The Tools & Toys Guide to Cable Management


While the cables under your desk might not be as plentiful as the ones above, there’s no reason your home or office can’t be as neat and tidy as a professionally-built network room.

The principals of cable management are pretty straightforward: simplify where possible and tidy up the rest.

Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard

The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard can pair with your Mac and iOS device over Bluetooth, and the keyboard can switch between them easily. In addition to a lack of USB cables, the keyboard is solar-powered, so there’s no need for batteries in the drawer or a base for rechargeable under the desk.

In addition to getting rid of USB cables, setting up a robust wireless network has never been easier. While I prefer Ethernet because of its speeds, cutting the cord has the benefit of making your setup that must cleaner. Apple’s AirPort Extreme is a favorite among the T&T staff, but at one-quarter the cost, the Linksys E1200 is a great wireless router as well.

Linksys E1200 Wireless Router

As nice as things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are, the reality is there’s no way to get rid of all the cables in our lives. (Yet.)

That’s where tidying comes in.

Now, lots of people go straight for the zip tie. However, while you can get things nice and tight, I don’t really like using zip ties in my cable management. They can be difficult to take off, often requiring cutting, which can be risky.

When it comes to keeping things nice and neat, I’m a big fan of Velcro. While these 6-inch wraps with built-in loops are nice, I prefer the flexibility of just a simple roll of the stuff. You can cut it to size, meaning your bundles don’t have to be any more bulky that needed.

roll of velcro

When it comes to securing cables, it’s important to remember that sharp angles aren’t your friend. Gentle, swooping curves are, though.

When running a group of cables, it can be easy to get things twisted or uneven. I start at one end (say, at the back of an iMac), and work my way down, adding Velcro loops every 4-5 inches. If one of the cables has a bend in it, I’ll make sure to get a loop near it, to keep the grouping parallel and smooth all the way down.

Ikea Signum basket

If you’ve got a lot of cables running behind your desk and hanging out on the floor, one nice way to keep them under control is with IKEA’s Signum basket. It attaches to the underside of your desk and can hold USB hubs, power strips, extra length of cables, and more.

Gaffer's Tape

When it comes to running cables across a floor, you’ve got a couple of options. Gaffer’s tape works wonders on carpet, and doesn’t leave residue on cables, unlike most types of tape.

If you want something neater, wiremold can be applied to baseboard, desk legs and more.

So, why go through all this work? While my desk certainly doesn’t look like it landed in my office straight from an Apple Store, having everything nice and tidy cuts down on clutter. While it can be trouble to add or change something in my setup, that’s a rare occasion, and the tradeoff is more than worth it for the piece of mind I get from a clean worksurface.

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