Organize Your Cables … Or Die?

Posted by AfroWhitey | Computers,Home Theater & A/V,Q&A | Friday 29 May 2009 2:29 am

This post comes in response to Natalie, who wrote, “Ugh, I hate computer/tv/charger/usb/whatever cables. Do you have any tips on how to keep them organized?”

Photo by "thatgrumguy" from Flickr
Photo by thatgrumguy on Flickr

Anyone who owns more than one electronic device in their home or office has run into this problem at one time or another. You’re just minding your own business, upgrading and optimizing your workspace or home theater when out of nowhere, a giant cable spaghetti monster is staring you right in the face. Do you cower in fear, crying for your mommy, or do you stand up and fight? Whatever your answer, I’m going to provide you with some tools to either aid you in your battle, or protect you from future attacks. I have scoured the internet over the past few years and will now bring you my favorite methods of cable organization.

Velcro1. Velcro Ties – I’ve tried zip ties, but I change things around so often that they didn’t last for more than about a week before I was cutting them off in a frenzied fit. The geniuses at Velcro have me covered with their Velcro One-Wrap cable ties. They give you the security of a zip tie with the pleasant bonus of being able to rip thousands of tiny hooks from their respective loops whenever you feel the urge. Plus, they come in a variety of different colors so you can color code your various components. Just wrap them around the cables with a common path and tuck them neatly to the edges of your workstation and/or entertainment center.

Labels2. Plug Labels – We’ve all been there. We’ve all followed what we thought was the power cord for our external hard drive through the web of tangled cables tucked discretely behind our desk only to pull our computer’s power cord instead, losing the latest draft of our memoirs, aptly titled “Knotted Cables and the Therapy They Induced.” Enter ID Pilot (via Lifehacker), stickers that may save your Great Grandma’s life some day. Put the hard drive label on the hard drive plug and the life support label on the life support plug and you’ll never have to console a room full of Geriatrics ever again. Yeah, you could probably make your own with some simple stickers from Office Depot, but then I wouldn’t be able to justify this ridiculous paragraph.

3. CableDrop Cable Holder – If you ever have trouble keeping your cables within reach, or if your cables are always slipping out of your grasp, this is the hot new product for you. The CableDrop cable holder sticks right on your desk and holds your cables for you so you can rest your lazy little fingers. Now, the ordering page is in Chinese or some such language, but if you can find a translator, or learn Chinese, your cable holding woes will be forever gone. You may be able to fashion some sort of clip in its stead, but that may require a revisit to your favorite episode of MacGuyver, and this site will not be held responsible for any mullets grown or plots of world domination foiled with duct tape as a result of this post.

thomasdolbythegoldenageofwireless4. Go Wireless – Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this one for your home theater, but it should work wonderfully for your office. There are countless types of wireless keyboards, mice, printers, usb hubs, and even monitors you can find in stores these days. Connecting everything wirelessly will cut your cable clutter at least in half. It’s a little on the expensive side, but what’s a little consumer debt matter when your desk is completely clutter-free?

5. Shove it Under the Rug – This is my preferred method for solving most of my life’s problems, so why not use it to solve your cable isssues? Lifehacker’s got a slightly more refined method, but the idea’s all the same. Basically, hide them anyway you can. Just like your inner demons, if your mom can’t see them, they’re not really there.

So there you go. Hopefully that answered your question, Natalie, or at the very least, got the ball rolling. Got a question of your own? Leave it in the comments or email me: luke (at) afrowhitey (dot) com, and I’ll do my best to answer it. Short on time? I also do house calls!

  • Natalie

    Thanks AfroWhitey. Awesome article with great ideas… I'll check some of those products out.

  • Ben

    I had a friend who went to the Consumer Electronics Symposium (CES) in Vegas and they had created a kitchen or something like that with a wireless power grid. None of the appliances had power chords. You just set them on the counter and they run. I'm sure we won't see a consumer friendly model for a little while, but it's nice to know that something like this is on the way.

  • We may see consumer friendly models sooner than you think. They have already developed charging pads that allow you to simply place your electronics on a pad to recharge. There is one called WIldCharge that seems to be leading the pack. The main problem devices like this have however, is that no standard has been developed that battery makers have to abide by to be compatible with these devices.

    So the technology is there, but it is up to battery makers and the charging pad companies to come to some sort of agreement about the best way to make this mainstream. Until then, you'll have to stick often bulky adapters on your gadgets to get them to work.