“Beach ball of death”, “spinning wheel” and “rainbow pinwheel” are the things every Mac user hates to see on their machine. These dreadful signs usually reflect problems with the computer, for example, a failing hard drive, lack of free storage etc. However, if you see a spinning wheel on a relatively new Mac, most likely it is the result of insufficient RAM amount or its inefficient distribution among the apps and processes. If you’d like to learn how to manage your RAM effectively and keep your desktop or laptop as fast as it can possibly be – this article is for you.
Before describing methods of optimizing your Mac performance, let’s first find out what RAM is. Long story short, RAM or Random Access Memory is the ‘working memory’ of the computer and a thing that allows applications to be open and running alongside each other at the same time, so the more RAM you have – the better. Modern Mac computers come with at least 4GB of RAM, which can be upgraded (on certain models) to allow users perform more complicated tasks.
Checking your Mac’s Random Access Memory capacity can give you a hint in understanding the reasons for frequent freezes, slow boot, app crashes and other problems. Before taking steps to improve the performance of the computer, identify how many gigabytes of memory you have installed.
Now that you know what RAM is and how many gigs you have on your machine, we can move on to the tips on enhancing the performance of your Mac. Basically, there are three main methods of improving the speed of your computer:
- Upgrading RAM
- Tweaking and high-tuning the operating system
- Using specialized software.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.
Upgrading RAM, or, in other words, replacing the original pre-installed memory with a larger amount is an ultimately effective, but at the same time – quite expensive way of making your Mac work better. RAM upgrades are performed by Apple at the time of purchase of the device (certain MacBook Air models) or on demand of the customers, by Apple-authorized service providers or by third-party companies working without Apple’s certification. It is also possible to replace the RAM module on your own, however, if you don’t think you’re skilled enough in tearing down electronics, that’s not the best idea.
Those who want to upgrade RAM at the Apple Store should first make the appointment and come to the outlet at the time they have selected.
If you don’t have an Apple Store with a Genius Bar in your area, try finding your local authorized service provider. The technicians will replace old RAM modules with those of higher capacity. Of course, if your computer supports RAM upgrades.
Turning to third-party services should be considered as an option by those whose warranty has already expired or those who don’t have an Apple Store or Apple authorized service provider in the country.
If you know the difference between a screwdriver and a wrench, you can also upgrade RAM module on your own. You will need a compatible memory module, a set of tools for opening and disassembling your Mac and a good tutorial. Please note that a DIY-upgrade will void the warranty and may brick your computer, so be careful.
Tweaking and high-tuning the operating system
That is probably the most interesting part of this post. There’s a handful of methods of speeding up your Mac without replacing the RAM modules installed by default.
If you have a MacBook Air or an older MacBook Pro model, you won’t be able to physically upgrade RAM as it is soldered to the logic board. However, you can use some tweaks to make the operating system consume less memory. If you haven’t got a Mac right now, but plan to purchase it soon, keep one thing in mind: spend extra money, but choose the model with maximum amount of RAM or pay to upgrade the memory on the computers that have it soldered to the logic board.
Manage your login items
If you have a lot of applications set to launch automatically when you log in to your computer, the RAM consumption may rise drastically. To add/remove login items, open System Preferences – Users & Groups, select a user and hit Login items. Remove the apps you don’t need to boot up alongside your operating system.
Control the amount of free storage on your drive
When the amount of RAM is not sufficient to handle all active processes, your Mac uses the free storage available on the hard drive or SSD, so make sure it is not stuffed with unused files (old documents, logs, caches etc.). Having at least several gigabytes of free storage on your Mac ensures you won’t see a beachball after you load your memory with something more difficult than internet browsing or listening to music.
Disable resource-intensive visual effects
- Stop using animated desktop background
- Open System Preferences – Dock and make sure Automatically hide and show the Dock is unchecked
- Go to System Preferences – Dock and select Scale effect under Minimize windows using
- Open System Preferences – Mission Control and disable Dashboard (If you use OS X El Capitan, Dashboard is disabled by default)
Using specialized software
Users who are not very computer literate and those who simply don’t want to mess up with system settings, might consider using specialized software as the most acceptable option. Dedicated applications for RAM consumption optimization are much cheaper than physical memory upgrades, yet these apps can give you a hand in freeing up precious megabytes of RAM.
MacKeeper Memory Cleaner
MacKeeper Memory Cleaner is simple and effective tool for instant memory cleanup. Once opened, the utility scans all processes loaded in RAM and removes those that are inactive and unused by the system or current user. Apart from that, one can set up automatic cleanups and forget about opening the app each time the computer starts to work slower.
Together with Memory Cleaner, you get 16 other tools developed to make the more secure and efficient and this seems to be a good reason to give it a try. Want to know more? Read ‘Mackeeper Review – Does It Actually WORK?’
You can find additional information about the product at its official website.
Memory Booster – RAM Optimizer
Basically, Memory Booster – RAM Optimizer is a Memory Cleaner alternative with a different design and a handy menu bar widget allowing you to keep an eye on the amount of free and used memory. The app utilizes the algorithms used by other popular cleaning utilities, so in terms of functionality is considered to be quite similar to the program described above. It lacks additional features included in the MacKeeper package, so it’s a good choice for those who don’t need any other tools to maintain their machines.
Head to the App Store to read more about Memory Booster – RAM Optimizer.
MemoryKeeper is another App Store application for cleaning Random Access Memory. It’s probably the simplest and most intuitive tool among those mentioned in this and it’s absolutely free. RAM maintenance is lightning fast, apart from that, the design of MemoryKeeper is simply awesome. One can set up two cleanup modes, Quick and Full, as well as manage other options easily via the Preferences pane.
Read more about MemoryKeeper at its App Store page.
These are the simplest and the most effective steps that can help you perform more tasks with your Mac.
Do you know any other methods of RAM usage optimization on Mac computers? Let us know in the comments section down below.