How to free up RAM memory on Mac

RAM is where all the active processes and programs run. If you run too many programs on your Mac, it can slow down and you might need to clean up RAM to continue using your system without lag.

You can free up RAM on Mac by deleting old and unimportant folders, disabling extensions, and keeping fewer icons on the desktop. Another way would be using a lighter, faster browser, like Kingpin, that doesn’t allow extensions.

If your system shows signs of slowing down, it is possibly because apps or files are eating into your free space. The speed of your MAC is negatively affected by a fully occupied RAM.

Here are a few tell-tale signs of rapidly diminishing storage capacity of your RAM:

  • Loading time is long
  • Apps are crashing
  • Keystrokes are unresponsive
  • Webpages don’t open

Check RAM usage

One thing you can do to stay ahead of storage or performance issues is to frequently check RAM usage. To do this, go to Applications and open the Activity Monitor. This shows you a comprehensive list of what processes are using up RAM, how much free space you have left, the size of your cached files, and even a bar that shows the pressure on Memory.

So, if you’ve been thinking, “How do I clear the RAM on my Mac?” you can do one or several of the following:

#1 Clean out desktop icons

 The more icons you have on your desktop, the slower your system gets. Every icon, whether an image or a shortcut, is recognized as a window by Mac. Remove the icons you no longer use and give your system a neat desktop. Right-click on the desktop to display Use Stacks. When you select this, all your icons are organized into folders according to their file types.

Desktop > Use Stacks

#2 Disable startup programs

There are some programs that activate as soon as you turn on the system. These programs, also called Login items, could be just the books you read on Mac or your email or browser and so on. But they reserve a portion of RAM with them and slow down the system. To disable them, go to Preferences and open Users & Groups. Slide to the Username panel on the left and click on it to display the passwords and login items tab. Click on the latter to see the programs that start automatically with Start Up. Select the ones you want to remove from the list and click on the “-” sign at the bottom of the list.        

Like so: Preferences > Users & Groups > Username > Login items > Select programs > “-“

#3 Use a lighter, faster browser

You can get Mac to speed up by simply switching to an additional browser like Kingpin. It is a default incognito browser that doesn’t add much additional pressure on RAM. The really fun part is Kingpin does not allow extensions or pop-ups and you know how some extensions take up a lot of memory and slow down the performance of the entire system. So this feature makes Kingpin lightweight and fast. It also comes with an in-built ad blocker so other extensions are not allowed to operate.

#4 Remove old, unused apps

Over time, users end up saving dozens of apps with hundreds of functions. Naturally many fall out of use as they find new apps or stop using the older ones for some reason. Whether they are active or not, they still occupy a large chunk of memory. It’s time to find them and eliminate them. And the Activity Monitor is the place to start. Go to the Activity Monitor and click on the Memory tab. This shows you all apps that are using Memory and also the number of MBs they occupy. Select the apps you want to remove. Go to the top left of the screen and click on the Stop button. This should take care of the issue.

Activity Monitor > Memory > Apps > Select > Stop

#5 Delete cache

Caches, too, sit heavy on RAM. If you can clean them out regularly, you can keep your system performance satisfactory. Users can find cache files in the Finder. Open Finder and then look for Go to Finder option in the Go menu. Open it and input ~/Library/Caches in the search box. From the list of cache files that show up, select and clear the ones you want to remove. Or, Press Command and A keys simultaneously to select all and delete them.  In the final step, you will need to confirm by entering your username and password.

Finder > Go to Finder > ~/Library/Caches > Go > Command + A > Username and Password

#6 Merge all open Finder windows

Finder windows are another reason your RAM is running out of space. And many of these windows are hidden away in plain sight on your screen. Gather them up and merge them so you can free up RAM. Open the Finder window, go to Windows on the menu, scroll down to the Merge all windows option and click it. Now all your separate finder windows are organized better and you have reclaimed RAM space.

In short: Finder > Windows > Merge All Windows

#7 Free up Mac discs

Sometimes when RAM is fully used up, the system turns to its physical storage – disc drives. Hence it is important to keep this space available. Advanced users often keep as much as 20 percent of the disc space free to function as supplementary RAM.

Often this space is filled up with old, unused data like once-favourite movies, songs or images, and lots of other irrelevant files and folders. Imagine the free gigabytes you will have at your disposal if all this goes. Sometimes a deep clean is all it takes.

#8 Open a limited number of tabs restart often

Some of the quick fixes include restricting the number of open tabs. It’s simple math. If you are opening fewer tabs, you are using fewer MBs. Another way is to restart your system to delete temporary files that are affecting performance. You might want to back up important data before attempting this. Also, repeated restarts are not what you want in the middle of an urgent task. So plan it out beforehand.

#9 Upgrade to the latest macOS

Mac updates come in on a regular basis. One way to ensure that the system runs without memory glitches is to install updates as they come by. New versions and editions usually come with improvements and they are ultimately meant for a smoother user experience. From fixing bugs to increasing user-friendliness, it is always better to go for the latest releases of the operating system.

To sum up

So there you are. These are the most popular ways to free up RAM and make your system fast. Today most Macs are armed with 8 GBs of Ram and in most cases, it is sufficient for day to day functions. However, if you find yourself struggling for space, you could try the fixes mentioned above. Fine tune your settings, delete unused files and apps, disable auto-launches at startup, merge Finder widows, and delete caches, and so on. In addition, switch to an alternative browser that keeps extensions away for superlight and superfast browsing. Like all electronic gadgets, your Mac needs regular care. Since upgrading to the next higher RAM on the same device is not a feasible choice for many, it is important to keep an eye on the space available on it and make room as and when necessary.