Let’s not fool ourselves. There are few things that bother you more than your Mac or MacBook going slower than normal. Or that an application you were using suddenly stops working. Luckily, all this has a solution.
It is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, one of the reasons why these situations occur is because the RAM of your computer or laptop is being used to the fullest. This slows down its performance.
Here are some tips to free space in your RAM. And to optimize the memory of your Mac or MacBook in general. In addition, we also tell you what steps to follow when your RAM is full.
What is RAM?
Before proceeding with the advice, it is important to remember what exactly we mean when we talk about RAM. It’s an acronym for random-access memory.
RAM is that storage that is used for the tasks and processes that are taking place at that moment. Being faster than the rest of storage, the Mac reserves part of its memory to speed up some of its processes.
Most Macs come with 8 GB of RAM, although it is possible to find older models with only 4 GB of RAM. These capacities are usually sufficient if you do not use very demanding programs and games.
Even so, even users who usually perform only very basic tasks may encounter memory problems associated with a RAM that is frozen or poorly designed programs and web pages.
For bad luck, it is very complicated to add RAM on a Mac. Sometimes it can be done, but it is probably not the best solution for everyone and that is why in this article we are going to give you other tips.
Another option is to download an application from external developers that promises to optimize the RAM of your computer. You should know, however, that this is not usually necessary since macOS is able to manage your RAM efficiently.
Symptoms that you are running out of RAM
How to know if you are running out of space in your RAM? There are several signals that will alert you that it is indeed time for you to release your RAM, that is, to follow the advice that we give you later.
- Rotating beach ball on the cursor
- Message “Your system has run out of application memory”
- Excessive loading of programs and tools
- Failed applications
How to free RAM from your Mac
Before installing more RAM or using an application from external developers, there are other steps you can take that will help you free up space in your RAM and solve those problems related to those you may have encountered.
1. Restart your Mac
The easiest way to free up space in your RAM is to simply restart your Mac. When it is restarted, the RAM memory you were using at that moment will be erased, as well as the cache, so it will be like starting over from scratch.
Now, you should know that this is not always advisable, especially if you have not been able to save important information or do not want to lose all the windows you had open. Think about it very well before restarting your device.
2. Update the macOS
Often, the solution to your RAM problems will be found in a system update. If this is a common problem among macOS users, Apple may have solved it in its latest operating system update.
3. Check the Activity Monitor
When you find yourself with a slow Mac or a frozen app, the first thing you have to do is check the Activity Monitor, a tool on your Mac that you’ll find in the ‘Utilities’ folder in the ‘Applications’ folder of the Finder.
In the Activity Monitor you can see how much memory is being used and thus identify if a specific application is occupying too much RAM. You can also see all the processes that are taking place and the RAM they use.
In the section ‘Memory’, you can check the memory of applications -the one that is being used by the programs-, the physical memory -the one reserved for applications and that can not be deleted- and the compressed memory -which can not be used by other apps-.
The number that accompanies the ‘Cache’ section will indicate the available memory that you are not using at that moment, while the section ‘Exchange space used’ indicates the memory that macOS occupies.
On the other hand, in the box ‘Pressure of memory’ a graph is shown that will indicate the pressure to which the system is subjected. If you are running out of memory, this chart will be yellow or red in the worst of circumstances.
How to free memory using the Activity Monitor
1 . Open the Activity Monitor that you will find in the ‘ Utilities ‘ folder under ‘ Applications ‘.
2 . Select the ‘ Memory ‘ tab .
3 . Click on the column ‘ Memory ‘ so that the processes are computerized by the use they are making of the memory. This will let you know, with just a glance, which applications or processes are making the most use of RAM.
4 . Once you have located this app, select it and click on the information icon in the form of a circle and with an ‘ i ‘ in the center. This will give you information about how much RAM that program is using.
5 . If you consider it appropriate, you can close any process by selecting it first and clicking on the icon with an ‘ x ‘ in the center to force its exit.
If it is a web page, what this will do is update it, not close the browser. On the other hand, if it is a program, closing it in the Activity Monitor will close the application itself, so you can lose unsaved changes.
On the other hand, you should not close any process that you do not know what it refers to, since your Mac may need it to work correctly.
4. Close suspicious applications
In the previous section, we have shown you how to know which applications are the ones that are depleting the resources of your RAM. On some occasions, you may not even realize that they were working in the background.
That is why it is worth closing them. You do not necessarily have to check what applications are open in the Activity Monitor. Often the simplest thing is to take a look at your Dock.
How to close a program from Dock
To close a program that you have open from the Dock, just right click on the icon that appears in the Dock and select ‘ Exit ‘ from the drop-down menu. In the case of a hung application, you must select ‘ Force exit ‘.
How to disable programs that run when you log in
Often, some of these applications that run in the background and that deplete our RAM resources are programs that run automatically when we log in. This has a solution.
1 . Open ‘ System Preferences ‘ and click on the ‘ Users and Groups ‘ section.
2 . In case it is not already selected, select the corresponding user in the list on the left
3 . Now, click on ‘ Start ‘ and you will see a list of all those applications that open automatically when you start your Mac.
4 . To eliminate those that do not interest you, you must select them from the list and click on the ‘ – ‘ button .
5. Check the performance of the CPU
You should also know that, when your computer goes slower than usual, often the applications that may be causing it are not necessarily running out of RAM. Sometimes, these programs are using a lot of the CPU power.
To check whether this is the case or not, you can also take a look at the Activity Monitor.
1 . Open the Activity Monitor, a tool that you will find in the ‘ Utilities ‘ folder inside the ‘ Applications ‘ folder.
2 . Next, select the ‘ CPU ‘ tab , if it is not already selected.
3 . Click on the ‘ % CPU ‘ column to sort all processes and applications according to the CPU usage they are making.
4 . You should check if there is any unusual use of the central processing unit, such as if an application or process is using too high a percentage of CPU.
5 . Once this application or suspicious process is located, select it and click on the ‘ x‘ icon to force its exit.
How to optimize and maximize the RAM of your Mac
If, having tried all of the above, you still do not have too much RAM available, you will be interested to know what you should do to maximize what you have left. To optimize the RAM of your Mac, we recommend that you follow these tips.
1. Clean your desk
If your desktop is full of documents, images, screenshots and other types of files, it is worth doing a cleaning, or at least putting everything in the same folder. The more icons you have on your desktop, the more RAM will be used.
2. Configure your Finder
If when opening your Finder you open the ‘Recent’ folder or the ‘All my files’ folder, we recommend that you change this configuration since all the information about the location of the files stored there will be stored in your RAM.
To do this, go to Finder and click on the ‘ Preferences ‘ tab on the top toolbar. In the new window, select the ‘ General ‘ section and select another folder with fewer files from the drop-down menu.
Once you have made this change, you must restart Finder to be saved. To do so, just left click on the Finder icon in the Dock while pressing the ‘ Alt ‘ key and choose the option ‘ Force reboot ‘.
3. Close tabs of your web browser
One of the reasons that your RAM is running low may be to have many websites open. We also recommend removing extensions that you have installed in your browser, as this may also be causing it.
4. Close or merge Finder windows
Each Finder window you have open has some impact on the RAM, which means that closing them all can be a solution, as well as merging the various windows by clicking on the ‘ Window ‘ tab , followed by ‘ Merge all the windows ‘.
5. Make sure you have free space on your hard drive
If you’re running out of space in your RAM, you can use your Mac’s disk as virtual memory. That is why, in these cases, it is advisable to have free space on the hard disk, at least 20%.
6. Check your printer
If you have recently been using the printer, you may send a document that is still in the print queue to print. Check if this is the case or not to dismiss it as guilty that your RAM is running low.
7. Use the sudo command in Terminal
Although this trick is not recommended if you are not a computer expert, the truth is that a possible solution would be to open the Terminal tool and write ‘sudo purge’. You must enter your password and wait for the inactive memory to be cleaned.
8. Clean the cache
Another possible solution is to erase the accumulated cache on your Mac or MacBook, although we do not recommend it if you do not know what you are doing. In any case, these are the steps to follow:
1 . Open Finder, click on the ‘ Go ‘ tab on the toolbar and select ‘ Go to the folder ‘ from the drop-down menu.
2 . Enter the following command: ‘ ~ / Library / Caches / ‘.
3 . There you will find files that you may want to delete to clean the cache, but be careful and do not delete a file that the system needs to work.
9. Use a program to clean the RAM of your Mac
As we said at the beginning, it should not be necessary to install an external program to manage the RAM, since the macOS usually does a good job in this regard. However, there are some applications that we do recommend.
This program offers more than 30 tools, including the so-called ‘Free memory’. We also recommend that you take advantage of others such as ‘Find duplicates’, as it will help you get rid of files that you do not need and take up a lot of space.
If you install CleanMyMac X on your Mac, you will receive an alert when your RAM is running low. Simply use your tool to release it and you will see that nothing will return your computer or laptop as quickly as before.
Memory Clean 2 by Fliplab
This application will allow you to eliminate inactive memory, something recommendable to do after using a very intense app. Some of the best features are also available in the free version, although you may want to bet on the paid version.