How to see which programs are using all your memory in Windows
If your Windows PC feels mysteriously slow or refuses to load more programs, it may have run out of working memory. When this happens, PCs often fall back using virtual memory, which can be much slower. Here’s how to see which programs are eating up all your memory.
Interestingly, we are only talking about memory as in RAM, which is a temporary workroom for your programs, not disk storage space. The best tool to see which Windows programs may be using too much RAM is a utility called Task Manager.
First, let’s open the Task Manager. Right-click on the taskbar, then from the menu that appears, select “Task Manager”. (You can also press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and select “Task Manager” from the screen that appears.)
If the task manager’s straightforward interface is straightforward, click the “More details” button.
In the full Task Manager window, go to the “Processes” tab. You will see a list of every application and background task that is running on your computer. Collectively, these programs are referred to as “processes”.
To sort the processes by which the most memory is used, click on the “Memory” column heading. The process using the highest percentage of RAM will move to the top of the list.
In this window, it is good to look for programs that might be using a suspicious amount of memory. What counts as “suspicious” varies depending on how you typically use your machine. If you frequently render 4K video projects or run complex computer games, it might come as no surprise that one of these processes uses a large amount of memory (maybe even several gigabytes).
But if a process that you don’t recognize is using memory, or if a memory-hogging application has become unresponsive and you cannot exit the program through normal means, you might want to consider killing the process. To do this, select the process from the Task Manager list, then click “End Task”.
After that, the offending program will terminate (sometimes it takes a few moments). If it doesn’t, try restarting your machine, which can temporarily fix a variety of issues, including a leaking app that might be using more memory than it’s supposed to.
If you have problems with running out of memory on a regular basis, it might be time to consider adding more RAM to your PC, if possible. Good luck!