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inactive ram

2224 Views 3 Replies Latest reply: Jun 17, 2010 11:17 AM by JaimieV RSS
intel000 Calculating status...
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Jun 14, 2010 1:42 AM
i just got a new intel imac 27" with 4gb of ram. My problem is that i have anywhere from 1gb to 1.6gb of ram that is inactive. What can i do to correct this and make it free? I cant find the processes in activity monitor either to quit them.
intel imac, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (13,805 points)
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    Jun 14, 2010 2:20 AM (in response to intel000)
    Inactive RAM usage is not a problem; it is a normal & beneficial consequence of the advanced memory management system of OS X.

    Inactive memory contains items that may be used again soon & are thus temporarily retained in memory to avoid the extra time it takes to fetch them from the hard drive all over again. If these items were released from inactive memory prematurely, the performance of your iMac would suffer. To avoid this, the memory management system constantly monitors what is in inactive memory & tries to release parts of it to the free memory pool only a when it becomes obvious its contents will not be reused again soon, for instance when you quit a process. However, since inactive memory contains items shared by several processes, quitting one process does not generally release all its inactive memory.

    Another way to look at this is free memory is memory unused by any process, active or inactive, & thus there is no benefit to having large amounts of it doing nothing.
    2008 iMacs: 24"/3.06 GHz + 20"/2.66 GHz; White MacBook/2.4 GHz, Mac OS X (10.6.3), Kensington Trackball; Airport Extreme 802.11n; assorted iPods and older Macs
  • Mark Duehmig Calculating status...
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    Jun 17, 2010 8:42 AM (in response to intel000)

    Great explanation of Inactive memory. But lately my MacPro (dual quad 3ghz with 8 gb of RAM) has been slowing up. When I check the RAM amount on one of my widgets, the Inactive memory is 6-7 GB and the amount free is like 64 megs.

    The programs I have open are InDesign, maybe photoshop and two or three pages in Safari. Could something not be releasing my Inactive memory?

    Mac Pro Dual Quad 3GHz, Mac OS X (10.6.3), 8 GB RAM
  • JaimieV Level 2 Level 2 (490 points)
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    Jun 17, 2010 11:17 AM (in response to Mark Duehmig)
    As RC-R says, inactive ram will be released on demand. Think of it as "recently used things" cache, because that's really what it is. It's working as designed.

    It may be easier if you think of your available memory as the sum of free+inactive. iStat has this as the default view, for example.
    iMac i5 2009; MBP 13" late '09; Air '07; Mini '09; Mini '08, iPhone 3Gs, 2G, Mac OS X (10.6.4)


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