Every time my Mac begins to act funny – lots of Safari crashes, Mail crashes – and I call Apple support, they walk me through the process of booting from my start-up disk and repairing permissions.
Apparently you are supposed to repair permissions on your hard drive on a regular basis, every month or even every week. Why they don’t tell you that in the booklet that comes with the computer I don’t know. Explaining what permissions are in the first place would be helpful too.
If you have Mac OS 10.3.8, you don’t need to use the boot disk, you can repair permissions by launching “Disk Utility” from Hard drive > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Just open up your Disk Utility, select your main hard drive, and click on the “Repair Disk Permissions” button.