David Papp Blog

Cable Clutter: Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops, Cameras, Home Entertainment, and Data Centers

Cluttered CablesCables are still a necessary evil. Wireless hasn’t taken over the world yet. Keeping your cables organized becomes a losing battle due to the temporary usually becoming permanent.

I find it difficult to have all my charge cables handy for quick connections. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and cameras become devices that need constant charging. And each of them with their own adapters.

There are ways to help reduce the clutter and maintain some illusion of organization.

Cordies Quirky has a product called Cordies. They help hold your cables on your desk so they don’t keep falling. This keeps them handy and accessible.
CableDrop Clips There are also single cable versions of something similar called CableDrop Clips.
Applecore Applecore has a great product that looks like an apple core 🙂 to keep excess cables rolled up.
Plug Hub Quirky has another product available called the Plug Hub to help hide and coil up excess cables with a power bar.
Redmere When it comes to home entertainment systems, the thickness of the cables can be a big problem. There is a recent new technology for HDMI cables called Redmere which is ultra-thin. You have no worries about the weight of the cable and inflexibility. I recommend buying Redmere cables at one of my favorite online cable stores, Monoprice.

Organizing your computer cables for personal, office, or in data centers can be a problem. I always like to buy cables that are just the right length rather than having a bunch of excess cable hanging around. Monoprice has a wide variety of cable lengths and in different colors as well.

What tricks do you have up your sleeve for managing cable clutter?



38 thoughts on “Cable Clutter: Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops, Cameras, Home Entertainment, and Data Centers”

  1. One thing I like that I’ve read about online is using the clips that you get on bags of bread from the grocery store and using those to label wires. It doesn’t help prevent tangling, but very useful for when you need to figure out which wire goes to what.

  2. Applecore is soo cute! I would love to get something like that. I just use hair ties. You can get a pack for about $5-$6 at your local drugmart. They come in different colors, so no need to worry about confusion.

  3. I hate the mess that wires make around my desk. It isn’t a pleasant view. I guess that the world’s power problem requires us to still keep using wires and cables. Even the so-called wireless chargers require wires. I have tried quite a few accessories to keep my wires in order. I will try the ones shown here.

    @Skyman747. In South Africa our bread bags come with very small clips. I doubt that will help. I wish all countries were universal with the more common items.

  4. Having something to organize my cables is a great idea. Having so many cords cluttering the room can become a hassle, especially when they get tangled up.

  5. These are some great items that i will be purchasing really soon. One simple thing i found online to help organize different cords is to get nice size shoe box and use toilet paper or paper towel rollers depending on the size of the cables or cords. fold up a cord and place it inside the cylinder and organize loose cords neatly inside the box. it makes it easy to find, easy to get to, and you don’t have to worry about them getting tangled up.

  6. I really should try some of these tips, as I just keep all my cables tangled up in my laptop case. Do you have any tips for headphones/earbuds? Mine always get damaged because I wind them around my iPod.

  7. I haven’t had problems in recent years with cable clutter, especially since technology has become a little more simpler in design and trending towards portability. However 6-7 years ago, it was a disaster in my room between computer cables, USB cables, laptop/phone chargers, ethernet cables, video game console hook ups, routers, modems, printers, scanners…..You get the picture? It was a mess.

    Thankfully, many of these devices are now wireless and only require one cable. For example, my printer is an all in one machine that is wireless. Video game consoles really only need the charger output and the HDMI cable now. Back in the day, you needed A/V outputs, maybe an R/F adapter, another cable to switch back to the television and so much more. Controllers have also become wireless which is a plus.

    Maybe one day we’ll be able to charge all our devices wirelessly.

  8. I will have to buy one of these one days. I sit at my compute with wires all below me, and every so often I will kick them, knocking my power out. It will be nice to see what the world will be like with things go almost completely wireless, like clap on. 🙂

  9. I’m very guilty about this. I always get pissed off with the tangled cables and I don’t have the patience to even untangle them!

  10. I use binder clips on the edge of my desk for most of my cables like chargers or for my printer. I clip it to the edge and then use the hook part of it to put the end of the cable through. It’s hard to describe in text, but you can google it and find some pictures. It’s a pretty neat lifehack because most people have dozens of binder clips lying around.

  11. I’m terrible when it comes to keeping cables organized. They’re lying around all over my room and I can never seem to find the one that I did without going through a bunch of them first before getting to it. I was not aware of the products to make it easier, but I’ll definitely be looking into the Cordies.

  12. Just wait until my girlfriend sees this post! She really, really hates cables lying around the house and always tells me to keep things well organized! I can already see myself buying one or two of those Cordies from Quirky! Or maybe a Plug Hub as it seems like something I would also need!

  13. I’m not sure most of those cable clutter control products are available where I am. I usually just use a twist wire when possible to reduce clutter and make that work with a house layout where all things with cables stay in one area. I can’t afford to have so many wires lying around with all the cats around.

  14. I just cut down on the devices themselves. I had a tablet for a hot minute then quit using it because it was just another device I needed to keep charging all day. Similarly I won’t be buying any Google glasses, I ditched by bluetooth earpiece years ago, I don’t keep a separate work phone, etc…

    • Ditching devices might work for you, but for someone like me that is required (by work) to remain connected, I end up carrying a second cell phone and a laptop almost everywhere I go. I recently considered getting a power bar, just so I can charge all my devices in case I am away from my desk for an extended period of time.

      Mostly joking, but on occasion I’ve wished I had one.

  15. I also always finding it difficult to keep my cables in check, especially the chargers whenever I’m charging my numerous gadgets.

    Thanks for this article Quirky actually seems like a useful buy. Might give it a go.

  16. I’ll have to pick up some of those Cordies from Quirky. Even this small of an invention could make your life a lot easier. Looks really handy and can keep cables from scratching materials or even messing up themselves. Thanks for the options, I usually use zipties.

    • Zipties are really not recommended for a few reasons:
      – They are “one-time” use. Once zipped, they usually can’t be unzipped and must be cut. A huge annoyance if you need to recable!
      – They compress the cabling if you zip too tight. This isn’t AS important for single-piece copper cabling, but when it comes to strands (such as in Ethernet cables), they can cause some problems. Thin gauge wires can also be stretched or even cut.
      – Related to the first point, they can’t be adjusted to run an additional wire after the fact. What if you buy a new product and need to run a new cable? Time to rewire the whole deal?

  17. Does devices look handy! But I have to say I will feel kinda silly buying something like this – it’d be like admitting that I am losing the battle. Now I will share my secret – you may laugh at me but this is what I do. I use an empty spool – I like to sew and stitch so there are always some lying around me for the excess cables. And I use one of those pedicure devices that keep your fingers and toes divided while you’re putting nail polish to store the endings of the cables and to keep them neat on my desk.
    As I said you may laugh! I know it must sound terribly girly, but these handmade solutions work for me!

    • Hahaha, you can’t argue with results. As an IT technician that will occasionally make housecalls, it’s amazing how some people will address the problems they have using whatever methods they have available to them. Their innovation can truly be remarkable and sometimes inspires me to use the solution myself. For example, a cat5 connector + cable as a keychain. Really cool and useful too.

  18. All my charging cables are kept in one place. They are near an extension with a switch. Nothing else is plugged there so that extension is off when nothing is charging. The cables of that need to be permanently plugged are tied together at the back. The cable internet is “piped” in the corners of the floor so there are no problems with that. What I am having a problem with is the extension cord of the laptop. My husband likes working in different spots in the house and when he needs to plug his laptop, he uses an extension. The problem is there are very few free sockets in the house so there is always an extension on the floor leading to whereever he is. I’ve been thinking of having more wall sockets installed but this might be difficult and expensive since the walls are concrete and all the wiring inside will havero be fixed.

  19. What happened to plain old twist ties or velcro straps? Zip ties are applicable too if you’re truly desperate, but there’s nothing worse than cutting off dozens of zip ties when it’s time to finally make some changes to infrastructure cabling that you thought was “for good”.

    One important thing that was mentioned that I fully agree with: proper cable lengths. Know exactly how long your run needs to be and provide 10-20% leeway. This will ensure that you have tight bundles with very little extra, while also leaving enough wiggle room to support movement if necessary.

    • You’re right volcro straps are certainly another choice here. Although I wouldn’t recommend twist ties. They tend to get pretty tedious.

      Still, I believe the options listed in the article are much more convenient.

      • Velcro straps work very well for me. The twist ties aren’t the best idea as they wear down and could be a possible fire hazard. If only you could see my college apartment and the number of cords that I had unraveled, lying about. It cracks me up to think about it now.

  20. I actually use the “cordies” myself and they work fairly well. I used to tie up smaller cords with plain old twist ties like you’d find at the produce section of the grocery store. That seems like it might be a fire hazard though. When I was in college I just left all the cords out in the open in piles like coiled snakes. Ha. Nowadays I try to hide them behind electronic equipment as I am more concerned with the aesthetics of my living space.

    Good article. Thank you for the suggestions. I might have to search for the Clips and Quirky’s hub and buy one or the other.

  21. This is so true because I can’t seem to find a way to put the wire together to make the computer area be more organized. I just check out quirky and I really like this website. This issue is a very common one and less spoken of so I think many can relate to it as we all want our working area to look presentable.

  22. Thanks for these useful tips. I always get mad to see my cords everywhere. I hate it when I have to move a cord and I can’t find it in the 31 black cords down there. I used to paper-clip all my wires together so it would look nice and neat. I stopped using that though because I was worried the paper-clip would come undone, then I would look for the paper-clip in the pile of cords.

  23. The best way for me to clean my cables up was to use some clips (the black, office kind). They worked really well for me and I was able to keep things nice and clean with the help of a few twist ties which you can find in lots of places for free, or you can just buy a giant pack for a couple dollars (not that you’ll need that many, but I find them very useful). The methods you mentioned are pretty good too. Another commenter mentioned bread clips which seem like a pretty good method of keeping track of wires. Thanks for the post!

  24. Next to earphone cables computer and network cables are the worst. It’s either you rip your computer off when you trip on them and cause a disaster or you rip the cables off and cause a different set of disaster.

  25. I bought a cable separator thing from walmart and it works wonderful. I use it to section off my cables for my laptop, tablet, and phone when I am at my computer stand. It also has a stick thing on the bottom to keep it in place.

  26. I have been slowly transitioning to cable cutting. I watch most video and movies online these days. I have gotten to where long commercial breaks make me feel pretty impatient. I think these services offer a lot of range. Most people don’t watch all of their cable channels anyway. These services will make big cable companies lower their prices and tailor packages more to the individual, hopefully.

  27. There are some pretty cool hacks you can do with binder clips for cable management. You can stick a large on on your desk and wire large cables through, like ethernet, the 30 pin Apple connectors, power, etc. Also, velcro loops are pretty awesome at cable management. They have the specially made ones that can go on pretty much any thin, round, cable. It’s perfect for wired mice or keyboards, headphones, or just cables in general.

  28. Another thing you can do is to label the cables with the colorful plastic cable tags that will help you remember which cable goes where. Once you are finished working on the fixes or cleaning up the area, you can re-assemble the cable structure according to the order of the cables. Other than cable tags, you can use cable tacks, which are usually used to keep the cables in place on the walls or around the room, and you could also purchase cable flags. These items fall under the cable organizer category.

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