“Your system has run out of application memory” Mac Error
“Your system as run out of application memory” is an error message encountered by some Mac users, often seemingly out of nowhere. The message appears alongside an option to force quit applications, which if an app consuming a large amount of resources is force quit, may temporarily render the Mac usable again.
The full error message says “Your system has run out of application memory. To avoid problems with your computer, quit any applications you are not using.”
Fixing “Your system has run out of application memory” on Mac
There are a number of reasons why a Mac may encounter the system run out of memory error message, and depending on the reason it may be an easy problem to remedy.
Cause: Bug in macOS Monterey and seeing system out of memory errors?
If you’re running macOS Monterey and you are experiencing the “Your system has run out of application memory” error message, then know that this is a known problem with macOS Monterey and it will likely be fixed in an upcoming system software update.
Solution: Disabling Custom Cursor Color / Size
For macOS Monterey (and some report with Big Sur), some users have discovered the system runs out of memory if they are using a custom cursor color or custom cursor size. If this applies to you, putting the cursor back to default size and color may resolve the issue.
Cause: The Mac hard disk is running out of storage space
A common reason users may see the “Your system has run out of application memory” error message is if the Mac is running low on disk space. Thus, freeing up available disk space so that you have at least 10% of the disk available as free storage can often remedy the problem.
This happens because virtual memory, or swap, is stored on the hard drive. When standard RAM fills up, the operating system starts using disk space to store RAM contents instead, in a process called paging or swapping.
If you have too much memory in swap, and the hard disk has no free storage space available, you will see the “your system has run out of application memory” error message, until either the application using all the memory is resolved or quit, or the hard disk has more free storage available.
Solution: Quit out of the application causing excessive memory usage
Close the open file(s) causing massive memory usage, and/or quit out of the application causing the memory issue.
You can use the force quit screen that is presented to you, or Activity Monitor if you’d prefer.
Solution: Free up storage space
If you are frequently seeing issues with the system running out of application memory, free up some disk space. Check your Downloads folder for unneeded rubbish, and empty the Trash.
Aim to have at least 10% of the Mac hard disk capacity available for optimal performance in general, not only with paging and virtual memory usage, but for other tasks and activities as well.
Solution: Rebooting the Mac
Restarting the Mac will typically resolve the memory error, at least temporarily.
For macOS Monterey 12.0.1 users, this may be the only remedy until a bug fix update is released.
Have you encountered this error message on your Mac? Did you fix it by quitting the app, freeing up disk space, updating macOS, or rebooting? Did you find another solution to resolve the memory issue? Let us know your experiences in the comments.