Mac Activity Monitor is equivalent to Task Manager in Windows and it can be used to view information about how much processing power and memory are being used to run programs. This can be used to know if certain programs are running slowly or mac spinning beachball is a common occurrence or even if your mac is crashing frequently.
Activity Monitor is located in Applications -> Utility Folder. You can also bring it up the way I like to do (using Spotlight).
- Hit Command+Spacebar to bring up the Spotlight search field
- Type in “Activity Monitor”
- Select “Activity Monitor” from the Spotlight results
- Activity Monitor starts and the icon shows up in the dock.
There are 5 tabs in the Activity Monitor, 4 of which are self explanatory :
1. CPU : Shows how much processor memory is being used up
2. Disk Usage : Shows how much space has been taken up on the hard drive.
3. Network : The Network tab Identifies network activity. It can be used to identify unexpected network activity, which can be due to anti-piracy features in applications as well as unauthorized transmissions from malware or spyware.
4. System Usage : It shows 5 values in the left side – Free, Wired, Active, Inactive and Used. Free and Used add up to the total memory of your computer – in my case it adds up to 2 GB. Active memory is the memory being used right now and inactive memory is the memory, which was used some time in the past and your Mac is free to use it or ignore it as the need arises. Wired memory is the memory which is the allocated quota and cannot be touched. It is the memory used up to keep your Mac running.
Free, Wired, Active, and Inactive sum up to the total amount of random-access memory (RAM) installed in your computer. RAM is the high-speed memory used to store information that is in use or used most recently. Information in RAM is loaded from your hard disk at startup and when you open applications and documents.
At the right side of System Usage, there is VM size, which is free space available on the hard drive, which can be used as the virtual memory. Swap used shows how much of it is being used for virtual memory. Page In and Page Out give you an indication of how your Mac is using the virtual memory. Pages are blocks of memory and Page Ins are pages used in RAM. Page Out is the amount of virtual memory being used. As long as Page Out is lower than Page In, it is fine because it indicates that RAM is being used most of the time. When Page Out starts to remain higher than Page In, it indicates that it is time to upgrade RAM in your Mac.
5. Disk Activity : Problems of thrashing or mysteriously disappearing free space on your startup disk may be confirmed by checking the Disk Activity pane in Activity Monitor. Thrashing is the word used to describe a situation where large amounts of computer resources are used to do a minimal amount of work, with the system in a continual contention. A very busy graph can be indicative of Thrashing and the need to clean up your system or upgrade RAM.