Mac Activity Monitor is a task manager used to control the computer’s disk space, speed up slow apps, and solve other problems. By watching the processes launched on your device, it is possible to detect how each of them influences your device’s overall performance. These processes can be divided into three categories:

  1. User applications;
  2. System apps used by MacOS;
  3. Invisible background processes.background processes running without permission

As you can see, the applications you have running at the moment are not the only sources of Mac’s slow down. There are various background processes running without your permission or awareness. Many of them allow the whole system to function, so it is not a good idea to get rid of all files in bulk to free up space.

By knowing the reasons why your Apple is slowing down, it is possible to solve the problems with speed and overall performance effectively.

How to Find Activity Monitor on Mac in Three Different Ways?

You can open the Activity Monitor tool in several ways. The first method is to find it hiding in the Applications à Utilities folder and double-click to launch it.

Utilities folder

Some people wonder if there is a keyboard shortcut to start this handy utility. You may assign a shortcut in FastScripts after saving the following code in AppleScript Editor:

tell app “Activity Monitor”

    reopen — makes a new window if there are no existing windows

    activate — brings the app to front

end tell

 In case you need another way to find and start your Mac OS Activity Monitor, just use Spotlight, no matter which Mac OS X you have. The easiest and quickest way is to start typing the tool’s name in the search field (a.k.a. Spotlight).

typing the ctivity Monitor

The utility seems rather huge and confusing from the first sight, but it is not that difficult to master the tool with the help of user’s manuals & guides. Activity Monitor was designed to provide such functions as detecting the core causes of the apps slow-down as well as solving the problems associated with the working speed. It is possible to clean up your system using this or other similar tools.

Basic Sections of the Main Activity Monitor Screen

You should know that the main screen of the tool has two major sections:

  1. The Processes Table.
  2. System Monitor Tabs.

Pay attention to the number of items displayed in the Process list. Certain apps are visible while background operations are hidden. In every column next to the mentioned process, you will find all the details.

If you need extra columns and even more information, choose View à Columns menu. By increasing the number of columns in the corresponding option, you will get more detailed information. With the help of the “Search Filter,” you can find any process of your interest much faster.

As for the System Monitor Tabs, this section makes it possible to detect, which processes are using up your RAM. Choose “Memory” tab to discover them. For example, “Network” function helps to determine why the network bandwidth is taken up so much. The section provides only real-time statistics along with the graphs that point to the resource usage within the certain period. You obtain the updates every 5 seconds or change the frequency in Update Frequency option.

How, Why, and Where Is Activity

Annoyed by their precious Mac slowdowns, users often ask themselves “What is the effective solution to my problem with Mac’s speed and performance?” That’s where Activity Monitor comes in to help them find out how certain processes affect their Apple computer.
all processes activity monitor
In order to analyze how different processes impact your computer, it is important to evaluate each of the five category tabs at the top of the tool’s window. Once you switch on Activity Monitor, these category tabs will pop up:

  1. Central Processing Unit (CPU);
  2. Memory;
  3. Energy;
  4. Disk;
  5.  Network

Do not hurry to clean up every second file you see. It is important to decide which system files are critical to letting the device function properly, and which files can be deleted. Two most critical factors to observe with the help of Mac OS Activity Monitor are CPU and Memory.

It is logical that you will try to detect which application is dominating your Apple. “%CPU” column will help with this goal. Often, extra CPU processing power is required due to various apps and processes being turned on all the time. What you need is a misbehaving, nasty app which globs up more than its fair share of CPU.

Once you have identified the source of the problem, try to shut it down. Check out if the situation has improved. If you wish to stop the particular process, click on it and then choose Quit Process. Keep in mind that Force Quitting has greater risks, but it ensures the immediate termination of the process.

quit all processes

Another critical thing is to know how much memory you possess. Check various memory stats to understand which apps occupy the greatest space. Here are the most interesting types of memory stats to consider:

  • Free memory (RAM not in use);
  • Wired memory (the running apps define the amount of wired memory; it is not possible to place the data to the hard disk);
  • Active memory (the info currently present in memory);
  • Inactive memory (the data that was used not long ago);
  • Used (the share of applied memory);
  • VM size (this value defines the amount of Virtual Memory);
  • Page-ins vs. Page-outs (shows the share of information transferred between RAM and the hard disk; if you wish to decrease the page-outs, simply add more RAM);
  • Swap used (everything copied to the swap file).

Do you need more information? For an advanced user, it may be useful to apply Activity Monitor’s Dock icon in the shape of a live-updating chart to let you see what is going on behind the scenes in real-time. Right-click on the icon to pick the corresponding option. In case the bar displaying Show CPU Usage option fills up too much, it means that something is burdening the device’s processors.


So, to define and terminate “the poisonous apple,” Mac users may choose Activity Monitor tool. The instruments that come along with this utility are powerful enough to control Apple computer’s activity, including explored websites and stored files.

Experts believe Activity Monitor is a great system statistics monitor, calling its ability to break down everything by task its main advantage. Quitting tasks, investigating what they are doing, and organizing the processes the way you want are all features provided by this Mac tool.

In case you do not want to monitor the system activity permanently, Activity Monitor will most probably meet your expectations.