How Can I Tell If My Software Has An Easter Egg?

by Barbara J. Feldman on September 13, 2008

Easter eggs aren’t always the ones that you associate with decorating or hiding candy in. In software, movies, video games, and music CDs, an Easter egg is a hidden feature or animation that is hidden within the software. It could be something as simple as the programmer’s name spelled somewhere in the software, or it could be a hidden track in a CD or level in a video game.

Easter eggs themselves are harmless and won’t cause any damage to your software or system. So why do Easter eggs exist? There is nothing dangerous about an Easter egg, and they are mostly put in for fun for the developer or programmer. It could be that the Easter egg has a personal meaning to the developer, or it’s an inside joke among those writing the program, or it could just be something entertaining for the user.

How to tell if it’s an Easter egg

If you’ve stumbled across something in your software, CD, DVD, and so forth, it just might be an Easter egg. The following characteristics will help you to distinguish an Easter egg from something else, like a virus.

•Easter eggs are not obvious. In order for it to be considered an Easter egg, it must be hidden, undocumented, and not obvious to the owner or user of the software. So if “hidden track” is clearly labeled on a case or a menu, then it is not an Easter egg. Remember, Easter eggs derive their names from the fact that they are hidden, so if it’s not, chances are it’s not a true Easter egg.

•It is harmless. Eater eggs are not malicious in any form; they will not cause damage to your system, erase files, or require you to reboot your system. Easter eggs are merely for entertainment purposes only. However, while there aren’t any real cases of this, there is the potential that an Easter egg could be harmful to the system, if there is some kind of bug in the developer’s system that could spread. It wouldn’t be caught, either, since Easter eggs are not tested. This is highly unlikely, but still possible.

•It is impersonal to the creator. Easter eggs are usually personal to the person developing it. In order for it to be a true Easter egg, it should have reference to anything that would already be within the software, such as company logos, references to famous people or people well-known within the company.

•It isn’t there on purpose. Occasionally, things will pop up in software that aren’t there intentionally. This would not be considered an Easter egg. Easter eggs are put within the software intentionally.

•It doesn’t fit in. A true Easter egg will stand out; for example, a hidden game within a word processor. Easter eggs usually don’t have anything to do with the system at all and, when found, stick out because it is so obvious that it doesn’t belong.

•Can be reproduced. When given instructions for finding the Easter egg, every person with that program, CD, etc. should be able to access it by following the instructions. The ability to be reproduced will also qualify it as an Easter egg.

Easter eggs are harmless applications hidden within software for entertainment purposes. The above tips will help you to know whether you have found an Easter egg or not.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "How Can I Tell If My Software Has An Easter Egg?." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 13 Sep. 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/473/how-can-i-tell-if-my-software-has-an-easter-egg/ >.