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Optimizing your Mac: Get Adequate Memory

Last updated 2010-03-07 - Send Feedback
Related: how-to, memory, optimization, software

Adequate memory helps speed up your Mac in a variety of ways:

  • The system can avoid use of virtual memory (swapping to/from disk) . Virtual memory is used when not enough memory is available for programs and is at least 10X slower.
  • Extra is used by the system to cache access to the hard drive(s). This creates a major speed boost when re-launching programs, re-opening files, saving files, etc. In particular, it provides a huge speed boost to Photoshop when working with large files.
  • Programs that need lots of memory can get what they need, allowing the fastest performance.

How much memory?

If all you’re doing is web browsing, email, etc, then 4GB is plenty.

Check actual memory usage using Activity Monitor when your Mac is being used heavily. Add 2-4GB to the total memory being used, and upgrade to that amount.

As soon as you start working with photos, video or anything that demands more space, you should be thinking in the 8-24GB range, depending on what you do.

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