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How to Organize All the Cables Under Your Desk

If you looked under your desk and finally got fed up with the mess of cables underneath, here’s how to organize that mess and get your cables under control.

Most of the time, you probably don’t care how all of your cables look in the first place. After all, they’re hidden under your desk where no one will see them anyway. But the moment you need to unplug something, you finally realize just what kind of chaos lives down there. Thankfully, you can do something about it—all it takes is a little bit of time and attention.

Step One: Unplug Everything

It’s best to start from scratch, which means unplugging everything from the power strip and separating all the cables.

You can stop right there if you want to, but you can also unplug everything from the other end and completely throw all the cables off to the side for a completely clean slate. This makes things a bit easier, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Step Two: Mount the Power Strip to the Desk or Wall

Perhaps the most important step is finding the best place to mount the power strip, because all of your cables will converge to that one point.

Since I have a standing desk that can move up and down, the best place to mount the power strip is on the underside of the desk, that way it’s mostly hidden and it moves with the desk whenever I switch it to standing or sitting mode. This also allows all of the cables to remain static whenever I adjust the desk’s height.

However, my desk surface is only about an inch thick. If yours is the same, you’ll want to make sure to use short screws that won’t pierce through, as well as use a piece of tape on the drill bit so that you don’t drill all the way through the desk surface when drilling the pilot holes.

However, if you have a regular desk, you could just mount it to the wall. The goal here is to get the power strip off of the floor and into a more ideal location so that all of your cables aren’t dangling all the way down to the floor.

As for actually mounting the power strip, most (if not all) units have holes on the back where you can slide screw heads into them to secure them to a surface.

To mount it, you would simply measure the distance between the holes, copy that to the desk or wall surface, and drive in screws, leaving them sticking out just a bit so that you can slide the power strip on.

After that, line up the power strip’s holes with the screws and slide it in place. If it’s still pretty lose, tighten the screws down a bit until you finally get a snug fit from your power strip.

Step Three: Wrap Cables Up and Plug Them In

Next, you’ll want to shorten all of the cables as much as you can so that they’re not dangling and causing an unsightly mess. There are a couple of ways to do this.

You can either use velcro straps (like the ones pictured above) or zip ties. Zip ties are easier and quicker to work with, but they’re also more permanent. You have to cut them off and use another one if you ever want to change things around in the future.

To shorten cables, you can be as neat with it as you want, either bunching up the excess and wrapping a tie around it, or carefully looping the cables and then securing them, as shown above.

Either way, the goal here is to consolidate all of the excess cable that’s hanging down and hide it the best you can.

Step Four: Label Each Cable (Optional)

If you find yourself constantly unplugging and plugging things into your power strip, it might be a good idea to label each cable so that you don’t have to trace them all back every time.

To do this, I like to use masking tape and wrap it around the cable to create a tag of sorts. From there, take your favorite Sharpie and write on the tag what the cable goes to.

Again, this step is optional, but it could save you some headache in the future.

Use a System That Works For You

In the end, there’s not one single system that works for everyone, mostly because every desk setup is different and each person has their own definition of what’s organized.

For instance, you could just get one of these cable management under-desk trays and throw everything on that to hide your cable mess, and it would ultimately be quicker and easier. However, if you don’t like tangled cords period, then you might want to take some extra time to separate everything and create clear paths for each cable.

Overall, don’t be shy to use this guide as a starting point and modify it to fit your own situation. What worked for me may not work for someone else, and vice versa.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He’s also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.

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