I'm sure that this is a common cable management problem: you have a bunch of cables running up to your desk that when you unplug you don't want to fall off but instead remain in an easily accessible position for future replugging?

Bonus points for:

  • Not requiring a thin protrusion from the desk;
  • Being sturdy enough to support thick heavy cables like ethernet;
  • Having the cable propped horizontally as opposed to pointing up;
  • 1
    I have a CAT 5 cable permanently plugged into my telephone; it then dangles over the side of the desk. All the cables I regularly attach to and detach from my laptop are fastened to that cable using a twist tie. Jan 2, 2015 at 15:50

4 Answers 4


Using Binder Clips:

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Using Paper Clip:

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Using toilet paper roll:

Some cables are one time use and may be does't required to be plugged in always. In these cases we can remove from the socket and organize like this.

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Using Bread sealer:

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Using Magnets

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Using Lego:

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Using Business Card:

Punch holes in the old business card and cut small passage for inserting the cable between and hole. Hole size and passage size are according to the size of the cable.

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  • 6
    Cool! If these aren't your images, you should probably attribute the source. Awesome answer, though, +1! :)
    – Shokhet
    Jan 1, 2015 at 23:08
  • @Shokhet Sure, I will as discussed. Jan 1, 2015 at 23:10
  • 3
    Until I clicked through the link, I didn't spot the tape holding the paper clip in place. I was quite baffled seeing a paper clip apparently magnetized to a wooden-looking surface :D
    – TIO Begs
    Jan 2, 2015 at 14:55
  • 1
    I also had a problem with organizing cables. I have got a good answer after asking my question in LH. Here is the link. It may be useful for a one who reads this.lifehacks.stackexchange.com/questions/3928/… Jan 26, 2015 at 4:14

Here's the strategy I've been using so far:

Get a large bulldog clip and clip it onto the desk edge. Pull one of the silver arms up, slip your cable through the larger gap in the middle towards the main clip body, and flip the silver arm back down; voilà, instant cable retractors!

Caveat: You might not be able to find a bulldog clip large enough if your desk does not have a thin protrusion around the edges (or it'd be so large that the cable would slip down through anyway).

  • 3
    The OP says, "Note about my own answer: My new desk does not support the life-hack I mention in an answer below, so I'm looking for your ideas! Sure, I can buy those fancy devices from Amazon; but we're talking about life-hacks here."
    – J. Musser
    Jan 1, 2015 at 22:58

What causes cables to fall behind the desk once unplugged? The weight of the cable is sufficient to drag the cable down because there isn't enough friction between the portion of the cable on top of the desk and the desk surface.

Hook & Loop / Velcro

I do IT work and often unplug everything and take the laptop/tower from the user's desk, but I don't want to fish around for individual cables when I replace the machine. So I use a hook and loop (Velcro™) fastener to simply bind all of the cables together. The net effect is that, bound together, they have enough weight and friction to simply sit atop the desk surface. Of course someone could push the bundle off the desk, but left alone it is usually sufficient:

  • no desk protrusions
  • supports heavier cables (the more cables the better)
  • lays horizontally on desk

If you don't have a hook and loop fastener, you can use an elastic band, a hair tie/scrunchie, a hair clip, zip tie (if you're not doing this often and have wire cutters as I do), tape, or a piece of wire.

Elastic Bands Hair Ties
Hair Clip Zip Tie

Finally, if the bundle of cables is still trying to pull itself behind the desk, you might need to weigh it down a bit more, and a wrist-rest (as mentioned in another answer) works great. I've also let a desk stapler do the job of holding cables until I return. By this I mean using the stapler itself as additional weight, with the cables held between the base and upper portion.


I put one of those beanbag wrist-rests on the edge of my desk, and then snake power cords under that. I happened to have a spare ergonomic wrist-rest lying around, and this method hits all three of your bonus points.

beanbag wrist-rest

  • Upvoted, a perfect paperweight! But to be clear, one would have to snake the cords in every time you unplug them right? Right when I'm unplugging stuff is when I'm most in a rush; so still has the limitations of any paperweight. Jan 2, 2015 at 19:04
  • Why every time you unplug them? The whole point of this thing is so that my tablet's power cord doesn't fall to the ground when it's unplugged.
    – jhocking
    Jan 2, 2015 at 19:18
  • oh wait I think I get why this doesn't work for you. You can't have the weight on top while the cord is in use. Me, I have a stand that the device sits on, so I don't remove the weight from the cord when plugging it in.
    – jhocking
    Jan 2, 2015 at 19:20
  • I think it's more about that the cable wouldn't 'retract' and I don't have a lot of space to spare anyway. Jan 2, 2015 at 19:23

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