In the old times, 2 GB worth of RAM used to provide enough breathing space for Macs to run the daily tasks that the average Mac user requires, but with the evolution of technology that allows for real-time streaming services, ultra-high definition games, and complex image and video editing programs — coupled with their increased accessibility to the general public — adding more RAM to your Mac has become a question of “when” rather than “if.”
Before you make a dash for the store, though, you might want to check if you really need to add more RAM to your Mac now. Sometimes, Macs slow down not because they are in desperate need for more RAM, but because they may need to let go of data that they may no longer need, so it’s always a good idea to check first.
To see the current state of your Mac’s memory.
- Open Spotlight Search.
- Type in ”Activity Monitor.”
- Click on the “Memory” tab.
- Examine the “Memory Pressure” graph.
- Depending on your Mac’s RAM usage, you might see green, yellow, and red colors in there.
- If you see mostly green, it means your Mac’s RAM is still more than enough. Mostly yellow means almost half of it has been used, and a lot of red means that your Mac is running low on memory.
- After checking the graph, examine the numbers next to it. It will tell you exactly how much RAM you have, how much has been used, and how it is being consumed.
- Next, look for the “File Cache.” The file cache is where your Mac stores temporary data that it thinks you may need again, but if you think you don’t actually need them anymore, you can go ahead and delete them to free up more space. Sometimes, the contents of the file cache can reach up to several gigabytes, so purging every now and then can make a difference.
To clear your Mac’s cache,
- Open a “Finder” window.
- Select “Go to Folder” in the “Go” menu.
- Type in ~/Library/Caches and press “Enter.”
- Check each folder and delete items you no longer need. (Only delete items that you are sure that you no longer need. Some contents of the cache are vital to running some applications smoothly, so if you’re not sure whether a certain file is important or not, try to research exactly what it does first).
- When you’re done, repeat the same steps but change ~/Library/Caches to /Library/Caches.
- After you’ve deleted everything you no longer need, Control-click on the Trash icon in the dock.
- Select “Empty Trash.”
- Restart your Mac.
If you’ve already cleared your file cache and your Mac’s Memory Pressure Graph is still showing a lot of reds, then it might be time to add more RAM to your Mac.
Before you do this, though, check the model of your Mac first. Not all Macs have removable memory, so you need to check if an upgrade is possible.
To find out your Mac model,
- Go to the Apple menu.
- Click on “About This Mac.”
After you’ve learned your Mac model, check if it is included on this list of Mac models with removable memory to see if you can add more RAM to it.
Once you’ve confirmed that your Mac’s model will allow you to add more RAM to your system, check how many card slots it has and the maximum amount of memory that you can upgrade it to. Make sure that you also take note of the memory card specifications to confirm if the additional RAM that you will be buying is compatible with your Mac.
After that, you may proceed with removing your Mac’s current memory and adding more RAM to it.
To prepare your Mac for memory removal,
- Shut your Mac down.
- Disconnect the power adapter, Ethernet cable, USB cables, security lock, and any other cables connected to your Mac.
- If you’ve just used your Mac, some components might still be warm, so give it some time to cool down before you open the case.
- After your Mac has cooled down, turn it over and remove the screws that secure the bottom case.
- The screws have different lengths, so take note of which screw belongs where so you can put them back properly later.
- Lift off the case.
- Touch a metal surface inside the computer to discharge any static electricity from your body.
To remove your Mac’s current memory,
- Release the module from the memory slot by pushing the levers on the sides of the memory module in an outward direction.
- Make sure that you find the half-circle notches. If you don’t, try pressing the levers again.
- Hold the memory module by its notches and remove it from the slot.
- Make sure that you hold the modules by their edges and be careful not to touch the gold connectors.
- Do the same steps to remove the other memory module.
To install the new memory and add more RAM to your Mac,
- Slide the memory into the card slot, making sure that the notches are properly aligned.
- Give the memory module a little push to secure it and make sure that the gold contacts are inserted almost completely into the connector.You will know that you’ve secured it properly if you heard a little click.
- Repeat the steps above if you wish to install another memory module in another slot.
After you’re done installing new memory and adding more RAM to your Mac, replace the bottom case by putting back the screws that you removed before. Just take note of their lengths to ensure that you put the right screws back at their designated places.
Following the steps above to add more RAM to your Mac should be fairly easy, but should you feel unconfident of doing it yourself or you just don’t have the time, you can always take your Mac to an Apple retailer or a computer shop to have a professional do it for you.