wait.

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If you are using your friend’s computer, you’ll need to wait until they step away for a moment and swap it the same way. You can have your scary background image saved on a flash drive and wait for the right moment - this way, you can access the file quickly to change it. You can name the image file something less obvious (not “scary computer background”) and hide it in a folder of your flash drive that you don’t plan on opening - call it “Spanish Project” or something else inconspicuous. Find an excuse to use your flash drive, such as a homework project.

If you don’t have a flash drive or reason to use one, you can save the URL to the scary background image on your email; if you and your friend are browsing the internet, it would be easy to open a new window, sign into your email and access the link when they step away. You can save the image file to your friend’s computer, or right-click it on the web and select “set as desktop background”.

You can save the image link to download it to your friend's computer later.
You can save the image link to download it to your friend's computer later. | Source

How to Prank Your Friend on the Computer

Once you’ve changed the computer background to something creepy, cover up your tracks! Close any extra internet windows you opened, close the image file or the folder where you accessed the image file. For the best effect, try to find a picture of something that really scares your friend. Maybe your friend doesn’t like spiders; seeing one up close would catch them off-guard. If they realize you were messing with their computer, however, it can minimize the effect.

If the scary background image doesn’t phase them, try a different kind of computer prank! If you can’t scare your friend with a scary background image, you might be able to scare them into thinking their computer is broken. To make your friend think their mouse or desktop is broken:

  • Minimize all windows and view the desktop

  • Take a screenshot of the desktop

  • Set the screenshot as the computer background

  • Right-click the desktop and select “View”

  • Uncheck “Show Desktop Icons”

If you do this properly, you friend will try to click on desktop icons that aren’t really there. They might become scared that their mouse is broken, their screen is broken or their computer is frozen. And remember to play along; pretend to be unsure of what is going on with your friend’s computer. This is sure to cause at least a few minutes of worry. After you are done having a laugh, be sure to help your friend fix the problem so they don’t think their computer is actually broken.

Hiding the desktop icons is easy to and easy to fix afterward - a harmless prank!
Hiding the desktop icons is easy to and easy to fix afterward - a harmless prank! | Source

Another way to fool your friend into believing their computer is broken is to flip the orientation of the computer screen. Many people don’t know how to fix this problem offhand and watching them look it up on a sideways display will cause some laughs. To rotate the desktop orientation:

  • Right-click on the desktop and select Graphics options

  • Select the option to rotate the display

  • OR press CTRL+ALT+Any cursor key

To the unsuspecting computer user, a rotated screen might make them think something is wrong with their computer screen, especially if they don’t know how to fix it! This trick is sure to give any non-tech savvy friend a scare. Just don’t forget how to switch it back for them when you are done - it’s only fair.

In the end, remember not to take things too far - your friendship is worth more than a silly desktop prank. If you know that changing your friend’s computer background to a giant spider is going to give them nightmares, you might want to reconsider. Have fun pranking your friends!

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    • Martene Battle profile image

      Martene Battle 3 years ago from Terra Firma

      Oh this is so hilarious! I would try this on my guy but he's way too tech savvy for this. Though my sister - she's fair game!

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      I don't know many people who this would work on myself, except for my parents and I'd feel incredibly guilty if I tested it on them. Thanks for reading!

    • davidlivermore profile image

      David Livermore 3 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      Voted up and funny. I never thought of taking a picture of a desktop, then using that as the background image to freak someone out. Nice!

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks! If I didn't know about it I'd think my computer was messed up for sure.

    • Jenna Estefan profile image

      Jenna Estefan 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      This would be funny to change the screen saver as well!

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks for reading! It would be funny to do that as well.

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