Friday Fun: Video or Audio startup practical joke

Difficulty: 2.5

NelsonWhile most how-to articles you will find on this site will help you to be more productive, it’s sometimes fun to plant a practical joke on your work mates computer. You’ll have them pulling their hair out and screaming at their computer while you work quietly nearby. 

None of these articles will damage your computer or expose you to viruses, and they will all be easy to revert the computer back to it’s previous state, at least, after a few laughs.

I saw funny video this week on YouTube of a guy logging onto a computer in a lab situation. Someone had planted some weird sheep sex startup sound on his computer that played at startup. This caused him a whole lot of stress and embarrassment. I thought it would be worth looking at a few options of how this can be done.

The result:

  • The desktop will appear untouched.
  • A video or sound sample will play at startup without any user input. 
  • Both methods will take around 30 seconds to return their computer back to it’s fully working state.
  • Using method 2, the victim will be able to close it down quickly once they realise what is going on. 

Maybe a sex video or audio sample isn’t the way to go. It might be more suitable to play some Barbara Streisand or Michael Bolton.

Read on to find out how to make this happen, and how to restore the system quickly before you get decked.

This is the video I saw that made me start thinking about this. It’s a little cruel but you can see the concern and embarrassment he went through.

All methods:

Find your unsuspecting victim. Make sure they have a sense of humour and know a thing or two about computers. You don’t want somebody to be freaking you that they have a virus. Doing this for malicious reasons is just silly and it could result in you having to answer to the boss. Take plenty of caution in this.

Unfortunately, the video method will load up the video or audio file as other startup programs are loading. This will be just after they have seen the desktop, hence they have control over closing the movie down when they realise what is going on.

This article is written for Windows XP. The Vista setup is very similar, so you should also be able to make this to happen in Vista using these instructions.

Track down a video or audio file you think will suit your victim. You can search around YouTube and then download the video using aTube Grabber. If you want to use an audio file instead of a video, the setup is the same, it’s just that audio is a bit harder to track down. Save the video in an easy to get to location. C:\Temp is ideal as you can find and delete it easily once the joke has been played.

Method 1: Play audio at computer startup

Sounds and audioThis method involves changing the Windows startup sound to the audio file you have chosen. Windows startup sounds must be in the wav format and there is a limitation on the file size. If you want the file to be longer than around 20 seconds, you will need to drop the bit rate using a program like Audacity. The file will still play but it will be cut off at the 20 second mark if the bit rate is not dropped.

Follow the steps below to set the startup sound.

  1. Go into your “Control Panel”
  2. Open up “Sounds and Audio Devices”
  3. Click on the “Sounds” tab
  4. Scroll down to “Start Windows”
  5. Click browse and navigate to the audio file you want to use
  6. Click “OK”

You have now set the audio file to play at startup. To restore the computer back to its original state, change the audio file back to what it was. Alternatively, you can load up the Windows default sound scheme towards the top of the window.

Method 2: Play a video at computer startup

This method involves creating a shortcut in the start menu’s startup folder. It is fairly straightforward, but you will need to remove it from the startup folder after it is first run so that it does not happen each time the computer is started up. 

  1. Open “Explorer” or “My Computer”.
  2. Navigate through your “Startup” folder to the “Start Menu”.
  3. Right click on the startup folder and select “Explore”.
  4. Right click and select “Create new shortcut”.
  5. In the location box place the following code, replacing the movie path and name for your own.
    wmplayer.exe C:\Temp\hotstuff.wmv /fullscreen
  6. Call it whatever you want. “Joke” may be a good choice as you will be able to recognise it easily.

You have now set the video file to play at startup. To restore the computer back to its original state, delete the shortcut from the startup folder.


If you want to get really clever, you may want to play around with the Runonce key of the registry. This will let you play a video at startup, before Windows has fully loaded. An added advantage is that all traces are removed automatically.

I hope that this article has given you and your work-mates a bit of a giggle. Stay tuned to Inspect My Gadget on coming Fridays for more workplace mayhem.

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