6 cable management tips to keep your technology looking neat

Everyone’s shiny technology hides a dirty secret: a jumble of cables that are as ugly as they are annoying. Cable management may seem like a daunting task, but with a few of our cable management tips and a little patience, you can keep your technology looking neat.

Here’s how.

Dealing with long cables

Cables hang under a desk.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Cable length is a killer. The first step in cable management is to get rid of what you don’t need. Assuming you’ve disconnected all of your excess cables — we’ve got a dedicated cable collection guide to help you do just that — the next step is dealing with extra cable length you’re not using.

The main issues here are Ethernet cables, power cables, and USB cables. If you can replace a long cable with a smaller one and still reach an outlet without any problem, you should. Excess cable mass makes all future cable management much more difficult.

For cables that cannot be replaced, shorten the length by wrapping the cable around itself and securing it with a cable tie. The goal here isn’t to do cable management just yet; it is to make your cables manageable.

One cable to control them all

I like to start cable management by running all my critical cables through it a cable joint – sometimes unceremoniously called an umbilical cord. I like to think of it as a main cable, a cable that is spliced ​​off with everything you need.

You can find plastic conduit, but I’m a fan of loom tubing. It’s easy to wrap a bundle of cables, very cheap, and they allow you to splice cables before the end of the conduit.

Your goal is not to throw all your cables into a conduit. Instead, you only want to run the cables that you always leave connected. For example, if you’re wiring your entertainment center, your HDMI, power, and data cables go into the main cable. For a PC, your peripherals, data and display cables would.

Do not overcrowd the conduit and avoid using multiple main cables if possible. Ideally, group cables of similar length.

Safe power strips

A power strip mounted under a desk.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Most cable management tips focus on what you plug into the power strip, but a stationary power source goes a long way in clearing out your cable clutter. There are two ways to do this, depending on where you place your power strip and how much money you want to spend.

The quick and dirty method is to flip on Velcro and secure your power strip that way. This works especially well for desks, as you can place your power strip on the bottom and hide everything. I’ve used double-sided tape in the past, but I prefer Velcro as it leaves less mess in case you need to replace the power strip.

The other option, which works well for entertainment centers, is a cable management box† These boxes are about 12 inches long and you place your power strip in them and run the cables out. They cost about $20, but you can get away with any box with a few holes for a power strip to fit.

Clean runs, clear mind

Cables secured with clips under a desk.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Once your main cable is ready, it’s time for everything else. To get started, find out where your cables are coming from. All of your power cords may plug into a power strip, but they’ll likely come from different locations on your desk or media console.

This is where most cable management falls apart. You don’t want to overlap cables in such a way that one prevents you from adjusting the other. I like to divide where my cables come from into zones and group cables together. So, for example, all my cables coming from the left side of my desk will be one run.

Hide the clutter

By now you should have managed all your cables, and now it’s all about hiding the mess. There are half a dozen ways to go about this, which will change depending on the area you’re trying to manage:

  • Cable trays for wire management
  • Raceway wallcovering
  • Adhesive Cable Clips
  • Cable covers in the wall

For desks, I like self-adhesive cable clips. Like a power strip, I mount them under the desk and run cables through the clips to keep them out of sight. Wire management ducts are also great here, especially for devices with their own power block. These are located under or behind your desk and you can put all your cables in them.

For a TV stand, you have a few options, depending on how much work you want to do: in-wall cable covers or wall covers. These runways, as they are called, are plastic covers that attach to your wall with glue. They are easy to set up, they do a great job hiding cables and you can paint them to match your walls.

If you’ve mounted your TV and want an even sleeker look, you can route your cables through the wall. The idea is to cut out a few spots in your wall, insert the cable covers and run your cables that way. If you go this route, be aware of any power cables that may be in your wall and contact an electrician if necessary.

Go wireless, if you can

The HP 930 Creator wireless mouse next to a laptop.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Finally, go wireless if you can. Wireless keyboards and mice are fast enough to feel like you’re using a wire now, and most aren’t expensive. If you want to say goodbye to wires, the best way is to get rid of them whenever possible.

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