If you're anything like me, you like your desk to try and be as uncluttered as possible. Chiefly so you can then put even more clutter on it! Cables, chargers, mess here and there, it all adds up and is a supreme pain in the butt. Here's a quick and easy way to tidy up your computer cables so they're immediately accessible and out of the way.
Step 1: The Shelf
Personally, I love my little shelf. It allows me to put my mp3 player and phone docks and pen holder out of the way, but still accessible. It also, more importantly, has an undershelf that lets me organise my cables!
You can use whatever you like, or indeed none at all if you have a flat surface available - I knocked this together out of reclaimed wood. You don't have to route the shelf in - I did purely because I like having a little lip to stop things falling off the sides.
Step 2: Tidying the Cables
The cables themselves are fairly easy to tidy - all I did was attach little adhesive clips to the underside of the shelf. In my case, the mic in, a mains-powered apple power adapter, a mini-DIN for my ebook/portable HDDs and a firewire. Mix and match as you use them.
Note: Each of these cables lives here on this desk. I do have duplicates for work/travel/whatever, and they are easy and cheap enough to get on ebay or at your local swap meet. Getting a set to permanently live on your desk as opposed to playing hunt and peck and fish about is worth the money spent.
The clips do not have to be super expensive - remember, you're not putting a great deal of weight on them. I use the cheap and nasty ones, and so far the current lot have lasted me about ten years.
Peel off backing, and stuck along the underside of your shelf. Connect your cables to your PC or mains power (because let's face it, USB charging takes four times as long) Clamp the cable heads in your clips, stuff the excess down the back of the desk (you may braid or tidy them further as you wish - I rarely bother as I have a couple of cabinets under my desk that hide the workings) and you're set!
Step 3: If You Want to Be *fancy*...
ok, I'm remarkably picky at times. As much as I love my cable sets there, there was one thing that irked me. They simply didn't have sufficient weight to retract. I'd pull one out, use it, then had to go to all the fuss of stuffing them back down again. Grr.
So of course, what is the solution? Fishing weights.
Using freezer ties, simply twist the weight around the cable. Be careful not to do it so tight that you slice through the sheathing! You just want to make sure it doesn't slide down the cable, but stays in one place. You may need two weights for heavier cables (like the mini DIN), but a standard teeny cable such as apple products use will be more that happy with one.
Remember: You don't want to drag whatever attached device you have across your desk. You just want the cable to slide back into its little clip nest when unplugged.
Enjoy your cable tidies!