Windows Guides Feed

18easteregg01 What is a Software Easter Egg? (With Examples)Some programs and media come packed with secret “goodies” called Easter eggs. These are fun little additions, added by programmers, that can be found by accident, by completing some tasks, or by hearing about them from other people. In this article we will find some of those Easter eggs. Specifically, we’ll cover:

  • What is an Easter Egg?
  • What an Easter Egg is Not
  • Easter Egg Examples

What is an Easter Egg?

Easter eggs, in software, are deliberately added and not not just “glitches” (see more about that below.) Often these Easter eggs are added by programmers for a joke, to get some attention, or to add some flair to the software you’re using.

A classic example of an Easter egg is a hidden menu on DVD or an animation in a piece of software that can only be seen by pressing certain keys.

What an Easter Egg is Not

There are some common misconceptions with the term “Easter Egg.” An Easter egg is not:

  • A bug in a program.
  • An imposed restriction.
  • A hack in a program made by the end user.

For example, it has been claimed that not being able to create a folder, in Windows, with one of the following names is an Easter egg:

PRN, AUX, CLOCK$, NUL, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, COM5, COM6, COM7, COM8, COM9, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, LPT4, LPT5, LPT6, LPT7, LPT8, and LPT9

This is not an example of an Easter egg. This is a restriction, that dates back to DOS, to protect certain file names being used that are reserved by the operating system:

com2 example What is a Software Easter Egg? (With Examples)

com2 example2 What is a Software Easter Egg? (With Examples)

Although the first error message (seemingly, still, not updated with Windows 7) makes you think you’ve found an Easter egg (or glitch) in Windows, the second error message states otherwise.

Another commonly confused Easter egg is the ability to generate random text in Microsoft Word. Try this:

1. Open Microsoft Word

2. Type =rand(20,9)

This will create twenty paragraphs with nine sentences each (taken from the Microsoft Help files):

rand word What is a Software Easter Egg? (With Examples)

Still, not an Easter egg.

Enough of that though, you’re here to learn about some real Easter eggs…

Easter Egg Examples

Here are some examples of the best Easter eggs I’ve found/heard about in software over the years. Please share others, you know about, in the comments.

Picasa: Teddy Bears

In Google Picasa, press CTRL+SHIFT+Y. Watch the teddy bears rain down on your screen.

Firefox: The Book of Mozilla

If you’re a Firefox user, open any version and type about:mozilla in the address bar. You’ll get a quote from “The Book of Mozilla”:

mozilla easter egg What is a Software Easter Egg? (With Examples)

Firefox: about:robots

Open Firefox and type about:robots in the address bar:

aboutrobots What is a Software Easter Egg? (With Examples)

vim: :Ni! and :help!

In vim, if you type

:Ni!

in normal mode, vim shows the error message

Do you demand a shrubbery?

If you type

:help!

vim, reassuringly, says

Don’t Panic!

Source

Excel 97: Flight Simulator

Want to see the credits of Excel 97 in a flight sim-like fashion? Didn’t think so, but you’re welcome to try anyway. If you’re using Office 97 or have access:

  1. Open Excel 97 (this doesn’t work in later versions.)
  2. On a blank worksheet, press F5.
  3. Type X97:L97 and press Enter.
  4. Press the Tab key once.
  5. Hold down Ctrl + Shift and left-click the Chart Wizard toolbar icon.

Click here for a screenshot if you don’t have Excel 97. Otherwise, try it for yourself as a fun surprise.

uTorrent: Tetris

In uTorrent, click Help > About uTorrent. When the About dialog appears, press T on the keyboard to play Tetris.

Are These Easter Eggs?

Here are a few I’ve found, over the years, that I’m on the fence about. What do you think?

Extra Files in C:\Windows on Windows XP

If you’re using Windows XP or have access to a copy of it, go to C:\Windows and look for a file named clock.avi. I’ve not seen any use for this file. I’m not entirely sure it’s an Easter egg, but I bet you didn’t know it was there!

Similarly, there is a file named “quotes”. Open My Computer and go to: C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\etc, open the file named quotes in notepad then look at the quotes put there by the Microsoft developers.

Win Solitaire Every time

Open Solitaire Press Alt + Shift + 2 while playing and see the cards drop.



 What is a Software Easter Egg? (With Examples)

About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.

Free PC tips by email

Search Windows Guides




Comments

  • Anonymous

    Well, using Alt+Shift+2 works. The cards in Solitare do drop. It’s not as much fun to me, though, because I like the strategy of playing the game and winning! lol! It was neat, though, to watch the cards suddenly drop. :)

  • BennyBeat

    VLC have an easter egg, too… First open VLC app without playing a sound or movie, you’ll see the cone icon. Close the program and then, change your local data to 12/25/2xxx and open again VLC. What icon now you can see???

    Cheers,
    Benny.

    • http://richr.org/ Rich

      Thanks :) For me, the whole month of December was like this last year.

    • http://richr.org/ Rich

      Thanks :) For me, the whole month of December was like this last year.

  • Demon_man2047

    another is:
    go to the start menu
    launch the run program
    run “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl” (minus quotes)
    watch ascii star wars

    • MrVulcan

      This is no easter egg. It’s just a telnet server.


Computer tips in your inbox
Sign up for the Windows Guides newsletter to get PC tips and access to free Windows books (More details)

Enter your email address:
 

Popular Guides

See which sites have been visited on your PC (even if private browsing mode is used)

Create a Windows 7 System Repair Disc

Best Free Anti-malware

Hibernate vs. Sleep vs. Shut-Down

i3, i5, and i7; Dual, Quad, Hexa Core Processors. How to they Differ?

Intel's Ivy Bridge Processor: new Features

Submit Your Tip
Submit your computer tip to us; receive full credit for all published tips

Windows Guides on Facebook