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2009 Macbook running OSX 10.7.5, 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3. 92.13 GB free out of 499.25 GB.

Logging in takes a couple minutes, opening applications takes anywhere between 5-30 seconds. What can I do to speed it up just like when it was new? Thanks!

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Can you open Activity Monitor and take some screenshots showing CPU load and RAM/memory usage? –  patrix May 14 '13 at 8:47
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6 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I had a white MacBook with roughly the same specifics (except for a 160 GB HD) and it wouldn't run so slowly.

You can try the following software fixes:

  1. Go to System Preferences -> Users and disable unnecessary login items. These items are executed right after login.
  2. Go to /Library/StartupItems and disable unnecessary startup items. These items are executed before login, just after boot. This is safe because essential system scripts are not placed there. Don't touch anything in /System/Library, instead.
  3. Use Activity Monitor and identify third-party daemons and processes that are running in background. Disable/uninstall unnecessary software.
  4. Open Console and look for unusual error messages.
  5. Clear ~/Library/Caches and /Library/Caches.
  6. Check and — if needed – repair your hard drive. You can do this booting with Recovery HD.
  7. Check and repair permissions with Disk Utility.
  8. Go to Dashboard and close unnecessary widgets. Some widgets run in background and use system resources.
  9. Only if you know what you're doing, you could also check third-party kernel extensions.

Hardware improvements:

  1. Buy a SSD. The spinning hard drive is the greatest bottleneck in modern laptops.
  2. If you're running short of RAM, consider upgrading to 8 GB if your machine supports it (4 GB should be enough, though).
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The best software solution is to do a re-format/re-install, then install only the software you need minimizing what runs in the background. Then follow the rest of @pietrodn's recommendations. Personally, I re-format/re-install every 6 months or so to clear out all the crud. P.S. This also means NOT using a Timemachine backup to restore anything. Just copy your content from the old one to the new one the old fashioned way. –  Dave Nelson May 14 '13 at 13:37
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Thanks. I think a reformat is too drastic. Feels like Windows XP all over again. I did most of the suggestions given here, and thanks all of you. Restarting is faster now, but logging into a user is not much difference. I'm gonna try to delete a lot of useless files and see if that helps. Thanks! –  rabbid May 15 '13 at 3:30
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Buy an SSD (solid state drive), it will speed things up considerably. You can install it yourself.

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I would buy a new Macbook if the 512 GB was cheaper. But what exactly makes the laptop slower? Is it because the hard drive is full? –  rabbid May 14 '13 at 7:57
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The hard driving being full is the biggest culprit but speed difference even on a half full HD compared with any SSD is amazing. –  Richard May 14 '13 at 10:53
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I believe i have the same macbook as the op and i install 8gb ram and 128 ssd hdd. the difference is amazing. –  cekisakurek May 14 '13 at 11:15
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I would try a Repair Disk first. I have seen this drastically speed up slow Macs, and it's free before you spend money on hardware: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1782

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Thanks. Repair Disk I THINK sped up my comp a little bit, but the biggest help is it gave me back 20 GB! Awesome! –  rabbid May 15 '13 at 3:29
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Have you tried using a system utility like Onyx?

It repairs permissions, and all that other fun stuff. There is actually a video about what it does in more detail on mactuts.

I'm also fairly certain that they have different downloads for the different versions of Mac OS so you should be able to find something that can help you speed up your computer. Programs like Onyx can work to do most (if not all) of the software fixes that pietrodn suggested.

I also disabled the dashboard using the terminal type the following into the terminal:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean true

and then type:

killall Dock

Also one thing that helped me speed up my MacBook Pro was moving my iTunes library to an external harddrive. Just a thought but it might help.

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This very informative article entitled "Speed Up an Old Mac with These Tricks [Mac OS X]" written on the 29th May 2013 by J.Bruce for makeuseof.com should provide good insight into what can be achieved including:

  • Disable window animations and Mail animations
  • Get rid of Dashboard
  • Remove login items and tray applications
  • Make sure you have 5-10% free space
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A lot of great answers here and all totally correct. Wipe the system is an absolute and drastic way that positively removes all junk files off your system but will consume your evening to complete the task. Upgrade your RAM to increase load speed - make sure you have all the same speed of RAM, else all your RAM will run at the speed of the slowest chip. a SSD is a great and amazing upgrade, but may be too expensive for you. If you do install a SDD make sure you check the cable too as I doubt the cable on your current HDD can power the full speed of the SDD giving you a noticeable improvement, but not the total.

Question. how many fonts are on your computer? As a designer/developer I once realized it took my 2008/2009ish work iMac a few minutes to boot, then 23-30 minutes to login because of my font library being massive. If you're in the same boat look into font management software, or a quick fix, delete all but your system fonts temporarily (move them to a folder outside of fontbook) and see if that improves... It helped my mac a lot.

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