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I have Macbook Pro running Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) with 4GB RAM. I use some applications (Parallels for Windows (1GB RAM), Firefox, mail, freemind, iTunes, Finder, Terminal and that's it), and I can observe that after some time memory is completely full and system's performance decreases. I wonder

  1. how can I know the real use of my programs in memory? I use activity monitor but if I add up all the individual contributions I never get 4GB RAM.
  2. if there are some services that are wasting memory and which I do not need like google update etc, and how can I deactivate them?
  3. is there other advices for freeing memory?
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Well, this isn't apple specific advice, so I'm not sure that it will work well, but try with top command in terminal or with cat /proc/meminfo. Those two should be able to show memory status. Hopefully, someone will be able to give you OS X specific advice soon. –  AndrejaKo Mar 1 '11 at 16:36
    
Similar question: superuser.com/questions/244553/… –  Doug Harris Mar 1 '11 at 17:16

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

how can I know the real use of my programs in memory. I use activity monitor but if I add up all the individual contributions I never get 4GB RAM

It is a good thing that you never get 4GB RAM. It would be very bad for your system if all your applications used all your real memory. There must be some free memory at all times for the system to run smoothly and virtual memory paging to work properly. I would be worried if your free memory is under 50 MB.

Apple has a support document explaining memory usage shown in Activity Monitor.

I like iStat Menus for giving me a quick snapshot of my memory/CPU/Network usage.

if there are some services that are wasting memory and which I do not need like google update, etc, and how can I deactivate them

You can see what processes are using a lot of memory with Activity Monitor and quit processes there.

Unless your Page outs value under the System Memory tab is very high compared to the Page ins value, or you get excessive disk thrashing, I wouldn't worry about it. I think the best way to limit memory usage, given the set of applications you are using, is simply to keep the number of tabs/windows you have open in Firefox to a minimum. 4 GB should be more than enough to run that set of applications in Mac OS X.

other advices for freeing memory

Frankly, in my opinion there's not much you can do besides limiting the number of applications/startup items you launch.

The most important thing is ensuring you have enough disk space for Virtual Memory paging. The X Lab has an excellent article explaining memory usage and how to determine if you have sufficient memory.

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Answer to question 3: Use the purge command in a terminal to forcefully free some disk caches from memory. It will increase the amount of "Free" memory available.

Man page:

purge(8) BSD System Manager's Manual

NAME purge -- force disk cache to be purged (flushed and emptied)

SYNOPSIS purge

DESCRIPTION Purge can be used to approximate initial boot conditions with a cold disk buffer cache for performance analy- sis. It does not affect anonymous memory that has been allocated through malloc, vm_allocate, etc.

SEE ALSO sync(8), malloc(3)

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