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I am using an Emac 1ghz G4 640 mb . I have just completed a rountine maintenance using Disk Utility. I began to notice the machine was slower to open applications like Entourage, Safari, MS Word and Iphoto. There is a pause of about 25 seconds to open Entourage or Safari. It seems as though there is a problem with getting started to open the programs. Any ideas?
 

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Make sure you have lots of free disk space, a good rule of thumb is 15-25% of the total drive space should be free.
 

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I would empty Safaris cache, rebuild Entourages database and do the same with iPhoto. All of the programs you say are slowing down can become corrupted to some extent over time (I mean the databases, thumbnails).
All disk utility can do when you are booted into the main drive is repair permissions and that really doesn't do much, and even less since Tiger. I used to boot into single user mode and run fsck -fy to test my disk and repair, it was faster than booting from the CD and running the disk repair.
Free hard space as Switch said is also important. Since MS Word is slow, you may want to check for a bad font.
 

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You can try and find a disk defrag program for macs. I know that macs don't need to be defrag and the os itself will defrag when it is idle. But when it is idle the os will only defrag a file if it is smaller than a certain size so a thorough will defrag the bugger files. Hope this helps. Also i have not test this myself but I read it from another mac forum.
 
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