I work on mac's day in and day out. My first question is how much do you want to spend?
if 0 is your answer, check/do the following...
Disk doctor your Mac
check whats launching at start up - System Preferences > System > Users & Groups > Login Items, and uncheck what you want off from the startup.
Clear your PRam - at start up -- cmd-opt-p-r
Clear your ram - at start -- upcmd-opt-n-v
Wanna spend 100 - 250
Buy more ram (FILL IT UP!!). Don't be cheap, replace the old stuff. If the machine is new enough, you maybe able to buy DDR3 rather than DDR2 Ram - you will notice a real difference. make sure you buy the right stuff and the Max amount - amy more will either not work or will be a waste of time.
Check the drive if its full - if so PURGE. If you still have no space Buy an new HD (make sure it spins at 7200 and is a hybrid drive). Hybrid drives are great as the routine actions are stored on the flash and the machine will launch in under 5 seconds. (I have a 17" Macbook pro with 8 gigs or ram and a 750 gig hybrid HD and its stuuupud fast). If you have "acquired" software best thing to do is clone your drive (google carbon copy).
good answers on Mac stuff can be found here...http://forums.macrumors.com/
hope that helps