Ready to celebrate Halloween the digital way? Here are the best ways to use your computer to make Halloween better by revolutionizing your spooky celebrations.
Smart (spooky) home
There’s no time like Halloween to really cut loose with your smart home devices and show off what they can do, to great effect for both store-bought and DIY decorating. In fact, several different brands like Control4 and SmartThings actually provide guides on how to use their smart home systems and related devices for parties. Fortunately, you don’t have to have one of their hubs to do many of these tricks, because many devices are compatible across most platforms or share similar features. Here are a few ideas:
- Hook up your Halloween decorations to smart plugs and timers: If you have a cackling witch, a jump-out spider, a smoking cauldron, or other various delights, hook them up to your system via smartplugs so you can choose exactly when to flick them on – or use the security motion detectors that so many smart hubs include.
- Replace your doorbell chime with a spooky sound: Available on certain systems like Control4.
- Change your smart bulbs to something spooky: Bulbs like the Philips Hue can change to a ghostly green or haunting blue with a few smartphone adjustments. Get creative with placement and use to creative chilling scenes.
- Use smart tracking apps to keep track of your wandering kids. If your kids are too old for an adult to follow them everywhere, use tracking apps instead.
Bring out your dead computer accessories for Halloween! What, you don’t already have a full assortment of customized Halloween devices to use around the office? Then you are missing out, because there are a lot of options floating around.
So take a break and search online for fun ways to dress up your computer. A plethora of party favors, spider webs, and fake intestines exist for you to use specifically for your monitor and deskpace. However, for the real effects, you need to replace your mousepad with a sinister haunted house, your mouse with a giant spider, and find a keyboard with a spooky print on it. Oh, and jump drives? There are many exciting options out in the world. There’s also a number of mobile accessories to explore this Halloween.
Haunt the PC
There are a number of tricky little ways make Halloween better by haunting your coworkers, roomies, fellow students or family with a computer. Note that most of these require a bit of hands-on tinkering with someone else’s computer, so obviously only do it when appropriate and maybe with a quick nod from your manager first.
- Hotkey spookiness: If you can bring up browser hotkeys or file hotkeys (usually found in Properties), you may be able to replace the links to sites or images of your own devising – on Windows, this can also be done with file shortcuts for popular files. This will take a bit of work, but if successful you can surprise someone with a link to a spooky video or creepy poster that they were not expecting.
- Haunted keyboard and mouse: This trick only works if you have an extra Bluetooth USB keyboard or mouse laying around, with a dongle you can plug into another computer without anyone noticing. The goal is to control your buddy’s computer whenever they least expect it, typing in spooky things into their documents, haunting their mouse so that draws out “help me” on the screen, stuff like that. However, you need to make sure that the computer/laptop supports duel keyboard or mouse inputs, because not all of them do.
- PC sound effects: This is a bit like messing with hotkeys/shortcuts, but instead you are messing with all the little sound notifications that PCs or Macs can make. Set them to something spooky when your friend opens a window, turns off the computer, or gets a notification. This may take some time to set up – and you may need to download some extra sound files, too.
Halloween is a great season for computer apps! Whether you are counting down the days until Halloween or just looking for a really fun game to play during your boring times (hint: The Walking Dead is great place to start), bring up your app store and start looking.
If you are going the mobile route, btws, there are some fun apps designed specifically to be used with your smartphone, such as the iWound app that fits inside a skin pocket and looks like gross flowing muscle and blood.
However – and this applies to several of the points listed below as well – remember that with Halloween new download offerings see a quick uptick. This includes plenty of scams, malware, and other unpleasantness taking advantage of people’s love for the season. So don’t go downloading everything in sight, willy-nilly. Take a bit to verify that your apps and downloads are safe.
Make Halloween better with a background: A new wallpaper or theme is an easy way to celebrate the holiday. So take a little time to browse Halloween wallpaper downloads and find one that matches what you like most about the season. Then, if you have a browser like Chrome that includes a lot of different themes, head over to settings and search for a browser theme that makesthings properly spooky.
The closer Halloween comes, the more music streamers will have Halloween-specific playlists. So jump on Spotify, Pandora, Slacker, etc. and take a look. Remember, you can also create your own playlist if you are too impatient: Try starting with scary movie soundtracks.
Terrify friends and family with the right games
No, we’re not talking about little kids’ games or flash games here – we touched on that in the app section. This is about the truly scary games, the ones that make you (and your friends) jump, or get that wonderful feeling of dread or, more often than not, yell at the screen.
There are quite a few available here, but we recommend that you start with Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It’s a fun, Lovecraftian game with very easy controls and a growing atmosphere of fear and madness…plus, it’s several years old and can be bought at low cost, or often for free, from Steam.