When I look at memory usage on my Mac computer, it seems like I’m always about to run out. But Chrome is pretty much all I run. Could an extension be eating up my memory?
That’s an interesting scenario you pose with your memory usage problem. A few things to consider: First, if your are running a set of programs that uses, say, 15GB of memory in a 16GB RAM computer, that’s not necessarily a huge problem. Why? Because virtual memory lets the computer work as if it has a lot more than 16GB of actual RAM. Nothing to worry about. Having said that, there are definitely some greedy programs and, of course, your Chrome extensions all have their own resource demands too.
Which leads to the obvious question of how you know what’s actually going on with your programs and extensions and what memory they require. There’s one program and one hidden activity window within Google Chrome that can answer these questions.
To start, you can identify which programs running on your computer are consuming resources, just to double check that it is related to Google Chrome. The fast way to get to Activity Monitor is to use Spotlight. Type Command-[SPACE] to launch it on your Mac system, then type in ‘activity’…
You can see that it’s automatically matched “Activity Monitor“, which is exactly the app you want to launch. Click on the program’s icon to launch Activity Monitor, then click on the “Memory” tab and give it a few seconds to collect data. It’ll look like this:
First thing to notice is the bottom information summary box. You can see that this computer has 16GB of memory and that the currently running programs are consuming 12.14GB. Entirely within expected parameters.
Look in the main area, however, and you can see that the Kiwi for Gmail Helper is incredibly greedy, using 1.87GB of memory. That’s a lot, no way around it. Google Chrome, by comparison, is using less than half of that much memory. Then again, you have to look closely: Google has a lot of helper apps each with their own memory requirements too.
But what about memory usage of individual components within Google Chrome. They’ve thought of that too and there’s a Task Manager within Chrome you can launch to see what’s going on. Here’s the path to get there:
Click on the three dots icon to the right of your profile pic in Chrome, then choose More Tools > Task Manager. Got it?
Here’s how that’s going to look:
You can see that the biggest memory consumer is the browser itself, followed by the GPU process. Then it’s the tab that’s running Facebook that’s consuming 285MB of memory. Extensions? ExpressVPN uses 119MB, Pinterest uses 57MB, Honey uses 48.4MB and Video Downloader Pro uses 31MB. Facebook looks like it might be the worst culprit, but on your system? Now you have the tools to dig around and figure out what’s really going on.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about MacOS X for eons. Or so it seems. Anyway, I really have a lot of Mac help pages here on the site and encourage you to check it all out while you’re here!