How Do I Find Out How Much Memory Is Left on a Mac Computer?

by James Crider
The Mac OS X computer interface can be confusing for Windows users.

The Mac OS X computer interface can be confusing for Windows users.

Laptop with metall apple image by Alperium from Fotolia.com

Apple computers running the OS X operating system can be confusing, especially to people accustomed to a Windows computer. Keep track of both your computer's Random Access Memory (RAM) and available hard drive space to continue efficient operation, and to ensure you don't lose any work.

Quick Hard Drive Check

Turn on your Apple computer and log in. Click the "Finder" icon, the blue face, in your application dock. Find the hard drive you want to know about in the left panel; most Apple computers only have one, labelled "Macintosh HD." Click the drive. At the bottom of the Finder window, a number will appear telling you how much space is left on the drive; for example, "10 items, 20 GB available" means that you have 20 gigabytes of free space left on the drive.

Advanced Hard Drive Check

Follow the instructions in Section 1 above. Instead of clicking the hard drive in the left panel of the Finder window, right-click or command-click it, then click "Get Info" in the pop-up window. Search for the two listed entries under the "General" section labelled "Capacity" and "Available." "Capacity" shows how much total space is on your hard drive, and "Available" shows how much free space is available to you. The section marked "Used" tells you how much space all the files and folders on your hard drive are currently using.

RAM Check

Click the magnifying glass icon in the upper-right corner, then type "activity monitor" and press "Return." Click "System Memory." The "Free" value tells you how much RAM is inactive, and the "Used" value tells you how much is currently occupied with programs and processes. The number underneath the pie chart to the left -- for example, 2.00 GB -- tells you how much total memory your system has. You can see how much memory each program or process uses individually in the list at the top of the window. Double-click the "Real Mem" column to see the largest memory users first.

Freeing Up Hard Drive Space and Memory

If you feel you need more memory, try closing memory-hungry programs, like Safari or iTunes. If your computer is still running slowly, try using only one program at a time. Freeing up hard drive space is easy, too, but to gain more space, you need to delete files. Media files like music and movies take up a lot of space and can be deleted quickly to gain it back. If you want to hold on to these files and still free up space on your hard drive, invest in an external USB hard drive. Back up the files to the USB drive before deleting them from your computer's internal hard drive.

About the Author

James Crider is a professional writer and experienced graphic designer with expertise in Adobe Creative Suite programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator as well as advertising design and copy writing.

Photo Credits

  • Laptop with metall apple image by Alperium from Fotolia.com