“No matter what I do, my Mac is still slow”, an average tech-consultant hears this phrase multiple times a day. Give a person even the most powerful computer, and pretty soon it will be cluttered with apps, extensions, and things that are too much for it to handle. To reverse it, one has to go back and сlean up the mess, removing memory agents one by one. Prepare for a fight — every byte of memory is at stake. So let’s put your Mac on a diet and get it more free RAM to breathe freely.
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“Your system has run out of application memory”
How do you know your Mac is low on memory? Floating “rainbow wheels” aside, you may notice your Mac now takes ages to load. You’ll also see many browser applications crashing. You’ll be also thrown warning messages as “Your system has run out of application memory”. To help it, you should first visit the Activity monitor to see memory usage on Mac.
How to check RAM usage on Mac
Go to Applications and type in Activity Monitor in the search bar. This invokes a good old Activity Monitor that should tell how much free memory you’ve got left.
A shortcut to open Activity Monitor:
Press F4 and start typing Activity Monitor in the search bar.
I’ve attached a screenshot from my Mac and as you can see my memory usage almost reached full capacity. Here’s what it all means:
App memory: taken by apps and processes
Wired memory: reserved by apps, can’t be freed up
Compressed: inactive, can be used by other apps
Swap used: memory used by macOS
Cached files: memory you can really use
Notice the colored graph under Memory Pressure. If your graph is all but red and yellow, your Mac is really gasping for fresh memory. It seems counter-intuitive, but “available memory” your Activity Monitor is not that important after all. In fact, it’s a system intended behavior to use all memory resources when available. On the contrary, the Memory Pressure graph is much more telling, so grow a habit to check this graph in the Activity Monitor every now and then.
How to check CPU usage on Mac
Open the CPU tab in Activity Monitor to keep in check CPU-heavy processes. Normally an app would be using 0-4% of CPU. If it takes abnormally more than that, go inside that particular item in the list and press the Quit button.
How to free up memory on Mac
Tip # 1. Remove Login Items to lower Mac memory usage
Login items are programs that load automatically upon Mac startup. Some of them covertly add themselves to the list and this is no good. If you’re looking to free up RAM, they are the first candidates for deletion. Don’t worry, you’re not deleting the app itself, you just stop it from auto-launching every time.
So, to remove Login Items and at the same time reduce your memory usage of your Mac, you need to:
- Open System Preferences and select Users & Groups.
- Click your nickname on the left.
- Select the Login Items tab.
- Check programs you don’t want to load as your Mac starts.
- Press the “–” sign below.
Now, you won’t see these apps pop up the moment you turn on your Mac. Although this method doesn’t require some superpowers of yours, some special Mac optimization and memory cleaner tools may do the job faster and ensure the smooth performance of your Mac. CleanMyMac X is an excellent example of such software. Here’s how to disable Login Items with CleanMyMac X:
- Download it for free and go to the Optimization tab.
- Check Login Items to see the list of apps that get opened when you start your Mac.
- Click Remove.
As you’ve already come to the Optimization module of CleanMyMac, you can also fix hung apps and heavy memory consumers there. In this way, you’ll free up the solid amount of RAM on Mac — 100% free of charge.
Tip # 2. Free up disk space if Mac is low on memory
The available space on your Mac’s drive translates into virtual memory. This comes to save you when you’ve run out of physical RAM. So now your computer relies on your hard drive space to keep your apps going.
The classic geek rule of thumb holds it that you should keep at least 20% of disk space on your startup drive. Not only this potentially reduces your future spending on iCloud storage but it also keeps your Mac speedier.
What to delete to free up space:
- Large unused files, like movies
- Old downloads
- Rarely used applications
- System junk
But here’s a simpler solution to save your time — clean up your drive with CleanMyMac X— the app I’ve mentioned above. Many users recommend it as an excellent way to free up more space because it searches for large & old files, useless system files, Photo junk, mail attachments and shows everything you can safely delete. Interestingly, it finds about 74 GB of junk on an average computer.
Extra trick: How to free up RAM on Mac with CleanMyMac X
If you have downloaded CleanMyMac, you may also take advantage of its amazing feature — the ability to free up RAM in a few seconds. Try this next time you see “Your system has run out of application memory” message.
- Go to the Maintenance tab on the left.
- Click Free Up RAM.
- Click Run.
As simple as that!
And you can do it even if you download a free version of the app.
Tip # 3. Clean up your Desktop
This tip always comes at the bottom of instructions and unfairly so as it is quite effective. Without even looking at your Desktop I would assume it’s cluttered with mountains of icons. Thing is, your macOS was designed in a way that it treats every Desktop icon as a little active window. The more icons, the heavier memory usage on Mac. So in order to release available memory resources, it’s recommended to keep your Desktop clean.
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. With apps like Declutter and Spotless, every desktop cleaning session will be scheduled in advance and executed automatically. Your only job is to define the rules on how your files should be organized.
Tip #4. Clear cache files
Another way to free up RAM on Mac is to clear it of cache files. Of course, it won’t save you gigabytes of space, but deleting cache regularly, you can help your Mac run faster and avoid system issues.
So, to remove cache files on your Mac, you need to:
- Open Finder.
- From the Go menu, select Go to Folder.
- Type ~/Library/Caches in the field and press Go.
- In the window that appears, you will see all your cache files.
- Press Command+A to select all files or delete files one by one.
- Enter your user name and password to confirm.
If you find some files still in the folder after you emptied it, maybe you have some windows open on your Mac. Just like that, you can save up some space on your Mac. Don’t forget to empty the bin afterward.
Tip # 5. Tune up Chrome’s Task Manager
Although Google Chrome is not the one to blame for massive memory usage, it can indeed affect your Mac's performance. If you use Chrome as your primary browser, you probably have many windows opened there. Chrome runs a lot of processes to ensure a fast browsing experience for you. So, it uses your RAM for storing your tabs, plugins, and extensions. Look at how many entries Google Chrome has in Activity Monitor:
The question then arises, 'Why does Chrome use so much RAM?' The thing is that each process is responsible for a separate plugin or extension of your browser. For example, when a tab unexpectedly falls, you need to refresh it to continue your work there. If one process were responsible for all tabs and extensions, you would need to restart the whole browser instead. Can you imagine how many times would you do that? That’s the proper answer to why Chrome uses so much RAM.
I’ve been using Chrome for some years only to discover (recently) that Chrome had a task manager of its own. You can use it to force quit memory-heavy processes in the browser. It’s a handy tool because it lets you see how a page weighs on CPU usage on a Mac.
- Go to Chrome settings (dotted icon in the top right corner)
- Click More tools -> Task Manager
To free up even more RAM, close the GPU process. The GPU Process, though helpful in theory to accelerate pages, eats up a considerable amount of memory. Click to end it to free up RAM on your Mac.
Tip # 6. Manage RAM usage with CleanMyMac X menu
CleanMyMac X has another useful and convenient feature for managing your Mac’s performance and memory usage. As you install CleanMyMac X and start it for the first time, it’s icon will appear in your menu bar. Click the icon to open the CleanMyMac X menu. Here you can find updates on the current condition of your Mac and perform quick tweaks to increase your Mac's speed. Whenever you feel like your Mac underperforms, open the CleanMyMac X menu to check how much RAM is available and free it up as well.
Tip # 7. Close Finder windows
Okay, suppose you’re still asking yourself, how do I clear RAM on my MacBook Pro/MacBook Air. The next trick is as magical (you’ll see for yourself) as it is time-saving. It’s no secret that each window in the Finder eats up RAM. But how many open windows are there? Some of them are collapsed or stacked in some blind spot on your screen. This Finder command merges all your windows into one. See how to do it:
Click on Finder > Window > Merge All Windows
Now you can manage Finder windows more effectively and free up memory on MacBook.
What else you can do to minimize memory usage on Mac
I’ve saved the easiest tips for the end, as long as these ones are self-explanatory.
- Replace AdBlock (very memory-demanding) with a lighter extension
- Keep fewer opened tabs in the browser
- Restart your Mac more often to free up RAM
- Close all hung-up print queues
That was my take on how to make your Mac a bit speedier to use. If you’re looking for more guidance, check simple ways to speed up your Mac.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to check application memory on Mac?
To check RAM usage on your Mac, go to Activity Monitor (Applications > Utilities). In the Memory tab, you will see all the active processes that are using your Mac’s RAM. At the end of the window, there is a Memory Used graph, which indicates how much application memory is used.
How to find out whether your Mac needs more RAM?
Your Mac may be using almost all its RAM, but you don’t need more if it’s using it efficiently. Open Activity Monitor and go to the Memory tab. The Memory Pressure graph shows the current condition of your RAM: green color means your Mac’s using RAM effectively, while yellow is a sign that some application or process is using too much of application memory. The red memory pressure signals that your Mac needs more RAM.
How to quickly free up RAM on your MacBook?
To free up RAM on your Mac, firstly, you should find out what app uses so much of your memory. The memory-heavy programs are listed in Activity Monitor, Memory tab. If there is an app you aren’t using at the moment, click it and press the “X” sign to quit it. This will, in turn, free some of the application memory.
When you use up all of the available RAM on your computer, you may notice that your device struggles to complete tasks. If you find that your computer’s applications are frequently crashing and it takes longer to do simple tasks, then you might be wondering how to free up RAM on your computer.
What is RAM?
Your computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is stored on a memory chip that is typically found on the motherboard. This where your computer stores short term data. RAM is the hub of storage for all active and running programs and processes. Your computer uses the information it has stored in RAM to complete tasks while simultaneously receiving and performing other functions.
When you use up all of the available RAM memory, your computer’s performance can slow down because it doesn’t have the storage required to complete its tasks. When you clear RAM space, it gives your computer the capability to carry out tasks. Depending on your computer, there are a few different ways you can free up RAM space.
How to Make the Most of Your RAM
It can be easy to use up your RAM because it supports so many functions. Before you start removing programs from your computer, try these quick fixes to free up RAM space.
Restart Your Computer
The first thing you can try to free up RAM is restarting your computer. When you restart or turn off your computer, all of your RAM (stored data) will be wiped clean and programs will be rebooted. This can potentially clear out some processes and programs that are running behind the scenes, taking up your RAM storage.
Update Your Software
It’s important to be running the most updated versions of your computer software and applications. Older renditions of software and apps can take more memory to process, causing your computer to slow down.
Try a Different Browser
Something else you can try is changing browsers, as some have been known to use more data than others. If you’re not already, try using a browser like Chrome or Firefox, which are typically good browsers for memory management.
Clear Your Cache
If you still find yourself short on RAM, the next option is to try deleting your cache. Sometimes your cache can take up a lot of space because it uses RAM for memory functions. The cache holds on to information that your computer uses to reload pages it has seen before rather than downloading them again. This can save you time when browsing, but if you are short on RAM, it’s something you can sacrifice with minimal effect.
Remove Browser Extensions
Many of your daily work and home computer operations have been made easy by the use of browser extensions. However, they also require memory, so you might want to think about disabling or removing your extensions.
5 Ways to Free up RAM on Windows 10
If you are still having trouble freeing up your RAM storage, you might have too many programs and applications without even knowing. Try these five ways to free up RAM storage for Windows 10 computers.
1. Track Memory and Clean Up Processes
You should monitor your computer RAM usage so that you don’t deplete your supply before you really need it. To monitor your computer’s memory, you can navigate to the task manager to check the processes. This is where you’ll be able to see which programs are running and what kind of space they are taking up.
To locate your computer memory:
- Hold the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys to open the Task Manager.
- Select the “Processes” tab.
- Click the “Memory” column to view how much space they are taking up.
You can now see which of your programs are taking up the most time and space on your computer. If you find anything suspicious eating up your memory, you should delete programs you don’t need or use.
2. Disable Startup Programs You Don’t Need
If you have used your computer for at least a few years, then you have probably downloaded a fair amount of software that you either forgot about or no longer use. After the processes tab tells you which programs use the most space, you will want to maneuver to the startup tab to stop those you no longer need.
To disable startup programs:
- Select the “Startup” tab from the Task Manager.
- Click “Startup impact” to organize the programs from high to low usage.
- Right-click to disable any programs that you don’t need.
Startup programs are those that activate when your computer is booted up. When these programs start, each one takes up a little bit of RAM in the background without your consent. After a while, all of the software and programs can add up. Be sure that the ones that aren’t needed are disabled or removed.
3. Stop Running Background Apps
The next items that could be taking up RAM are your applications that are set to automatically run in the background. You may have used your computer for years before noticing some of these apps taking up your RAM storage. This can quickly exhaust your memory, battery, and data bandwidth.
To stop background apps:
- Go to computer settings.
- Click the “Privacy” category.
- Scroll down the panel on the left side to “Background Apps.”
- Turn off any apps you do not use.
Applications are often automatically set to run in the background of your device. This enables them to display notifications and update their software automatically. By turning this off on apps you don’t use, you can save RAM storage.
4. Clear Page File When Shutting Down
When you restart your computer, your page files don’t get cleared or reset because unlike RAM, they get stored on the hard drive. So, when RAM gets stored on-page files it does not get cleared with the rest at shutdown.
Clearing page files on your hard drive will clear any RAM it has stored and help keep your computer running efficiently. You can set this to automatically clear when your computer shuts down, just like the RAM. Do this by opening the Registry Editor:
- Type “Registry Editor” into the start menu search bar.
- Click “Yes” to allow Registry Editor to make changes to your device.
- On the left, scroll to and select “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.”
- Scroll to select “SYSTEM.”
- Select “CurrentControlSet.”
- Find and select “Control.”
- Scroll to select “Session Manager.”
- Look for and choose “Memory Management.”
- Select “ClearPageFileAtShutdown.”
- Enter the number “1” under the value data and hit OK.
5. Reduce Visual Effects
With improving technologies, there are many more possibilities for computer effects and visuals. For example, you can turn off the animations for apps and icons that use storage for unnecessary effects. If you seem to be running low on RAM storage, there are some effects you can shelve until you free up more memory.
To access your computer’s visual effects:
- Open your File Explorer.
- Right-click on “This PC” on the left-side panel to select properties.
- Click “Advanced system settings” on the left.
- Select the “Advanced” tab.
- Choose settings under the “Performance” category.
- Change to “Adjust for best performance.”
This setting will disable all animated features on your computer. This will create more storage for you, but limit your computer’s aesthetics significantly. However, you can also customize which visual effects your computer will perform to your preferences in the same tab.
5 Ways to Free up RAM on Mac
For Mac users, there are many convenient tools to monitor and free up RAM storage on your computer.
How To Free Up Space On Ram Mac
1. Fix the Finder (Close Finder Windows Too)
When you open a new window in the finder, the data each window displays gets stored as RAM. Adjusting the finder preferences can make your folders open in tabs rather than new finder windows.
To open your Finder Preferences:
- Click “Finder” in the top left of your screen.
- Right-click on “Preferences” from the dropdown options.
- Check to Open folders in tabs instead of new windows.
There is another way to clear RAM storage by merging your Finder windows. To do this you will select the “Window” dropdown rather than Finder. From there you will select “Merge All Windows” to put all your Finder windows into one place. This will save you on storage as well as declutter your desktop.
2. Check Activity Monitor
To keep track of your RAM usage on Mac you can check the Activity Monitor, which shows you how much memory is being used and what is using it. Utilize the Activity Monitor to determine which apps take up most of your storage. Remove the ones you no longer use.
To Check the Activity Monitor:
- Search “Activity Monitor” in the spotlight search bar (command + space).
- Click on the “Memory” tab.
- Remove unwanted applications.
3. Check CPU Usage
You can also use the Activity Monitor app to check your CPU health and usage. CPU is your Central Processing Unit, and it carries out instructions from the computer software information stored as RAM.
To monitor your CPU, just select the “CPU” tab in front of the memory tab. This is where you can see if any apps take more processing power than others.
4. Clean-Up Programs and Applications
If you are looking to keep a consistently healthy amount of RAM storage, then you will want to keep your computer clean and organized. A cluttered desktop is going to use storage much faster because macOS views each desktop icon as an active window. Even if you don’t think you can organize your files, putting everything into one general folder can free up a lot of RAM.
5. Free up Disk Space
If you find that your RAM is completely full, but you’re still in need of storage, you can use free space on your Mac’s drive called virtual memory. This extra storage is found on Mac computer’s hard drives so that you can continue running apps. The function is always on, however to use virtual memory you will need to be sure you have driver space available to swap.
Additional Ways to Free up RAM on Windows or Mac
The best thing to do is to be proactive with your computer’s RAM so that you don’t have to worry about freeing up space. Use these additional ways to keep your RAM storage free.
How To Clear Space On Ram Pc
Install a Memory/RAM Cleaner
If you find that you do not have the time, or you just cannot manage to organize your computer, there are memory cleaner apps to help you disinfect your computer. Many of these cleaners have special features for removing apps or extensions and allow users to manage their startup programs.
You can always add more RAM to your computer if you have a lot of information you don’t want to delete. Buying and installing RAM is easy to do for a desktop computer, but can be troublesome for laptops. Be sure that you invest in the correct type of RAM for your computer as well as the correct amount for your specific storage needs.
Scan for Virus and Malware
Free Ram Cleaner For Windows 10
When you download any software programs or extensions to your computer there is the chance they could have a virus or malware attached. Once you have malware on your computer, it can steal both your information and your RAM space. To prevent picking up any malware or viruses try using Panda Security antivirus to protect your computer and memory.
How To Clear Space On Ram Windows 7
Now is the time to stop file hoarding. Many of the files on your computer are taking up RAM space without you realizing it. Now you know how to safely declutter your computer of these unused files and how to free up RAM so your computer runs more efficiently.
Sources: ComputerHope WindowsCentral HelloTech DigitalTrends