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How to reduce memory usage on a Mac

18.10.2021

What is RAM?

In simple terms, RAM – Random Access Memory – is a kind of buffer or intermediary between the storage device and the processor. For example, you open several tabs in a Web browser or start any program. Any computational processes and command execution are handled by the processor. But, to optimize its work and unload a large number of short-term processes the RAM is used. Thus, information about open tabs in the browser, or the procedures currently being executed in the programs are stored in RAM.

Do I need more RAM?

Most base MacBooks and iMacs come with 8GB and 16GB of RAM in their most basic configurations. In more advanced configurations, that figure can be as high as 32GB, 64GB, or even 128GB mac memory. So which size is enough? It depends on what you want your computer to do. For simple day-to-day tasks, surfing the web and using text editors, 8GB should suffice. If you haven't figured it out yet how much RAM you will need, just choose your main task and select a Mac based on it:

texts processing 4 GB
browsers 8+ GB
music and track writing 8 GB
front-end programming 8-16 GB
2d graphics 16 GB
photo processing 16 GB
animation design 16 GB
video editing 16 GB
3d graphics creation 16 GB
working with spreadsheets 16 GB
back-end programming 16-32 GB
serious multitasking 32 GB

If you plan to engage in professional video editing, graphics creation, 3D visualization etc., you should consider buying a Mac with at least 32GB of RAM. The same goes for computer games, especially modern, performance-demanding ones.

How to Fix Your System Application Memory

One warning indicator is when your system is out of application memory, and you need to increase the storage space. But why? When you have installed a ton of applications on your dashboard, and many of them are running simultaneously, your Mac is likely to have problems. Some of the causes are:

  • excess system multitasking;
  • modern demanding browsers;
  • running many apps simultaneously;
  • Web browser updates;
  • a full hard disk!

Your Mac can run out of memory and exhibit symptoms that affect different functions. For example, apps can take a long time to launch, and files may take longer to open. You can use the following solutions to find out how to eliminate the out of memory issue:

  • through Activity Monitor there are many things you can check to see how your system is performing, including CPU, memory, disk usage, etc.;
  • uninstall unnecessary apps and remove downloads: this can be done manually from the apps folder:
    • use the Finder icon to open the applications folder;
    • locate the application icon you want to uninstall and then right-click on it;
    • select Move to Trash from the drop-down menu;
    • empty the Trash!
  • creating free space on your hard disk drive is about removing some files and creating a backup on your PC or an external hard drive;
  • remove unnecessary browser extensions;
  • clear cache files;
  • have fewer windows open: in applications such as browsers, websites can easily be added to bookmarks, so you don't lose them. The activity of other applications can be saved.

In addition, applications can crash due to your Mac's memory being exhausted. This is because the CPU can no longer access its files. This can be dangerous for you if you are doing delicate work as your progress can easily get lost. In extreme cases, your Mac OS may not work properly.

How to check RAM usage on Mac

One way how to check memory on mac if your system's performance problem is due to a lack of capacity in RAM is to use the Activity Monitor:

1. launch Activity Monitor by holding down the Command key and pressing the spacebar. This opens a small Spotlight window where you can type Activity and select the Activity Monitor option;

2. select the Memory tab in the row at the top of the window and you will be presented with all the processes currently using RAM;

3. if you find that some of them are for applications that you are not using or should not be running, you can highlight them and then click the cross icon in the top left corner of the window to forcibly close the application;

4. At the bottom of the list, you will see a summary area showing how much RAM you have installed and how much is currently being used by your system. This can be a little tricky as macOS often uses as much RAM as is available to run tasks, but if you see it consistently at 100% or so, then the problem could be that your Mac has to free up RAM!

However, you don't have to add more chips to your machine, as there are plenty of applications and methods that can help your system manage its use. Take a look at how to free up memory (RAM) on your Mac to learn some quick ways to increase the speed of your device.

How to check CPU usage on Mac

The Activity Monitor application available natively in macOS under Applications > Utilities can prove to be a very useful tool as it allows even the most inexperienced user to keep an eye on their computer and find out if a process is taking up too much memory, so you know how to free up memory if a new application is hindering video editing or something like that.

Just launch the application to take a look at the list of processes, sorting them according to your needs (by percentage of CPU required, by memory, energy impact, bytes written and so on). After launching the Activity Monitor app, simply right-click on the icon and move the cursor over the Dock icon, which includes monitoring of particular activities, thus replacing the icon with a real-time updated graph by selecting the desired option.

You can choose between Show CPU usage, CPU history, network usage and disk activity. Each of these options activates a new icon for this purpose. You can then simply minimize the app to hide its interface while leaving it active in the background.

Microsoft Edge may take up a lot of CPU resources and memory on macOS. If it is the case, you may try to clear cache and browsing history, disable Microsoft Defender SmartScreen or browser extensions, reset Microsoft Edge.

How to free up memory on Mac

A simple method how to free up ram on Mac with the latest versions of OS X is to pick About this Mac from the Apple menu and hit on Storage: a graph will be displayed that allows you to see the space occupied by applications, movies, audio files (different colours are used) and figure out where to start. In case the space is mostly taken up with movies or photos, you should try to move such files to a different disk or delete them from the documents folder or wherever they are stored.

Disabling all unnecessary programs set at system startup is one of the first things how to free up RAM (or rather, prevent it from filling up as soon as the machine is turned on). To begin with, go to System Preferences by clicking the gear icon on the Dock bar, hit the Users and Groups icon in the window that opens, and select your username from the left-hand sidebar. Then click on the Login Items tab at the top right, tap on the icon of a program you do not want to start automatically from the list and click the (-) button at the bottom left to remove it.

You ca also use Macflypro memory cleaner, a well-known all-in-one solution, that allows you to optimize macOS performance and free up disk space, including freeing up RAM occupied by applications that are no longer in use on a computer (but which macOS continues to keep in memory, as long as possible, in case they are needed).

How to get rid of low memory notifications

Typically, “Your system has run out of application memory” is a browser-based scam. You will see an error pop-up message telling you that your computer's memory is low. To get rid of such messages, you need to find and remove the process causing it. You can view the running processes on your Mac through the standard System Monitoring application. You can find it through Launchpad, Spotlight search, or in the Programs folder.

In the Processes tab, you can try to find an unneeded one as soon as the dialog box appears. You can try to track a malicious process through any firewall application. To do this you will have to restrict network connectivity to all processes and give it only to known programs. When a new process asks for a network connection you will know its name and you will be able to locate the problem file.

You can also try to remove the process from the autorun. To do this in the Finder app, go to /Libraries/LaunchAgents. Unnecessary and suspicious processes here can run the very malicious agent that gives the message. As the most extreme measure, you can restore the system from a recent backup (before installing the suspicious software or at a time when no such errors occurred).

 


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