Pictured above is XKCD Substitutions, the comic that originally inspired this article. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Browser extensions, when used correctly, can be a useful tool for navigating the internet and improving your online experience. Their uses can range from grammar checkers, to tab managers, to extensions that help improve accessibility, and many others. But in the wrong hands (yours), they can do so much more.

While most browser extensions are designed to help you, some are designed for mischief. If installed on, say, the computer of an unwitting friend, these extensions can provide a lot of entertainment for both you and the friend. (If it’s only entertaining for you, don’t do it). I’ve compiled here a list of some of the best browser extensions for this purpose. While these are all primarily Chrome extensions, versions of most of these exist for other browsers such as Firefox. These are also all blocked on Portland Public Schools chromebooks.

One of these extensions is Ncage, which replaces every image on the internet with a different picture of Nicolas Cage. Leo Edwards (11), a victim of Ncage, claimed it was “pretty funny,” and that he appreciated the experience. “I would say that that is a pretty good one. Especially if […] you would do it when they’re not there, and they actually don’t know that you installed something,” said Edwards.

Another great extension is XKCD substitutions, which switches out certain words for others anywhere you would see them on the internet. These word swaps are based on a series of substitutions comics from the popular webcomic XKCD. The list of swaps includes changes such as “senator” to “elf-lord,” “rebuild” to “avenge,” “poll” to “psychic reading,” and “horsepower” to “tons of horsemeat.” The full list is significantly longer, and if you have time to edit the settings, it also allows you to add your own substitutions. This extension is subtle, so you might need patience in order to see results. The content of the substitutions makes this extension great for people who like to read the news. Someone reading the news won’t notice much difference most of the time, but will be amused and confused at the occasional mention of river spirits (congressional leaders), or new developments in uncontrollably swerving (self-driving) atomic (electric) cats (cars).

The Hair on Screen extension does exactly what it sounds like, and is definitely the most nefarious extension on this list so far. It places a hair, or multiple hairs, on a person’s screen, which, not being real, can’t be wiped away. The hairs are convincing enough that even if they are discovered quickly, it might take some time to discover that there’s an extension causing them.

In a similar vein to Hair on Screen is the aptly named Annoying Typo Generator. Since it can actually affect people’s work, and can go undiscovered for long periods of time, it’s best not to wait too long to reveal, and should only be used on someone that you know will enjoy it.

Finally, the Comic Sans Scare extension returns to overt internet appearance changes by changing most text that you see to the Comic Sans font. Similar to Ncage, it’s impossible not to notice immediately, and should be pretty entertaining for the recipient as they try to figure out why their browser now looks the way it does.

However you plan to use these browser extensions, know your audience. If someone won’t be won’t be amused, or will be in any way hindered by any of these, don’t use them. But otherwise…

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