Is it time to do your regular maintenance (I suggest at least monthly) or are things starting and working much slower than they were a few days/weeks ago? Is an application crashing repeatedly? It's time to do some maintenance.
If you keep your machine running all the time or have experienced an application crash, first try restarting. This does a system check and relogs the user which can solve many issues.
In OSX each file has a set of rules which tell the system who can have access to and/or change the file, these are called Permissions. One of the most common and easily fixed issues is permissions. To Repair Permissions
Open Disk Utility which is found in the Applications/Utilities folder.
FYI - It is these permissions which help make OSX so difficult to infect with a virus or spyware.
Choose the First Aid tab, highlight the disk you want to repair (I have an external disk with multiple partitions yours is likely "Macintosh HD") and click "Repair Disk Permissions". This will take a while to complete but the time is well worth it.
There is another feature here that is quite useful but a bit hard to show. It is the "Repair Disk", which must be run from the OSX install disk, due to the fact that it can't be accomplished to the startup disk. Although the startup disk was verified at boot, this method is a more robust verification.
To accomplish this task you must insert the OSX Install disk and restart holding the "C" key. Once the install disk loads, (don't be panicked by the fact that it looks like an install might be in the works) choose Disk Utility from the "Installer" menu and then the First Aid tab and you will see the same window as above but the "Repair Disk" will be active. Once the repair is complete quit Disk Utility and then quit the installer and the machine will restart normally.
Please be very careful doing anything else here except looking at the "Information" tab, unless you are sure of what you are doing because many of the other features involve reformatting which will erase the entire hard drive.
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