IT’S GEEK TO ME: Troubleshooting a web browser reloading due to ‘significant’ memory usage

Question: My daughter talked me into a MAC Air. “It’s easy, Dad.” My problem is that as I am reading the paper, it reloads the paper after about a page with the statement “The web page was reloaded because it was using significant memory.” I believe my problem to be the Northwest Florida Daily News e-edition since it only started doing this several days ago. No answer from Customer Service.

I went back to my old, slow HP and, while it didn’t frequently reload, I did note that the paper was using significant memory. I have deleted all the cache, tried reading the paper in different format and everything I could think of. What say you? BTW, I have moved from Niceville to SC but still enjoy reading your articles up here.

– Cort P.

“Somewhere” in South Carolina

Answer: Well, Cort, I’m happy to hear that you’re staying in touch even though you’re no longer a part of life here along the Emerald Coast. That’s a great example of how the Internet has made the world a much smaller place. You can have a virtual presence practically anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. It’s my pleasure to hear from readers across the country and occasionally all over the world, thanks in no small part to the Internet.

You can tell your daughter for me that I happen to think Windows is easy. That’s just me. I deal almost constantly with people who do not share my opinion, and are lost in a quagmire of problems brought on by this “easy” operating system. I’ve long said that Microsoft seems to generate error messages with the belief that every one of their users is a computer science major. Others, seemingly like your daughter, believe of Apple products that “It just works.” My experiences with my and Spouse Peripheral’s iPhones, as well as trying to offer support to people with Mac computers would seem to belie that opinion.

As you hopefully know, each web browser functions slightly differently; even those built on the same code base, such as Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. In your case, you’re likely using Safari, the default Apple browser that came with your MacBook. The message you’re receiving literally means that the browser has detected that a page is using an unreasonable amount of the system’s memory. In my research, I was not able to determine an amount of memory that Safari deems “significant” so I can’t provide any guidance there. I also don’t know with any certainty whether the calculations that go into the determination of whether memory use is significant includes background and overhead stuff, like plug-ins and browser extensions.

Several things I will suggest to you came from a webpage I’ve linked to at You can get more information by visiting there. First of all, the overall amount of memory in use is an aggregate of all the tabs open in the browser. Again, it’s unclear to me whether this is the cause of the error you’re getting, because that error seems to be complaining about a single website, and hence, a single tab. Nevertheless, you can free up additional memory by closing other tabs that you don’t need at the moment. You should also take a look at the current spate of extensions and plugins that are active, and remove ones you don’t need. You can access these by pressing [Command]+[,] (comma) from within Safari to open Safai’s Settings, then going to the Extensions tab. Finally, consider clearing Safari’s cache and cookies, to get rid of old, stale, or just plain unwanted information that’s hanging around. From Safari Settings, go to the Advanced tab and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar.” Open the Develop menu, and click “Empty Caches.”

Finally, make sure your system’s macOS is up-to-date. Newer versions provide better performance tools with improved management of system resources.

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