USB Cord Shortening




Shorten a USB cord (or any cord) without cutting it.  Use this shortening technique to organize and manage electrical cords.  Need it longer in an instant? problem... pull the cord and its back to its original length.

 It is a quick, and easy method to permanently or temporarily, shorten any cord

and best of all... it does not required anything other than the cord itself; no metal twist ties or plastic zip ties!

The cord is shortened by using a series of slip knots (also known as a crochet chain stitch). The stiffness of the cord holds the slip knots in place but a locking tuck at the end will ensure the knots will not come undone.

But, if the shortening is temporary...skip the locking tuck, and a tug on the cord unravels the knots for use of the full cord length in an instant.

Use it  to manage charging will extend in a second to use the device while still plugged in.

Step 1: Spagetti

I don't know much about the electronics involved with USB ports but, I do know that you can use a good old Mechanical knot solution to keep those cable vipers from tying themselves in unintended knots

Most of the time the devices used with a lap top are only a couple of inches away and all the extra cable spills around (or off) the table.

With this solution, a 5 foot cable can be shortened to about 1foot (using 1" dia. loops)
(And don't worry the pesky electrons don't seem to mind the twisted path.  They still manage to find their way back and forth.)

Step 2: Make a Loop

Starting at what will be the fixed end of the cord (the end of the cord plugged into a stationary device like a desk top computer, or a wall outlet):

 In this case it is the large connector on a USB cord.

1. Make a loop in the cable near the end of the cable.
Note: the fixed end (connector end) is under the working end of the cable

Step 3: Cross Behind

2.  Take the working end of the cord and cross it under the loop

Step 4: Pull a Loop

3.  Pull a portion of the working end of the cord through the first loop to form a second loop.

Step 5: Cross Again

4.  Cross the next portion of the working end behind the second loop.

Step 6: Pull Another Loop

5.   Pull another loop through the previous loop

Step 7: And...Repeat

6.  Repeat, repeat, repeat....

Step 8: Loop Size

Each loop should be about 1" in diameter.  

Do not pull the knots too tight.  The cord will kink and the knots will not release smoothly when the cord needs to be extended.

Step 9: Lock the End

If you do not want the cord to untie unintentionally, "lock" the end by passing the working end of the cord through the last loop.  

This turns the last slip knot into a regular overhand knot preventing the series of slip knots from cascading undone.

Step 10: Temporary Shortening

If you want increase the cord's length at a moments notice, do not add the last "locking" tuck. The cord can now be extended to it's full length with a simple pull. 

Even without the locking tuck, in most cases, the stiffness of the cord generally prevent the slip knots from unraveling without an intentional tug.

I use this when I may have to answer the phone while it is still plugged in.

Pulling the cord starts untying the slip knots from the working end.
This allows only as much cord as needed to pull free; the remaining knots will keep the balance of the cord in check.

Step 11: Any Cord

This shortening technique is especially useful on charger cords.



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    11 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable. I've actually been doing this for years with some of my own cable management. A couple of comments - this is actually doing a chain sinnet knot, which is the same thing that is done in crochet! (Just as an interesting side point.) More importantly, be careful of the loop size. I have done this with powercords, usb mouse cords, and headphones (among other things), and the size of the loop is important!! I have done some with the loop being very tight and small, and after a few weeks undid it because I needed the longer length again. The cord was irreparably kinked into the loop shapes and could not be straightened again unless kept taut. It kept reverting back to the tortured loop shape I had put it in with the sinnet. I would think that loops that are bigger and looser would not lead to this problem, but keep that in mind as you try this method out. Also, a pair of earphones that I did this to eventually failed. But again, that might be because I had a very tight chain sinnet or possibly because of the harsh treatment I gave them while working as a stocker unloading trucks of heavy boxes. The exact reason for failure is unknown, but something else to keep in mind. Other than that, great 'Ible and great way to manage cables on a temporary basis!

    3 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I just reread the 'Ible again and noticed that you already mentioned the crochet stitch. Sorry! lol


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    And again noticed that you mentioned the kinking problem. Again, sorry. I'll just keep my big yap shut. lol

    Callum SnowdenElChick

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    To solve the kink problem, try stretching the cord straight and taught and then gently heat it with a heat gun or a hairdryer :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This has proven very good! I've helped a few of my clients using this. It worked great today for a gal who had a regular mouse on her laptop. The cord was way too long. Six or seven large loops later, the cord was tamed. Nice work!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool idea. And a well illustrated and explained Instructable! Just a note to be aware of: as soon as you curl insulated wire into loops you get an inductor. Inductors use magnetic fields to try to oppose current, which can have some unwanted side-effects. If you're running a high current device (think heater/iron) the heat generated by the inductor can cause the insulation to melt. :) We had this happen to an extension cord which was left coiled up while my dad was using it. My physics lecturer was telling us about his ionospheric research in the Antarctic: the sensitive equipment had a large number of wires. A new guy took over and after a few weeks the equipment stopped working. They had to sail my lecturer back there to figure out what was wrong, and when he got there, every wire had been neatly coiled up, and it prevented the equipment from working! :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This might unravel the shield inside of it, but its still good, it leaves lost of open area for air to get to it and cool it down if needed unlike other techniques ive seen, i like it

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've never hear about an USB cord ever needing to cool down unless you short circuit it...