Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Windows has many sounds all of which are tied to specific events. Random sounds, including the computer shouting your name at you, is a mystery.

Mystery virus? I've not been able to narrow down what triggers this annoying virus, so I come to you before I pull my last hair out. I believe it has evolved a little too! Several times a day, for no apparent reason, my PC yells at me. For a year, it was an odd dog bark. It changed to a rooster crow and now it shout my NAME as loud as it can.

I run AVG and AVS and recently installed Comodo. I've scanned with Spydoctor, Norton AV, McAfee and some online scanners...everything I could. When any of them finds something, I clean it out and rescan. Even when nothing is found, the screaming continues. I often scan floppies, yet 2 other systems have the same problem.

I was all ready to suggest that perhaps Windows was generating a warning pop up and what you were hearing was the accompanying alert sound.

Up until you indicated that your computer is calling you by name, that is.

I'm actually hoping that my readers can come up with some other plausible suggestions, but I can think of only one explanation.

I think someone's having some fun with you, at your expense.

And by someone, I mean someone you know who has access, direct or indirect, to your computers.

It actually wouldn't be that hard to make a computer act this way. In fact, I've considered it as a prank in the past, but thought the better of it. I'd write a small program or script that simply played a audio file at random times during the day. That audio file could be a dog barking, a rooster crowing, or someone yelling a name. Or worse.

The problem in your situation, and the reason I think it's intentional, is that I'm not aware of any viruses or spyware that actually do this.

Another alternative, though still along the lines of a prank, would be someone replacing one of the system notification sounds with a sound of their own. So perhaps the sound happens when Windows notifies you of something, but it's a sound that your prankster has provided rather than the Windows original.

Yet another alternative might be a web site that does the same thing - perhaps when you visit it plays random sounds, one of which might be your name.

In your shoes I would:

  • Take note of what programs are running, or what websites are displayed, when the sound occurs. Look for something in common.

  • Review all the sound files in c:\Windows\Media, and make sure that they're not what you've been hearing.

  • Review the sound settings in Control Panel, Sounds and Audio Devices, Sounds, Program Events, and make sure they're not what you've been hearing.

And lastly, I'd take a close listen to the sound of your name, and see if it sounds like anyone you know.

I'm hoping some of my regular readers will have additional ideas. If you do, please add them as a comment.

Article C3181 - October 14, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Dan Ullman
October 15, 2007 8:58 AM

I second Leo. I would add I would take a look at the programs that startup with the computer. Assuming xp, click on Start --> run and type msconfig in the text box. Click on the startup tab. Google everything there to see what they do. That which cannot be found is it.

Then I would not remove it. I would try to figure out who did it to you. Then I would record his name and replace the sound file. Then I would invite him over. Then.....

John Hileman
October 15, 2007 2:17 PM

If Leo's and the first poster's idea does not work, I suggest searching all hard drives for any file with a "wav" extension. To do this, click "start", then "search". Type this in the search box (XP) "*.wav" Then, when windows asks what do you want to search for, click "all files and folders".

Next, click the down arrow next to "more advanced options". Make sure that the first three items are checked ("search system folders", search hidden files and folders", and "search subfolders"

Then click "search". When windows is finished searching, look through the list of files and for any file names that look suspicious (such as those that are not a word, or have your name in them), double click to listen to it. Repeat until the offending sound is located. Then delete it.

Dave Ball
October 15, 2007 2:57 PM

Reminds of the time I just about gave a college intern candidate a heart attack. I gave her a programming challenge to work on, then left the office to let her focus. When I returned to the office a few minutes later, she was as white as a sheet. When I queried her what the problem was, she responded, "Your computer keeps screaming at me." I forgot that I'd put a different sound scheme on my computer that morning as a joke and that each piece of e-mail was triggering a WAV of Sam Kinnison... almost made her cry... I *did* feel badly!

Chris Buechler
October 17, 2007 12:21 AM

Reminds me of an old school trick I pulled in high school before networks were widespread. In keyboarding class, PC's were sitting back to back in rows. It was always fun to unplug the person's keyboard across from you, and plug yours into their computer. Then type things like "hello there, (person's name)". Good way to freak people out. :)

On this one specifically, there are now much easier ways to accomplish the same thing and much more, all from across the Internet. Most likely it's somebody the person knows messing with them. Probably by changing something locally on the system.

The second possibility is the machine has been compromised ("hacked") by someone who likes to mess with people. It would be easy for a script kiddie who has control of your machine to figure out your name, and then have your computer loudly play a sound of your name whenever he desired. It's literally as simple as clicking a button with some of the hacking tool kits available.

This precisely describes the type of person who would do this remotely just for the heck of it.

John Gaunt
October 17, 2007 8:17 AM

Well, this is probably NOT the case as it's way too easy a solution. But I'll mention it myself since nobody has yet. It was fairly widespread, albeit quite sometime ago... there was a rash of emails going around (can also easily be done with a 3.5 floppy or any other media) that could be labled anything at all. Once opened seemed like a normal mssg, but in reality injected a small hidden .exe file in your comp somewhere (I never knew where) that didn't show up as a virus in a scan, & all it did was begin a series of random noises at random times just as you described. The types & frequency of the sounds could be set by the person configuring it (mine had belches & farts). It was obviously meant as a joke as it wouldn't cause any real problems other than to drive one crazy. The solution to shutting if off? Make sure all windows are closed so your pointer is on your desktop, move it to the upper left corner of your screen on nothing but the desktop & click there (this could also be randomly set but most I saw were in the top left)... a small control box would appear & you could manipulate it there. As I said, this probably isn't your solution, but this had to be said, & one never knows... Ockham's (or Occum's, whichever) razor may yet prevail.

October 17, 2007 2:20 PM

Why do I shout at my computer? Despite knowing that it is a mere artifice of human (dis)ingenuity, I frequently find myself red-faced, on my feet, waving my fist at the computer, and shouting something along the lines of "What the hell are you playing at? I didn't tell you to do that! I didn't!! Don't you get smug with me you little jot of plastic, or I'll throw you out the window!!! Right, that's it!!!!!! You'll be sorry now!!!!!!!!!!! (sound of window breaking and concerned colleague calling security). Please tell me which part of my FAT table I have to re-format to prevent these obviously malicious-hacker-inspired outbreaks.

October 19, 2007 7:21 PM

Google computer pranks, many many sites out there
where you can prank friends even just with an email.

October 19, 2007 7:30 PM


October 19, 2007 9:28 PM

lol... It's so easy to do stuff like this.. If you notice, most people use there login name for there windows account. It wouldn't be too much of a challenge to read the name from the registry and have one of the windows artificial voices, read it out loud at a given interval..

I've seen people also bind audio to keyboard keys, so when they press, say the letter 'd', it makes a "mooooo" sound.. Check your running processes using ctrl+alt+delete (task manager). If something looks fishy and is NOT under System, end task it and see if it helps. From that point, you can go about removing the file/directory from at least the booting process or your hard drive.

October 20, 2007 2:09 AM

Sysinternals autoruns...

October 20, 2007 3:40 AM

Obviously it is probably some application doing this. Everyone is thinking in terms of a virus or malware. It may even be one that is NOT a joke or malware. I know that incredimail does annoying stuff like that all the time. Unfortunately we don't know what software is installed, but there are so many little apps that people use that do really annoying things like this. I had a caller to my radio show a couple years ago ask why his computer would "moo" every once in awhile. (My joke back was that his Dell thought it was a Gateway.) Turned out it was the sound that incredimail used to inform him he had new mail.

There's no way to pin this one down without knowing what's installed first.

Michael Malloy
October 20, 2007 7:02 AM

Why does my computer shout at me? Leo, maybe the reader has a program like AOL IM that has sounds associated with people comming and going? Just a thought.

Mike Malloy
[Email Address Removed]

October 20, 2007 8:21 AM

i don't know, i had the rooster crowing too. it went away all of a sudden. baffled me!

October 21, 2007 9:58 AM

I thought maybe it is not from the computer but from his own mind. That was my first thought I am afraid.
But then being of the nursing persuasion and not the technical persuasion - maybe that's why....I thought that. Sorry, don't mean to offend.

Mark Nicholas
October 21, 2007 11:47 AM

My previous computer would also, at random, start playing the trumpet notes you hear at the beginning of a horse race! It would be louder than my speakers were normally set for, and there was never anything visual on my computer. I offer no solution, just letting you know there is one more person out there with that annoying problem.

Becky Garrett
October 22, 2007 12:19 AM

Well it may not be the same thing but i had my old computer programed to said: Good Morning Rebecca and good evening etc. Well it got a glich one time i dont know if it was a virus or not but it would say my name when ever i would which between programs like from yahoo to MSN and other times scared me one night lol, Needless to say i disabled it.

January 21, 2008 8:33 AM

I too have a shouting problem. No one at work believed me until they actually heard my computer shout "give me some money" randomly. There was never a pattern or a similar group of programs open that I could figure out. I've since left that job and laptop behind and NOW MY BRAND NEW HOME LAPTOP is shouting the same thing. My assumption is that this must be from AIM or Messenger OR from a random file that has a virus. The thing is, the two laptops never crossed paths. This one is a tough one for me as I often need sound on during presentations and it randomly statrs shouting - give me some money. Too bizarre.

Leo A. Notenboom
January 22, 2008 5:46 PM

Hash: SHA1

My assumption is the same as yours: some kind of virus or,
as in the article, someone you know playing with your head.


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


April 22, 2009 10:05 AM

I have the same problem. All of sudden about 3 months ago, my laptop started crowing like a Rooster. This does not happen when I use the desk top computer. I have gone into the windows sounds and played all of them .... no rooster there. I thought it might me my email, either yahoo or gmail telling me I had mail... found nothing. I check the clock when the rooster crows and it doesn't happen on the hour, 1/2 hour etc. I'm totally puzzeled. I even submitted this information on my High School yahoo group site. (just came back from my 41 Reunion). One of HS Classmates told me to go to have you heard of this? I haven't downloaded anything yet because I want to find out more about ubuntu .If the computer starts yelling at me or calling me by my name. I'm getting a new computer. If by chance I find out what this mystery is I'll pass it on if you find out please let me know.

June 6, 2009 7:52 AM

My computer "moos" at me at totally random times, really freaks me out, would love to know what it is. Also, the sound of a door opening and closing, thought it was a new mail indicator, but it usually happens on my reunion website. No clue about the mooing, though

September 10, 2009 7:31 AM

Crowing roosters and mooing cows sound suspiciously like Yahoo! Messenger's Audibles.

I haven't used Y!M in ages, but perhaps there are Audibles with people's names now.

Audibles: Send an animated, talking character to a friend to liven up your IM conversation.

November 23, 2009 10:21 AM

I had the rooster crowing sometimes on the quarter hour but not every quarter hour. It happened on my XP Pro system only when Firefox was open (not IE or Chrome). I tried various AV products but nothing worked. Finally I ran Evidence Eliminator and the rooster disappeared about a week ago.

December 1, 2009 5:26 PM

My computer randomly barks, open and closes a door and shouts "I love you". Glad to read that others are having similar problems. Although, a little annoying it doesn't seem to cause any other problems to the computer. Here I thought I was unique!!!!

January 13, 2010 12:43 PM

my computer moos at me too! i don't know why it does just does it randomly and it didn't do it when i first got it.... also my computer is a gateway so i thought maybe it was a gimmick of some kind but i checked their website and googled it and this was the only site of relevance...

March 24, 2010 8:24 PM

My computer sounds like its shouting Hitler Quotes in German?? Wiered

June 12, 2010 12:54 AM

My computer was off the other night and at 4am it started crowing! Tongiht it did it for the second time. I hit the power button and as it was shutting down I removed the speaker plug from the jack, and it still was crowing. Nothing hooked up to the speakers yet it kept crowing for a few more times! +Can anyone explain this??? I am not hallucinating ! - wide awake! I am freaked out now.

June 23, 2010 4:32 PM

my computer is real big with the barks, no matter if it is turned off, or not, and they are SO loud, it scares the bleep out of me everytime it does it. Very aggrivating i must say

Richard Rider
November 2, 2012 9:05 AM

Mine infrequently crows -- and TWITTERS. Maybe 1-2 times a day. No pattern.

What is particularly annoying is the VOLUME of the bleats. It's higher than my audio level is set.

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