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When my MacBook Pro (13" 2010, Intel C2D 2.4 GHz, 4GB RAM 1067 MHz DDR3, running Snow Leopard) runs out of free memory, instead of releasing inactive memory (which is mostly about 500 - 1000 MB), it starts to write to disk (raising page outs).

Here are processes that are running on my macbook:

Active Memory: 1.64 GB
Free Memory: 1.04 GB
Wired Memory: 724.7 MB
Used Memory: 2.96 GB
Inactive Memory: 627.7 MB
Total VM: 176.36 GB
Number of processes: 82

PID    Process Name              User       CPU      Real Mem        Virtual Mem    
0      kernel_task               root       7.4      278.0 MB        2.56 GB          
1      launchd                   root       0.0      724 KB          2.34 GB          
10     kextd                     root       0.0      1.5 MB          2.34 GB          
11     DirectoryService          root       0.0      4.0 MB          2.34 GB          
12     notifyd                   root       0.0      564 KB          2.33 GB          
13     syslogd                   root       0.0      548 KB          2.34 GB          
14     configd                   root       0.0      2.6 MB          2.36 GB          
15     diskarbitrationd          root       0.0      748 KB          2.33 GB          
17     mDNSResponder             _mdnsrespo 0.0      1.5 MB          2.35 GB          
18     distnoted                 daemon     0.0      1.3 MB          2.33 GB          
21     securityd                 root       0.0      2.3 MB          2.35 GB          
22     blued                     root       0.0      2.6 MB          2.35 GB          
25     ntpd                      root       0.0      724 KB          2.32 GB          
26     cupsd                     root       0.0      1.1 MB          2.34 GB          
27     krb5kdc                   root       0.0      1.0 MB          2.33 GB          
30     usbmuxd                   _usbmuxd   0.0      2.2 MB          2.35 GB          
35     mds                       root       0.0      29.8 MB         2.59 GB          
36     loginwindow               mihal      0.0      5.9 MB          2.61 GB          
37     KernelEventAgent          root       0.0      528 KB          2.33 GB          
39     hidd                      root       2.5      996 KB          2.33 GB          
40     fseventsd                 root       0.0      1.7 MB          2.34 GB          
42     dynamic_pager             root       0.0      428 KB          2.32 GB          
48     autofsd                   root       0.0      536 KB          2.33 GB          
55     coreservicesd             root       0.3      9.0 MB          2.37 GB          
69     WindowServer              _windowser 4.5      112.2 MB        2.81 GB          
74     cvmsServ                  root       0.0      508 KB          2.33 GB          
86     coreaudiod                _coreaudio 0.0      3.1 MB          2.34 GB          
89     launchd                   mihal      0.0      1.3 MB          2.34 GB          
93     pboard                    mihal      0.0      372 KB          2.32 GB          
94     Dock                      mihal      0.0      29.6 MB         2.70 GB          
95     SystemUIServer            mihal      0.0      11.2 MB         2.70 GB          
96     Finder                    mihal      0.0      18.5 MB         2.73 GB          
105    fontd                     mihal      0.0      2.8 MB          2.38 GB          
112    UserEventAgent            mihal      0.0      4.1 MB          2.60 GB          
119    AirPort Base Station Agen mihal      0.0      3.9 MB          2.62 GB          
120    PenTabletDriver           mihal      0.0      5.3 MB          2.66 GB          
125    Folder Actions Dispatcher mihal      0.0      4.0 MB          2.62 GB          
129    Adium                     mihal      0.0      32.3 MB         1.08 GB          
131    Mail                      mihal      0.2      64.3 MB         3.75 GB          
132    TransmitMenu              mihal      0.0      6.6 MB          2.63 GB          
142    ConsumerTouchDriver       mihal      0.0      3.6 MB          2.62 GB          
143    TabletDriver              mihal      0.0      3.6 MB          2.61 GB          
160    DashboardClient           mihal      0.0      12.7 MB         947.3 MB         
161    DashboardClient           mihal      0.0      31.4 MB         3.70 GB          
167    Activity Monitor          mihal      7.7      48.4 MB         2.77 GB          
169    activitymonitord          root       0.4      1.7 MB          2.33 GB          
188    iTunes                    mihal      0.3      111.0 MB        1.33 GB          
195    iTunes Helper             mihal      0.0      2.9 MB          2.60 GB          
197    applepushserviced         root       0.0      4.4 MB          2.35 GB          
199    AppleSpell.service        mihal      0.0      6.3 MB          2.35 GB          
671    Xcode                     mihal      0.0      166.5 MB        11.94 GB         
827    Interface Builder Cocoa T mihal      0.0      5.3 MB          908.5 MB         
828    Interface Builder Cocoa T mihal      0.0      5.0 MB          775.6 MB         
830    Interface Builder Cocoa T mihal      0.0      3.5 MB          777.1 MB         
1100   appleprofilepolicyd       root       0.0      360 KB          2.32 GB          
1114   DTActivityServer          root       0.0      952 KB          2.35 GB          
1882   Instruments               mihal      0.0      397.8 MB        3.32 GB          
2273   AAM Updates Notifier      mihal      0.0      4.9 MB          930.3 MB         
2497   iOS Simulator             mihal      0.0      15.0 MB         1,001.7 MB       
2501   ubd                       mihal      0.0      5.7 MB          630.6 MB         
2503   mediaremoted              mihal      0.0      6.0 MB          663.9 MB         
2504   locationd                 mihal      0.0      8.6 MB          675.3 MB         
2506   BTServer                  mihal      0.0      5.4 MB          642.0 MB         
2508   aggregated                mihal      0.0      3.3 MB          621.9 MB         
2509   SimulatorBridge           mihal      0.0      8.6 MB          766.1 MB         
2510   apsd                      mihal      0.0      3.7 MB          640.5 MB         
2514   SpringBoard               mihal      0.0      33.3 MB         851.1 MB         
2804   Google Chrome             mihal      0.0      154.6 MB        1.28 GB          
2886   Google Chrome Helper      mihal      0.0      7.2 MB          972.1 MB         
3541   Google Chrome Renderer    mihal      0.0      35.8 MB         1.01 GB          
3944   PTPCamera                 mihal      0.0      6.1 MB          2.63 GB          
3945   ath                       mihal      0.0      2.6 MB          2.35 GB          
3946   AppleMobileDeviceHelper   mihal      0.0      7.1 MB          2.35 GB          
3948   Image Capture Extension   mihal      0.0      6.5 MB          2.62 GB          
4048   VLC                       mihal      0.4      41.9 MB         2.73 GB          
4185   Google Chrome Renderer    mihal      0.0      40.4 MB         1.02 GB          
4187   Shockwave Flash (Chrome P mihal      0.2      27.0 MB         1.01 GB          
4192   Google Chrome Renderer    mihal      0.0      64.1 MB         1.05 GB          
4198   Google Chrome Renderer    mihal      0.0      32.5 MB         1.01 GB          
4200   Google Chrome Renderer    mihal      0.1      35.9 MB         1.01 GB          
4205   mdworker                  mihal      0.0      10.0 MB         2.36 GB          
4216   SFLIconTool               mihal      0.0      252 KB          2.31 GB          
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marked as duplicate by M K, Graham Miln, George Garside, Mark, Ian C. Jul 15 at 22:37

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
You do realize that your question is extremely generic and without access to the sort of processes that are running in your Macbook Pro, some hardware information and such, it would be close to impossible to answer this question, don't you? –  Martín Marconcini Nov 8 '11 at 20:21
    
no I don't... I thought that somebody had this experience before and could have at least an idea... but OK I will try to add some more information. Thanks –  Michael Nov 8 '11 at 20:26
    
we do our best to answer all the questions, but just mentioning that your inactive memory doesn't get released as free is impossible to guess out of nowhere. Try to be more specific. Thanks. –  Martín Marconcini Nov 8 '11 at 20:29
    
Are you asking out of curiosity or are you experiencing performance problems? –  patrix Nov 8 '11 at 20:52
1  
I'm not sure if this is going to help you, but there's an app on the app store called Free Memory. It frees your inactive memory so that might help you in this situation. –  theAmateurProgrammer Nov 9 '11 at 0:45
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1 Answer 1

Well just in case you will load data from those inactive memory, things will get quicker. it's part of block replacement mechanism.

If you want to force it to claim back inactive memory, just $ purge . Xcode required.

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