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macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 9, 2008
New England
I have a 4 year old iMac 24" aluminum 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 6 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 500GB HDD, 102GB free. I have the full Adobe CS4 installed but mostly use Photoshop. Have a Lacie 1TB external drive linked to my Time Machine backup and thats about half full.

So I'm seeing the spinning ball more frequently, and it's spinning longer and longer these days. Thought maybe there's a step-by-step documented guide (for idiots like me) that goes through different diagnostics and processes that will make the spinning ball go away sooner and make the machine run like a champ again. If there isn't a guide to doing this someone knowledgeable should put one together because it would be a great help to people who are more on the user side than the technical side. Someone told me that just having 10 folders or items on your desktop would slow down a iMac but I find that hard to believe.

I hesitate to try programs that are supposed speed up your mac, but any solid advice is appreciated.

Thanks... Mike


macrumors newbie
Aug 11, 2012
There are several procedures and programs that I have acquired over the years that have dramatically sped up to my iMac to how it was when it originally came out of the box back in 2009.

First of all are you using the maximum amount of RAM that you can fit into your iMac? I always found that with the older iMacs that were upgraded to newer versions of OS X, increasing the RAM (which at the time of purchase were maybe too expensive) kept it from running slow.

I found that most random problems that occur like random beachballs and slow animation (when opening a folder and such) can be fixed by restarting into Safe Boot http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1564 (and then restarting back).

I normally deal with a multiple of downloaded +1GB files so while OS X automatically defragments small files, it does not to do the same to the kind of files I deal with everyday. Eventually it starts to accumulate and even if I transferred a lot of large files over to an external HD, the iMac will still be slow. This is due to there being small chunks of free space scattered throughout the internal HD rather than one large block at the end (don't know how else to explain it).

If the slowness occurs due to fragmentation in the internal HD, the best solution is this third party app called Drive Genius http://www.prosofteng.com/products/drive_genius.php/drive_genius_features.php. It takes approximately 24 hours to fully defragment a 1 TB HD and it is highly recommended to completely backup your data to Time Machine before attempting such a feat. However I do this once a year and it always brings my iMac back to running like new. Of course this is not something that is necessary for everyone since not many people are downloading/transferring and working with +1GB files everyday.

If none of these solutions work, then I can't help but think it may be a hardware problem.


macrumors member
Aug 7, 2011
macs are very efficient compared to PCs.

1.) Max out Ram, if your Mac can support 8 or even 16 GB of ram, you can easily buy ram from amazon for under 100 dollars and install ram using guides from ifixit website (google it, finding the site is easy and the instructions are striaght foward.)

2.)Swap out your slow HDD for a fast SSD. You can get a 240GB SSD for around $170. SSDs will make loading supper fast.

3.) ccleaner for mac. ccleaner is a great tool for eliminating logfiles, clearing caches, and deleting unnessary files such as temporary internet files to improve speed of mac.

optional ultimate solution. Follow step 1 and 2. Then make a restore flash drive http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1433. If you have mac OS x install disk, you can use that instead.

after booting to restore flash drive or install disk, run disk utility, erase the partion, name the new partion. Install mac OSx. google clean install mac OX 10.x x= the version of mac osx you want to install, for a more detailed install instructions. Google is a very good tool for IT people, we can't possibly know everything.

start using a fresh mac. you can then transfer the manual backup (the files you copied and pasted to an external usb HDD or burned on a disk) of your files

Your mac will feel like it's brand new.


macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
3.) ccleaner for mac. ccleaner is a great tool for eliminating logfiles, clearing caches, and deleting unnessary files such as temporary internet files to improve speed of mac.
You don't need "cleaner" or "maintenance" apps to keep your Mac running well, and some of these apps can do more harm than good. Some remove files/folders or unused languages or architectures, which does nothing more than free up some drive space, with the risk of deleting something important in the process.

These apps will not make your Mac run faster or more efficiently, since having stuff stored on a drive does not impact performance, unless you're running out of drive space. Some of these apps delete caches, which can hurt performance, rather than help it, since more system resources are used and performance suffers while each cache is being rebuilt.

Many of these tasks should only be done selectively to troubleshoot specific problems, not en masse as routine maintenance.

Mac OS X does a good job of taking care of itself, without the need for 3rd party software. Among other things, it has its own maintenance scripts that run silently in the background on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, without user intervention.

If you're having performance issues, this may help:
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