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I've had this 24" Al iMac since it came out in August 2007.

  • 2.8 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo (X7900 Core 2 Extreme)
  • 2GB 667 DDR2

The machine has never been rebuilt, and the profile is the original profile from my original iBook G4 back in 2004 (migrated to a MacBook and then to the iMac)

I'm loath to spend any money on the machine since it is coming up to 5 years old, and I want to save up for a new one later this year.

I want to know what software tweaks that I can use to speed up the iMac as it is now slow for much of anything except the basics.

I'm looking for ways to speed up the boot time, runtime memory efficiency, and responsiveness.

Edit for clarification purposes: If you have any quick fixes, they would score higher for me than say having to rebuild the system (sorry Stuffe)

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That's fair enough, but a fix would really need to be aligned against a problem, and your problem is generic slowness, so I think a rebuild would be most effective, even if it takes longer. Plus your clean image will be more suitable for your replacement hardware down the line - It's something you pretty much need to do one time or another, might as well do it earlier –  stuffe Mar 24 '12 at 14:05

4 Answers 4

If you don't want to spent money, then that rules out hardware upgrades, which means you are down to software. You are already running the latest OS (and anecdotally at least for anything reasonably up to date the received wisdom is that you gain a speed boost with new OS releases from Apple on the same hardware) which means you are down to configuration.

So, as you say you have never performed a rebuild and you have potentially 9 years of cruft kicking around gathering dust I would simply test out your backup strategy by ensuring you have copies of everything you need, and perform a fresh install, recovering back only that which you are sure you need and still use.

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By far the best way to "speed up" an old computer is to add more RAM. I believe a 2007 iMac will take up to 4GB of RAM. It depends on what applications you're running, but if you run multiple tabs on your browser, or more than one application at a time, then odds are, you will notice a speed improvement, as it will spend less time swapping memory to the disk drive (in computer terms, the disk drive is dramatically slower than RAM).

I noticed this first hand on my wife's early 2008 iMac. We maxed out the RAM at 4GB a couple years ago and she said World of Warcraft ran much better after that :-).

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

The issue was resolved in the end as follows:

  1. The iMac froze and had to be force ably shutdown multiple times
  2. On rebooting the dreaded flashing question mark appeared
  3. Booted into Lion Recovery Mode
  4. In Disk Utility - Repaired Permissions, reset the partition map

After all that, the machine now starts quickly and applications are much more responsive.

So the moral(s) of the story is/are:

  • repairing permissions should be done a lot more regularly than every few years :p
  • even after 9 years as a Mac owner and power user, even the little things can surprise you
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If you have a good fast USB flash drive of at least 8GB - 16GB or larger is really the minimum - to also have apps - you could also try a clean OS install onto it and using that as your boot device. I don't have your exact model iMac on hand to test, but it might be worth noodling around with, and cheaper/less time invested than upgrading to a SSD.

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