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Please check the amount of space remaining on your hard drive. The symptom you describe is usually related to a full drive and the OS can no longer swap virtual memory correctly. There must be at least 1GB remaining for the system to function efficiently. If that is the case, you will need to either: 1) Delete some files to re-capture space, or 2) think about replacing the disk with a larger one. You will need to clone the old disk to the new larger one before you can use it. If that is not what's going on, we'll need to check further. Please let me know.
the HD says I have 64g remaining.
Ok - let's try a Disk Permissions Repair. Please open Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility
Select Macintosh HD in the Left pane and then click Repair Disk Permission in the Right pane
When it's finished, just quit Disk Utility.
BTW - how much memory is in your iMac?
shared across two profiles
Not disk storage - how much memory is in the machine. Check About This Mac for the installed memory size.
ok. i'm trying to check that out, it's still running super slow, especially with the repair disk permissions going.
Do you have several apps running at the same time when the slow behavior is at its worst?
not really, no. it is at it's worst on start up. which is a new thing occurring after a firefox freeze/system freeze.
i performed the disk permissions repair and the computer restarted itself and is now stuck on a white screen.
The next thing to try is a unix command that will perform a disk repair if possible. In order to do this, you need to shut down the computer.
Then, holding the command and s key down, restart the machine until you see a black background with white text. It will boot and write a lot of messages to the screen and eventually stop with a prompt. At this point type exactly:
then return. That should start the Disk Utility repair. Hopefully, it will find some errors and fix them. If you get a message that it has found a problem, but can't fix it, you will have to take more drastic action. Let's hope this resolves the problem.
after ten+ minutes of holding command + S keys it is still stuck on the white screen.
Your OS will need to be re-installed. Do you have the OS X Installer DVD?
yes. what do i do from there?
You will need to insert the DVD while the machine is up. Once it is in place, fore power-down by holding the power switch until everything shuts down.
Then, hold down the c key (the letter c) and push power on. When the gear appears, you can release the c key. Once the DVD is booted, there will be a question bout language. Answer that and then let's try one more time to repair the disk. Look at the top menu bar and notice that Utilities is now showing as one of the options. Click and drop down to Disk Utilities. After it is loaded, select Macintosh HD in the left pane, and click Repair Disk. If there are no errors, just quit and the installer will resume. If it does find problems and is able to fix them, lets try one more time to boot normally. Just quit the installer and let the system reboot. Let me know which way it goes. Thanks!