My Macbook Pro can't handle multi tasking...

Discussion in 'macOS' started by 00christian00, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. 00christian00 macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    Hi Everyone,
    I'm a new MacBook user since some months,I bought one Unibody 17'' believing what everyone said about Macs being reliable,fast,totally superior to Windows PC.
    Well,yeah,at first use I was amazed by my Mac and I really believed the above.This was until I really started working on it!
    I'm a really heavy user that do many tasks from graphics to development and I handle many many programs at once.
    Well let me say that Os X multi tasking really suck bad!
    I can't work one day on it without it becoming a turtle at the end of the day due to the heavy swap it does on the slow HD.
    I tried every possible solution and I hoped snow leopard solved this,but it didn't change anything.This is my situation now,I just rebooted 2 days ago:

    Let me say that my working routine has in fact changed since Windows,in worse!
    While on Windows I could keep open Over 40 Tabs in a browser before plus Photoshop plus Illustrator plus Vmware,now I can barely use 20 tabs in a browser plus photoshop with the same amount of RAM.I can use all the above program only if I reboot,then they work fine for a while,but after some day of use it start swapping like crazy and I can only use half of them at the same time.
    This is all due to the fantastic memory management not releasing the RAM.
    Just look at the above picture and tell me why it's using the HD instead of the damn 1GB inactive RAM I have.
    I searched everywhere and all I could find is "the OSX memory management is much smarter than you,it know what's right for you and always do the smart thing".
    I came up with the following possibilities of the reason none ever complain :
    1-Mac users are single task users.Open 1 or 2 apps at the same time.
    2-Mac users have at least 8GB of RAM and medium multi tasker(no way you can do serious multitasking with this memory management with only 8GB).
    3-Mac users reboot every day.
    4-Mac users are mostly desktop users where everything is bigger and faster,from RAM to HD.I see way many people with 16-32GB of RAM and I suppose their HD are cutting edge too.
    There is no way these would swap and even if they did it won't be noticeable as in my lousy 5400 rpm HD.

    Sorry for the complain,but I'm really frustrated by having bought a notebook for 2500 eur that goes much slower than something I had 5 years ago.
    And for your information I tried installing Windows 7 on this,and it was much better for multitasking,just like the old time,but I can't use it because Apple didn't bother to make some stable driver that doesn't crash randomly(no,it's not Win fault,just apple fault).
  2. Kat King123 macrumors regular

    Kat King123

    Jan 3, 2009
  3. 00christian00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    Of course resetting Safari release some SWAP it goes down to 2GB,and if I reset Preview and Photoshop I can almost remove all the swap.
    But if I have to close every program and then reopen it,it defy the purpose of multitasking!!!
    Also even if I close everything the system is not as fast as when I reboot it.
    Let me make this clear,the problem arise with every RAM hungry program.
    I am using safari now,because it delay the problem a little,otherwise I tried Opera,Firefox,all the same behaviour.After long use,they refuse to use the RAM and just swap like hell.
    When every program and I mean every,behave the same way the fault can be only one:the OS!
    I don't want to be forced to close the program and reopen it,it's such a waste of time,come on I have 4GB of RAM not 1GB.
    I want to leave the program opened with the documents opened so that I can have immediate access to them when I need.I didn't buy a 2500 eur notebook to behave like I would do with a mobile phone....

    Just to make clear how bad it is,I have just opened VMWare that took all the free ram but still left 1GB inactive RAM.Inactive RAM in theory should be disposable,well in theory.
    After that I opened Firefox where I had a session saved with many tabs.Well guess what,it didn't take a single MB of RAM but took around 300MB of swap.
    Now,since Osx always like to leave a lot of inactive memory it is quite obvious why I am getting all this swap if the inactive memory isn't used at all.
  4. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    I agree with the OS being unable to reliably free the RAM. It still amazes me that this is a problem this many years into OSX. Safari is a RAM hog even when you quit it.

    I sometimes use a cheap app called iFreemem which reallocates the RAM. It takes a minute or 2 and the computer is pretty much unusable for this period. I suggest this using this app whenever you need a coffee or restroom break.
  5. 00christian00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
  6. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    There are some issues with your machine.

    I haven't rebooted my 15" unibody in over 2 weeks and Safari only shows up as having used 147.8MB of memory.

    Likewise, I have Mail, Safari, iCal, iChat, Tweetie, QTX, iTunes (downloading and syncing), iPhoto, iWeb, Aperture, iMovie (processing an HD movie), FCE (cutting), Dreamweaver, and Photoshop open and my system isn't exactly zippy, but it's much faster than what you describe.
  7. 00christian00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    If there is some problem it must be hardware related because I have formatted and reinstalled everything several times and always had the same results.And I find it hard to believe that a hardware problem can force the OS to swap.
    I don't know what FCE is,but except photoshop,aperture the other are really lightweight programs.
    The problem isn't multi tasking per se,but but multi tasking in relation to RAM usage.Since RAM isn't used to its fullest the system is much slower than how it should be.If you use small programs with low RAM usage you can even have hundred of simultaneos processes.
    If your Safari only use that little RAM it mean your are either visiting really small websites with little to none graphical content,or you have very few tabs open.

    In my case the real RAM killer that always make my Mac swap after a while are:
    1-Safari,it leak a lot and RAM continuosly grow.
    Closing Tabs doesn't help much.need close Safari
    2-Preview.I have many pdf datasheets of several pages open and it does swap a lot.Again closing them doesn't help,neeed close preview.
    3-Photoshop CS4.This is a real killer.The more it stays open the more it become slow,don't know why.
  8. kryptonianjorel macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2009
    My friend, I have no idea what your problem is, but it seems that it is hardware related.

    The fact that your safari takes up 1.25 GB of actual memory is outstanding! I would have the machine looked at. I can't seem to get firefox's real mem use above 350 MB. Do you have like 20 tabs of flash videos loaded of something?

    When it comes to preview, I have lots of problems with it. My physics textbook is a .pdf (worst idea ever) that is over 700 MB in size. preview often crashes because of this file. Maybe you should try a different pdf viewer
  9. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    FCE is Final Cut Pro. About half of the stuff I'm running is lightweight, but they add up. iMovie was processing an HD movie (1280x720). That isn't lightweight at all.

    I don't have 40 tabs open in Safari, but I do keep at least 20 or so. Most of them are flash sites so it's not the content.

    VMware uses a lot of memory simply because it allocates X number of GB all to itself. At least the other apps take memory when it's needed. If you use VMware, that is the main source of memory hog you have. You're virtualizing a whole other system and sharing the memory. No way will both systems run fast. If I set aside 2GB for VMware, there is only 2GB left for me on my host OS. No matter what I do, only 2GB. That is 50% of my total memory, 4GB. My system won't run at 100% performance because 50% of my memory is gone.
  10. 00christian00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    If I open 20 tabs with Safari I'm well over 500MB for sure.I have no idea how you can be so lightweight.

    And VMWare is running a lightweight XP with just 256MB of RAM,in total it "should" use that 256 plus something for the app itself,around 300 MB in total.
    But Like I said,I can't afford to keep VMWare always open anymore because of the horrible ram management.
  11. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    I think VMware is responsible. Is it updated? As in, do you update the app with updates?
  12. borcanm macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2008
    To OP.

    Macs are ram huggers. They'll gobble all your ram. And dont use safari because it gets sluggish with use. Firefox is simply the best.
  13. 00christian00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    Everything is as much as updated as possible.
    The problem arise with just almost every app,just with apps that uses little RAM it's harder to incurr on it.
    What bother me is the fact that I have almost always 1GB of inactive memory and the system still swap instead of using this.
    I never and saw the inactive memory stay near to zero unless I open many application all at once right after restarting(in which case I suppose the inactive memory isn't even used,so it doesn't need to be freed).

    And yes,I was using Firefox,but Safari Rendering is so much faster.
    Also firefox have the same exact problem for me.

    Like it was advised before by using iFreeMem before launching a program I can get around this,since the software does empty the whole inactive memory,and the system return quite snappy(still not on par with a reboot state) but It's not normal I have to resort to such a hack for a normal use,and it's quite boring to have to do it once a while.

    Oh,and once I even tried to disable the swap,the whole system was so much faster without ever slowing down.The only problem is that in the rare case I would need more than 4GB the whole system would hang.This happened only under heavy load,much heavier than I normally do,so there is no reason for the OS without disabling the swap,to resort to the HD,because in fact I rarely use more than 4GB of RAM,still the system always think I don't have anymore.
  14. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    If Safari is using 1GB of memory - how often do you quit it..?

    Any computer will slow down if you leave it for days on end with the same applications running. Fair enough OS X doesn't need to be rebooted like Windows to start "fresh" but if you just leave applications running all the time, then you'll notice slow downs.

    When you aren't using Safari, quit it. When you aren't using any other software, quit it. Multitasking doesn't mean leaving every application open for when you need it..

    In an ideal world we could do that, but you need to look at how you are using the computer and look at ways to be more efficient.

    If you are saying it can't multitask well, go onto a Windows machine and do exactly what you did in OS X. OS X isn't spotless, it does have problems mind.
  15. nigameash macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2008
    Space: The Final Frontier
    you have a hardware related issue, i multi-task alot on my mac too and i've never had such issues! i have a umbp 15" 2.66 june 09 and had a june 07 2.4 and never had such issues with either in terms of multi-tasking!
  16. 00christian00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    Please read above,I can't do it,because it does freeze randomly.Otherwise I would have switched long ago :(

    Resetting Safari is not an issue,I can live with it,but the issue here is not safari,but the fact that every combination of software I use after a while it start swapping while it shouldn't.It's not normal.
    Since a lot of people says they don't have this problem,I would like to know how do they work,so maybe I can adapt like them(since I have no other choice).

    I leave all the program open,not because I don't want to wait for them to reopen but because I leave the docs open.
    Closing and reopening Preview for example it would be a real pain for me,just like it would be rebooting because I would have to find and open every document I was reading.
    Closing and Reopening Photoshop is even a worse pain,because not only I have to do the above but I also lose the history,unless I make a snapshot.

    Can you tell me what kind of works you do with your Mac?

    To further analyze the situation I closed everything and also killed Finder.Guess what I still have 700MB of swap.
    Now the only process that come to my mind that can still swap are WindowServer and KernelTask.
    I killed Window Server,that's basically like logging off and log in again,since it relead everything,and still have 300MB of swap that are almost surely still frozen by the kernel.
    Now if the 2 most important processes are allowed to swap,how the hell am I supposed to get decent speed out of this?
  17. brkirch macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2001
    It could be that the number of 64-bit programs in Mac OS X is why you are seeing much a much better performance in Windows (that is, if you usually use a 32-bit version of Windows). 64-bit programs usually use significantly more memory.

    So if you insist on leaving about 40 tabs open in Safari, try setting Safari to open in 32-bit mode. The same applies with the other programs; if they are using up too much RAM then switch them to 32-bit mode. There is little point in using 64-bit programs if you have 4 GB or less of memory AND are frequently finding the computer short on memory. It also might help to use something like ClickToFlash to ensure that you aren't wasting your computer's resources on Flash ads (Flash is a even worse resource hog in Mac OS X than in Windows).
  18. Ptyger macrumors member


    Nov 20, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    My Safari processes used to use a ton of RAM too, mostly due to the flash content of ads and such on the sites I tend to visit. I installed a Safari add-on called clicktoflash which lets me choose which blocks flash automatically and lets me choose which flash parts of a page to open, by clicking on them.

    Since I've done this, I've seen my RAM usage by Safari decrease to roughly 1/3 of what it was previously. You might give it a try, maybe will help you out some. I can't say it will completely fix your problem, but it's worth a shot.

    You can download clicktoflash here:

    As an aside, it will let you load the alternate H.264 versions of youtube videos instead of the flash ones, and in my experience, they are much higher quality and take many less system resources.
  19. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hmm, the only multi tasking problems I have are within Logic 8, and that is known, being more about not being able to split up larger calculations to all CPU cores, and less about "Multi-tasking".
  20. 00christian00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    I have installed clicktoflash few weeks ago and infact it helped a lot!!!
    But it only delayed the problem for me :(

    I have just found a program MemTools,and some people claim it help freeing the inactive ram,I'm going to try it these days.Too bad it is shareware,but it's cheap anyway,and if it does really work I would even pay a big price to have a snappy os.
  21. kryptonianjorel macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2009
    Even when I'm running my windows 7 VM (2GB RAM, mind you) I don't have slow downs like you. Call Apple or get a genius appt. Its worth a try
  22. matthewscott661 macrumors 6502


    Jun 27, 2009
    I think your problem is unusual. I have never had any issue with memory or my MacBook becoming sluggish. Ever. And I am for sure not a unitasker.
    I usually have at least two firefox windows open with a total of about 15-20 tabs, VMWare running XP with 1.5GB memory and AutoCAD Architecture 2010(such a ridiculous resource hog even you'd be amazed), and Adobe Fireworks. Those are just the big ones, i also usually have iTunes and iCal, sometimes Pages, Google Earth and Sketchup.
    I also don't restart my computer unless software update tells me I have to. That is sometimes for months, mind you, and it still works great.
    Maybe you just have, like, ridiculously high standards.
  23. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    I opened 50 tabs with 50 different web sites of varied content in Firefox on my Mac Pro. Firefox used up 556MB of "Real Memory".

    You system has is not Mac OS X's fault....

  24. MKnight macrumors regular


    Oct 15, 2007
    You opted for the 7200 RPM HD on your Mabook Pro right?

    If not, come back to me when you have done that...

  25. cjmillsnun macrumors 68020

    Aug 28, 2009
    How does that effect RAM usage???

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