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Every time I click on a application, both Apple and third party applications refuse to open. The little blue dot appears below the app on the dock, and then it disappears. I've restarted the computer multiple times and no luck. It's a late 2008 MacBook. Any ideas?

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Have you tried starting up in safe mode? You can see system.log in single user mode with cat /var/log/system.log. – user495470 Jan 2 '13 at 18:46

You can fire up the /Applications/Utilities/ and look over the logs as you are launching programs.

If the messages are not clear, you could either edit some details in the question or post a new question for each app / message that has you stumped as to a cause or solution.

Of course, you also might try some generic troubleshooting steps like rebooting, checking the apps with a new user, etc...

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I can't even open Finder to access the folder. Any other ideas? – Ken Fedor Jan 2 '13 at 1:40
Ouch - put your backup in a safe place. If you are covered on backup, you can boot in single user mode or recovery mode and see about checking the drive or reinstalling the OS. If you lack a backup, you'll want to get an assist from someone capable of imaging the Mac before you proceed to try to fix things. – bmike Jan 2 '13 at 2:28

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