Can I reduce memory swap?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jdadler, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. jdadler macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2010
    Memory gurus,

    I don't have a great understanding of memory, but I understand my iMac OSx10.9.1 is operating at a snail's pace. And I think the problem is "swap used." Here are my numbers:

    Physical memory: 4.00 GB
    Memory used: 3.99 GB
    Virtual memory: 7.46 GB
    Swap Used: 266.3 MB

    So from what I've read, we would prefer "swap used" was 0. Do you think the large swap file is the reason my system is running so slowly? If so, is there any way to reduce the "swap used"?


  2. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    What is your system configuration? It looks like you would benefit from more RAM.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    You're using swap because the system needs more ram then you have. you have not mentioned what apps you use to cause the high swap file usage.

    one easy way to clear it out, is to reboot the machine and then use only one app at a time. That will minimize the swap file usage as best as you can
  4. jdadler thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2010
    I have 4GB 1333 MHz RAM.

    I use photoshop, but even with it closed, the system is operating slowly. I am not running any games. I'm just running fairly standard apps: mail, safari, MSWord, iTunes...
  5. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    4 GB is just not a lot of RAM for Mavericks.

    Which Mac do you have?

    Do you have a hard drive, or an SSD?
    How much space is free on your drive?
    (although you may need more RAM, a nearly-full hard drive can also seriously slow down your OS X system, and give you other problems, too)
  6. jdadler thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2010
    Thanks for your help.

    I have a 2010 21.5-inch iMac. 3.6GHz Intel Core i5.
    Memory is 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3

    I have a 999 GB hard drive with 476 GB still free.

    Thoughts? Would purchasing more memory be the answer?
  7. B1ueB1aze macrumors member

    Oct 22, 2013
    The issue as others pointed out is you are running out of RAM, so your Mac is having to use swap which means it is using a portion of the hard drive as RAM. This is far slower then actual RAM. That is most likely the cause of the sluggish performance. However I use photoshop and a lot of other programs on my MacBook Air with only 4GB of RAM and have never had to use swap. I would look in activity monitor to see what's eating all the RAM up first and see if you can close the app that is doing it.
  8. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    4GB isn't that much RAM. It's better for them to buy more RAM instead of micro-managing their current RAM.

    In my opinion, buy more RAM. You have 4 slots for RAM in your computer with 2 in use. I'd recommend buying a 2x2GB or 2x4GB RAM kit to add to the empty slots, it looks like you only need the 2x2GB kit to bring your RAM up to 8GB, but it's your call on which to buy.
  9. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Ideally yes... but using 266MB of swap space is not much. A better way to tell if memory is the issue is to reboot then use the computer like you normally would for an hour or so then check the memory pressure section of Activity Monitor and see if it is green. If it is, you do not need more memory.

    It is very unlikely 266MB of swap usage would slow your system to the degree you describe. This sounds more like some process consuming excess CPU cycles. When this slowness is happening look in the CPU tab of Activity Monitor and sort by CPU% and see if anything is using a high percentage of CPU cycles.

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