The 5-Step Guide to Perfect Desk Cable Management
Desk cable management is like cleaning your room. It’s a hassle
We’ve condensed everything you need to know about desk cable management into a simple 5-step guide. Follow it to completion and you’ll feel a joy you never knew you needed.
- Step 1: Start from Scratch
- Step 2: Position Your Power
- Step 3: Add Cable Management Features
- Step 4: Mount Your Monitors (Optional)
- Step 5: Route Your Cables
Step 1: Start from Scratch
If you’re starting with a brand new setup, perfect. If not, this is your chance to start over with a clean slate. Disconnect your peripherals from your PC and everything from your surge protector, then proceed.
Step 2: Position Your Power
A key piece to your desk cable management puzzle is the position of your power strip. Our natural tendency is to just hook it up to the closest power outlet and start plugging things in. But when you position your surge protector strategically, you set yourself up for a much easier cable management experience.
Assess your situation and decide which of these two positions will work for you:
Position 1: Underside of Desk
This is usually the most ideal spot. By mounting your surge protector underneath your desk, all of your power cables can route away from view behind one of the best pieces of cover at your disposal, your desktop.
All you need is some double-sided tape to make this happen, but don’t mount anything just yet. You’ll want everything laid out before you make any permanent decisions.
Some questions you might have…
Will this work with a standing desk?
Yes! This is actually the best way to cable manage standing desks. You end up with only the cord of your surge protector to worry about. As long as you leave enough slack, you’ll be able to adjust your standing desk without a problem.
I have a glass desk. What should I do?
Cable management for glass desks is tricky for obvious reasons. While you might not have the luxury of mounting your surge protector directly underneath your desktop, you could still attach it somewhere under there.
Rob_but did a great job cable managing his glass desk setup. He mounted his surge protector behind the back support bar of his desk and used cable clips to manage all his wires away from view. If you look closely, you’ll find the long cable of his surge protector trailing off screen towards the bottom left.
Cable management for glass desks is certainly possible—it just requires a little extra effort and creativity.
Do I HAVE to mount my surge protector?
If your desk setup already provides a lot of cover, it’s not really necessary. That brings us to position 2.
Position 2: Hidden on the floor
Sometimes, the best place for your surge protector is on the floor. Just make sure it’s out of sight.
Good places to hide your surge protector:
- between your desk and the wall
- behind other furniture and objects
And if all else fails…
Position 3: In a Box
In the rare case that you have the most naked desk setup ever, you can hide your surge protector in a cable management box. The end result looks something like this.
Once you’ve figured out the position of your surge protector, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Add Cable Management Features
You might be lucky enough to already have built-in cable management features on your desk. For example, my trusty IKEA Bekant came with its own cable net. But even if your desk is literally a plank of wood, it’s easy to add cable management features yourself.
Cable Management Compartment
A cable management compartment like a tray or raceway attaches to the underside of your desk and helps you both guide and hide cables.
Holes & Grommets
Does drilling holes into your desk sound crazy to you? Crazy or not, many people do it in the name of cable management. The most common hole I see is for keyboard and mouse cables.
Small holes like this can easily be hidden so there’s no need to dress it up. But if you need a larger hole in a more prominent position, you can fit it with a grommet to make it look nicer.
Adding cable management features to your desk takes time but is well worth it. The next step is no different.
Step 4: Mount Your Monitors (Optional)
Mounting your monitor(s) not only helps with cable management, it also clears up space on your desk for an extra clean look—and that’s the real goal right? There are two ways to go about this.
This is the more difficult but also the sexiest option. You end up with floating monitors on your wall with no stands or cables in sight, but it requires some serious DIY work. Jeremy Siers has a great video showing how he mounted and cable managed his triple monitor setup.
He ran his cables through his wall which might be too intimidating a task for most of us. Alternatively, you can run your cables along your wall and just cover them with other objects or a raceway. This looks pretty good too.
Get your monitors sorted out and you’ll be happy you did.
Step 5: Route Your Cables
The part we’ve all been waiting for: we finally get to play with cables!
1. Reconnect everything
Start reconnecting all your peripherals to your computer, hiding and guiding your wires through your cable management features whenever you can. Do the same with the cables going to your surge protector.
Because of your thoughtfully hidden surge protector and cable management features, everything should look pretty good already once it’s reconnected. All that’s left to do is to tidy up.
2. Tie up loose ends
Despite your best efforts, there will be cords that just couldn’t tuck away neatly into your cable management compartment. Some cables will hang loosely and large bundles of cables just don’t look pretty. This is where you tighten everything up.
These items will come in handy:
Once you have them at your disposal, you can start perfecting your desk cable management.
Manage stray cables
Use cable clips to manage stray cables that couldn’t make it into your cable management compartment. If you don’t have a compartment at all, you can use a whole bunch of cable clips to keep it all tight to your desk. Speaking of…
Keep everything tight
This is where the cable ties and zip ties come in handy.
Use your cable ties to tighten up these spots:
- Where your cables connect to your PC
- Where your cables connect to your monitor
- Wherever there are lots of cables grouped together
Everything looks a little better when it’s tight.
Wrap it up
If you can’t help but leave a group of cables showing, you can use a cable sleeve to wrap them up neatly.
And that’s pretty much it—everything you could possibly need to know about desk cable management.
A cable managed life is a happy life
The road to perfect cable management isn’t always straightforward. You might waste more time than you plan to, get unbelievably frustrated, or even end up like this…
But eventually, you’ll figure it out and you’ll have a desk setup that sparks maximum joy.
If you need extra motivation to get started, check out our interactive gallery of amazing desk setups.
Note: SBR-88’s setup is the featured image and showcased throughout this post.