5 Ways To Clean Up Computer Cable Clutter Under Your Desk
March 27, 2013
Computer cable clutter is one of technology’s biggest annoyances. While it’s easy to conceal your messy cable collection in a closed box, the cables that catch dust under your table are a completely different story. Try to vacuum those tangled beasts or remove a single cable from the mess. Fortunately, the Internet is a treasure trove for great ways to organize and clean up the cable monsters under your desk.
For my own project, I used items I already owned, including binder clips, plastic cards, punchers, scissors, power strips, double-sided tape, and bread clips. Nothing too fancy and such is the result. If you have some more time, skill, and tools available, find inspiration from more elaborate projects towards the end of this article.
Binder Clips To Keep Cables From Falling
My desk top is pretty thick, so binder clips, even the big ones, only fit onto the book shelf behind my desk. I used one to hold the audio and LAN cable in case I disconnect my laptop. You can use them to hold any cable that tends to slip off the desk if not connected to a device.
This tip was also mentioned in Nancy’s 10 Great Geek Hacks article.
Plastic Card Cable Organizer To Fix Cables In Place
Don’t have any paper clips handy? How about an old club or credit card, a puncher, and scissors? Punch some holes into the card, cut into the hole from the edge and insert your cables. The punched card can work just as well for keeping your cables from falling off your desk. I got this idea from Unclutterer.
I’m using the card to hold my tablet’s and phone’s charging cables next to my bed. The shelf I’m using as my nightstand is too thick for paper clips. After taking the picture, I turned the card upside down to hide both the card and the cables underneath the shelf.
Now you only need to find a way to fix the card to your desk. Maybe the next item can help.
Double-Sided Tape To Mount Power Strips
My cable modem is pretty light and I didn’t want to mount it to the wall, so I decided to stick it to my desk using double-sided tape. I actually used Tesa Power Strips. Now the modem is out of the way, but in reach when I need to plug in a cable or reset it.
I did the same for the powerstrip and simply mounted it to my desk.
If you want to mount the power strip upside down to the bottom of the desk top, you might want to use something like velcro. It allows you to easily remove the power strip when you need better access to it. And it’s also a little more durable than double-sided tape. Alternatively, you could get a cable organizer from IKEA (Signum) or build one yourself.
Bread Clips To Organize & Label Cables
If you have more cables than you can possibly keep apart, label them with bread clips. My German bread clips look a little different than standard American ones, but have the added advantage that they can also keep cables together.
And this is how your result may look like.
A Knot For Storing Long Cables
Overly long cables usually contribute most to clutter. Below is a great video explaining how to use a monkey braid to fold up long cables.
The cable used in the example above is massive. You can do the same with much smaller, yet too long A/C or power extension cords. This idea came via The Closet Entrepreneur, who also provides beautiful step by step pictures.
Unfortunately, I missed to take a before picture. But maybe you can imagine how a completely loaded power strip with a bunch of cables around it must have looked like. This is much better I think.
I admit that my result isn’t perfect zen. Although it’s practical, there is still a lot of hanging cable clutter. However, my goal was not to hide all cables, but to get the power strips and as many cables off the floor as possible. Frankly, I find that the more perfectly you manage to hide cables, the more of a pain it becomes to move furniture or re/move a single cable.
Perfectly Hiding Cable Clutter
Are you dreaming of making your cables invisible? My colleague Matt has some great tips for concealing computer clutter and below are three before/after examples for the perfectionists among you. The first one is from Instructuables, meaning you’ll find step by step instructions and pictures for the entire process.
This two person work table I found on The Closet Entrepreneur. See the article for some more impressive work spaces.
Lifehacker created a cordless desk with some cheap accessories from everyon’s favorite Swedish home improvement / furniture store.
Quickly organizing cables and getting them out of the way can be quite simple, but the result isn’t necessary beautiful. Perfection comes at a price. To tame the cables, you must tie them down. While this can keep them out of sight, it also makes it much harder to exchange cables or move a device later on. Which compromise do you choose?
Image credits: Tangled Power Cords via Shutterstock, IKEA Signum Cable Organizer via Pinterest, US Bread Clips via Things To Stumble, Computer Cable Management via Instructables, Two Person Work Table via The Closet Entrepreneur, Cordless Desk via Lifehacker