09/07/2012 06:40 AMPosted by MysticalOSI suggest checking activity monitor as one
Wired memory is used by the OS and is pretty much untouchable. Another application can't "borrow" wired memory.
Active memory is what is currently in use by running applications. Note that thanks to the splendors of virtual memory, all of the memory needed by an application isn't necessarily contained here. If you look at a running process in the Activity Monitor list, you'll see a column for Real and a column for Virtual Memory. Since we are talking about the amount of RAM in use, we won't worry about virtual memory for the moment. If there is no inactive, or free memory, active memory can be used by other applications, but this causes the OS to write the current state of the active memory being traded to its owner's virtual memory pages on disk before granting the memory to another application.
Inactive memory is memory that has recently been used by an application that is no longer running. OSX keeps track of what this is and what it belonged to because of the idea of temporal locality, the idea being that if you opened an application you are somewhat likely to do so again and if the memory is still labeled, the application can start very quickly. In the absence of sufficient free memory, inactive memory will be reclaimed by another running application that needs memory.
Free memory is just that, free. Nothing has a claim on it, and it's up for grabs for any application that needs it.
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