Skip to Content
© Andrey Popov |
Tech tips

Too many cables and cords? Use this simple trick to tell them apart

People are constantly upgrading to the latest and greatest tech. Whether you have a new smartwatch or tablet, plenty of pro tips will help you become an expert.

I love helping Komando readers get the most out of their tech. Whether it’s helpful hints and special tricks or just helping you find the right tools, I’ve got you covered! Tap or click to browse my recent columns and tech tips.

Sometimes I can help you with a problem you didn’t even realize you had. For example, have you ever noticed that monstrous pile of cables growing out of your surge protectors? When it comes time to replace a monitor, knowing which cord to unplug can be impossible. Don’t fret. I have the perfect solution.

Where does this cable thing go?

Nowadays, it’s pretty much expected that everyone has a drawer or corner of a room dedicated to a jumble of tech wires resembling a wiry black octopus. Even with so much information held digitally in the cloud, there are still phone and laptop chargers and connection cables of all kinds to keep track of.

How many times have you approached a tangle of cords, wondering which is the one you are looking for? And once you find it, you have to figure out which port it should plug into. I have a fun fix for the fix you’re in!

How to get all those HDMI cables under control

One of the cables you may encounter most is an HDMI connector. HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. These cables connect a digital device, such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick, to an output format, like your TV or laptop. Tap or click here for ways to get a deal on HDMI tech.

An HDMI cable transmits both audio and visual components, so one takes the place of the several wires and outlets needed for AV devices in the past. (Remember your old VCR’s red, white and yellow connections?)

An HDMI connector can support standard, HD, and common surround sound audio formats. You can use an HDMI cable to plug your PlayStation into your TV or a Roku into a projector and your high-def audio and visual transmission can happen through a single cable. Tap or click here for some helpful tricks for Amazon Fire TV Stick.

If your output device, such as your TV, only has two or three HDMI ports, you can get an HDMI switcher, which is a little like a power cord with multiple outlets. You can then plug multiple devices into your screen or computer.

An HDMI connection will only happen one way, so getting the orientation right when you plug it in is important.

Cable coding 101

Back to the challenge of keeping cables, HDMI or other formats organized. You may keep some devices plugged in, but you may need to remove others to transport or reboot the system.

Here’s what you can do to prevent confusion:

  • Get some stickers: these can be labels, which you can write on, or simply color-coded dots. Komando reader Tony Micenhamer suggests using colored foil star stickers.
  • Once you’ve decided which type of system you like, affix the same label or colored sticker to the cable and the port on the device.
  • When you re-plug the cord, match the sticker on the cable to the port’s sticker.
  • Make sure to place the sticker in the same position on each cable. Try putting it on the top of the cord so that you can easily find the correct orientation into the port.

Simple! You will quickly see where the cable fits, even in the dark reaches behind the TV. If you misplace a cable, the sticker you used will also tell you what device it belongs to if it is not already stamped on the cord.

Don’t let computer cords overwhelm you and cause anxiety. Just figure out where they go and match them with a sticker or label them accordingly. As a friend of mine likes to say, “Outer order, inner peace!”

You may also like: How to give your home office a high-tech makeover

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community

Get even more know-how in the Komando Community! Here, you can enjoy The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, ask your tech questions in the Forum — and so much more.

Try it for 30 days