Why does my memory keep disappearing?!

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by craigdominic, May 9, 2009.

  1. craigdominic macrumors newbie

    May 9, 2009
    Hey, I'm new to mac and I've noticed that I can have 2 gigs of memory one day and the next I'm down to 24 or something!
    I've noticed that if I open a file in Itunes and then change the info that there are now 2 files in the finder, one with the old info and the new with the new metadata. Why does OS-X do that?!

    Also, if I have 1 gig of memory left (out of 180 or so) why does it disappear to 0 if I open photoshop? I'm used to a PC running virtual memory and CPU but why does the Mac actually take away my available memory?

    I'm at my wits end here, it's been driving me up the wall for weeks!

    please help if you can
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    Are you talking about hard-drive space? Because that's not memory.
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    That's an easy one. The answer is.... um, what was the question again? :D

    i'm sorry, couldn't resist...
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    On iTunes, I've never heard of it doing that, and it certainly doesn't when I change metadata, even on items that are protected. How are you managing your library--is iTunes copying all files to the library, or are you self-managing the actual files? For that matter, where is the duplicate showing up? In the same folder with a different file name (if so, what's the new name)?

    On the "memory" question, it really isn't clear what you're asking or where you're getting these numbers. If you're talking about free space on the boot drive (as shown at the bottom of a Finder window), then it's going to decrease any time you open a very RAM-intensive program, since it will be swapping physical memory to the hard drive as virtual memory. Windows does the same thing, you can just set an upper limit.

    If you actually only have 2 gigs of hard drive space free, then delete some files. Like, now. It's generally recommended that you have at least 10% of your boot drive empty, or 5GB, whichever is larger. When you get down near zero (which can happen, again, due to RAM swapping to the drive under normal conditions if you have very little free space) the OS can actually have problems saving important things and you will start getting warnings to that effect.

    Photoshop, specifically, also creates scratch files (which can be HUGE), so that could account for a sudden drop in drive space once you start working with it. There are a lot of people who claim Photoshop doesn't even work right unless you have 4+ gigs of RAM, though I think that's maybe a little overkill.

    If you actually are talking about memory--as in, RAM--are you getting these numbers from Activity Monitor? If this is the case, the MacOS does its darndest to make use of all available memory, so it's not unusual to see the "free" part of the pie chart be very small. So long as there's at least a decent chunk of "inactive", you should be ok. It's when Wired and Active take up the entire available space that you're going to run into low memory conditions and slowdowns.

    Note, again, that Photoshop is RAM hungry like nobody's business, so it will eat up free RAM very, VERY quickly.

    More details will get you a more useful answer, though.

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