How to Clear Apple Memory

By Avery Martin

A sluggish Mac costs you time and can hamper your productivity, and freeing RAM is one way to help improve the performance of your computer. Mac OS X Mavericks uses compressed memory to make better use of system resources. Compressed memory takes any data not in immediate use by an active application and compresses it to free available memory. Freeing memory makes it less likely that an application needs to use virtual memory, which uses the much slower hard drive, to page data to the disk.

Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor changed with Mac OS X Mavericks and uses a streamlined interface to provide more information detailing memory allocation on your Mac. Launch Activity Monitor by clicking the "Go" menu, selecting "Utilities" and double-clicking "Activity Monitor." Once open, click the "Memory" column to arrange applications and services by the amount of memory consumed. You can use this list to determine what applications or services you need to close to save memory. Leave alone any applications that show up as a root user and concentrate on closing applications using lots of memory.

Close Unneeded Applications

All those apps running in the Dock can reduce the amount of memory available on your machine. Close any applications you don't need by right-clicking on the application in the Dock and selecting the "Quit" option. Once you close an application, the memory used becomes available to the system again. This can come in handy when you need to perform more extensive tasks such as video or audio rendering that require large amounts of RAM. Additionally, any extra files and windows you have open can reduce the amount of memory available for tasks. Close extra browser windows, tabs and files that you don't need.

Disable Startup Items and Reboot

Startup items often work in the background and support other applications on your computer. For example, the iTunes Helper monitors devices connected to your computer and launches iTunes when it detects one. This behavior can provide an extra convenience, but you can safely disable it if you need to conserve memory. Launch System Preferences from the Dock, click "Users & Groups" and select "Login Items." Uncheck any applications you don't need running in the background or when your computer starts, and then restart your Mac. Restarting your computer can also give your system a fresh start and close down any processes using up your available memory.

Third-Party Apps

Third-party apps claim they can help you better manage your memory and free up memory on your system by automating many of the steps you must take manually to free up memory. With the click of a button, you can close any unneeded services running in the background. Apps like Memory Clean, Memory Manager HD, Memory Diag and Memory Boost all provide free options to help you manage memory. These apps monitor your usage and clean the system cache once you close an application, resulting in more memory for other tasks. However, for a system with limited RAM, the use of an application to manage memory may result in even less memory available. Many of these applications provide the same function as Activity Monitor.