Memory issues on Mac


Zotero continues to use up my Memory causing the application to crash. I'm on a 2015 MacBook Pro and typically see Zotero using 8-10GBs of RAM.

Hope you can help! Thanks!
  • edited February 16, 2023
    Can you provide a Report ID? Are you using third-party plugins? If so, try disabling them.

    Do you have multiple (very) large PDFs — e.g., with huge scanned images — open in tabs? It shouldn't really be possible for Zotero to use that much memory in any sort of normal usage.

    While you're seeing this sort of memory usage, can you go to Tools → Developer → Run JavaScript, run Zotero.openInViewer('about:memory'), click "Measure and save…" under "Save memory reports", and email the file to with a link to this thread?

    How much memory does your computer have?
  • I cannot provide a report ID, I'll attach a screenshot to my support email.

    I don't have any PDFs open at this time, though opening a single one or two seems to make the problem much worse.

    I have 16 GBs of memory on my computer.
  • edited February 16, 2023
    Why can't you provide a Report ID?

    Are you saying it uses 8-10 GB immediately after opening Zotero? How large is your Zotero library?
  • "Report Errors…" is a menu option under Help. It's not something you search for.
  • I have 3808 items in my library including notes and attachments. I'm sorry I had initially searched for report errors in the "Help" menu and missed that it was an option in the dropdown. Report ID: 1356299450.
  • edited February 16, 2023
    It looks like you added images to your notes before Zotero 6, which added official support for images in notes. You'll need to remove those — those were never supported, since they broke syncing (you're also getting sync errors from them) and can cause severe performance problems.

    You can search for <img in All Fields & Tags mode to find them. If you still have the images, you can drag them back to the notes in the current version of Zotero to add them properly.

    A future version might support automatically converting pre–Zotero 6 images in notes into proper embedded images, but I'm not sure when that would happen.
  • Dear all,

    I have the same problem with memory. my Report ID: 1815697629. When I open some documents, the memory skyrockets. e.g. one document uses 2G RAM, 5 documents use 5G RAM. Also, I have 16 GBs of memory on my computer.

  • I just want to say that I still experience issues with Zotero memory hogging when opening PDFs (MacBook M1 Pro, 16 GB RAM, Ventura 13.3.1). Opening three or four PDFs results in >3 GB of memory usage. The problem is not present when I have no PDFs open in Zotero. I switched to using the system default PDF reader (Preview), which uses only a couple hundred MBs of memory for the same number of PDFs.
  • I'm also experiencing the same issues - one PDF open and 1.8GB of RAM used on an M2 Mac. Getting to the point where I'm looking for an alternative...
  • @danlyth: This will be improved in Zotero 7 (early beta out now), which runs natively on Apple Silicon. Apple Silicon Macs seem particularly conservative with their memory management when dealing with apps running under Rosetta (like Zotero 6). That said, though, there's nothing strictly wrong or dangerous about Zotero using a couple gigabytes of memory - it can be swapped out quickly by the OS if memory gets too full. It only becomes a problem if it's making your system run slowly.
  • I'm having the same problem on my MacBook Air. Today I've received multiple "Your system has run out of application memory" and received a Force Quit Applications box. Zotero was using in excess of 2GB of memory with one PDF open and was behaving VERY sluggishly.
    - When I close and reopen it with NO PDFs open, then it initially climbed to 509MB, but then relaxed to 426.6MB.
    - Now, when I open one PDF it climbed to over 1GB, then relaxed to 652MB...opening 6 PDF gets me over 2MB and the Force Quit notification
    I'm emailing the memory report.
  • interesting. I was using version 6 a lot because of zutilo and got 8-10 GB RAM usage with 2-3 GB swaps when importing or reading and annotating.
    I always rebooted when I noticed it slow down. But now my SSD is dead in my one year old laptop (MacBook Pro M1 14" 16GB 2TB). Assuming that the swaps killed it, I better stick with 7 beta.
  • @sqrtx: If your 2 TB SSD is dead after one year in a computer with 16 GB of RAM, you had a defective SSD or hit some extreme OS bug. That doesn't happen from normal swap usage (and seeing a few GB of swap usage is perfectly normal). This wouldn’t be about Zotero.
  • It turned out the SSD is fine, they just had to restore the firmware. I'm glad you're saying that a few GB of swaps are not going to kill it. So I don't need to be careful about memory usage and can use Zotero 6 or 7 beta as needed. This is the most reliable software I've installed in a long time. thanks a lot.
  • I have the same problem. When view PDFs using Zotero, the memory usage is crazily high. The memory usage can reach over 10 GB with a few PDF tabs open on Zotero. Once all PDF tabs closed, the usage is back to 1.2 GB.

    It looks like this issue may be common!
  • @pkumxz Which Zotero version?
  • The latest version for Mac, 6.0.28.
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