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How to clear RAM on Mac and reduce memory usage

If your Mac is running slow, emptying the memory can help. We’ll show you how to do it.

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You can clear up memory on your Mac if it is running noticeably slower than before. This can cause a significant reduction in the overall system speed. In the following section, we will walk you through the steps necessary to clear the memory on your Mac using a simple command entered into the Terminal which comes pre-installed with all Mac computers.

How to clear memory on a Mac

How to clear memory on a Mac
  1. You should kick things off by launching the Activity Monitor. Using Spotlight search is the most convenient method. To open the Activity Monitor, press the little search button in the upper right corner, enter “activity monitor,” and then choose it with a double click.
How to clear memory on a Mac
  1. To do this, select the “Memory” menu item at the top of the “Activity” window. On this screen, you will be able to see how much RAM is currently being used. Sorting by the amount of “Memory” usage is the best way to see which program is consuming the most RAM.
  1. If a program uses a significant amount of RAM, it may be preferable to terminate it. The “X” at the top of the screen is where you should click to remove the item. Note, however, that this program does not keep unsaved document drafts.
  1. If this does not have the expected effect, you can clear the cache. This can also cause a load on RAM. Leave the activity display window open and go back to the Spotlight search. This time enters “Terminal”.
  1. In Terminal, type “sudo purge” and confirm with the [Enter] key. You will then need to enter the administrator password you use to log in to your Mac. Confirm again with the [Enter] key. When you return to the “Activity Monitor” screen, you will see that the RAM cache has been cleared.

Summary

  1. Open the Activity app by searching in Spotlight.
  2. Open the “Memory” tab. Here you will see the amount of memory currently in use. Click on the “Memory” column to see the program using the most memory at the top.
  3. Select one of the programs that are using the most memory and click the “X” icon at the top to end the program.
  4. If these steps do not fix the problem, keep the Activity Monitor window open and do a Spotlight search to launch Terminal.
  5. Enter the command “sudo purge” and confirm with [Enter]. 
  6. Then enter your administrator password. Confirm this with [Enter].
  7. When you return to the Activity screen, you should see less memory being used.
  8. If none of these steps worked for you, restart your Mac. This will reset the memory.