Solved: Your system has run out of application memory

Are you getting the error message Your system has run out of memory on your Mac? Don’t panic. You’ll learn the real fix in this article…

It takes ages booting up your Mac system? Applications hang on your Mac computer? Or your Mac runs slowly? Probably you’re seeing the error message saying: You system has run out of application memory.

Don’t panic. Usually it’s because your Mac is low on memory, or your RAM is being used to the max. More importantly, you can fix it with the solutions here. Read on to find how…

What you might concern…

A. If you have no idea how to check the memory usage on your mac, here’s the method:

  1. On your keyboard, hold down the Command key and A at the same time, then press the Up arrow key.
  2. Type activity monitor in the search box. Then double-click the Activity Monitor icon.

    You’ll then see the Memory usage on the pop-up window.

B. Why is enough memory or RAM necessary on your Mac?

RAM refers to Random access memory and it provides storage for the ongoing processes or tasks on your Mac. So if it’s being used to the max, you mac would run slow or even get stuck frequently.

Try these fixes:

Here are a few methods that have helped other users resolve their out-of-memory Mac system problem. You may not need to try them all; just work your way down the list until you find the one that works for you.

Method 1: Force quit the memory hogging processes

In the error message window where you see ‘Your system has run out of application memory’, your can force quit the processes which hog memory.

Or, you can stop more processes in Activity Monitor.

  1. On your keyboard, hold down the Command key and A at the same time, then press the Up arrow key.
  2. Type activity monitor in the search box, then double-click the Activity Monitor icon.
  3. Select any process you want to stop under the Memory pane, then click the Quit icon. Click Quit or Force Quit.

Method 2: Remove auto-launching apps from your login items

The apps set to launch automatically on your Mac computer may also use up RAM. You can check them and remove those unnecessary from your login items.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. On the top left of your desktop, click the Apple icon.Then select System Preferences…

  2. Click Users & Groups.

  3. Select your user account. Then click Login Items on the right.
  4. Select the item you want to remove, then click the Remove icon. If you plan to remove a few items, you can tick on them together, then click the Remove icon.

Method 3: Cleanup your desktop

If your desktop is messed with shortcuts, documents or images, you’ll need to cleanup your desktop.

Here’s why: The macOS treats your every desktop icon as an active window. The more desktop icons, the more memory is being used. As a result, your system is low on memory.

In this case, we highly recommend cleaning up your desktop.

Here’s a tip for you to organize your desktop icons: Create a new folder on your desktop and drag your documents and images into the folder rather than leaving every item on your desktop.

Method 4: Free up your Mac’s disk space

If your Mac is running out of RAM, we recommend free up your disk space. The free disk space translates into virtual memory for your ongoing processes or tasks. It would be the best if you keep 20% of your disk space free. Here’s some tips for you to free up your Mac’s disk space:

  1. Delete large unused files, like movies.
  2. Remove rarely used programs.
  3. Store your files in iCloud.
  4. Clear caches, logs and other unnecessary data.

Or if you want to save much more time, you can choose a safe and green third-party app to help you free up your Mac’s disk space.

Method 5: Reduce the memory used by Finder

By default setting, Finder on your Mac is set to search across all your files when you’re browsing your files. That’s to say, Finder needs to remember to the paths to all you files and keep them in RAM. It could become a burden to you Mac since more and more files are being stored on your Mac.

So, follow to reduce the memory used by Finder to save RAM on your Mac:

  1. On the top left of your desktop, click Finder. Then select Preferences…

  2. Under the General tab, select a folder from the drop down menu to be shown when you open a new Finder window. Please keep in mind that don’t select All my files or Recents as the location.

  3. On your keyboard, hold down the Alt key, then right-click the Finder icon in your Dock. Then select Relaunch.

Tada! You’ve saved some RAM of your Mac.

Have you ever solved the Your system has run out of memory error? What methods did you try? Feel free to comment below with your own experiences.

By April Cai

April, a Microsoft Certified Professional(MCP), aims to make readers' tech life easy and enjoyable. She's passionate about helping people solve their computer, phone & app woes. That's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So read more from the following articles.


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