Blue "Inactive" memory is used for things recently read from disk, in hopes that you will re-read them soon and your Mac will respond more quickly. It can instantly be turned into Free Memory.
Your largest single use is 4GB of memory for VMWare.
Safari Web content is high -- If are you saving more than ONE DAY of History, you should set it to remember only ONE DAY. It is easier to search for that stuff than to look through more than one day of History, and Safrai uses a lot of memory to save all that junk.
You ARE showing about 2GB of PageOuts and 2.5GB of Swap Used. These are counters that begin at Startup and count up continuously. Depending on how long your Mac has been running these could indicate you have too many things running at once.
VMWare will consume massive amounts of RAM while starting up and launching a VM (not sure if launching a windows VM is worse than others, however), and then release it once the launch is complete. That alone could account for most of your inactive RAM. It will also use a few hundred MB of swap in the process.
MS Office is probably responsible for the rest, especially if you have many unsaved documents open (for example, in MS Excel, as shown in your image).
Unfortunately, you don't say whether this memory problem occurs just when certain applications are open, if it goes away after a while, etc, etc. So it's difficult to say if this even looks like a problem. If it's chronic (it's like this all the time) then maybe. If this is occasional and then goes away (for example, if the swap file size drops after VMWare has been fully launched for a while)...then it may be normal.
There are also other considerations, like whether you have shared folders/applications between OS X and your VM(s). That can change the memory isolation of the VM and might mean that not all the VM RAM is wired (how much ram is assigned to your VM?).
Thank you Leroydouglas for responding.
I already tried to restart my computer. It worked for a couple of hours then the memory is full again. And that happens every day for a few month already. I learn a few things about activity monitoring in order to understand how OSX is managing the memory but did not found anything that could help.
What is the uptime of a screenshot?
I've just type uptime on terminal and here is the result:
21:01 up 1 day, 5:21, 2 users, load averages: 0,84 0,69 0,73
Thank you Grant,
I understand the difference between free and inactive, but I did not use my computer a lot and even then it's using memory. It should not use that much.
I've got 4GB for the virtual machine (I asked for it) but I should still have 12GB for all the other programs.
When I start my computer, everything is ok. I Start VMWare, Outlook, Safari, some Microsoft office documents... Everything is working fine. After a couple of hours, I realize that the amount of memory left is low and that the computer is using swap file.... it shouldn't.
Sometimes I would like to use 2 virtual machines at the same times but it is not possible 'cause the system will then be too slow to be 'usable'. I have to wait about half an hour before I can use my computer again.
And you said something about history in safari. It also consumes memory?
Many days of History can consume a lot of memory. Your browser is a different version, but is using twice the memory mine is. Set "Remove History Items" in Safari > Preferences > General
Another non-intuitive thing you can do is to set Top Sites to use LARGE icons (this allows fewer complete Web pages to be stored and updated).
Thank you g_Wolfman,
I'm ok with the huge amount of memory used by starting a virtual machine. I also checked on the monitor what was really happening during the launch of a virtual machine... nothing special. It took the 4GB I assigned to that virtual machine and that's it. I launched another virtual machine with also 4GB of RAM, it worked.
But then, an hour or so later, my computer does not response anymore.
A couple of days ago, the swap file took more than 5GB on my hard disk, and the outgoing pages something like 15GB in total during just one day.
I thought that if I assign 4GB of memory to one virtual machine, the system will give those 4GB away to VMWare and that's it, working with the 12GB left.
Like you, I believe that MS Office programs use more memory they should, but still, not 10GB...
Thank you Courcoul,
Is there another VMWare like software that will work better you think?
Unfortunately, I have to use MS Windows every day for my work, that why I can not quit the virtual machine when I'm not using it.
I used to have a PC, but I convinced my company that it would be better for me to use a Mac with a virtual machine for Windows (I'm also developping iOS programs).
I use Parallels 8 with 16GB of memory on my main system and another person users it with 8GB on the system. Mine always has about 4GB left free after the VM starts on it with 4GB allocated to it and everything else running on my machine. Theirs gets a little tight and looks similar to the OPs on 16GB, but not once have I ever seen it peg my 16GB system all the way. I don't even show a swap on mine, so I wouldn't say it's ALL VMs.... maybe VMWare's crappy memory management or something, but not all VM systems.