How to Free up RAM and Reduce Memory Usage on Mac

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Jerome Mills

5 min read

Memory is essential for our Mac. Insufficient memory space can cause our computer to run slowly and pages to be unresponsive. This article will introduce you to what RAM is, how to check the memory usage on your Mac, and how to free up RAM with 8 simple steps.

How to Free up RAM and Reduce Memory Usage on Mac

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.

How to Check the Memory Usage on Mac

The more programs you run, the more memory space they take up. If you want to check which apps are taking up your memory and how much memory space has been used, you can use Activity Monitor to check memory usage quickly. 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.


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 Clear RAM on Mac

Now that you know your memory usage, the next thing we need to do is clean it up. In this section, we will show you 8 ways to reduce your memory usage. Now let's take a look.

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 start up your Mac again.

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.

How to Free up RAM with Terminal

3. Tidy up Your Desktop

Did you know that 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

4. Disable Login Items

Another way to lower memory usage is to disable login items. Login items are programs that launch automatically when you log in to your Mac. Some of them are not good for you at all. Therefore, it is necessary to stop them from running when your boot your Mac.

Here's how:

  1. Click the Apple icon > System Preferences >Users & Groups.
  2. Click on the Login Items tab, and you'll see a list of apps that auto-login when you boot your Mac.
  3. Highlight the apps you want to remove, unlock the padlock in the lower-left corner, and click the minus button under the list.

How to Disable Login Items on Mac

Alternatively, you can use the free startup program manager BuhoCleaner to quickly disable and enable apps and startup services. Here's how to disable startup programs with it:

  1. Download and install BuhoCleaner on your Mac.
  2. Launch it and click the Startup Items tab.
  3. Click the Scan button and change the status of the app you want to stop to disabled.

Manage Startup Programs with BuhoCleaner

5. 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 choose to close them directly or merge them together by clicking the Finder Menu > Windows > Merge All Windows.

How to Merge Finder Windows

6. 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 lag or become unresponsive.

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

7. 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.

8. Manage RAM Usage with BuhoCleaner Menu

It's not wise to start cleaning it only when the memory is low. You can use the BuhoCleaner menu to monitor your memory usage in real-time. This tool is built into BuhoCleaner and allows you to manage RAM memory easily.

Manage Memory with BuhoCleaner Menu

In the RAM module, you can see the total amount of your memory (values in brackets) and the memory space used (highlighted and changing values). When you find that your RAM is almost full, just click on the lightning button to free your memory in a second.

Not only that, the BuhoCleaner menu also helps you check how much free storage you have left. And by clicking the trash can icon next to the storage bar, you can quickly go back to BuhoCleaner's Flash Clean page to clear storage space.


We have mentioned 8 methods to free up memory and reduce memory usage on Mac in the above. In fact, there are more other ways to try, such as killing resource-hogging processes, improving Chrome's Task Manager, optimizing browser extensions, etc. Go to choose one or more methods to try now.


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