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imagent is constantly consuming CPU cycles and a couple of GBs of "real memory" on my wife's MacBook Air since upgrading to OS X Mountain Lion. I believe this is part of the Messages app.

Is there anything that can be done to make it behave more acceptably, or is it just not practical to use on these devices?

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Gigabytes? What does Activity Monitor report? – Gerry Jul 27 '12 at 12:55
It was around 2.3GB but she killed it in Activity Monitor. I've just restarted the Messages app and it is using just a few MB now. Weird. – GraemeF Jul 27 '12 at 13:09

Force Quit on the imagent process and then restarting the Messages app reduced memory consumption to a few MB instead.

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