I am on my M1 Mac mini (Big Sur 11.3.1). I got a message that I am running out of RAM and should close some apps. I saw this process called qemu-system-aarch64 that takes up to 3GB of RAM. I don't know what it does and cannot stop it either. What is it and why does it eat up so much RAM?

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5 Answers 5


This process belongs to an application you've installed yourself.

To find out more, select the process in Activity Monitor and press Cmd-I to open the Process Information window. You should see the name of the process which started it at the top, and the path to the binary itself near the top of the 3rd tab (open files and ports).


It was Docker for Mac!

There is no clear name indication that this is a Docker process, so you can't clearly spot it in the Activity Monitor unless you use View -> All Processes, Hierarchically or view the process origin with +I.

Stopping Docker releases the resources.

Github issue

  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Sep 24, 2021 at 17:35
  • 1
    Yes, indeed it was docker. I guess this process is needed because of docker's support for multi-arch images. Dec 10, 2021 at 7:06
  • 2
    It's possible to see process origin by hitting +I
    – vladkras
    Feb 18, 2022 at 7:46
  • 1
    Reference confirming this answer: github.com/docker/for-mac/issues/5812
    – dbaltor
    Jan 10 at 17:05
  • thanks @dbaltor! updated the answer Jan 11 at 18:20

I guess you are a developer and you are using some sort of Android emulator. I too have a Mac, and this process refers to the Android Studio emulator I use for debugging.

  • Please note that the OP commented on the accepted answer that they are a developer and had installed Docker.
    – agarza
    Aug 19, 2021 at 3:00
  • 1
    But not everyone landing on the result will be a developer working with Docker. So this answer is just fine. There is no need to down vote. Oct 3, 2021 at 9:58
  • Indeed, on my machine it was also coming from the Android emulator.
    – riezebosch
    Nov 9, 2021 at 9:56

It is generally a docker service. select that process in activity monitor and then press cmd+i to get more info

  • 3
    You are commenting on a question that already has many (and an accepted) answers detailing the involvement of Docker. Can you add anything to your answer to make it unique, otherwise it is likely to be removed as a duplicate. Nov 7 at 10:42

The memory use you are looking at is virtual memory and it typically won't slow down your system. If you are wondering about the memory usage of Docker, enable and check the real memory column.

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