How to Free up Memory on a Mac

How to Free up Disk Space on a Mac

If you’re experiencing slowdowns or resource issues on your Mac, there’s a good chance memory is the culprit. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to free up memory on a Mac so you can start to speed up again. 

We’ll also provide some tips on how to prevent memory issues in the first place, so you can keep your Mac running smoothly and efficiently. 

So read on and get started freeing up memory on your Mac. I will even include a section that discusses how to reduce RAM usage on a Mac. Check it out!

  • Restart the Mac
  • Update your macOS
  • Check the Activity Monitor
  • Close any Heavy Apps
  • Check the CPU Usage
  • Check the Printer Tasks
  • Use Terminal to Purge the RAM

How to Free up Memory on a Mac

Restart the Mac

The first trick you can try to boost memory on your Mac is to restart the Mac. Most of the time this method will solve your problem. 

Basically, when you restart your Mac the RAM and Disk Cache will get cleared which will make the system run smoother.

How to Free up Memory on a Mac

While it’s an easy method to free up memory on a Mac, rebooting the system might not work for everyone, especially if you have some unsaved data on the Mac.

So, if you don’t want to restart your Mac, you can try one of these methods listed below.

Update your macOS

Another simple solution is to update your macOS. Updating the operating system will resolve any underlying issues with the software. 

How to Free up Memory on a Mac

If your Mac is running slow due to a bug in the operating system, click on the Apple Menu followed by System Update to check if there’s an available update of the OS with a bug fix.

Check the Activity Monitor

When a Mac slows down the first thing anyone should do is check the Activity Monitor (a built-in app) on the Mac.

In order to find the app on your Mac,

How to Free up Memory on a Mac
  • Launch the Utilities tool
  • Search for Activity Monitor
    • You can also use the shortcut Cmd + Space to open the Spotlight window
How to Free up Memory on a Mac

The Activity Manager will show you how much memory has been utilized on the Mac and if there’s any app that’s consuming more memory.

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From this page you can pull up information regarding the memory pressure, physical memory data, cached files and memory used.

Quit Processes using Activity Manager

  • Launch the Activity Manager
  • Next, click on the Memory tab
How to Free up Memory on a Mac
  • Tap on the Memory column to sort the apps out based on the amount of memory they’re using
  • Once you have found the heavy apps that are consuming more memory, click on the ‘I’ icon to pull up the app information.
  • Next, click on the Quit or Force Quit button on the pop-up window.

Once you close the app, the system memory will improve. 

A quick tip – Do not close any system processes as  it can make the Mac hang. Only close apps that you have installed onto the Mac and not those that are required by the system.

Use Terminal to Purge the RAM

To clear the RAM using Terminal, you can follow these steps. However, this method is only recommended for advanced users and not those who are new to the OS.

How to Free up Memory on a Mac
  • Run the Terminal on Mac
    • Launchpad > Other > Terminal
  • Enter the following command
    • Sudo purge
  • The Mac will now ask you for the admin name and password. Enter the details and the RAM will then be cleared.

Use Script Editor to Clear RAM

For those using an older version of macOS such as El Capitan or High Sierra, you can use the Script Editor to clear your Mac’s RAM.

The steps are quite simple and to do you, you will have to

How to Free up Memory on a Mac
  • Launch the Script Editor on Mac
  • Enter the following text and then press Cmd + S to save the script.

display dialog “Free inactive RAM?” buttons {“Cancel”, “OK”} with icon 2 with the title “Freeing RAM” default button 2
set buttonAnswer to the button returned of the result
if buttonAnswer is “ОК” then
say “Freeing RAM. Wait please.”
tell application “Terminal”
do shell script “purge”
end tell
say “Done!”
end if

  • Once done, choose the format as Application instead of Script
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Now, whenever your Mac slows down or is low on memory, run this file and the RAM will be cleared.

How to Reduce RAM usage on Mac

If after trying the methods listed above, your Mac is still slow, you can try a couple of tricks to boost the speed of your Mac.

Method 1 — Clean up your Desktop 

The reason why clearing your desktop will improve the speed of  your Mac is because macOS considers every app to be an open window and this will in turn use more memory.

Moving all your files or unused apps from the desktop into a common folder will help improve the speed a bit.

Method 2 — Fix the Finder 

How to Free up Memory on a Mac

Since all the information shown in the Finder will utilize RAM space, change what the Finder opens to help reduce RAM consumption.

To do this, launch Preferences and under General choose a folder you want shown in the Finder.

Restart the Mac for the changes to take effect.

Method 3 — Merge the Finder windows 

Since each Finder window takes up RAM memory, you can merge your Finder windows together. Launch the Finder and then click on Window followed by Merge all Windows to have this done.

Method 4 — Stop App from Opening Automatically

When there are many Mac startup processes, it’s best to close some so your boot up is flawless.

To do this simply open the System Preferences and then User & Groups.

Now click on the User name and then Login items.

You will now see a list of apps that open when the Mac boots up, select the apps you don’t want to open upon startup and then click on the ‘-’ icon next to the name of the app.

Method 5 — Close your Browser Tabs

Browsers with many tabs open can take up a lot of memory and now with the latest version of macOS you get to see which tabs in Safari are taking up most of your RAM. There are two ways you can close the tabs of your browser;

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1. Right click on the tab you want kept open and then click on close other tabs or,

2. Click on the X for the tabs you want closed.

Method 6 — Delete Browser Extensions 

How to Free up Memory on a Mac

Browser extensions can take up most of your RAM to run and this is one of the most common reasons behind a slow Mac.

To close or delete your browser extensions, open the Safari browser and then click on Preferences.

Now tap on Extensions from the window and then click on Uninstall next to the extensions you want to delete.

How much RAM does my Mac need?

The amount of RAM you need depends on the number of apps you have installed on the Mac.

Games and Graphics tools need a lot of RAM to work and won’t perform well on a low memory RAM like 4GB.

If you wish to upgrade the memory of your Mac, you can refer to this video

Ideally, 8GB and above are ideal for everyday tasks.

How to check how much RAM is on a Mac?

To check how much RAM is present on your Mac, click on the Apple icon and then click on About this Mac.

Next, click on Memory to view how much RAM is present in the Mac, how much is available and  how much is being utilized.


Well, now you know how to free up memory on a Mac. You can use any of the methods listed above to improve the speed of your Mac in no time. 

If there are any questions, feel free to drop a comment below.

Until next time, Ciao!

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