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

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You may be here because you recently encountered an error message displaying on your Mac. Any error message can be frustrating, especially so if you can't find how to fix the issue. If the error message says that your system has run out of application memory, you're in the right place. Let's talk about how to fix a macOS that has run out of memory with a rundown of all solutions you can try if you're facing the common problem.

your system has run out of application memory

Why Has Your Mac System Has Run Out of Application Memory?

Your macOS is constantly storing data that it uses for active processes in RAM. RAM is used to store basically anything open on your computer and keep frequently used files readily available so that your computer can provide faster response times. Most recent Mac computers provide 8GB of RAM, which is usually enough, depending on what you do with your computer.

If RAM space is running on the low side, macOS will start storing data on your principal boot drive and exchanging it between there and RAM as needed. This is called virtual memory, and it's why you should always have enough free space on your boot drive. Aim for 10% in general, though even more is preferred. You can check the RAM you have left by clicking on the "Apple Logo" > "About this Mac" > "Storage". If you don't have enough space on there, that's when you’ll see the error message pop-up to tell you your system has run out of application memory.

It could also be because having lots of apps/ browser tabs open at the same time, and having an application open that is "hogging" memory.

How to Fix It That Mac Run Out of Application Memory

Close Any Unused Windows on a Browser You May Be Using

Nowadays, especially since many of us work from home, it's easy to have dozens of browser tabs or windows open at the same time. However, this could be the reason an error message has popped up on your screen - browser windows and tabs use RAM too. Shut down any tabs or windows you don't need, and see if that helps.

Check Your Browser Extensions, If Any

There are 188,620 extensions available on the Chrome Web Store to this day. Obsolete or malfunctioning browser extensions could also be the cause of the memory problems you are encountering on your Mac. Check all your browser extensions, on each of your different browsers, and try and delete ones that you don’t frequently use.

  • In Safari, you'll find your installed extensions in Preferences > Extensions.

  • In Chrome, you can access them by putting in chrome://extensions in the address bar.

  • chrome extensions

Force Quit Apps

When you keep apps you're not using running in the background, you are consuming a lot of virtual memory. It's a good idea to quit any apps you stop using as you go along. If you need an immediate solution, press Option-Command-Esc to access the Force Quit menu and close everything you can.

force quit menu on Mac

Remove Login Items

Any app that is set to launch automatically when you start your computer up may be using a significant amount of RAM up. Check these and remove them from your login items by:

  • On your desktop, near the top left, click the Apple icon.

  • Select System Preferences.

  • Select Users and Groups.

  • Select your user account.

  • Click Login Items near the right.

  • login item on Mac

  • Choose the item you wish to remove then click the Remove icon. If there are more than one, you can select them all together then click the Remove button.

Restart Mac

Once you've deleted anything unnecessary, restart your Mac to clear the cache and delete other temporary files. This will give back the disk space used as virtual memory.

Use your Activity Monitor to Free up Disk Storage

If you've done everything above and you're still getting the same error message, you’re going to need to track down the root of the problem by using tools already accessible on your computer. The Activity Monitor is just that. It will allow you to see everything that's currently running on your Mac and show you the resources it all is consuming, including RAM. To find the Activity Monitor:

  • On your keyboard, press down the Command key and the letter A at the same time, then press the Up arrow key.

  • Type activity monitor in the search box. Then you'll be able to double-click the Activity Monitor icon. You'll then visualize the Memory usage on the pop-up window.

  • activity monitor

  • Select a process or an app, then click the X sign to close it.

Clear Cache Through Finder

Cached files tend to build up in your browser, in your system, and your applications. This can eat up RAM. You can clear your cache by:

  • Open your Finder. From the Go menu, select Go to Folder.

  • Type in ~/Library/Caches/ into the box that has popped up then click Go.

  • clear cache via Finder

  • Your caches will appear. You can now choose what you would like to delete.

  • Open up every folder and delete cache files that you don't need by dragging them into the Trash.

Uninstall Apps You Don't Need

Be selective with your apps. Unused apps can take a lot of space, so don't keep anything you don't need because they will be using up RAM in the background. After that, check if "your system has run out of application memory" error message disappears.

Update MacOS

A good rule of thumb for any problem you encounter with your mac is to update your software. To do so:

  • Click onto the Apple menu and select About this Mac.

  • Click Software Update.

  • update mac

  • If there is an update available, follow the instructions to install it.

Upgrade Your RAM

There is also an option for you to upgrade the amount of RAM on your computer. Follow the instructions on this Apple support page to find out how to. Keep in mind this requires a few technical steps - you can always visit your local Apple Store or Genius bar to get it done for you.

Use an External Hard Drive

Because big files take up RAM on your computer, if you have any you don't want to discard, displace them onto an external hard drive to save RAM. Some heavy video files can take up far too much RAM, and even if you still have space available, these files could be slowing down your computer considerably.

Contact Apple Support

If you were not able to find a solution to the error message you encountered after all these steps, it may be a good time to contact apple support. Don't worry though, system application memory problems are common and in most cases have an easy fix. Just reach out to Apple and you'll be able to find a solution to your problem.


These are the all solutions to your system has run out of application memory problem offerred in this article. Since the issue can be attributed to various factors, you can apply the solutions based on your situation. I hope you have successfully resolved the problem. And if you have any suggestions, you are free to comment below.


By Scott Tarmey , to Mac Tips

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

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