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Daniel, Mac Genius
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 4770
Experience:  Apple certified on desktop and portable, help desk qualified. Have owned and used Macs since 1989.
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My 2 year old Macbook pro has become unusably slow, despite

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My 2 year old Macbook pro has become unusably slow, despite everything in the activity monitor suggesting it should be fine. I have cleared all my caches and run OnyX, no improvement. I booted in safe mode and it ran at reasonable speeds, but when I restarted in normal mode it was back to being RIDICULOUSLY slow.

Hello, my name is Dan.
I will do my best to help you, the only stupid question is the unasked one.

What did you task Onyx with?
Usually the reasons it runs so slow are: Too many items on the desktop and not in enclosed folders, bad permissions, a disk directory that is corrupted causing the Finder to work harder than it should when finding.

Those are all addressable and Onyx is a good place to start.
I have used that utility myself but have found better to use.

One thing that will help is a pram reset.
To do a PRAM reset, you need to restart your machine and hold down these 4 keys all together at the same time.
‘Option’, ‘Command (Cloverleaf or Apple)’, ‘R’ and 'P' all together at the same time.
Keep them down until you hear 4 startup chimes, this is the sound that your computer makes when it starts up, it is like a boonngg. The screen should also cycle from white to black and then back to white along with the chimes.
The sound should also get louder.


This resets all of the system buses on your computer, USB, FireWire, display, ethernet and your keyboard/mouse/trackpad.
This will correct many faults but not necessarily yours.

This explains about permissions.

Repairing Permissions

Try those and let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Dan,


Thanks for your response. I consolidated my desktop and did a PRAM reset--still slow. I tried to Repair Permissions but my computer is going so slow that it just freezes. Can I do Repair Permissions in safe mode and have the same effect? It is running much faster in safe mode.




Yes Becca, it will work in Safe mode, use Disk Utility the same way.
If you have the Snow Leopard install disk you can boot from that and run Disk Utility also.
You did not say which version of OS X came with or is on the MBP.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Repaired Permissions, still very slow. (We are talking REALLY slow, like I press a key on the keyboard and it comes up 5 seconds later--it takes 10+ seconds to switch from one safari tab to another).


Version 10.6.8


Any other ideas?

I think it might be time for a new operating system. OS X 10.6.8 does what is known as Archive and install.
By the way, how much free space is on your hard drive?
This is an important indicator of what may be going on.
In a Finder window highlight the Mac HD and see how much free space you have.
Yours is probably called Mac HD.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

191.63 GB available (seems like a lot to me).


What should I update to? I know there have been some issues with the most recent one...

You have enough room for a new OS.
Some updates are problematic and you will need to do some to bring it unto date after the install.

Print this so that you can refer to it during the process.

Dig out the grey install disks or use a retail version of Snow Leopard 10.6..
Insert the DVD and restart your Mac, press and hold the Option key.This opens the Startup Manager, looks like this.
One of the choices will be the DVD, select it and press the right arrow.
Click continue at the Language screen, next is Welcome.
Here there will be a menu bar with Utilities, select Disk utility and you will get this.
Then repair the drive.
Do both, if it does its job then all is good, if it says it fails for some reason you have two choices. One, replace the hard drive (keep it or back it up) or, two, buy Disk Warrior ($100) to repair it but the drive will probably need replacing anyway later).

Once that is done successfully quit Disk Warrior to return to the installer and click Continue, select your hard drive and have it install a new OS X, do not erase and install or all data will be lost.

It will do its thing, once done repair permissions again and run Software update, keep running it until it runs out of updates and repair permissions one more time.
Now your Mac should run like new again.
You will have a folder on the hard drive called Previous Systems, once all is as it should be you can trash that and reclaim lots of drive space..

Read that carefully before proceeding.
This will help explain what will happen.

Complete Installation

If you have questions about this please ask. Print this or write it where you can refer to it.

Let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Dan,


I followed all these steps precisely (it took several hours) and have seen no change in performance. My computer is as slow as it was before.


I did not see a folder called "Previous Systems," however it was clear that the reinstall did happen because programs likes itunes and iphoto only worked when I updated to 10.6.8.


Can you provide any insight at this point?



At this point I would have to say that the hard dive is failing causing it to run quite slow.
The reason SafeBoot runs better is the OS does not have to work quite so hard.

Your Mac is but 2 years old and I hope that you bought the extended Applecare warranty.
I always do, it is cheap insurance and it covers all but accidental damage such as a swimming lesson.

I also hope that you have backed all data up in some fashion.
A quick, simple and inexpensive way is with Carbon Copy Cloner, Carbon Copy Cloner, I have used it myself and it works well.
I say this in place of Time Machine because your drive is fading fast and this is probably the quickest way to save your data.
It will require an external hard drive.

Then I suggest a trip to the Apple store, they will either confirm my diagnoses or find something else.
Both ways, if covered, will cost you only the time it spends there.
If not covered they are quite reasonable or, if you are handy with small tools, you could replace the drive yourself.
iFixit: Do-it-yourself Apple Find your Mac there and it will give you step by step instructions and sell you a new drive.

That is my assessment of your MBP running so slow, I hope I have been helpful.

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