Activity Monitor for Mac – How to Use It

Mac users rejoice – there is hope for reducing the load on your computer! It’s called the Activity Monitor for Mac and it can do so many things, it can give the standard, ctrl-alt-delete Task Manager of Windows computers a run for its money.

Yet how do you use this feature on a Mac? What exactly can you do with it? More importantly: can you tweak it to reduce the load of your computer automatically without exterior interference? These are all questions that we’ll be trying to give an answer to right here in our guide to using the Activity Monitor for Mac.

How to Use the Activity Monitor for Mac

Before we tell you how to use it, we need to tell you how to start the program. It’s super simple: all you have to do is go to the Applications menu on your Mac, select Utilities and the Activity Monitor for Mac. Alternatively, you can simply type it into Spotlight and it will launch automatically.

Unfortunately, unlike the Task Manager of Windows, there is no special key for the Mac Activity Monitor.

CPU Screen

The Mac Activity Monitor is especially useful since it breaks down far more attributes for each software eating up your RAM than its Windows variant. The main screen shows you all of the processes running on your computer at that specific time. Each one of these has the following attributes:

  • CPU load. This one is displayed in percentile points. The higher this percentage is, the more demanding the process is for your computer’s resources.
  • CPU Time. This represents how long the specific process has been running – an extremely useful indicator that is harder to get on your typical Windows computer.
  • The number of sub-processes for each process.
  • Idle Wake Ups. The times the respective process turned idle and was woken up. This is useful if you want to see what programs that are causing CPU load are actually in use.
  • The user who has ordered the specific task to run.

Memory Screen

The next tab in the activity monitor for Mac represents the memory screen. Here you will see how much of your RAM a specific app is taking up. The most important attribute here is, naturally, memory. For example, if you open the Activity Monitor now, you will see that your browser is probably using the most RAM. If your computer is running slowly then you should see about updating to a less demanding internet browser.

Towards the bottom, you will see a pressure indicator. This one’s particularly useful since a task eating up a lot of RAM does not necessarily load your Mac. If the pressure is in the green area, then you should be fine!

Energy Screen

If you’re looking for ways to save up a bit of battery power, the Energy Screen of the Activity Monitor for Mac is where you’ll want to look. By checking the things you see here, you’re able to reduce the load on your battery and possibly prolong the time you spend in that fancy coffee shop without your Mac being plugged in.

If you want a tip, look at the energy impact graph to the bottom of your screen in order to see how much energy is actually being drained by a specific task.

Disk Screen

On the disk screen, you will see how much a single program has written on your hard drive and how much it has read from it. An important part of this screen is the lower graph. There you will see how much a program was able to read and write per second. If you have a decent amount of RAM and the hard drive has high RPM, then your programs should have no problems staying stable and not causing unnecessary load.

This is where you can check what’s draining your hard drive space. It does seem like too often we’re faced with an overloaded disk without understanding why. Here you can look for clues as to this.

Network Screen

This one is also extremely useful, particularly for those who are keen on the security of their system. You can check here how much info a program is sending over the internet, as well as how much it’s receiving. Needless to say, if you see something you don’t know there, you should investigate.

On this screen of the Activity Monitor for Mac, you can check how your internet speed is doing by looking at the graphic to the bottom of the screen.


Have you figured out just how good this little program called Activity Monitor for Mac is? We can’t get enough of looking at the data there and trying to optimize all of our Macs. Tell us if your Mac is now working better and if you plan on using the Mac Activity Monitor from now on.

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