MacBook very slow

in Genius Bar edited January 2014

A friend's MacBook (Core [1] Duo, 512 MB) is very slow (it's really slow--I can't imagine it being normal). I don't use Mac (yet), since like Mac OS 8.5, so I don't quite know how to help him. I recommended his purchase , so I feel kind of responsible (I _did_ tell him to get 1 GB of memory).

I thought I'd use benchmarking software to check if it's a hardware problem, check what apps he's using (he uses Azureus, but it couldn't be Java slowing him down, right?). I haven't seen his computer in a while, but I told him to use only Intel-native software, and install as least unnecessary stuff as possible.

What problems is he likely to be having? What diagnosing software could I use? Could it be worth it to reinstall his OS, or is that just a Windows thing?

Thanks in advance for any help.


  • Reply 1 of 7
    It shouldn't be super slow with 512 MB RAM, but the more the better. Is it hanging a long time? During specific tasks? Has he installed anything out of the ordinary?

    First, he can repair permissions to see if that helps. Or, create another user to see if it behaves the same way-- a test to see if it's something with the computer, or if it's user specific. There's also always an archive and install of OS X.
  • Reply 2 of 7
    He says everything is really slow and unresponsive, like when instant messaging, even typing. He generally uses Firefox, iTunes, Azureus, and MSN Messenger (I think the latest versions of all of those are Universal). When he opens Office, of course, it goes to hell.

    His Activity Monitor says


    Memory, 242,82 wired, 175,42 active, 88,04 inactive, 5,29 free

    cpu used 5


    Thanks for the ideas
  • Reply 3 of 7
    remove the ~/Library/Caches folder to the trash, run disk first aid from the install cd that came with your computer. get back to us.
  • Reply 4 of 7
    Creating a new limited user (without MSN Messenger or Azureus) apparently finally fixed the slowness (I didn't see it myself). He doesn't like Adium or the alternative torrent client I told him about some time ago. If creating a new user helped, should we reinstall the OS? (The other measures--repairing permissions, deleting the cache, etc.--seemed to make no difference). Should MSN Messenger or Azureus really be a problem? (In Chile, everybody uses MSN IM) Is there another torrent client as great as Az?

    Anyway, I had feared we wouldn't see any light, but we're now on our way to fixing it--thanks a lot.
  • Reply 5 of 7
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    Originally Posted by DoctorRobert

    If creating a new user helped, should we reinstall the OS?

    No, if that fixed the issue then all you'd need to do at most is migrate to another user. However, you shouldn't even need to do that because you've now managed to find out that the problem is specific to the user account you have. This means that either caches or preferences are messed up. There are multiple cache folders in OS X. You'd be best getting a tool called cocktail:

    Then run go to the scetion that has stuff about deleting caches. There are options for user and system caches, turn on delete kernel caches. You don't need to do the internet caches. Once you hit delete, restart the machine. It should take longer to boot because it is rebuilding them all.
  • Reply 6 of 7
    This guy (with the problem) completely disappeared on me, so I haven't yet tried all the fixes.

    Anyway, thanks a lot for all the feedback. This forum is really great.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    yah the permissions are usually at fault for things such as this.

    To answer your question above, Re-installing the OS does help on mac, although you should only use if the problem persists through all of the fixes mentioned above.
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