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Sometimes I see the iMac with 4GB of RAM having a few MB of swap file only, and after I left for a few hours and come back, the swap file is 2.7GB.

Looking into the Activities Monitor, the Finder is using 796MB. How can it use so much memory -- could it be due to some "Search" that was left over in a Finder window?

I then chose File -> Close All (by pressing down the Option key while clicking File, and closed all Finder windows, only that it still won't close but just hidden, and looks like the only way is to reboot. How can this situation be prevented?

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Will that swap space be automatically relinquished if some other process wants it? –  GEdgar Jun 7 '12 at 16:22
    
It sound like memory leak. You should repport it the apple and try update. –  alpha_one_x86 Jul 18 '12 at 9:14
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I can't say much about preventing this, but there is no need to reboot. Just kill Finder, using Force Quit from the apple menu or killall Finder in a Terminal window. A new Finder will then be started in the old one's place.

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This inconvenience is caused by a finder prefs entry:

"show in new window: all my files" this is consuming too much mem. Select a different folder and all is fine

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On my computer, changing this setting and following Harald's option reduced Finder's memory usage from ~1GB to ~70MB. –  Alex Reinking Nov 12 '13 at 2:31
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