Optimizing your Mac's Memory

Free memory is a key requirement when we want to open up new apps or begin new processes, but unfortunately there may come a time when we just don’t have enough and things just seem to slllllooooowwwww dooowwwwnnn!!!

Previously we could just simply upgrade our RAM, but with the way Apple seem to be heading with the design of the new iMacs and MacBook ranges, upgrading may no longer be an option.

So what is the answer?

Well firstly we need to confirm that the issue is with the memory and not anything more drastic. Activity Monitor is stored within /Applications/Utilities, if you’re more familiar with Windows it is the Mac equivalent of Task Manager.

how to optimise your mac's memory

It is a multipurpose application but we where need to focus on is the “System Memory” Tab. If you are unsure about what System Memory is telling you then this Apple Support Article will help explain each type of Memory.

What we now need to do is, free up more Memory by forcing OS X to clear out inactive Memory. We can do this in a few ways:

Launch Terminal, this can be found in /Applications/Utilities and enter the command


OS X will take a minute or so to complete the process and may appear to freeze briefly.

Once complete, however, you will have full control as before and by checking Activity Monitor we can see that we have now freed up almost 2GB.

freed up memory after using activity monitor

OS X Mountain Lion does not require any software to be installed to run the purge command, however previous versions of OS X may need to have Xcode & Developer Tools installed in order to use the purge command. These can be downloaded for free from the Mac App Store

My main issue now is that I had to use multiple applications to check, resolve and confirm the resolution of my memory issues. So, I created an Application to run the purge command using Automator (/Applications) but this still required checking Activity Monitor before and after.

While trying to find a solution to save time I came across a free Application called “Memory Clean” by FIPLAB Ltd. This ties in the required features of both Activity Monitor and Terminal in one easy to use application.

memory clean FIPLAB


memory clean mac os x

The interface is simple and easy to use, and I also like that the added preferences gives you the option to “Auto Clean” your inactive memory once free memory falls below a user specified threshold. Although during heavy Memory usage this can become frustrating with the system freezing briefly from time to time.

5 Replies to "Optimizing your Mac's Memory"

  • Axl D

    What? Why are you recommending this bogus-no-need app? Tell me, when do you need to “clean” your memory?

    • Daryl McCartney

      Granted OS X is usually very good at handling memory. But over the years I have come across instances where end users have required to clear out inactive Memory and don’t have the time in restarting the system. Some people using Antivirus software may find regardless how much memory they have it can easily get used (one user had his anti virus software use over 12gb of ram during scans and not free this up after).

      I also have needed to use this during training as trying to run keynote presentations and run a virtual machine, both memory intensive Apps again don’t always free up memory after being closed. The main issue people will have later is that you won’t just be able to increase your memory so if people want to run memory intensive apps then apps like memory clean or just using the purge command may become helpful quick fixes.

      I agree that for many like yourself this may not be an issue but that’s not true for everyone.

      Thank you, though, for taking the time to respond!


  • Anon

    If you have not experienced this, it means you’re an amateur user and i think an iPad is all you need in your life but for us professionals and computer illiterate users, tips like these are precious. As a matter of fact i have to shut down my Mac when i go off to lunch just so i can clear my memory and cache or my freakin Mac will become as slow as a Windows computer used by the dude that sits next to me. When i work with excel files that’s more than 150MB with a few other softwares running, maxed memory on my MBP doesn’t cut it. But then again, some users just don’t use it to the full potential so . . . .

  • Axl

    Daryl > Sorry about the tone. I was just suprised that what I think is a great pro site talks about this. I still say that in 99 times of 100 you do need this app.

    Anon > No, just 14 years as a Apple Tech and also 5 years in the movie business. Sure amateur.
    It is screamingly clear that if you need to restart your computer every lunch its you who are the amateur.

    • Daryl McCartney

      Thanks again for your reply.

      Our Blogs do range as we aim at all users not just industry professionals. As I mentioned with end users who wish to run Anti Virus software this has been a reoccurring issue.

      The main reason for this app is its simplicity, I myself have needed this process but as mentioned use terminal.



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