How to Lower Memory (RAM) Usage on Mac - 9 Ways

Jerome Peng
Last updated: May 15, 2024

Summary: In this article, you will learn what RAM on your Mac is, how to check memory (RAM) usage on your Mac, and how to reduce it to make your Mac run faster.

Memory is crucial to your Mac. Not having enough memory space can make your Mac run slowly. If you have high memory usage and want to lower it, you've come to the right place. This article walks you through what memory (RAM) is, how to check memory usage on your Mac, and more importantly, how to free it up.

How to Lower Memory (RAM) Usage on Mac - 9 Ways

What Is RAM?

RAM refers to Random Access Memory, which provides storage for ongoing tasks and processes. It is one of the most important components that determine the performance of your Mac. The less RAM space you have, the laggier your Mac will run.

Like Mac's internal storage, RAM is measured in GB. But the difference between them is that RAM is faster to read.

Macs typically come in 8G and 16G of RAM. Some applications require a lot of RAM to run effectively, such as 3D design software, video editing software, graphic design software, and big games. But under normal circumstances, 8G of RAM is more than enough.

To check how much RAM your Mac has, click the Apple menu > About This Mac > Memory.

How to Check Memory (RAM) Usage on Mac

The more programs you run, the more memory space they take up. Want to know which processes are using the most space of your memory? Use Activity Monitor to check. Here's how:

  1. Click the magnifier icon in the menu bar to open Spotlight.
  2. Open Activity Monitor via Spotlight.
  3. Click the Memory tab, and you can see a list of ongoing processes and each process occupies.
Check Memory Usage on Mac with Activity Monitor

Below the list, there is a small graphic that shows an overview of your memory usage.

  • Memory Pressure: It illustrates the availability of memory resources. The green color means that the memory resources are available.
  • Physical RAM: The RAM capacity of your Mac.
  • Memory Used: Memory used by all applications and macOS processes.
  • App Memory: Memory used by applications and their processes.
  • Wired Memory: Memory that cannot be compressed or paged out to your startup drive.
  • Compressed: Memory that has been compressed to provide more RAM for other processes.
  • Cached Files: Memory that has been recently used by the application but is now available for use by other applications.
  • Swap Used: Memory used by macOS memory.

How to Lower Memory (RAM) Usage on Mac

Now you know how stressed your memory is. The next thing we need to do is to release it or reduce it.

1. Restart Your Mac

The easiest way to free up RAM is to restart your Mac. Since RAM is a temporary memory, all temporary files stored on it will be cleared when you restart your Mac.

2. Free Up RAM with Terminal

Restarting your Mac does help free up memory, but it will terminate all your work on the Mac. In this case, you can turn to the terminal to free up RAM.

  1. Open the Terminal via Spotlight.
  2. Type and run the command: sudo purge.
  3. Enter your administrator password and then press the Return button on your keyboard again. After that, your memory will be cleared.
Free up RAM with Terminal

3. Free Up RAM with Third-Party Tools

If the above methods are not convenient for you, you may want to use a third-party tool to help you. BuhoCleaner is the tool you need. It can help you free up RAM in one click.

Just download and install BuhoCleaner on your Mac, open it, and click ToolKit > Free Up RAM > Start. It only takes you a few seconds.

Free up RAM with BuhoCleaner
DownloadFor macOS 10.10 and above
100,000+ Satisfied Users Worldwide

BuhoCleaner can do more jobs for you. Some of its noticeable features are junk file cleaning, app uninstallation, large file and duplicate file removal, startup program management, file shredding and Spolight rebuilding. It's worth a try.

4. Tidy Up Your Desktop

macOS treats every icon as an active window. The more icons you have on your desktop, the more pressure you put on your memory. If you have a lot of documents, photos, screenshots, and more stored on your desktop, it's time to clean them up.

You don't need to use third-party applications. Apple's built-in decluttering tool is good enough. All you need to do is right-click on your desktop and select Use Stack. The tool will categorize your files and put them in neat little piles.

Declutter Desktop on Mac

5. Disable Login Items

Login items are programs that start automatically when you log in to your Mac. These programs help your Mac run properly, but at the same time they can take up a lot of memory space.

Not all startup programs are necessary. It's a good idea to prevent those unnecessary ones from launching when your Mac starts.

Here are the steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon > System Settings > General > Login Items.
  2. Highlight the apps you want to remove, then click the Minus(-) button under the list.
Disable Login Items on Mac

Alternatively, you can use the free startup program manager BuhoCleaner to take control of your startup programs.

  1. Download and install BuhoCleaner on your Mac.
  2. Launch it and click on the Startup Items in the sidebar.
  3. Click the Scan button and you will see all the login items and startup services.
  4. Change their status as needed.
Manage Startup Programs with BuhoCleaner

6. Keep Fewer Finder Windows

In the daily use of your Mac, you may have many Finder windows open. Chances are you forget to close the windows you no longer use in time, and they continue to eat up your memory.

You can close them directly or merge them together by clicking the Finder Menu > Windows > Merge All Windows.

How to Merge Finder Windows

7. Close Browser Tabs You Don't Use

It's no secret that browser tabs eat up your memory space. If you have dozens of tabs open in your browser, they can put a lot of pressure on your memory and make your Mac laggy or become unresponsive.

So, don't forget to close the browser tabs you no longer use.

8. Remove Unused Browser Extensions

Extensions can improve your experience with browsers. But at the same time, they can downgrade your Mac performance because they consume a lot of your memory space.

Therefore, it's a good idea to remove the unused extensions from your browsers.

9. Free Up Storage Space

Did you know that your Mac is likely to take up your memory to store cached files when the disk is full? To avoid this, you'd better start cleaning up your storage space before it runs out. There are many ways to clean storage space.

Learn more from the article: How to Free Disk Space on Mac.

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

It is not wise to start cleaning the memory only when it is running low. You can use the BuhoCleaner Menu to monitor memory usage in your status menu in real-time. You can also release the memory with one click when you find that your memory is running out.

How to monitor memory usage with BuhoCleaner Menu:

  1. Download, install and launch BuhoCleaner.
  2. Click BuhoCleaner Menu > Preferences > Status Menu.
  3. Check the box next to Memory Load and you will see your memory usage in the status menu.
    Monitor Memory Usage in Status Menu
  4. Click the Memory Load in the status menu and then click the blue lightning button next to RAM to release memory with one click.
Manage Memory with BuhoCleaner Menu


That's all for how to check memory (RAM) usage and reduce it on Mac. Please note that memory can effect your Mac performance and try to avoid 100% memory usage.

Jerome is a passionate enthusiast of all things Apple. He is expertise in crafting tech-related articles, with a portfolio of more than 100 articles covering various Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.