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Macbook Pro - Spinning wheel, running slow - Help!

I'm working on a Macbook Pro (Intel, 2010) and it's *constantly* showing the spinning wheel. It runs like a complete dog, and despite running Onyx and clearing out temporary files and any unncessary software I really cannot see what's causing this!

I've performed out-of-machine hard-drive diagnostics as I had a sneaky suspicion that the HDD may either be failing, or on its way out.. but both the long and short tests passed and SMART looks healthy. (Not as though that means anything!!)

Please help, I know my way around OS X but I'm just not as aú fait with it as I'd like to be.. is there a 'Resource Manager' style app for Mac I can help troubleshoot with?
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Yes, you can bring up Activity Monitor which will give you an overview of what's happening.  You can also look through the logs, although the Activity monitor is probably a better place to start. To bring up the logs use the Console app.
UncleVirusAuthor Commented:
I see, I can't believe I overlooked the Activity Monitor... I've just stumbled upon a rather useful page:

Cassie RiehlCommented:
So, here's a good practice for slow macs.

First, reset the SMC (System Management Controller). How to do this depends on the year of your machine (which if you don't know you can determine in  > about this mac > more info) and you can find the info on how to do it for your computer here:


After you do that (and before turning it on), reset the PRAM/NVRAM. Here's how:


After that, boot into safe mode (start the computer holding shift) and do the following:

Bring up Finder. Click on "Go" on the menu bar at the top left. Hold down option to access the Library, click on it. (you can also click "Go to Folder" from below the "Go" menu and type in ~/Library)

Find the folders "Caches" and "Cookies." Empty them fully into the trash. Next, find the folder "LaunchAgents," trash ANYTHING that's third party (non apple). Then find "Internet Plugins" and trash any you don't want or use.

Next, click the Go to Folder from the Go menu on the Finder menu bar again, this time type "/Library" without the quotes and click Go. Empty the Caches folder here also. Enter password. Find the folder "StartupItems" and clear anything non apple.

Restart the computer and hold down option on startup (this should get you to the recovery partition). (If it doesn't work, hold down Command + R instead ). Select the recovery partition, then continue until you get to OS X Utilities. Open the disk utility and repair disk permissions and verify disk. If the disk turns an error, repair. If repair fails, back up your files and erase your disk and reinstall OSX (how to is located here: http://support.apple.com/kb/PH14243). Then don't immediately migrate your info, just get important stuff on after setting up computer. If all is fine here, go back and restart computer. Empty your trash. Test the speed. If it's working, great. If not, go back to the recovery partition and do a regular archive and install without erasing: (http://support.apple.com/kb/PH13871).

Hopefully, all that helps!
UncleVirusAuthor Commented:
Followed Cassie's advice, and this markedly improved our situation. The Macbook was unfortunately still rather sluggish inbetween, so we suggested upgrading to an SSD for a noticeable improvement.

Although not completely resolved, you contributed greatly towards this question and I can see you're on a free account Cassie, so I'll award you all of the points available for this question :o)

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