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mac has run out of application memory

When using Mac, you may get an error message saying that the system has run out of application memory and asking you to force quit apps that you are not using. You don’t know why this happens because you just open a few programs. Or, after upgrading to macOS Catalina, Mojave or High Sierra and more, you find that the computer runs more slowly than before and keep saying that it has run out of application memory.

This out-of-memory problem on Mac may make you panic. In this post, you can learn what application memory is and various methods to fix the problem. Read on.

What Does System Has Run Out of Application Memory Mean?

When your Mac says system has run out of application memory, it means that your computer doesn’t have enough memory required by applications to run. Four possible reasons account for the problem.

1. Too much apps run simultaneously. It’s a common practice to run several apps at the same time; however, accumulation of excessive apps in the background takes up more and more space and finally leads to the problem of “system has run out of application memory”.

2. Your boot disk has little free space for running apps. When running an app on Mac, if all physical RAM are used, macOS will create swap files, which takes up disk space. So, it takes up more and more memory until your hard drive is full (opens new window) and there is no room for the swap files, the system will report that it has run out of application memory. Or that you have lots of free disk space, but the currently running apps need such a large amount of virtual memory address space that macOS fails to provide.

3. Excessive browser extensions. We install extensions and allow plugins in order to have a better browsing experience. But once opened, these extensions are running together with the browser even if not used, which take up a lot of space on Mac.

4. Memory leak might also be the problem. When a program is using more and more space over time as it runs and fails to release memory, you can recognize it as a memory leak. It will keep asking your Mac for more space but never gives it back, which makes the system run out of application memory. And thus, the error message pops up.

Your System Has Run Out of Application Memory, How to Fix?

If your Mac is running painfully slow or you often get the dreaded error message, it is possible that your system has run out of all your application memory on Mac. Here are 9 methods on how to check and free up memory on Mac. Go through the following article to find the one that works for you.

1. Force Quit Unused Applications

When you have used up all the application memory on Mac, the Force Quit Applications window will open. You can select the unused apps and click Force Quit to quit the processes that hog memory. Or you can force quit more than one application in Activity Monitor.

Step 1. Open Finder in the Mac dock.

Step 2. Find Activity Monitor, and then double-click the icon.

Step 3. Under the Memory pane, select the program that you want to force quit, click the Force Quit or Quit button.

Force Quit

Tip: How to Restore Paused Application

If the system has run out of application memory when you are using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, the system may pause Premier Pro, Final Cut Pro, which makes you unable to save the project you are working on with this application. Here is a tip to restore the paused application after you have quit all the other applications and get memory space.

You can use the Terminal and enter the ps command. All the running process will be present with its PID (Process ID). Get the process ID of the paused application.

In the Terminal window, enter the command: kill-CONT process ID. For example, if the process ID of the paused app is 2650, enter: kill-CONT 2650 and hit the Enter key, which will tell the paused app to restore and run.

2. Clean Disk Space on Your Mac

Beside waiting for the Force Quit window to inform us of the insufficient application memory, we can also prevent the “your system has run out of application memory” alert on your Mac by cleaning up disk space. Enough free disk space for application is necessary. Generally speaking, it’s a time-consuming task because you need to find out the unwanted files for free space one-by-one. If you want to save your time, you can choose Macube Cleaner (opens new window) to help you clean up your Mac’s disk space with simple clicks.

As a professional Mac cleaner, Macube Cleaner provides user-friendly solutions to optimize your Mac memory. The program automatically scans out the junk files that can be safely removed, or sort the files by size and date so that users can have a clear picture of what to delete.

Step 1. Download and launch Macube Cleaner on your Mac.

Step 2. Select features in the left-side menu according to your needs, such as Smart Scan, Large & Old Files, and Duplicate Files.


Step 3. Click Scan to find out the files.

Step 4. Choose the unwanted files and click Clean to remove them.

Smart Scan

3. Uninstall Useless Applications

Another way to reduce Mac memory usage is uninstalling applications. We all download applications from the Internet unknowingly sometimes. These apps often automatically launch themselves and take up much application memory on Mac. It’s not easy to find and delete them one by one manually, for they usually hide themselves in the folders you cannot easily discover. So how to free up ram on Mac by uninstalling unwanted applications? Luckily, Macube Cleaner (opens new window) also provides Uninstaller feature, which enables you to delete useless and unwanted applications on Mac with one click. Scroll down to learn how.

Step 1. Download and launch Macube Cleaner.

Step 2. Choose Uninstaller > Scan to scan our all the applications on your mac.


Step 3. Tick the applications or their parts you want to uninstall. Hit Clean to delete them with one click.

Uninstall Apps

Tip: You can use Sort By to sort out your target applications.

4. Manage Browser Extensions

Apart from too many applications, excessive browser extensions may also be the reason. Browser extensions serve as helpful assistants when we are browsing; however, on the other hand, too many useless or outdated extensions could also lead to the error of “your system has run out of application memory” on Mac. To find and manage extensions manually, from one browser to another, can be a painstaking task. Therefore, it is recommended to use a Mac cleaner which can manage extensions. Macube Cleaner (opens new window) can help. Beside the two functions mentioned above, the program offers a foolproof solution to manage all the extensions (opens new window) on your Mac.

Step 1. Download and launch Macube Cleaner.

Step 2. Choose ToolKit > Extensions.

ToolKit Extension

Step 3. Click Scan/View to scan for extensions.

Scan Extension

Step 4. Manage the extensions by clicking the bars on the right to turn them on or off.

Manage Extension

Tip: You can also use Sort By to find target extensions.

5. Restart Your Mac

If you don’t want to download extra applications or delete any files, restarting your Mac is probably the easiest way to free up space on your Mac. If you don’t regularly reboot your Mac, the computer will store many data such as cookies and caches, which take up more and more application memory on Mac. When you restart the computer, it will empty the RAM and caches so that your Mac can run more smoothly.

6. Organize Your Desktop

In addition to fixing the problem after it occurs, you can also grow good habits while using your Mac to prevent the notice from recurring.

Some of you may prefer to save files and images on your desktop. However, this act will also slow your Mac. Every desktop icon on macOS is considered as an active window. More desktop icons and more used memory can cause Mac easier to run out of application memory. So, organizing your desktop and removing unneeded files help to clean up your Mac and reduce the “your system has run out of application memory” alert.

To organize your desktop, you can create a new folder on your desktop, and drag the documents, images, music or other files into the folder.

7. Limit the Memory Used by Finder

Another good habit is limiting the memory used by Finder, your Mac’s file manager.

When opening Finder, you will see the default option All My Files. It is set to search all your files when you browse files and it also stores the path of all your files in RAM, which would consume a huge amount of memory, leaving fewer memory for applications to use.

To reduce the memory used by Finder, you should avoid loading all your files when the Finder opens. To do this, you need to:

Step 1. Click Finder on the top-left of the screen. Select Preferences.

Limit Finder

Step 2. Under General, click the drop-down list to select a folder. (Don’t select All my files or Recents as the location)

Reduce Finder Memory

Step 3. Hold down the Control key, then right-click the Finder icon in Mac dock. Select Relaunch.

8. Check Memory Usage in Activity Monitor

The habit of checking Activity Monitor constantly for memory usage enables you to take control of the applications running on your Mac.

When your Mac slows down or reports that it has run out of application memory, you can check Activity Monitor to see what is using memory first. It can show you how much memory is used and helps to identify which app is using more than its fair share of space. To check Activity Monitor, simply click the Application folder > Utilities > Activity Monitor > Memory.

Under Memory, you can see the memory pressure box, in which you can see details about memory usage. There is a graph giving an overview of your system’s memory pressure. If the graph is green, it means that you have enough disk space, if yellow or red, you are short of memory. Checking memory usage of your computer constantly can help you figure out which apps are using more memory than they should have.

End Process

9. Update MacOS

Finally, it’s always recommended to check for MacOS updates. Normally an update of MacOS can fix most bugs on Mac.

Step 1. Click on the Apple menu. Choose About this Mac > Software Update.

Step 2. Follow the instructions to update MacOS.


Here we provide 9 methods to help you solve and prevent the problem of “system has run out of application memory” on mac.

Apart from waiting for the Force Quit window to pop up and force quit applications, you can also use Macube Cleaner (opens new window) to clean up your Mac by deleting junk files, uninstalling applications, and managing extensions. Or you can restart your Mac, which is just a temporary solution because the problem can recur after rebooting.

Prevention is also important. Good habits can prevent the problem from occurring. While using Mac, remember to limit the memory used by finder, organize the desktop, and check memory usage and MacOS update constantly.

The above solutions help you reduce Mac memory usage and prevent the problem of “your system has run out of application memory” from reoccurring. If you have any questions or suggestions, welcome to share with us in the comments.

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