Despite this, some people still like to see green values and a larger free RAM amount. While we advise to allow the system to manage RAM for best performance, there are a couple of utilities you can use to make the green part of the memory pie chart as big as possible. If you have Apple's Computer Hardware Understanding Developer tools installed available from the Apple developer Web site--free, with registration , you should have the purge command installed, which can be run to free up some of the inactive memory.
The utility iFreeMem is useful for clearing out unused RAM by demanding as much RAM as possible from the system, forcing the system to write as much memory to disk as possible and otherwise clear the RAM, and reducing the overall memory footprint. We did a small review of iFreeMem , so be sure to check it out to see how it runs. Keep in mind that the combination of free and inactive RAM is still not the total available RAM in the system, because if you put high memory demands on the system, other program's active RAM will be progressively written to virtual memory so it can be freed for use.
The system cannot do this with wired memory, but it can do it with active memory.
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Topher Kessler. Free RAM Being rather self-explanatory, this is the amount that has not been recently used by an application or system process. Wired RAM This is the amount that must be kept active for the system to run.
Inactive RAM This is the amount that has recently been used but is no longer required. It's the RAM in your Mac that isn't currently in use and can be freely assigned to any process or application that needs all or some portion of available memory. Wired memory represents the minimum amount of RAM your Mac needs at any point in time to keep running. You can think of this as memory that's off limits for everyone else. This is memory currently in use by applications and processes on your Mac, other than the special system processes assigned to Wired memory. You can see your Active memory footprint grow as you launch applications, or as currently running applications need and grab more memory to perform a task.
This is memory that's no longer required by an application but hasn't yet been released to the Free memory pool.
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Most of the memory types are pretty straightforward. The one that trips people up is Inactive memory. Individuals often see a large amount of blue in their memory pie chart Inactive memory and think they're having memory issues. This leads them to think about adding RAM to boost their Mac's performance. But in reality, Inactive memory performs a valuable service that makes your Mac snappier. When you quit an application, OS X doesn't free up all of the memory the application used.
Instead, it saves the application's startup state in the Inactive memory section. Should you launch the same application again, OS X knows it doesn't need to load the application from your hard drive, because it's already stored in Inactive memory.
Too Much Inactive RAM, Too Little Free RAM - Apple Community
As a result, OS X simply redefines the section of Inactive memory that contains the application as Active memory, which makes re-launching an application a very quick process. Inactive memory doesn't remain inactive forever. As noted above, OS X could start using that memory when you re-launch an application. It will also use Inactive memory if there's not enough Free memory for an application's needs. The answer to that question is usually a reflection of the amount of RAM your version of OS X needs, the type of applications you use, and how many applications you run concurrently.
Understanding Compressed Memory on the Mac
But there are other considerations. In an ideal world, it would be nice if you didn't have to raid Inactive RAM too often. This would provide the best performance when launching applications repeatedly while maintaining enough Free memory to meet the needs of any currently running applications. For instance, each time you open an image or create a new document, the related application will need additional Free memory. If Free memory falls to the point where Inactive memory is being released, you may want to consider adding more RAM to maintain maximum performance.
You can also look at the 'Page outs' value, at the bottom of Activity Monitor's main window. This number indicates how many times your Mac has run out of available memory and used your hard drive as virtual RAM. This number should be as low as possible. We like the number to be less than during a full day's use of our Mac. Others suggest a higher value as the threshold for adding RAM, in the neighborhood of to Also remember, we're talking about maximizing the performance of your Mac as related to RAM. You don't need to add more RAM if your Mac is performing to your expectations and needs.
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What is RAM?
Tom Nelson has written hundreds of articles, tutorials, and reviews for Other World Computing and About. He is the president of Coyote Moon, Inc. In the Activity Monitor window that opens, click the 'System Memory' tab.
The memory pressure chart displays in three colors:. Green: Indicates no compression. Yellow: Shows when compression is occurring. Red: Compression has reached its limits, and paging to virtual memory has started.