Introduction: Photocopier Paperclip Prank

Picture of Photocopier Paperclip Prank

Office pranks are the best pranks.

Prank your coworkers by making all their copies come out with a paperclip placed on them. By replacing the paper try blanks with doctored paper that has paperclips already printed on them, your coworkers could have a mini meltdown looking for a paperclip on the copier tray that just isn't there.

This harmless prank is sure to frustrate your coworkers, and provide you with a few giggles. The best part about this prank is that it can easily be reset, ready to prank the next coworker!

Step 1: Place Paperclip

Picture of Place Paperclip

place a paperclip on the glass of the photocopier. Most copiers need something on the bed in order to make a copy, place a piece of office paper over the paperclip.

Step 2: Make a Copy

Picture of Make a Copy

Make a few copies, you should now have a white sheet of paper with a paperclip on it.

Step 3: Find 'up' in Your Printer Tray

Picture of Find 'up' in Your Printer Tray

Before you can place the paperclip paper back in the copier you'll need to determine which side to have your prank paper face. Some copiers flip the paper around when it gets fed through the machine, so it's important to know which face will be printed on.

I opened the feeder tray and put a mark on the top sheet, then closed the tray and ran a blank copy. After examining the result I determined that my copier printed with the feeder tray facing upwards. I loaded in my prank paperclip paper then set the printer to only feed from the prank paper tray.

Step 4: Frustration Ensues!

Picture of Frustration Ensues!

When your coworker makes a copy the output will have a paperclip somewhere on it. In bewilderment they will open the machine to find the paperclip they think they left on the copier bed.

Sit back and giggle to yourself as your coworker looses their mind when making copies. They may eventually find the paperclip in the feeder tray, but not before searching for a paperclip on the photocopier that's not there.

Happy pranksgiving!


dave.vaness.79 (author)2016-04-01

Instead of a paper clip, try this.

Write "HELP I'M TRAPPED IN THE COPIER!", Write it with a Sharpie and write it backwards. Make copies and intermingle copies with the supply of copy paper.


Catley (author)dave.vaness.792016-04-01

You've set me chuckling!

FelisC (author)dave.vaness.792016-04-01


dreadeno (author)2016-04-03

I love practical jokes, and for a practical joke to be funny, it must be both practical AND a joke. If it causes a loss of life, limb, eyesight, property, or marriage, it isn't very practical. This one has inspired me to go to work on Monday and to print about a half dozen paper clip pages and distribute them through the ream and a half of paper that our printer/copier/fax holds in our office. This way, they'll be random and unpredictable. I can only imagine the stream of engineers that would be sent in to observe our printer/copier/fax machine to try to determine what is causing this problem in order to provide a solution. Engineers, awesome guys!!!

mario59 (author)2016-04-01

really nice prank, good reason to wast some other paper... a thing the world needs right NOW! :-)

If one only thinks how much paper is wasted in offices worldwide in useless copies possibly never read... how much energy and chemicals are needed to make it a decent white, the energy to actually make it and... finally the energy required to print, the worldwide business around it.... whoa!

Are there still trees to cut out there?

leoned (author)2016-04-01

Wow can anyone remember that it is april 1st and we to have fun and not dump on the day or person,comment in a way where you are superior to all or try to make others feel guilty from your own personal views,grow up a be an adult and act like a kid once in a while you will find it rewarding

FelisC (author)leoned2016-04-01


FelisC (author)2016-04-01

I don't get why everyone takes this so seriously. Reprinting documents is NOT a big deal.

FlorinJ (author)2016-04-01

I'd just draw a paperclip in the copier's bed with a thin dark marker. The glass is pretty dark, the drawing would be pretty hard to spot, IMO. And it doesn't waste energy and cartridge life.

Jetmaster360 (author)2015-08-25


TheStuUurgE (author)2014-09-12

Even better, put a normal paper clip in the printer somewhere for them to find so the print even more paper clip copies :)

Minecrafter18 (author)2014-06-20

I know that using paper for pranks is a waste, but pranks are okay to do every once in awhile, and just let it go, because you are going too far with this! At first, you were just reminding people of what a waste it could be, but now you're being rude, and you're starting to say things you probably wouldn't say to these people in real life. Please don't be a bully. Thank you!

morgano (author)2014-03-14

I guess that all depends on which costs you're including. It's hard to put a price on a planet. Small actions add up- are you making small positive changes, or are you trashing the planet one baby step at a time? It seems to me that some people here are really getting fired up over what started out as a fairly innocent comment. I was simply encouraging people to think about the greater impact of their decisions when they consider pulling a "harmless" prank.

I suggest you ground yourself back in reality. Humans will be humans,
for human nature is constant and unchanging. Understanding that, people will pull pranks, and this is relatively harmless.
Paper is a renewable resource, and often used as the standard for quick
bio-degradation. This doesn't even use much of it; a TPing with a single
roll of toilet paper uses a magnitude more resources. If you're looking
for a cause, try something more meaningful.

pbyron rtc (author)2014-04-01

Craziest thing I ever saw. A month ago I set this prank up by putting 10 of these sheets in the middle of a paper stack in the tray of a not-often used photocopier, in my office. I actually forgot about it. Today, April 1st, of all days, someone finally got one of the paper clip sheets. Great comradery building confusion and laughs followed.

clarie91s (author)2014-03-27


BarbMakesThings (author)2014-03-26

every prankster has to consider their target/environment. at some workplaces, this could make life harder for people under pressure, at others, the boss might get in on it and have no problem with paperclips on all pages for that day. i have never had a job where this would result in someone getting hurt, embarrassed, or fired.

IMO the garbage body prank could have much more psychological damage than a paperclip.

morgano (author)2014-03-13

Did you know that it takes 2.6 gallons of fresh water to manufacture one sheet of paper? I don't even drink that much water in one day! I like pranks as much as the next guy, but this to me just seems wasteful of natural resources. Let's start living in the real world, huh?

Enkeim (author)morgano2014-03-14

then use Recycling Papet it saves Water, Energy and Trees don't have to be killed ;) (y)

linuxxunil (author)Enkeim2014-03-15

There is a problem with using recycled paper and printers/photocopiers, it shortens their life.

When paper is manufactured is has a long fiber and low friability, when paper is recycled the paper is pulverized and breaks those fibers into shorter lengths which causes the friable fibers to release from the surface of the paper and become embedded in the rubber of the pickup rollers as well as between the moving parts which causes them to fail, think of it as "dirt in a bearing".

Think of the manufacturing costs and resources used in the manufacture of repair/replacement parts as well as their boxes, instruction sheets, invoices, record keeping related paper to all of those people who have the touch the part in the supply chain.

In my opinion recycled paper has no place in printers/photocopiers it is better suited for use in other types of printing, packaging, etc..

However if people insist on using recycled paper you can reduce the damage caused by using 94 and above brightness paper, high brightness paper is coated with a light refracting/enhancing material which does reduce the friability. However it still causes more damage than new paper.

Enkeim (author)linuxxunil2014-03-17

oh interesting things you tell me there. I never heard about that recycling paper is bad for printers... Please tell me where you got that information from... I never had a printer wich died because of fibers from recycled paper. The most printers i know came to the trsh because the Printer Head broke as a result of not using for a long time and high temperatures. Also I wonder why all the environment Organisations like Greenpeace etc. tell us to use recycling paper and also use it for their flyers even if it should kill the printers like you said. The only problem I know about recycled paper is that it isn't as stable as normal paper (because of shorter fibres) and that you cant use recycled paper to pack food because of old printing colors in it.

linuxxunil (author)Enkeim2014-03-17

I am an IT manager and have worked in numerous industries including a large printing company, it might be the industries I work/have worked print at a much higher volume, the places where I have worked that insisted on using recycled paper it wasn't uncommon to clean "at least a handful of paper dust" on a monthly basis from laser printers. The few departments that insisted on using recycled paper had consistent squeaky and noisy printers, pressure roller failures and pickup wheel slippage and jams while the others that did not use recycled paper had a significantly lower failure rates. I use databases to monitor and predict failures of equipment I'm responsible for, so I actually monitor printers (among other systems) here in the United States as well as in multiple countries that provides me hard numbers that what I say is correct. That being said, the green bar printers and dot matrix printers have had no measurable failures related to recycled paper.

There has been a social push or pressure on companies to have "sustainability programs" which includes a broad range of items everything from avoiding doing business with counties that "violate human rights to how we deal with our trash and inks" hence a lot of costs are ignored so the company can appear "socially responsible".

My guess is that if you have a low print volume you may not experience an issue using recycled paper, however if you have a high volume of printing you will experience the downside of recycled paper.

barrem01 (author)linuxxunil2014-03-20

Interesting, linuxxunil, do you think a more frequent cleaning regimen would have any impact on the printer failure rate? Do you know of any high-volume printer manufacturers who are designing printers to better deal with recycled paper?

linuxxunil (author)barrem012014-03-22

A more frequent cycle would certainly ad to the effective life of the printer, unfortunately my access window is very narrow at this point. Then you also have to balance the cost of man hours versus just replacing the printer.

As far as high volume printing manufacturers for laser printing designed for recycled medium? I don't know of any.

It is confusing to the consumer because now most marketing collateral for printers even recommend using recycled paper.

Oldbear (author)Enkeim2014-03-15

You can plant new trees - that's why they are a Renewable resource.

Enkeim (author)Oldbear2014-03-17

oh of course you can plant new trees. I also have a pellet heat at home... But if I buy pellets i care about where the pellets come from and if they plant new trees for the old ones. If you buy Paper normaly the companys don't plamt new trees or even worse the wood comes from the rainforest. It is impossible to replant a Rainforest.

Tofu (author)Enkeim2014-03-19

Actually I live in central Wisconsin with several paper plants in the area (and lots of friends that work for said plants). They do replant when they harvest. They do so because they specifically want long fiber species.

Oldbear (author)Tofu2014-03-19

And regrowth forests are so much easier to harvest. Many logging companies will plan and plant their "forests" like farmers plant grain crops... it just takes longer to grow a "ripe" crop...

kewpiedoll99 (author)morgano2014-03-14

lighten up. you don't have to do very many of them for it to be fun. also, please cite your source for that statistic. it sounds suspect.

Mena142 (author)kewpiedoll992014-03-14

Mooch07 (author)2014-03-20

Or better yet... Leave a paperclip on the copier glass as well. They will remove it and then wonder why it still showed up. Nice.

nwlaurie (author)2014-03-18

Great prank - ignore the moaners, the tree loss to this prank is going to be pretty trivial.

AndyPipkin (author)2014-03-17

Moan moan moan, some people!, great prank, like it!

99guspuppet (author)2014-03-17

instead of paper clip ... substitute squashed bug , or worm or money .... or competitors logo or something really embarrassing... intersperse the doctored sheets so they are really hard to find

99guspuppet (author)99guspuppet2014-03-17

adding really tiny "aprils fools" text would be good

The Galloping Penguin (author)2014-03-13

When worked in the computer lab in college, I put a sign on the copiers explaining that they were using a new upgraded voice-command module. I found the initial idea online, and revised it to look a bit more official. Smartphones with voice commands were just coming around so it wasn't too believable, though we did bait a few folks. Nowadays, I am sure there would be more victims.

Love it. You should make an instructable! hehe

kracken42 (author)2014-03-15


xandores (author)2014-03-14

How's the report extra boring if it concerns beers?

alopez47 (author)2014-03-14

we recycle at our office, maybe you should recommend it at yours

Mena142 (author)2014-03-14

The fact that other pranks do waste resources, doesn't make this any better; they are all wasteful.

Jake Maverick (author)2014-03-14

I just sacked some idiot for doing that. Ended up costing me a lot of money/ lucrative contract and four other people their jobs as i could no longer afford to employ them...

snoopindaweb (author)2014-03-14

AMEN.! Not to mention the employers time and money.

bobsacomano (author)2014-03-13

I love the pic of the frustrated employee. :^)

Jake Maverick (author)2014-03-13

I just sacked some idiot for doing that. Ended up costing me a lot of money/ lucrative contract and four other people their jobs as i could no longer afford to employ them...

lime3D (author)2014-03-11

I love it! I think I'll try this with coins too.

aking14 (author)lime3D2014-03-13

Try a $20 or $100 bill. They'll go nuts trying to find that free money.

criggie (author)aking142014-03-13

Try photocopying money - there are some units that can identify it and will refuse to copy.

In case that gave some nefarious-minded individual an idea, be aware that many (all?) colour copiers also embed an identifier on their output somewhere, so even if they did copy money then the output can be tracked back to the source machine.

killersquirel11 (author)2014-03-13

Better yet, interleave the paperclip sheets with non-paperclip sheets. Someone clever may open the paper tray after something they printed has a paper clip, so having the next sheet not be paperclippy will confuse them even more :D

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