It is a bizarre situation to find yourself in but you would be surprised at just how many people experience this. Imagine the scene, you start your computer while you go to fix a coffee and come back to see your entire Windows desktop upside down. Once you get over the shock, you sit there wondering what to do. Well wonder no more, this tutorial will show you what to do when your Windows computer screen appears upside down.
I must admit to knowing quite a lot about this situation. One of the tricks we used to play on newbies in my old IT job was to flip their desktop when they were away from their desk. It was partly punishment for not locking their computer when not at their desk and partly to see if they knew what to do. It usually ended in them asking for help.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry. There are three simple ways you can flip the desktop right side up and get back to work. I’ll show you all of them. I will also show you a couple of other common IT pranks we used to play on newbros and what to do about those too.
Windows desktop upside down
There is a keyboard shortcut to change orientation of a Windows desktop, a graphics setting and a Windows setting.
If you use a single monitor, you can change the orientation by hitting Ctrl + Alt + down arrow. It doesn’t work for multi-monitor setups though. To set it back to normal, press Ctrl + Alt + up arrow. You can also change the display on the horizontal plane too with Ctrl + Alt + left arrow or Ctrl + Alt + right arrow.
Accidentally pressing one of these combinations is the usual way someone finds their Windows computer screen upside down. Usually, if you’re furiously typing, you have no idea what happened, so now you do.
Another way to make your Windows computer screen appear upside down is through the Windows settings menu.
- Right click an empty space on the desktop and select Display settings.
- Select the dropdown menu underneath Orientation.
- Select Landscape (flipped) or Portrait (flipped).
- Confirm or revert the setting when prompted.
This does the same thing as the keyboard shortcut but also works with multiple monitors.
The final way to flip your Windows desktop is by using the graphics driver itself. I have an Nvidia card so will demonstrate using that. AMD will differ slightly.
- Right click an empty space on the desktop and select Nvidia Control Panel.
- Select Rotate display under Display in the left menu.
- Select the monitor you want to flip and select Landscape (flipped) or Portrait (flipped).
This does the same thing as the Windows setting but within the graphics software.
Other IT tricks you might see
If you’re starting a new IT job, seeing a flipped desktop is just one of the many tricks you’re likely to come up against. There are three other tricks we used to play often on newbies. The Linux upgrade, using a ghost keyboard to mess with them and setting their desktop as wallpaper. All offer various levels of humor and a bit of a challenge to the new starter. Here’s what to do if you see them.
The Linux upgrade
If the target computer has a DVD drive, this one works great. You get a Linux live DVD and install it on the computer. Once loaded, you remove the Install shortcut from the desktop. Put a memo or note on the keyboard telling the user that they have been upgraded to Linux as part of the desktop improvement program or some such.
Then as you sit down at your desk you are presented with the Linux desktop and wonder what on earth you do now. Of course, all you need to do is check the DVD drive to make sure the Live DVD is no longer present and reboot the machine.
The Wireless keyboard trick
This is a classic in most IT departments I have ever worked in. If you’re sitting at your computer and it suddenly begins acting strange, look around you for someone tapping on a wireless keyboard. Then check any rear-facing USB slots for wireless dongles. All you need to do here is unplug the dongle to regain control of your computer.
Desktop wallpaper trick
Of all the new starter tricks, I think this is the meanest but is also the most amusing. What happens is an admin logs into your computer and takes a 1:1 screenshot of your desktop. They then remove all icons from your desktop and use the screenshot as the wallpaper image. So when you log on, it looks like your folders and shortcuts are all present but won’t do anything when you click them.
This worked best in XP and Windows 7 when you could hide the taskbar but doesn’t work quite so well in Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 as you cannot hide it. Nevertheless, make sure the folders are present or change the desktop wallpaper if you have admin access to your computer.