Running Out of Application Memory on Mac? The Why and How

Tips • April 20 2023

app memory mac

Many Mac users have the issue of running out of application memory, which results in the error message “Your system has run out of application memory.” This issue is simply resolvable, although there may be more than one cause for it. To resolve this issue, users should first identify which applications are using the most memory.

But why does it occur, and what can you do to prevent it?

In this article, we’ll explore the many solutions you can try to fix this problem on your Mac as well as the underlying causes.

We have also offered useful tips on how to manage your Mac’s RAM and avoid crashes. By following these tips, you can ensure that your Mac performs smoothly and without glitches.

Whether you’re a power user or a casual user, these tips are simple to follow and can significantly improve your Mac’s performance. So, continue reading to find out more about how to maintain a smooth Mac operation and avoid the annoying “out of application memory” warning message.

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Key takeaways

  • Your Mac computer may slow down or even crash if your application memory runs out, therefore it’s important to understand why this is happening.
  • You can use Activity Monitor to monitor how much memory every program is using and close any unnecessary apps to free up space.
  • Too many apps or processes running at once can overload your computer’s limited capacity and be one common reason for running out of memory.
  • Upgrading the hardware of your Mac, including getting a faster SSD or additional RAM, can also help you avoid running out of memory.
  • To avoid memory problems, it’s important to regularly monitor your computer’s performance and take measures to optimize it, such as shutting down unwanted programs and deleting temporary files.
  • On a Mac, malware or adware may occasionally use a large amount of RAM, so it’s important to routinely check for and get rid of any potential risks.

What is application memory on a Mac?

Application Memory, which is fairly self-explanatory, is the area of memory that your operating system’s applications use. This problem is not exclusive to Mac users; non-Mac users frequently encounter it as well.

Application Memory can become overused and cause a computer to run slowly. It can also lead to instability and crashes. Regularly closing applications can help reduce the amount of Application Memory being used.

Applications can operate smoothly on your Mac OS because of application memory, generally known as RAM (Random Access Memory). You can always upgrade the RAM on your Mac to improve the amount of memory it has accessible. The more RAM you have, the more efficiently your applications will run on your operating system.

In order to ensure smooth app operation, your Mac operating system sets aside a portion of this RAM for applications. The application uses this allotted memory to store data, temporary files, and other information necessary for its effective functioning.

And after this memory is used up, you frequently run into the problem of running out of application memory, which may cause problems for your operating system and possibly make it unresponsive.

What is the importance of fixing the application memory problem on your Mac?

For the effective operation of your Mac operating system and the overall efficiency of your system, it is imperative that you fix application memory problems. If this problem is not fixed, it might negatively affect the performance of your operating system, which would then affect user productivity and workflow.

The first and most important step is to determine what is causing your Mac application memory to run out so you can determine the main cause, address the issue, and move on to prevent recurrences. The user may then optimize their usage by determining the root cause, such as the application using the most memory.

Finding the underlying reasons is equally important since it enables the user to understand the issue’s origin and take action to prevent it from happening again. It also enables the user to pinpoint additional factors, such as obsolete software or hardware limitations, that could be causing the problem.

How to check application memory on a Mac

You can check your Mac’s application memory usage by following these steps:

  1. On your Mac, open the “Activity Monitor” application. Search for it using Spotlight or in the Applications/Utilities folder.
  2. Open the Activity Monitor window and select “View” from the menu bar. A list of all running processes will appear.
  3. View each process’ memory usage by clicking on the “Memory” tab. This will display a list of all running processes and how much memory they are using.
  4. By clicking on the “Memory” column header, you can sort the processes by memory usage. You can use this to identify any memory-hogging applications by seeing which processes consume the most memory.

By monitoring your Mac’s application memory consumption, you can see which apps are taking up the most space and causing performance issues, and you can then take action by either quitting the app or considering uninstalling it to create room for other apps.

Why does Mac run out of application memory?

  1. Low free storage on the boot disk: If your Mac’s boot disk (often the internal hard drive or SSD) has very little free space remaining and your operating system (macOS) is unable to create page/swap files to unload the contents of virtual memory to disk. This may lead to performance problems or crashes if the Mac’s application memory runs out.
  2. Excessive virtual memory usage: If a process or group of processes requests macOS for a lot of virtual memory address space, the Mac may eventually run out of application memory. This may occur if there is a memory leak in an application or if you have too many memory-consuming applications running at once.
  3. Insufficient RAM: It is possible for your Mac to have memory issues if it does not have enough RAM. You can have this problem if you run too many applications simultaneously or if you run memory-intensive programs.
  4. Outdated hardware: It’s possible that older Macs with obsolete hardware don’t support as much RAM as more recent versions. You may experience memory issues if you are running memory-intensive applications or if you have too many running at the same time.
  5. Memory leaks: Some applications may have memory leaks, which causes them to slowly use more memory. This may eventually result in a memory shortage, slowing down, or even crashing your Mac.

It’s always a good idea to identify the root causes that are causing issues to your available storage space and close any unnecessary applications or processes. You can also try upgrading your Mac’s RAM to increase its available memory.

By upgrading your RAM, you can enable your Mac to run more applications simultaneously. Other problems brought on by insufficient memory, such as slow performance, frequent crashes, and the inability to execute specific programs, can also be addressed and avoided.

How to fix “your system has run out of application memory” on Mac

To fix your Mac memory issues, you can always try the following solutions:

  1. Force quit unused apps: Close any unused applications you aren’t actively using to clear memory.
    app quit
  2. Restart your Mac: If the error persists, restart your Mac to clear out memory leaks or other issues.
  3. Optimize browser extensions: Consider disabling or uninstalling any extensions you don’t need to optimize your browser.
  4. Clear up storage space: You can prevent the error by freeing up storage space on your Mac by deleting any unnecessary files or applications.
  5. End automatic application start: Reduce memory usage by preventing automatic app launches at startup.
  6. Limit memory usage by Finder: By disabling some visual effects and animations, you can limit the amount of memory used by Finder.
  7. Upgrade to a new Silicon Mac:Consider upgrading to a new Silicon Mac if you have an older Mac with limited memory. This will prevent the error from occurring in the future.

Third-party apps to help manage application memory on Mac

  1. Memory Clean: The application helps in memory optimization and cleanup on your Mac by locating and terminating unimportant tasks and memory-intensive applications.
  2. CleanMyMac X:CleanMyMac X offers a memory cleaner option that can help free up space by finding and shutting memory-intensive programs in addition to removing trash files and improving the efficiency of your Mac.
  3. App Tamer: You can control your programs’ CPU consumption using App Tamer, which can help you avoid memory problems by ensuring that your apps don’t use up too much processing power.

You can find these apps on the Mac App Store or directly from the developers’ websites.

Try out these applications to see which one suits you best. It’s recommended to do your own research and select the app based on your interests and requirements. To make an informed choice, read reviews and evaluate features.

Tips for managing your Mac’s memory and preventing crashes

Here are 10 professional tips for managing your Mac’s application memory and preventing crashes:

  1. Close unused applications and tabs
  2. Use Activity Monitor to identify memory-intensive processes
  3. Upgrade your RAM
  4. Disable memory-intensive startup apps
  5. Clear caches regularly
  6. Use a memory cleaner app
  7. Disable visual effects
  8. Disable unnecessary extensions and plugins
  9. Keep your Mac up to date
  10. Restart your Mac regularly

Final thoughts

In conclusion, running out of application memory is a problem that affects a lot of Mac users, and it may be brought on by the problems mentioned above, such as applications taking up the majority of your memory and affecting the performance of your Mac’s operating system.

Low storage space, high virtual memory use, or simultaneously executing too many memory-demanding apps might also have this effect. You can attempt the solutions listed above to resolve this problem, including restarting your Mac, optimizing browser extensions, freeing up storage space, disabling automatic application start, restricting Finder memory consumption, or purchasing a new Silicon Mac.

These solutions can help you avoid the “running out of application memory” issue and maintain a smooth Mac experience. You should also keep an eye on your Mac’s memory usage on a regular basis.

To guarantee that your Mac is operating properly, it is also advised to keep it updated with the most recent software and security patches. You can avoid any potential memory-related problems and ensure a stable and streamlined Mac experience by doing so.


Q: How much RAM will my Mac require to run multiple applications?

A: The exact apps you are running and how many of them you are running at once will determine how much memory you require. Generally speaking, a Mac should have at least 8GB of RAM in order to run multiple applications effectively.

Q: Is it possible to stop the “running out of application memory” error?

A: While the error cannot be entirely avoided, you can take measures that reduce the risk that it will occur. This involves closing unnecessary applications, preventing running too many applications at once, and taking other steps to optimize your Mac’s memory usage.

Q: Is it possible for my Mac to run out of application memory if I have a lot of browser tabs open?

A: Yes, running several browser tabs can result in your Mac running out of application memory, especially if you’re using Chrome or another browser with a reputation for being memory intensive. Try removing unnecessary tabs or switching to a browser that uses less memory, such as Firefox or Safari.

Q: Can my Mac’s RAM be upgraded?

A: Most of the time, yes. Although many Macs can have their memory upgraded, it’s important to check the model to find out if it’s possible and what kind of memory is required.

Q: Can a RAM upgrade for my Mac help me avoid running out of application memory?

A: Yes, increasing the RAM on your Mac can help keep applications from running out of memory. Your Mac can run more applications at once with greater memory before running out of space.

Q: What distinguishes RAM from hard drive storage on a Mac?

A: RAM is the term for Mac’s temporary memory, which is used to store data that is being used by the open apps. On the other hand, hard drive storage provides a permanent location for all of your data and files.


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