Activity Monitor ... How Best to use it ???

Started Dec 10, 2013 | Questions
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Jim F
Jim F Senior Member • Posts: 2,345
Activity Monitor ... How Best to use it ???

I confess; I don't know how to use Activity Monitor. Yes, I know where it is and how to load it. What I am asking is what information should I be looking for (on what tab) and how do I interpret the information (with regard to the amount of memory or processing resource(s) does a particular application use)? I ask all of this so I can decide at some point what kind of a replacement Mac I'd buy (given that some models like the retina models cannot be upgraded or have memory increased.) I guess I am looking for some kind of mini-tutorial.

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,484
Re: Activity Monitor ... How Best to use it ???

Here is Apple's guide to using Activity Monitor for Mountain Lion and earlier operating systems:

I prefer to use iStatMenus. I can access RAM usage and a whole lot more info via a Finder Menu Bar icon. There is also a menu item for accessing Activity Monitor.

More info and a 14-day free trial download at

Jim F
Jim F OP Senior Member • Posts: 2,345
Thanks ... Appears UI is Different with Mavericks ...

....looks like the UI is different from Mountain Lion or earlier. I'll have to study this some.

(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 3,484
Re: Thanks ... Appears UI is Different with Mavericks ...

There is probably a Mavericks page available but I didn't try to find it. Search Apple's support department and it will likely turn up...

You can run iStatMenus for free for 14-days. Its UI is a lot easier to understand than Activity Monitor. An added bonus: you can access real-time memory usage with a couple of clicks. If your Mac suddenly seems sluggish you can see what is slowing you down by quickly and easily reviewing memory, CPU and hard drive activity. There is an explanation of the various measurements available online via the application.

If you find yourself enjoying iStatMenus but its price puts you off just wait awhile; the app comes up in software bundles and is probably discounted from time to time. I got my copy via a heavily discounted bundle deal that had several programs I was interested in buying.

graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 5,141
Re: Thanks ... Appears UI is Different with Mavericks ...

found the Mavericks page for Activity Monitor:

I use both Activity Monitor and iStatMenus. I paid for iStat because I want that info in the menu bar. But iStat has not yet updated its memory and battery readouts to match how Mavericks works.

If you don't want to pay for iStatMenus, MenuMeters is free, but even farther behind Mavericks.

Sam2 Regular Member • Posts: 316
Re: Thanks ... Appears UI is Different with Mavericks ...

I am willing to learn but so far if the damn thing weighed 30 or forty pounds and was made out of iron it would be a good boat anchor.

I want my old Activity Monitor back.


photosen Veteran Member • Posts: 4,999
Re: Activity Monitor ... How Best to use it ???

For example my home PC is an old Mac Mini which can become sluggish. I used activity monitor to see which apps where hogging more RAM and it turns out using both Chrome and Firefox at the same time slowed everything down; so I stopped using Firefox and it's now acceptable.

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