Please help me understand system memory

Discussion in 'macOS' started by ipoddin, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. ipoddin macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I'd like a little better understanding of my memory usage. I go in to Activity monitor (or use a widget) and see "wired," "active," and "inactive"

    What does each mean? For instance, currently I have Dashboard, Firefox, and Quicksilver running and here are the results:

    Wired: 229.26mb
    Active: 388.96mb
    Inactive: 631.56mb

    Free: 797.59mb

    I'm using 1.2gb of memory and that seems like a lot. Now I do have alot of widgets, so I could try disabling some. However, right now, I'd just like to understand what all the memory readings mean. Thanks.
  2. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
    Wired: Memory that is currently in use for something so important that the application requires it to be in memory at all times

    Active: Memory that is currently in use but which may be swapped out to disk when necessary (and brought back when needed)

    Inactive: Memory that was in use but is not currently needed. It constitutes a cache of things that can be accessed quickly if they are needed again or disposed of if the space is needed for something else.

    Free: unused. Typically only high after a restart. Free and Inactive together make up what most people think of as Free (available).
  3. ipoddin thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Ah. That makes it clearer. Thought something must be wrong. Thanks.
  4. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    For future reference, here is the official word from Apple on memory. But yes, emptyCup gave you a great explanation.

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