4 Goofy April Fools Day Pranks to Play on Mac Users

Apr 1, 2014 - 9 Comments

Mac Pranks for April Fools

It’s April Fools Day, that means the internet is full of useless stuff and just about everything should be doubted. But rather than feed you BS, we’ll show you how you can contribute to some general tomfoolery by pranking your friends, family, and coworkers with some fun and harmless little Mac pranks. Ready to goof off? Give these a go:

1: Get a Screen Filled with Scrolling Smiling Poos

Those who remember the terminal snowfall trick may recall that a ruby command string can dump just about any text constantly onto your terminal window, so why not replace it with the smiling pile of poo emoji and maybe a winking face?

You can modify this line however you want by replacing the emoji characters with something else, other icons, emojis, words, whatever floats your prankboat, it’ll just scroll wildly in an incoherent mess of emoticons, then just paste the following command string into the Terminal and let ‘er rip:

ruby -e 'C=`stty size`.scan(/\d+/)[1].to_i;S=["2743".to_i(16)].pack("U*");a={};loop{a[rand(C)]=0;a.each{|x,o|;a[x]+=1;print "\ 💩 😜 💩"};$stdout.flush;sleep 0.1}'

Hit Command+ a few times to increase the font size, then take the terminal into full screen. Your target is going to love you.

Smiling Piles of Poo scrolling on screen

For best results, have Moby Dick reciting in the background as well, described in #4 below.

2: Take a Screenshot Into Full Screen with Preview

If your targets Mac has a version of OS X that supports Full Screen Mode (and most do), a fun prank is to take a screenshot of the screen then open it into Preview in fullscreen mode, where everything looks normal, but nothing works except for the mouse moving across the screen.

  • Hit Command+Shift+3 to make the screenshot over a semi-active desktop, then open it within preview
  • Hit the “Full Screen” button in the upper right corner to give the illusion the screenshot is the desktop

This will absolutely baffle the majority of people, even if they’re fairly tech savvy, because it looks just like an active desktop with windows, icons, and whatever else going on. Except nothing works.

Take a screen shot full screen

Caution though, this may make some users think their Mac has frozen or crashed, so don’t do this if someones in the middle of anything important.

This is similar to setting a screenshot as the wallpaper and hiding the icons, except it’s easier to quickly implement.

3: Invert Screen Colors

Inverting the screen has a variety of legitimate uses, but it can also be an amusing prank to play on someone who hasn’t seen it before. Do this instantly by hitting the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Command+Option+Control+8

Every color on screen instantly inverts itself. Note this can sometimes be slightly different to use in OS X Mavericks and Mountain Lion, and you may need to enable it manually through the Accessibility options.

An oldie but goodie that virtually every grade schooler knows as a prank (ask any school IT worker, they probably have this turned off), and even carries over as a prank into the iOS world.

4: Make the Mac Read Moby Dick, ALL of Moby Dick

Who doesn’t want an amazingly long epic book read to them all day long in a monotonous computer voice hidden somewhere on their Mac? Probably everyone, which is why this is a funny prank:

  • Launch Terminal from the /Applications/Utilities/ folder and type the following string:
  • curl -s http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2701/pg2701.txt |say &

  • Minimize the Terminal window into the Dock to hide the evidence (sort of)
  • For added humor, turn down the target Macs volume level to a fairly low level, so that Moby Dick is just quietly reciting itself in the background

This is a funny one, and the target usually starts closing browser tabs to see what is quietly talking to them. You can also hit the Mute button if you know the target likes to listen to audio on their Mac, and when they turn it on they’ll just start somewhere in the epic novel.

Read Moby Dick in the background of the Mac

Yes, give their Mac some Moby Dick, they want to hear it.

For some added mischief, stagger another two or three Moby Dick recitals with that same command by a second or two, the effect winds up creating an incredibly annoying echo which makes it sound like the Mac is stuck in some technocave. The downside, of course, is that the precise Moby Dick words becomes less audible, and it starts to sound like gibberish nonsense. It may reduce the literatures value, but they’ll just love it cranking away on their Mac!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Fun, Mac OS X

9 Comments

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  1. Sam B says:

    On the last trick, you can then quit out of Terminal, and it keeps playing. The only way to kill it is by knowing to launch terminal, look for it in top or ps -ax, then kill the ID. Or process viewer may show it up.

  2. John says:

    For iOS users (this is for basic users as well as advanced users): Settings -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts. Think of words they type frequently: text, lol, hey, the, etc. and replace those with silly phrases or things they’d never type. Or, if you know somebody with “grammar OCD”, replace correct spellings of common words with horrible misspellings and “sausage finger” type misspellings. Before I left Apple Retail, I did this to all of the technicians’ iPads. Totally mean but the results were hysterical!

    Also, not as funny but you can go into System Preferences -> Keyboard and pretty much change most keyboard shortcuts into anything you want provided there’s a modifier key in there somewhere. Easy to figure out but it can be worth a couple of giggles.

  3. John says:

    Here’s a joke I played on my fiancé:

    I wrote an AppleScript to open up just about every application. Then I saved it under the name “Firefox” (because that’s her preferred web browser), copied the icon from Firefox using CMD-I (“get info”), then pasted it onto my AppleScript, THEN removed Firefox from her dock and replaced it with my script. QUITE funny when she started freaking out (“Make it stop! What’s happening?!”).

    Here’s the script below, although I bet somebody reading this can probably suggest a better way of doing this:

    launch application “App Store”
    launch application “Automator”
    launch application “Pages”
    launch application “Calculator”
    launch application “Calendar”
    launch application “Chess”
    launch application “Contacts”
    launch application “Dictionary”
    launch application “FaceTime”
    launch application “Firefox”
    launch application “Font Book”
    launch application “Game Center”
    launch application “Google Chrome”
    launch application “iBooks”
    launch application “Image Capture”
    launch application “iWeb”
    launch application “Numbers”
    launch application “Keynote”
    launch application “Safari”
    launch application “Google Earth”
    launch application “iMovie”
    launch application “Mail”
    launch application “Maps”
    launch application “Notes”
    launch application “OpenOffice”
    launch application “Photo Booth”
    launch application “Preview”
    launch application “QuickTime Player”
    launch application “Reminders”
    launch application “Stickies”
    launch application “TextEdit”
    launch application “System Preferences”

  4. Yanni says:

    Do: cd /Applications; open *.app

  5. DG says:

    That screenshot one works brilliantly. I was giving telephone support to my sister and it took a good few minutes for me to work out what she’d accidentally done.

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