How to Lower RAM (Memory) Usage on Mac

Edwin Parker
By Edwin Parker 15 Min Read
15 Min Read
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Hey there, Mac user! Ever felt like your beloved Mac is moving at a snail’s pace? It’s like trying to run a race with your feet stuck in mud, right? That sluggishness could be because your Mac’s memory, also known as RAM, is all filled up. Don’t worry, though! You’re in the perfect spot to get the lowdown on how to check your Mac’s memory usage and, even better, how to free up some of that precious memory space.

In this super helpful guide, we’re going to chat about what memory (RAM) really is, why it’s like the secret sauce that keeps your Mac zippy, and how you can check if your Mac is running low on this magical ingredient. And here’s the best part: I’ll show you some easy-peasy ways to free up memory so that your Mac can go from sluggish to super-speedy in no time. Ready to give your Mac a memory makeover? Let’s dive in!

What Is RAM?

Ever wondered what makes your Mac tick (or in this case, click and swipe)? Meet RAM, also known as Random Access Memory. Think of RAM like a superhero’s sidekick – it’s there to help your Mac handle all the tasks and processes you throw at it, making sure everything runs smoothly and swiftly.

RAM is a bit like the secret ingredient that decides how fast your Mac can think on its feet. The more RAM your Mac has, the quicker it can juggle different tasks. Imagine trying to bake a cake, do your homework, and play a video game all at the same time – you’d need a lot of space and energy, right? That’s what RAM does for your Mac.

Just like your Mac’s internal storage, RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB). But here’s the cool part: RAM is like the Usain Bolt of memory – it’s super fast at reading data. That speed is crucial when your Mac is trying to do a million things at once.

Most Macs come with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM. Now, you might be thinking, “Is that enough?” For everyday stuff like browsing the web, watching videos, and working on documents, 8GB is usually plenty. But if you’re into the heavy-duty stuff like 3D design, video editing, graphic designing, or playing big, fancy games, you might need more RAM to keep things running smoothly.

So, if you find your Mac lagging a bit, it could be a sign that it’s craving more RAM. Don’t worry, though – we’ll get into how you can check your RAM usage and free up space in just a bit!

How to Check Memory (RAM) Usage on Mac

Curious about what’s gobbling up all the memory on your Mac? Let’s turn detective and find out! It’s super easy to check which apps and processes are hogging your memory, and all it takes is a quick peek at the Activity Monitor. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Starting the Search: First, click on the magnifying glass icon in the menu bar. That’s your Spotlight search – think of it as your Mac’s own detective tool.
  2. Finding the Activity Monitor: In the Spotlight search, type “Activity Monitor” and hit Enter. This is where the magic happens!
  3. The Memory Tab: Once the Activity Monitor opens, click on the “Memory” tab. Here, you’ll see a list of all the things your Mac is currently thinking about (a.k.a. ongoing processes) and how much memory each one is using.
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Now, let’s decode what you see in the Activity Monitor:

  • Memory Pressure: This is like a traffic light for your Mac’s memory. Green means all good, and memory resources are available.
  • Physical RAM: This shows how much RAM your Mac has in total.
  • Memory Used: This tells you how much memory is being used by everything running on your Mac.
  • App Memory: This is the memory used specifically by your apps and their processes.
  • Wired Memory: Think of this as ‘reserved’ memory that can’t be moved or squished down.
  • Compressed: This is like your Mac putting some of its thoughts into a smaller box to make room for more.
  • Cached Files: These are bits of memory that apps used recently and have left behind, but they can be reused by other apps.
  • Swap Used: This is extra memory that your Mac creates by borrowing space from your storage when it runs out of RAM.

How to Lower Memory (RAM) Usage on Mac

So, you’ve figured out that your Mac’s memory is a bit on the stressed side. No worries! It’s time to give it a little breathing room. Let’s dive into some straightforward and effective ways to free up that RAM and get your Mac running smoothly again.

1. Restart Your Mac

The simplest trick in the book? Just restart your Mac. Why does this work? Because RAM is like your Mac’s short-term memory. Restarting clears out all those temporary files, giving you a fresh start.

2. Free Up RAM with Terminal

If restarting sounds like too much of a hassle (especially if you’ve got a million tabs open), there’s a more tech-savvy way: using the Terminal.

Here’s how: Open Terminal through Spotlight, type in sudo purge, and hit Enter. You’ll need to enter your admin password. This command tells your Mac to clear out the RAM without the need for a full restart.

3. Free Up RAM with Third-Party Tools

If you’re not a fan of diving into settings and commands, a third-party tool like BuhoCleaner can be a lifesaver. It’s a simple tool that frees up RAM with just a click.

Download and install BuhoCleaner, open it, and click on ‘ToolKit’ > ‘Free Up RAM’ > ‘Start’. It’s quick and easy. Plus, BuhoCleaner has other cool features like junk file cleaning, app uninstallation, and more.

4. Tidy Up Your Desktop

Did you know? Every icon on your macOS desktop is treated as an active window. So, a cluttered desktop equals more memory usage.

Time for some desktop decluttering! You don’t even need a third-party app for this. Just right-click on your desktop and choose ‘Use Stacks’. This neat little feature will automatically organize your files into tidy groups.

5. Disable Login Items

Login items are those programs that eagerly jump into action the moment you log into your Mac. They’re helpful, sure, but sometimes they’re a bit too enthusiastic and end up hogging your memory. The good news? You can easily manage which ones get the green light at startup.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Click on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen, then navigate to System Settings > General > Login Items.
  • You’ll see a list of apps that automatically start up. If you spot some that aren’t really needed, highlight them and click the Minus (-) button. This will stop them from opening automatically.
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Or, if you want to manage this with a bit more flair, BuhoCleaner comes to the rescue again:

  • Download and install BuhoCleaner.
  • Open it and select ‘Startup Items’ from the sidebar.
  • Hit the ‘Scan’ button, and it’ll show you all your login items and startup services. From there, you can easily change their status as you wish.

6. Keep Fewer Finder Windows

In your day-to-day Mac use, you might open a bunch of Finder windows. But leaving them open can be a bit like leaving all the lights on in your house – it’s a drain on resources.

To fix this:

  • Simply close the Finder windows you’re not using.
  • Or, for a more organized look, go to the Finder Menu, select Windows, and then click on ‘Merge All Windows’. This neat trick combines all your open Finder windows into one tabbed window.

7. Close Browser Tabs You Don’t Use

Browser tabs are like little memory munchers. If you’re the type to have a zillion tabs open, they could be eating up your Mac’s memory and slowing things down.

The fix is super simple:

  • Just close the tabs you’re not using. It’s like closing the doors on memory hogs and giving your Mac a little more room to breathe.

8. Remove Unused Browser Extensions

Browser extensions are like those extra tools in your toolbox – super handy, but only if you’re actually using them. Otherwise, they just take up space. And in the case of your Mac, these unused extensions can really bog down your browser’s performance because they eat up memory.

The solution? Take a moment to sift through your extensions and uninstall the ones you don’t use. It’s like decluttering your digital closet – your browser will thank you for the extra breathing room!

9. Free Up Storage Space

Here’s a little-known fact: when your Mac’s disk starts getting full, it sometimes uses RAM to store cached files. It’s like trying to cram one more book into an already overflowing bookshelf. To avoid this, it’s a great idea to regularly clean up your storage space.

But how do you do that? Well, there are plenty of ways to free up disk space on your Mac. From finding and deleting large, forgotten files to clearing out old downloads and duplicates, a little bit of digital housekeeping can go a long way.

For more detailed tips and tricks on how to free up disk space, you can check out the article titled “How to Free Disk Space on Mac.” It’s packed with useful advice to help you keep your Mac’s storage tidy and efficient.

Bonus Tip: How to Monitor Memory (RAM) Usage in Mac Menu Bar

Why wait for your Mac’s memory to cry for help before you take action? It’s smarter to keep an eye on things regularly. And guess what? BuhoCleaner can help you do just that, right from your Mac’s menu bar. It’s like having a memory watchdog that’s always on duty.

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Download and Launch BuhoCleaner: First things first, download, install, and launch BuhoCleaner on your Mac.
  2. Enable Memory Monitoring: Next, click on ‘BuhoCleaner Menu’ and go to ‘Preferences’ > ‘Status Menu’.
  3. Activate Memory Load Display: Check the box next to ‘Memory Load’. Voilà! You’ll now see your memory usage displayed in your status menu, keeping you informed in real-time.
  4. Quick Memory Release: Notice your memory getting full? Just click on the ‘Memory Load’ in the status menu, and then hit the blue lightning button next to ‘RAM’. This will free up memory with just one click.
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How to monitor memory usage with BuhoCleaner Menu:

With BuhoCleaner, you’re not just monitoring your memory usage; you’re staying one step ahead. It’s like having a co-pilot for your Mac’s performance, ensuring you have the memory resources you need, when you need them. With this handy tool, memory management becomes a breeze, keeping your Mac running smoothly and efficiently. So, give your Mac the attention it deserves and enjoy a seamless, lag-free experience!


And there you have it! We’ve journeyed together through the ins and outs of checking and reducing your Mac’s memory (RAM) usage. Remember, memory is like the heartbeat of your Mac’s performance – keeping it healthy is key to a smooth, snappy experience.

It’s important to keep in mind that memory usage can greatly impact how well your Mac performs. Strive to avoid hitting that 100% memory usage mark; it’s like trying to run a marathon without ever slowing down for a breath. Your Mac needs that breathing room to operate efficiently.

By using the tips and tricks we’ve discussed, from managing startup programs and browser tabs to utilizing tools like BuhoCleaner, you’re well on your way to becoming a memory management pro. These steps not only help in freeing up RAM but also contribute to a more organized, efficient computing experience.

So, go ahead and give your Mac the care it deserves. With regular memory check-ups and a bit of cleanup, you’ll ensure that your Mac stays as lively and responsive as the day you first met. Happy computing!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is my Mac running slow?

A: If your Mac is running slow, it could be due to high memory usage. When the RAM gets full, your Mac will resort to using the hard drive as temporary storage which is slower and causes delays in system performance.

2. How can I check my Mac's memory usage?

A: To check your Mac's memory usage, open the Activity Monitor application, located in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder. From here, you can see which processes are using the most memory.

3. Can I lower memory usage without closing applications?

A: Yes, you can lower memory usage by quitting applications that you're not currently using. However, if you want to keep the applications open, you can try reducing their resource usage by adjusting their settings or limiting the number of files they're working on at one time.

4. How can I free up memory on my Mac?

A: You can free up memory on your Mac by quitting applications and closing browser tabs that you're not currently using, clearing out temporary files and caches, or upgrading your RAM if necessary.

5. Do background processes affect memory usage?

A: Yes, background processes can affect memory usage. Some processes run continuously in the background, even when you're not using them, and can consume a significant amount of RAM. You can disable or remove unnecessary background processes to reduce memory usage.

6. Can I improve my Mac's performance by lowering memory usage?

A: Yes, by reducing memory usage, you can improve your Mac's performance. When the RAM is less utilized, your Mac will be able to run applications faster and more smoothly.
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