Learn to Use Activity Monitor to Analyze Your Mac’s Performance

If you are wondering to check your Mac’s performance, there’s an easy way to do that. Apple gives you an option to see how your system is performing, how the memory is being used by different applications, and how efficiently the CPU usage is being handled. It all becomes considerably easier when you learn to use Activity Monitor.

What is Activity Monitor?

To know it better, let’s understand it first that Mac OS X provides very proficient memory management. It, by itself, does the distribution and allocation of resources and memory to different applications running on your device. It makes sure that the memory is always handled most efficiently.  Coming to the Activity Monitor, it is basically a tool where you can check how the system memory is being managed on your computer. To access Activity Monitor, you can go to Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.

System Memory tab

As I said above, Activity Monitor lets you see the allocation of system memory, let’s first understand the chart and figures shown under the Memory Tab of this application. Apple has divided memory into four main groups which of course are easy to understand. These four types of memory shown in the Pie Chart are – Free, Wired, Active, and Inactive. The pie chart at the bottom shows these all in coloured areas. The sum of these all areas is the total memory supported on your Macbook.

The total available memory size depends on the configuration on your system. This total amount reflects the total capacity of Random Access Memory (RAM) installed in your Mac. It is also important to note that the performance of a computer, laptop or a similar device depends largely on the capacity of RAM. RAM loads data and information from the hard drive at the time of the system and the application start up. For this reason, your Mac’s memory has got to be large enough to handle your multitasking requests.

Now, have a look at the following image. It’s a screen shot of Activity Monitor’s System Memory tab.

Activity Monitor at Memory Tab

As you can see in the image, it shows you how the system memory is being used. Take the first option – Free.  It shows total amount of free memory available on your Random Access Memory (RAM). It means this amount of memory is not being used now, and it is free and available for any other application you may run on your Mac. With every new application you will run, this size will decrease and it will increase as you quit them.

The second option, the one in red colour, shows the Wired memory. It indicates the memory size that can be moved to hard drive. This size of memory will increase as you open more applications and will decrease with any or every application your close.

The third option in the pie is Inactive, the one in yellow colour is the amount of memory which was recently used by different programs that you ran. It also means that this memory is now available to be used by any other program.  You can understand it even better with an example. Suppose, you were using Internet Browser on your Mac and now you have quit it. So the total size which was used by Internet Browser would now be added to Inactive memory size. This is the reason when you close a program and open it again immediately, it opens up faster. It happens so because you reopened the program before the active memory could be moved to inactive memory.

The last option in the pie is Used. It indicates the total amount used by all apps.

Other than these all options, there are options like –VM size, Page ins, Page outs, and Swap used under this tab of Activity Monitor. Let me explain them one by one:

VM Size- VM here stands for Virtual Memory. VM Size is the total amount of virtual memory on your Mac, it combines the memory for all processes.

Page ins: / Page outs: These two options signify the amount of information which have been moved from RAM to the Mac’s drive and vice-versa. You can also see the speed at which the transfer was made or is being made. In short, when your Mac writes information on the RAM from the hard drive, it’s Page in, and when it has to move data from RAM to the hard drive, it is Page out. Why Page out? Okay, your RAM writes information on hard drive when its total memory is full. So, it frees up some space on itself to handle more of your commands efficiently.

If you would like to reduce the amount of Page outs on Mac so that it may work faster, you can increase the size of your RAM. Want to do that? We will do that do for you, give us a call at 0800 349 648. You can also fill in the query form here

The last option is Swap used. It is the total amount of data or information that was copied to swap files on your Mac’s hard drive.

This is all, now you know how to read information from your Activity Monitor’s information.  Come back for the next blog post on similar topics.

Not satisfied with your Mac speed? You need a Mac Repair. Give us a call at 0800 349 648 or fill in the query form today. We will be servicing your device at an affordable price and you will be able to experience your Mac’s speed at its best. 

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Apple Mac and Computer Repair blog by the Support Desk at Geeks Onsite Limited