Memory - HowTo and About
David Anders,The Computer Guy, a freelance systems engineer in Seattle, WA.
Resolves computer problems, assists with production issues, designs and installs networks.
Memory Basics
. Applications, utilities and some system components have a memory partition that defines the amount of memory they use. The default memory size of an application is set with average size files in mind. If you open a large file in an application, it may freeze, bomb, refuse to save or print - because the memory it has been given is too small.
. Updating the Operating system can increase the memory required for applications to run. Example &endash; System 7.5.5 Update required some programs to use an additional 23K of memory. To fix the problem, increasing the Preferred Memory size of the application by 23K was the solution to memory error messages.
. Some system components are set to a memory partition that is too small. Printmonitor and Desktop Printmonitor are classic examples that often need more memory than the default setting.
. TIP: to monitor the memory partitions of active programs &endash; Choose About this Computer or About this . Macintosh from under the Apple Menu, move the window to the bottom of the screen and check the percentage of the bar that is used. If an application fills most or all of the bar, it needs to have it's memory allocation increased in it's Get Info window. There are shareware and freeware utilities that will perform this same function (monitoring memory) in a smaller window or floating palette.
. Turning on Balloon Help will allow you to find out the exact amount of memory available and used (the only use of Balloon Help that IS useful).
The Rules
. Everything in the system and all applications have a set amount of memory. If they step one byte out of this memory, you will see a crash, bomb, freeze, stall or error messages.
. If an application refuses to open a file, won't save, won't print, the FIRST thing to try is assign it more memory Especially if the problem file is much larger (bigger, more pictures) than the files you normally work with.
. Even programs that have enough memory to function, may show much faster response given more memory.
Printing problems &endash; refusing to print, with or without error messages, showing all the steps of printing but producing no output, printing only the first page (or a portion of the printjob).
Saving problems &endash; refusing to save a file.
Opening problems &endash; refusing to open a file &endash; usually with an error message.
Special option problems &endash; spell checking failures, export to different file format problems, acquiring scanners or video capture devices &endash; usually with an error message.
. NOTE: the above problems are due to programs that do not load ALL their features at open. Some options are loaded into memory when they are requested, assuming there is enough memory allocated to the application.
. NOTE2: it is possible for problems with an application to appear when too many fonts are open, or additional system resources are added (utilities that alter the finder or the way the system operates).
Random crashes with or without error messages across many applications.


. Allocate more memory to the problem application.
1] Highlight the application, when it is not open or active
2] (Command + I) or File Menu:Get Info command to open the Get Info Window
3] Increase the preferred size by 20 or 30%
4] Test the increased memory partition, repeat if needed.
. Allocate more memory to your System, using Conflict Catcher or one of the freeware/shareware system heap utilities.
. Increase Print Monitor's Memory to 256k &endash; the default memory for print monitor can often cause problems. (Desktop PrintMonitor if you are using Desktop Printing)
Increase ATM's Memory to 50k per font &endash; use the ATM (Adobe Type Manager) control panel for this.
. Leave the About Macintosh window open at the bottom of the screen to monitor or check your applications memory space. OR download one of the memory utilities available online.
. If you change the memory size of a program to an abnormally large figure, remember to set it back for normal operation.

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