Ah, April Fools. The tradition is so thoroughly embedded in our culture that I don’t even remember the first time I was pranked. I do remember wanting to prank someone else, though. Trickier runs thick in the blood of humanity, it would seem.

April Fools certainly isn’t a new tradition. The first written account of an April 1st prank dates back to the 14th century with the The Canterbury Tales, wherein Chaucer wrote about a vain rooster being tricked by a fox. Others say it’s even older than that, and date it to the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, the Indian Holi and the European Feast of Fools. While these festivals document a transition from a time of darkness into lighthearted merrymaking, most historians agree that these attributions are simply misconceptions brought on by new understandings of hilarity.

Throughout the western world, there are many traditions, like sending a person on an endless quest to deliver a letter in Ireland, and in Italy, France, Belgium and even Francophone regions of Canada and Switzerland, attempting to attach a paper fish to the unknowing victim’s back.

But the times have changed, and it’s time to change with them! With the advent of the Internet, there are even more ways to hilariously trick people—from BBC documentaries about newly discovered flying penguins, to Google’s release, last year, of com.google (which now redirects to google.com), in which the search is reflected horizontally.

girl surprise


And this year, it’s time for you to join the fray. So here are five fun and harmless digital pranks you can play on those you love the most.

  1. Fake an unresponsive desktop: Throw your loved ones into a panic by taking a screenshot of their desktop as-is and then hiding or disabling everything—icons, task bar, you name it. Wait for them to return and enjoy the show!
  2. nCage/NicCage: We all know someone who has feelings about Nicholas Cage. Good or bad, I doubt they want every image on the Internet to spontaneously turn into a picture of him! This is where the nCage Chrome or NicCage Firefox extension comes in: simply install it, and watch the bewilderment begin.
  3. Fake a smartphone screen crack: One of my biggest fears in life is cracking my phone screen. So why not send your cubicle buddy into a spiral of cracked-screen induced anxiety? Download iFool for iPhone or Crack Your Screen for Android, and pretend to drop their phone. Oops!
  4. The Scary Prank: Another phone app, but this time with a terrifying twist! Tell your friend about a great new game you found. It’ll play for about 30 seconds, and then a monster will pop out and terrify them. This is neither for the faint of heart or the weak of bladder. Get it for iPhone or Android.
  5. Good old-fashioned status update: This might play on the heartstrings, but it’s worth it. Do your parents ask when you’re getting married? When you’re giving them grandchildren? On April 1st, that answer can be “soon.” Just update your relationship status, or change your Facebook profile picture to a sonogram (you can get one from fakeababy.com) and watch them jump for joy! All to realize it’s a joke.

There you have it! Ways to scare, distress, excite and confuse your loved ones and your casual acquaintances alike. After all, what else is April Fools about?