Some blame the specific accessibility feature of the Monterey application, which affects many Mac users – but that’s not the only cause.
Monterey application memory leak background
Although an application memory error has been seen for some time, there seems to be a specific error in macOS Monterey 12.0.1 that affects many more people.
Many Mac users see the error message: “Your system has run out of application memory.” The error is caused by an application that uses gigabytes of memory – it reports more usage than a Mac, until it eventually crashes. The culprits are Mail and Final Cut Pro […]
On my M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro with 32GB of shared memory, it climbed well above 32GB before Mail crashed – in one case showing more than 100GB. Other users have seen the same thing with other apps.
The error affects both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs.
The accessibility feature is not the only culprit
Almost since we reported the error, I’ve seen suggestions that one specific accessibility feature is to blame: a higher or higher contrast indicator.
If you’ve made changes to adjust the mouse pointer and especially the color selection — restore the default settings and compare your results.
This theory first came from Mozilla.
On macOS 12 Monterey, using a non-standard cursor size or color causes a large memory leak in Firefox. Firefox version 94 includes an update that reduces memory leaks, but the problem may still occur. The problem has been reported to Apple and a fix is expected in a future update for macOS 12.
Workaround: Until a newer version of macOS 12 is available with the fix, use the standard cursor size and colors. In macOS 12 System Preferences, select Accessibility, then Display, then Pointer. Set the pointer size to normal and reset the pointer colors by clicking the Reset button.
This seemed convincing to me at first, because I have my pointer set one degree higher than the standard so as not to lose it on a large widescreen monitor. I also have the “scroll to zoom” feature turned on.
However, resetting the cursor to standard and restarting made no difference to my machine: the Mail app continued to leak memory. Other sufferers say the same thing, including people who have never used this feature.
So while this seems to be the solution for some cases, and definitely worth a try, don’t believe the reports that this is the only explanation.
Apple eventually did me an unintentional favor: my inability to continue using the company’s own Mail app led me to try out the Spark, which I now use not only on my Mac but also on my iPhone and iPad.
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