If there is ever a time that your Mac suddenly becomes very slow and unresponsive – even crashing – then it’s a very good sign that the Mac has a memory problem. To solve the problem you’ll need to consider the following: first, does your Mac have enough physical memory to run all the apps you’re trying to use? Second, what software is using the most of the computer's hardware resources? And lastly, how can you quickly release the pressure from your memory modules?
Quickly Identify Memory-Draining Apps
Due to the hardware requirements, newer Macs come with at least 8GB of RAM to ensure a smooth user experience, but the same cannot be said for older models. So, as a first step, check the amount of RAM you have installed and upgrade your Mac using our RAM upgrade guide.
After ensuring that your Mac has enough RAM (the obvious question is how much is enough? We recommend maxing out the amount of RAM the Mac supports), the next phase is to hunt down those memory hogging apps that are slowing down the computer. Fortunately, macOS provides a nice and easy way to quickly identify memory-draining apps: just launch Activity Monitor by either locating it in the Applications > Utilities folder, or typing the app's name into Spotlight and hitting enter when the search suggestion shows it.
Another way to identify memory-consuming apps is by using a third party app that monitors your Mac's overall health. For this we recommend iStat Menus, but TG Pro or the free XRG app are also good solutions. We have a section specific to monitoring apps.
Having the statistics in the menu bar is very convenient, but if you don't want to pay for such an app, iStat Menus developer Bjango also has a widget to install in the Dashboard to show the stats. However, you can't compare the two: with visual information displayed in the menu bar you can solve the issue more quickly, as the waiting time for loading the dashboard and the widget is eliminated, which can depend on the severity of the problem and hardware configuration.
How to Reduce High Memory Usage Using Activity Monitor
iStat Menus shows you if there is a problem, but unfortunately won't solve it for you. Instead, it offers a variety of tools, which brings us back to Activity Monitor. Apple's built-in system doctor is very useful and has powers third party apps simply don't. Under the “Memory” tab, you'll get to identify the processes with the highest memory usage and have the option to either “Quit” or “Force Quit” them. Use the second option if you don't succeed with “Quit”.
How to Reduce High Memory Usage Using Mac Optimization Apps
Typically Mac optimization apps won’t go into the same level of detail as iStat Menus or Activity Monitor, but software such as CleanMyMac, MacBooster, MacKeeper, and the like do have one especially handy feature. These programs monitor your Mac and include tools to quickly release strain on your memory.
With CleanMyMac, for example, monitoring memory usage becomes easier than ever thanks to the mini app running in the menu bar. Here you’ll see how much RAM is in use with a click of a button – the information will be displayed in the drop-down window – while more details can be discovered in the dashboard, such as how RAM is distributed between different categories of data.
If you notice performance issues caused by high memory usage, CleanMyMac and other Mac optimization apps have the right tools for a quick fix: just click the “Free Up” button, and you'll ease the pressure on your RAM modules immediately. But please note that this is just a temporary fix and to get to the root cause of continuous performance issues we recommend taking a closer look at the details provided by either the Mac optimization app in the combination with Activity Monitor to discover which processes and apps are the memory hoggers for your system. This combination of tools will help you identify and crack down on memory draining apps and make your Mac fly again.
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