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Tech tips

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

It’s a new year and most everyone has some fun new gadgets to play with. Whether you got a new smartwatch or tablet, there are plenty of pro tips that will help them as experts.

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 here for some of my favorite tech tips!

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

Where does this cable thing go?

In 2021, it’s pretty much expected that everyone has a drawer or corner of a room dedicated to a jumble of tech wires that resembles 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, having 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 cables and outlets needed for AV devices in the past. (Remember the red, white and yellow connections on your old VCR?)

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 it is important to get the orientation right when you plug it in.

Cable coding 101

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

Here’s what you can do to prevent confusion:

  1. 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.
  2. Once you’ve decided which type of system you like, affix the same label or colored sticker to both the cable and the port on the device.
  3. When you re-plug the cord, match the sticker on the cable to the port’s sticker.
  4. Make sure to place the sticker in the same position on each cord. Try placing it on the top of the cord, so that you can easily find the correct orientation into the port.

Simple! You will easily see where the cable fits, even in the dark reaches behind the TV. If you happen to 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.

You can use this trick for other plugs you have at home as well. You can also type the device a cord connects to and print on a mailing label to keep track of what goes where or which charger belongs with which tech item. It can especially be a challenge if several people live in your household working and schooling at home because of the quarantine!

Tap or click here for ways we have all been affected by coronavirus.

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

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