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MacBook Pro running slow

by swammy50 / September 19, 2007 1:19 PM PDT

My wife's macbook is running really slow and since I'm used to working with windows I don't know how to help her. She has a 2ghz Intel Core Duo processor with 512 mb ram. She's running Mac OS X 10.4.1 and has about 10 gb of free space on her HD.
I know she could probably use more ram but its so slow I'm not convinced this is entirely the problem. After reading some other threads I repaired permissions using the disc utility but that didn't seem to help much. Basically the computer takes forever to switch between programs, save open documents etc. Iphoto just kept quitting on her as well.
I am hoping someone out there may have some advice?

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Slow MacBook
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 19, 2007 9:52 PM PDT

Did this problem start suddenly or just build up over time?

More RAM would certainly help but that machine was fairly sprightly to begin with and should not take forever to switch between programs.

A lot of converts (switchers) from the Windows world have developed the habit of clicking the Red X, at the top right of the application window, to make the program quit.
Although there is a Red button, top left of the application window, in OS X; it does NOT quite the application. The windows are closed but the program is still running. Those little black triangles under the icons on the dock indicate what programs are running.
Having a lot of programs running will soon chew up 512MB of RAM and leave your system frantically moving data on and off the HD to make room.
Take a look and see if this could be the problem.

If it is not, it may be time to consider an Archive and Install of the OS. Note a big deal and all your data will be preserved.


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Slow MacBook
by swammy50 / September 20, 2007 2:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Slow MacBook

She says that she thinks it came on slowly although she was a little surprised how long programs took to open from the beginning. The computer has always started up quickly but takes forever to shut down. She is guilty of the using the red x, but I had already pointed this out to her and it doesn't seem to change the problem. Besides, I wouldn't expect having mail, firefox and word running together would slow things down that much??

So what is the deal with an Archive and install of the system?

Thanks for the help,

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The deal
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 20, 2007 4:20 AM PDT
In reply to: Slow MacBook

You are right, having those three programs open should not slow the machine down that much.

The Archive and Install option puts a replacement OS on the drive while keeping all your data, settings and preferences in one piece.
It archives all your stuff, renames the old system folder, creates a new unused system folder from the DVD, puts all your stuff back where it came from.

Once that's done, update the system to the current for your OS version and you are good to go with a virgin copy of the system installed.


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by Me, Myself and You / March 15, 2008 1:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Slow MacBook

'A lot of converts (switchers) from the Windows world have developed the habit of clicking the Red X, at the top right of the application window, to make the program quit.
Although there is a Red button, top left of the application window, in OS X; it does NOT quite the application. The windows are closed but the program is still running. Those little black triangles under the icons on the dock indicate what programs are running.'

I agree. When I first got my Ibook, I kept doing that, then forgetting that all the programs were still running. Now my Mac Mini is my primary desktop computer, and my Windows laptop for when I need to hoof it, I find myself trying to quit apps on the LAPTOP! Oh jeeze, the joy of being a multi operating system user. I particularly like the way apps are handled on the Mac OS for instance photoshop where the background is still visible rather than the big grey area in Windows??? Makes much more sens to me to allow you to put stuff behind the application and still see it. Plus 20 inches of screen makes a big difference heh.

Anyway onto the slowness thing. I had this dreaded iBook and it would not stop crashing on me... and it was also stupidly slow. Eventually one day it took a big poopy in the pan, so to speak, and stoopped working right. Wouldn't boot up properly nor would install an OS. So I sold it on ebay as spares, still good money mind you, and the woman said the HARD DRIVE had taken a you know what. I was gob smacked. The hard drive was a little loud yes, but no louder than I'd have expected for an OLD computer. No clicking, really, and nothing else to suggest it had gone. But it appeared it was the HD causing all of that trouble, and I've been told numerous times that people with unbearably slow computers its the HD thats been the problem.

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10.4.1 ?????
by pyrdek / September 21, 2007 3:05 PM PDT

If you are indeed running 10.4.ONE you are nine updates late. The current version is 10.4.10 If that was just a typo and it really meant 10 then an archive and install would be a possibility. Another possibility is some updates actually complete some or all of their installation and optimization when the computer is shutting down or starting up but that only happens after the update not every time.

A thing to check is just what may be running in the background, things like AV scans can suck up cycles with some AV programs being worse than others. Activity monitor might help you track this.

Have you tried shutting Airport off before shutting down? I have had some major problems with booting up if Active Directory and Airport are both on. The computer seems to try to check authentication against the AD while still in the booting process. If you just have your own system you are almost certain to not be running against Active Directory issues but if the computer in question is/was used in a networked (with Windows systems) AD my have been turned on.

Another thing to check is if the computer is connected to or trying to connect to some server somewhere. If it is, this could cause a slowdown while it is trying to make the connection.

If all those don't bring things back, you could always try a "Safe Boot". It will take a bit longer than normal (maybe a couple of minutes to boot but it is checking the hard drive for data problems while booting. It will also prevent network connections if that is a part of the problem you may notice a change there.

Another option is find someone that has Disk Warrior (in the version you need) and let it rebuild the directory. That has cleared some problems for me on weird acting systems.

If nothing else clears the problem, then Archive and Install followed by software update (probably a couple of times till you get the report that there is no new software available for your system) would be in order.

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MacBook running slowly? Try Safe Boot
by jcipin / September 25, 2007 11:01 PM PDT

I've had a MacBook for about 13 months. A few months ago (can't remember exactly when) it seemed to be running slower than it used to. I use it to run only really standard stuff: Microsoft Office, Mail, Safari, etc. No Photoshop or After Effects and the like. I was pretty sure that the slowdown was caused by upgrading to 10.4.9 or 10.4.10. I tried alot of recommended "fixes." Onyx, Cocktail, Disk Warrior, resetting PRAM and more. All of which are useful, don't get me wrong, but they didn't deal with the slowdown issue. I did one more Google search this morning under "macbook running slow". I came across a post on Macenstein that I hadn't seen before. The recommendation: SAFE BOOT! Doh! Forgot about that one. Start up your Mac while holding down the Shift key. Believe it or not, that seems to have done the trick. It's probably one of those things that should be tried for any system-wide sort of ailment.

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My Macbook was running slow, too.
by GrandGizmo / March 14, 2008 1:09 AM PDT

I've had my Macbook for about nine months. It was always running smooth. And so, I researched on google and found your post. I also realized what was wrong. I'm Comptia certified and I've gone to school for this mess. Anyway, I troubleshooted the problem, and it seems that OS X Tiger and Leopard I imagine needs at least 10 gigabytes or more free on the hard drive to run smoothly. Maybe it's virtual memory or something, but I deleted a lot of old movie files and what not, and gained around 60 extra gigs. It was all pretty much junk, so... go figure. Anyway, after freeing up around sixty gigabytes off of my 140 gigabyte hard drive (on my Macbook Pro) I never seemed to have the problem of slowness again. Instead of following all these people's suggestions, I would first try that. Try freeing up a bit of hard drive space and getting rid of files you pretty much don't need. This will give your computer more resources. Your Macbook Pro should run much smoother, too. Have a nice day! Happy

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I doubt anyone waited around since last year, but
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / March 14, 2008 4:29 AM PDT

the general rule of thumb is to have at least 5Gb of free space available on the Boot drive/Partition

Anything below that indicates that it is time for a clean up.

You were lucky to be able to find an extra 60Gb of space, a lot of users don't even start off with that much.

Adding extra RAM will always give a performance boost as this offsets the need to use VM as often


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Yes, Very true.
by GrandGizmo / March 14, 2008 6:44 AM PDT

Yes, it is true indeed. I was very lucky to find that much, and after nine months of playing on the thing and downloading everything under the sun - even those humorous one time viewed pictures friends send? - then I came up with that much. However, I think 5GB is pushing it. I think it's a good thing to at least have 25% of the your hard drive space free. It's good for resources, and it's also good for smooth operation of the particular system. Yes, 5-10GB would be about right on the free space. I was just being safe.

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by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / March 14, 2008 8:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes, Very true.

but 25% is relative.

The OS is the same size on a machine with a 60GB drive (15GB) or a machine with a 500GB (125GB)

5 to 10GB would, as you say, cover just about all disk sizes


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by Me, Myself and You / March 15, 2008 1:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Yes, Very true.

My mac Mini is packed with data and virtual machines, and is nearly always below 10GB. Despite when we're running a lot of apps the 1GB of RAM on this machine, the OS screams.

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One Fix to Try: FONTS!
by Toonvox / July 26, 2008 7:41 AM PDT

Sounds silly, but my fonts were slowing me down. Here's how I fixed it:

Open FontBook
(You'll see a black bullet next to all your duplicates)
Select ALL your fonts
Click Edit, Resolve Duplicates

This sped up my boot time by about 70% and the MacBook will show a marked improvement. Try it.

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by H3L3N D / October 28, 2009 3:33 AM PDT
In reply to: One Fix to Try: FONTS!

I have been searching for a while, Fontbook wasn't showing up anywhere as something to even consider. I tried your advice. TAH-DAHH! Perfection.


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by captainpitt / February 28, 2010 2:43 AM PST
In reply to: AMAZING!

This should be the FIRST action for anyone having speed problems!!

Removing all the duplicated fonds and also scrolling through the complete fond list and deleting all the Chinese and Arabic fonds brought my McBook Pro back to life!! That's the speed I was used to.

For the novice - you will find the Fond Book in the Finder window under Applications

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Be careful
by macnerd10 / February 28, 2010 4:15 AM PST
In reply to: Fantastic!

with Chinese fonts. Some of them are system fonts and removing them may cause problems. One has to look in the description and leave all system fonts intact.

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Tried that...
by msjamie71 / September 5, 2010 2:09 AM PDT
In reply to: Fantastic! dice. The "resolve duplicates" option is greyed out. How now? I'm at my wits end with this machine.

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