Does your desk often get cluttered with the many cables you need to use your laptop?
Sometimes it can look more like a spaghetti pan at your local Italian eatery than a workspace.
Or maybe you’re one of these people who just throw as many cables as possible into your laptop carry case when traveling.
Tangled and twisted cables not only look messy, they make it harder to find the correct one when you need it.
Sometimes it may actually damage the cables.
Over the years I have had to replace many iPhone charging cables due to screwing them up to fit in my pocket or bag.
On some components where the cable is permanently fixed, like headphones or a mouse, a twisted cable can render them useless.
We are supposed to be living in a wireless world, yet we still need a myriad of cables for our everyday computing tasks.
Yes, there are wire-free options, but they often don’t provide reliable connections and can be expensive.
As for power, apart from experiments with wireless charging pads for phones and tablets, there’s currently no alternative but to plug your laptop in to charge.
Accepting that we still need cables, here are our top five tips to ensure you live in a tangle- and twist-free cable world.
If you travel with your laptop frequently, you may find there simply isn’t enough room for all your cables in the case.
Screwing them up and storing them all next to your laptop can lead to twisted or knotted cables.
A product like the Bag Smart Travel Universal Cable Organiser will provide individual netted compartments to ensure your cables remain tangle-free.
You will also find spaces for your laptop charger pack, USB drives, external hard drives, and power banks too.
Using a cable organizer case like the one above will protect your cables when traveling, stop them from tangling up or twisting with each and make it simple to find the appropriate cable when you arrive at your destination.
One of the biggest problems with most computer cables is just how long they can be.
Although a longer cable offers more flexibility, it also provides more chances for cables to become twisted and messy. We’re not talking about cutting your cables and making them physically shorter, but rather coiling them up in some way.
A low-cost solution to this problem is to make your own Cablebone as shown on the Instructables website.
All you will need is a rubber mat, a marker pen, some glue, a cutter, and a power drill.
Other options for a cheap homemade cable tidy include a refashioned solder-wick spool, an old credit card or even to coil up that cable in a coin wrapper.
There are also professional solutions available at low prices.
These include the Recoil range of cable winders, which offer more protection for your coiled-up cables.
One product that will benefit Mac users is the Swark Portable Power Adapter Cord Wrap Wire Organizer for MacBook Power Chargers.
MacBook power adapters are notorious for their overly long cables.
One of the simplest solutions is to tie up those long cables with Velcro strips or duct tape.
When you use duct tape, you could also color code or label what each cable is linked to. Just make sure a part of the tape juts out and use a permanent marker to write what the cable is for.
Make sure you completely cover the adhesive part with some backing paper to prevent it from sticking to other cables.
Unfortunately, duct tape isn’t reusable and needs to be reapplied if you uncoil the cable.
Another alternative is to purchase some plastic or fabric cable ties that feature easy-to-use locking mechanisms.
You could try a product like this 20-piece Cable tie set which features different colors for identification and varying widths for each type of cable.
For cables that need constant movement, like a mouse cable or a joystick cable, you could try adding weight to the uncoiled cable.
A weight can prevent the cable from moving around too much and getting tangled up with other cables.
Another simple solution would be to use some binder clips on your desk to keep the cables in place.
Either way, make sure the clip or weight doesn’t cut into the cable.
Placing a wrapper—made from old foam or bubble wrap—around the cable can help protect it.
Most of us have access to empty cardboard boxes lying around the house or the local supermarket.
You could use many of these boxes to make a DIY cable management box.
Simply coil up the cables and cut holes in the box for access to the connector plugs.
Many YouTube or handicraft sites now include links for making your own cable box.
The following YouTube video shows how to turn a shoebox into an attractive cable storage management system.
You could also use an old media storage box or an old toolbox/cool box for a more sturdy cable storage system.
Normally, your desk is the area where your cables tend to overflow.
You may have external drives, printers, additional displays, or even DJ controllers littering up your desktop, which all come with their own cables.
Where possible, try to buy additional cables which never leave your desk.
You can always store the original cables with your laptop for portable use but have fixed cables at home.
Cables that are permanently fixed can be held, in an untwisted state, under your desk with cable ties and hidden from view. Simply drilling a few neat holes at the back of your desk can provide access to the cables.
A great tool for holding unused cables in place is an all-purpose moldable silicone putty, like that made by Sugru.
They have even produced a short video which you can see below, showing how to use it for cable management.
Hopefully, some of the tips we have provided above have helped you to declutter your twisted cable mess.
Just remember, cables can be quite delicate, especially the thinner power cables of computer accessories.
When coiling them up try not to wrap them too tight, don’t bend unnecessarily, and avoid coiling too often. If it’s a cable you make regular use of, try to keep it in a very loose coil that doesn’t place too much stress on the cable.
Cables will wear out over time, but storing them correctly will make sure you can easily find that cable you need and extend its life.
The only spaghetti you should have in the house should be in a pan with a nice marinara sauce!
Marcus has a graduate degree in computer engineering and has many years of experience in cutting-edge technology research and development in both startups and Fortune 500 corporations. In his free time, he enjoys RTS gaming.
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