Hi all, I'm sorry I know this has probably been discussed before but I'm hoping someone can at least point me in the right direction. I have a 2GHz MacBook with 2GB RAM and I find I get the beach ball quite often while doing nothing (usually in Firefox but also in other programs). I also find Office for mac is really really slow at loading up, so much so I have ditched it and got iWork '08 last week - but still to find that loading up the programs is painfully slow - 20-30 seconds! This doesn't help me in my attempts to convince my mate to switch... I used to Quit programs whenever I was not using them, thinking that would keep the RAM free and quick but I found it more annoying than anything because when I DO need to open something I have to wait again. I thought getting 2GB of RAM was over the top and I would have no problems like this. So I wonder if it is something I might be doing wrong. I went into Activity Monitor. I don't know what any of this really means but I know you people like to know Page ins/outs so these are my numbers: 530846/304379. I have 944MB 'wired', 713MB active, 366MB inactive and only 28MB free. Again, none of this means anything to me but I suppose 28MB free sounds like not very much. And I found that some program called kernel_task is gobbling up 212MB of my RAM and I don't know what it is. I want to quit it but I am afraid I might wreck something since i don't know what it does. At the moment I am running a few programs simultaneously, i.e. Parallels, Adobe Acrobat, Firefox, NoteBook, Numbers, Pages, iTunes, Google desktop and Virtue desktops as well as a few widgets. Like I said above i realise this is a lot of programs to be running simultaneously but most are idle and just open so that when I do need something I don't have to wait 20-30 seconds for it to open. Besides, the same problems happen when I have only one or two programs open. My questions: 1. Is there something simple I can do to speed my computer up? 2. Do I need to shut down/restart more often? At the moment I usually just close the lid and perhaps restart once a week. 3. Should I QUIT my programs when I'm not immediately using them? Problem is it just takes so darned long to reopen them afterwards. I have taken a snapshot of my activity monitor window in case there is anything else I am missing. I note Firefox is really very greedy, not sure if this is normal for Firefox? Problem is, I much prefer it to Safari because a few webpages I need don't work that well with Safari, e.g. my Outlook web access doesn't let me scroll when I am typing an email, and The Age (Australian news) website doesn't work that well, neither does Yahoo Mail beta. They all work better in Firefox but if Firefox is the cause of my problems then I'll have to try another browser. Thanks in advance for your sagely advice And if there is a thread somewhere that answers all of these questions I'd be most grateful if you could point me in the right direction. Spin.