To free up RAM on your Mac:
- Restart your Mac regularly to release RAM used by lingering processes and applications.
- Reduce clutter on your desktop as macOS uses memory to display each item.
- Use Activity Monitor or MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner to identify which apps are using the most RAM and the close unnecessary ones.
- Limit auto-start apps at login to decrease RAM usage at startup.
- Delete the cache and junk files regularly.
As someone who has experienced the frustration of a slow Mac, I understand how annoying it is when everything seems to drag. The main culprit? Too much stuff taking up the RAM. I’ve figured out how to handle this problem, and in this guide, I’ll share some of my tried-and-true tips to free up RAM on your Mac.
Before We Begin
If you’re experiencing performance issues on your Mac, it could be due to the lack of available memory (RAM). Download MacKeeper and use its Memory Cleaner to free up RAM on your Mac and address various RAM-related issues in just a few clicks.
How to Check the RAM Usage on Your Mac
Before you free up memory on your Mac, check its RAM usage using Activity Monitor – the built-in macOS tool. Checking your memory usage in Activity Monitor can identify if your Mac is slow due to insufficient memory or other factors, like incompatible software.
To check the memory usage on your Mac using Activity Monitor, follow these steps:
- Open Spotlight Search, type Activity Monitor, and press Enter.
- Click the Memory tab in Activity Monitor.
- You’ll see a list of running processes and how much memory they are using. By default, the processes are sorted by their memory usage, with the most memory-intensive processes at the top of the list.
- At the bottom of the window, there is a Memory Pressure chart that shows if your Mac needs more RAM (yellow or red) or if it has sufficient memory (all green).
Now that you have checked RAM usage on your Mac, let’s see how you can free up memory on your Mac to optimize its performance and prevent crashes.
7 Best Ways to Free Up RAM on Your Mac
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Now that you know which applications and processes are consuming the most memory, try closing them. If that doesn’t work, try one of the following methods to free up memory on your Mac.
I’ve tested all these steps on my MacBook Air M2, 2022, but they also work on other models.
1. Free Up The RAM on Your Mac In One Click Using MacKeeper
Using a Mac memory cleaner can help you free up RAM on your Mac and improve its overall performance. I personally use MacKeeper and it works seamlessly with my system.
Here’s how to use MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner to free up memory on your Mac:
- Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
- Open MacKeeper and click Memory Cleaner under the Performance tab.
- Click Open.
- Click Clean Memory.
- It will clean your Mac and free up available memory. You can see how much memory it freed under Last Cleanup.
2. Restart Your Mac
Simply restarting your Mac can be an effective way to free up memory. When you restart, all the apps and processes that were hogging the RAM shut down, releasing the memory back to the system. Plus, when your Mac boots up again – it reloads everything more efficiently, often using less RAM than before.
Before restarting your Mac, save unsaved work and close all applications to ensure your files are not lost or corrupted during the restart process.
Here are some of the most common methods I’ve used to restart my MacBook:
- Click the Apple menu in the upper-left corner of the screen, and select Restart from the drop-down menu.
- If you have a frozen Mac and you can’t access the Apple menu or use the keyboard, you can force a restart by pressing and holding the Power button until your Mac turns off and turning it back on again.
- Use this Mac keyboard shortcut: Control ^ + Command ⌘ + Power. This will immediately restart your Mac without saving any open and unsaved documents.
2. Clean Your Desktop
A cluttered desktop doesn’t just look bad, it actually slows down your Mac. You see, macOS uses RAM to display all those icons and previews on your desktop. And if you’re like me, saving everything on the desktop for ‘easy access’, you’re unintentionally bogging down your Mac’s performance.
So, here’s what I do to declutter the desktop and free up some of that precious RAM:
- 💻 Evaluate Each Item: I go through every single file and folder on my desktop and ask myself, “Do I really need this here?” If it’s not something I use daily, I move it to a more appropriate spot on my Mac, like a specific folder, or sometimes even to an external hard drive.
- 📁 Organize with Folders: Create folders to group related files. This not only cleans up the desktop but also makes it way easier to find what you need.
- 🗑️ Discard the Unnecessary: I’m always surprised by how many large, old files I find lurking on my desktop. Getting rid of these, especially the bulky ones, frees up a lot of space.
- 🧹 Use a Cleaning Utility: Personally, I find tools like MacKeeper really handy. They clean up system files, cache, and other temporary files that you don’t see but that take up valuable space.
3. Examine the Activity Monitor
Examining the Activity Monitor can help you identify which apps are using the most RAM and free up memory on your Mac if necessary. Here are the steps you can follow:
- Open the Activity Monitor by navigating to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.
- Click the Memory tab to see the current usage of memory by all running applications.
- The processes are sorted by their memory usage by default. If not, you can sort the list by clicking the Memory column to see which applications are using the most memory.
- If you see an application using a lot of memory that you’re not currently using, you can force quit it by selecting it and clicking the X button in the top-left corner.
Freeing up memory may improve your Mac’s performance, but it causes apps to reload data from scratch, which may take some time.
4. Close the Finder Windows
I’ve noticed that every open Finder window actually consumes RAM. It’s easy to open a new window and forget about it, especially when you’re multitasking. Sometimes, these windows can even get lost, hidden behind other apps, or collapsed in a corner of your screen.
To free up memory on your Mac, close unnecessary Finder windows or merge them together. Here’s how you can do it:
- Click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a Finder window.
- Click Window in the menu bar and select Merge All Windows from the drop-down menu.
- This will close separate windows and merge them together. Each window will become a tab in a single window.
5. Delete Cache Files
To free up RAM on your Mac, you can clear your cache files. Cache files are temporary files stored by your Mac to speed up processes and improve performance. However, over time, these files can accumulate and take up a lot of space on your hard drive, leading to poor performance.
Clearing cache files may cause issues with certain apps, so always back up your data on Mac before deleting any files.
Here’s how to delete cache files on your Mac:
- Close all the apps on your Mac, as some cache files may be in use and cannot be deleted until the associated app is closed.
- Click the Finder icon in your Dock to open a new Finder window.
- In the Finder menu, click Go and select Go to Folder.
- Type the following directory path and press Go:
- Once you are in the Caches folder, select the cache files you want to delete. You can delete all the files in the folder or select specific app cache files to delete.
- After selecting the cache files, press Command ⌘ + Delete or right-click and select Move to Bin.
- After deleting the cache files, empty the Bin to permanently delete the files.
- Restart your Mac to clear out any remaining cache files that may be taking up space in the RAM.
7. Remove Login Items
Login items are apps or processes set to launch automatically when you log in to your Mac. Having too many login items can slow down your Mac’s startup time and consume system resources. By removing some or all of your login items, you can reduce the amount of RAM your Mac uses during startup and improve its performance.
Follow these steps to remove your login items on your Mac via System Settings:
- Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen and tap System Settings.
- Select General and click Login Items in the right menu.
- Here, you’ll see the items that launch when you start up your Mac. Select the items you want to remove and click the – button at the bottom of the list to remove them.
Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper to remove login items on your Mac. Here’s how:
- Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
- Open Login Items under Performance in MacKeeper.
- Click Start Scan.
- Select unnecessary items from the list and click Remove Selected Items.
- Tap the Remove button on the pop-up.
- It will remove your selected items from the system startup list. You can click Rescan to repeat the process.
What Else Can MacKeeper Do?
Besides freeing up RAM and removing login items on your Mac, MacKeeper can perform various Mac optimization tasks, like deleting duplicate files, removing unwanted apps, and blocking ads on your Mac. If you want to learn more about its amazing features, read my detailed MacKeeper review.
Free Up Memory on Mac
Now that you know how to identify memory hogs and free up RAM on your Mac to optimize its performance, here are some tips for maintaining your Mac’s memory health:
- Monitor your Mac’s CPU, GPU, and RAM usage regularly to idenify memory-related issues and improve performance.
- Update the apps on your Mac to prevent them from crashing and ensure smooth operation.
- If you’re running out of memory frequently, consider upgrading your Mac’s RAM.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I delete system files on Mac to free up RAM?
No, you should never delete system files on Mac to free up RAM. System files are essential to the operation of your Mac, and deleting them can cause serious issues. Only delete files you’re sure are not needed and avoid deleting any files related to the operating system.
How often should I clear my cache on Mac?
You should clear your cache on Mac at least once a month to free up memory. However, the frequency may vary depending on your usage and the amount of data you generate. If your Mac is running slow or apps are taking up too much memory, clear their respective caches.
How do I check how much RAM is left on my Mac?
To check the memory on your Mac, open the Activity Monitor and click the Memory tab. You’ll see your current memory usage information in the Memory Pressure box at the bottom. The color of the graph shows how much of your available memory you’re using. Green means you have memory available, yellow means your Mac is starting to manage memory, red means your memory is depleted.