Mac: quick fix for Adobe Bridge CS5 / CS6 memory leak?

a quick fix for memory leak problems with Adobe Bridge (Mac)

While I do have Lightroom and Aperture, I have a preference still for using Adobe Bridge to view (and edit) individual images or groups of images. What makes Bridge easy, is that the edits (via the .xmp files), are read by both Lightroom and Bridge.

There has been one problem that has been driving me crazy on my Mac when I use Bridge … the apparent memory leak with Bridge that eventually eats up all the Free Memory on my system. I used a program called iFreeMem to regularly free up memory on both my Macs, but the program worked less well with Mountain Lion. And when I upgraded my iMac to 16Gb of RAM, iFreeMem just didn’t work properly at all.

Then some sleuthing via Google showed me a very simple way of doing this. This is something so simple that any competent software engineer will smirk (and the Linux gurus will fall over laughing) … but I wanted to put this out there as info for photographers who use Mac and Adobe Bridge, and who have been as frustrated with this problem that Adobe refuses to fix. (Or could it be a Mac problem?)

The quick-fix / band-aid:  purging memory via Terminal

While this does nothing to solve the under-lying problem, it does help us get ahead and actually be able to use Adobe Bridge on our Macs.

– Open up Terminal (via Applications / Utilities)
– type in this command: purge

With the latest releases of OS-X, you will need to type in: sudo purge – then add your password

This will purge the memory, and you will be able to see the result on your Activity Monitor (as in the image at the top.)

To have easy access to this, I now keep Activity Monitor and Terminal on my Dock.

This quick fix now allows me to continue working with Adobe Bridge. Not an elegant solution, but it helps.

As always, I would love to hear from others if they have any tips or insights.


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23 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1Phil Goh says

    I’m surprised that this works, as purge clears the disk cache. Memory leaks on the other hand occur when a program fails to release memory it had requested once it’s finished with it.

    I suspect that when the disk cache is flushed, your free memory increases because other well behaved applications have had their disk cache flushed and that memory is made available. This allows bridge to carry on leaking and claiming the newly free’d memory as its own. However, it does mean that other apps will have to regenerate their cached data and this might fail as there is no more free memory to use as a disk cache, thus impacting their performance.

    In short, this is a nasty hack and Adobe really needs to fix their memory leak.

  2. 3Phil Goh says

    Use Lightroom :)

    On a semi serious note, that Adobe are dragging their feet on an issue as serious as this suggests to me that Bridge on Mac isn’t that popular and isn’t receiving the love.

  3. 4Trev says


    Is it an Adobe problem or Mac users specific, do you know?

    Just I have never heard of that so I have been doing a couple of tests on my system [PC].

    i7 quad core 8 processors; 12G RAM; Western Digital Velociraptor 10,000 rpm drives.

    Now, I had every app I could think of open and with 76 Processes running, + including Photoshop, Bridge, ACR, Office, Lightroom, and several other standalone plug-ins running, it got to using a stable 3.68Gb memory, and the CPU only ever climbed to 52% briefly when running a very labor intensive action, lasting less then 6-8 seconds. The it sits back on the 0 to 3%.

    So I rang a mate with virtually identical set up to me, got him to open all apps, then check usage, very similar.

    Then I rang another mate, this one with an iMac, admitedly 3 years old, and the moment he opened Bridge, checking his resources, he noticed it steadily climbed but did not go back when not doing anything.

    Just wondered, that’s very strange, and I have not heard of it, obviously no need I suppose since I don’t run a Mac.

    I shall see what I can find mate, the guy with the Mac does not use Bridge constantly so he never noticed and he’s not a wedding photographer probably only doing a batch of around 50 nature shots at a time, but he’s pretty cluey with Macs, see if he can find out anything for you.


  4. 6 says

    Here it is again. Consistently and predictably.

    It is Adobe Bridge (CS6), that grinds down the available memory to a few Mb. Hitting the Purge command in Terminal, immediately releases the memory and I am back up to 12 Gb of the 16Gb installed.

    Doing this memory purge doesn’t seem to affect anything else on my computer. There’s no hiccup or anything. In fact, the computer starts working properly again.

  5. 9Lorenzo says


    A good practice on any kind of computer is to run periodically maintenance programs. On both Win and Macs I use CCleaner, a free program which flushes caches and tmp directories among many other things- pretty straightforward to use. Another Mac alternative is Onyx which does more or less the same. you’d be amazed at how much junk one accumulates.


  6. 10Trev says


    Ditto. Every night before bed, CCleaner gets to do it’s little job.

    Also with the Registery, flushes out all unused/old registery entries.

    Takes less then a minute to run.


  7. 11Johann says

    Did you happen to know that you can make it even more simple?
    You can change your Activity Monitor Icon to show the memory usage, such as this.

    Here’s how you would want to do it. Option Click (or right click) the icon and choose this option.

  8. 13Pete Mayes says

    It’s the same with Windows actually. I don’t have a fancy setup – Vista, Core 2 duo and 4gig ram. But Bridge CS6 drives me nuts – just get’s slower and slower and the whole computer eventually grinds to a halt.
    So, it’s not Mac only, I assure you!
    BTW, off topic – a few posts back you promised us a review of the new Canon 24-70 2.8L Mk2. Waiting with baited breath as there seem to be various opinions out there!

  9. 15 says

    Good find!

    I’ve been using purge for a long time now, though I have it setup as a cron job running every 10 minutes, here is the code if you’re interested:

    Open terminal and enter the below to edit the cron file:

    sudo crontab -e

    Typically Mac chooses VIM as its editor (not good for new users), though I will show you how to use it.

    Now to enter the following:

    press the i key to edit the file then paste in:

    */10 * * * * purge

    To save press the esc key then the : key and then type qw and press enter.

    That’s it every ten minutes purge will run, as this was under the sudo account it will work for all user accounts :)

    To view your crontab enter sudo crontab -l

    Hope that helps someone!


  10. 16Mattie says

    I tried doing the purge but it says command not found, am I doing it wrong?

    Last login: Wed Nov 28 12:52:41 on ttys000
    Mattie-OKeefes-MacBook-Pro:~ mattieo777$ purge
    -bash: purge: command not found
    Mattie-OKeefes-MacBook-Pro:~ mattieo777$

  11. 18Mattie says

    Did some more testing at home.

    The Activity meter starts at about 3.3 – 3.5GB (I have 4GB RAM) with nothing running, open Bridge drops about .5GB, open PS drops another .5GB, after about 3 – 4 pictures it down under 100MB.

    The purge function does nothing on my MacBook Pro? The only thing that releases the memory is restarting both programs… I’ve got to restart every 3 – 4 pictures?! How can any body attempt to get any work done? Boo Adobe/Apple.


  12. 19 says

    The pattern that I’ve noticed, is that the memory gets eaten up only while Bridge is generating the cache. Once the cache is generated, then the memory use is fairly stable and consistent.

  13. 20 says

    I’ve discovered a bit of software called ‘freememory’, available on the app store, and it works:

    It can be set to free the memory once available memory drops below a certain amount, or you can control it manually. It appears as an icon above your Mac desktop, alongside the time/battery/whatever icons.


  14. 21Tyler K says

    I do not believe that this is a problem with Adobe Bridge. This is just how Mac OS manages memory. As programs are opened and closed, inactive memory will be adjusted by the system. Inactive memory is still available to applications and the operating system. All you are doing with the purge command is clearing out the cache the system has built up. You will not do any harm to your system by using this command but you may find that commonly used applications may take longer to launch after using it.

  15. 22 says

    Yet, of all the programs I use, only Bridge exhibits this behavior.

    Bridge, in my experience, has bugs. And adobe doesn’t really seem to fix this, even with upgrade after upgrade.

  16. 23Russ says

    I had our new iMAC installed with 32Gb of RAM (max), and were having lockup issues, slow starts etc with Photoshop and Bridge.

    Looking at Activity Monitor, 31.5Gb was being used when booting up Photoshop and Bridge, then stayed there.
    CPU was fine.

    Ran the sudo purge command in Terminal (purge without sudo was not allowed..), then password.
    After this, with Activity Monitor running, the used memory was at 23, and everything was working as expected.

    We run the Activity Monitor several times a week to check usage, but will try the crontab recommendation next!

    It appears that Photoshop (with all the actions this side of the Mississippi enabled) uses approx 13Gb to run.
    Thanks for the “fix”. I know it’s a workaround, but it really helped.

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