Q: “Why do I receive an ‘out of memory’ error message when trying to copy and paste on my Mac?”
A: With Mac OS 9 and earlier, the Clipboard uses the application’s available memory. Therefore, you cannot copy data to the Clipboard that uses more memory than is available within the application. This is not an issue with Mac OS X since memory is dynamically allocated to open applications.
In other words, when data is copied to the Clipboard in Mac OS 9 and earlier, the information is stored within the application program’s memory partition. An “out of memory” message when copying data to the Clipboard indicates that there is not enough memory available in the application’s memory partition to perform the operation. For instance:
An application has been assigned 5 MB of memory and uses 2 MB to open and operate. Therefore, 3 MB remains available for data and documents. If a document is opened that uses 2 MB of the application’s available memory, then 1 MB is all that is available for use by the Clipboard. Attempting to copy more than 1 MB of data to the Clipboard while using this application results in an “out of memory” error message. This is more than likely the scenario you’re in.
The answer? Allocate more memory to your application by doing the following:
- Quit the application if it is open.
- Locate and click once on the desired application icon on your Macintosh hard disk (not the icon in the Launcher or an alias to the application).
- Choose [Get Info] from the File menu.
- Select [Memory] from the Show pop-up menu.
- Increase the amount of memory allocated to the application in the Preferred Size box by 25 to 50 percent. (Example: change 1000 K to 1500 K)
- Close the Get Info window.
The other solution is to upgrade your system to OS X which dynamically allocates memory to open applications.