This seems to help. I created a new library and imported 45 photos. The performance improved and it even seems to solve my other problem with entering event titles. Does this mean I should take my big main photo library and break it into smaller ones? Is there any easy way to do this? Then when I launch iPhoto how can I control which library I open?
It means that there is corruption in your Main Library and we should try to fix it:
Back Up and try rebuild the library: hold down the command and option (or alt) keys while launching iPhoto. Use the resulting dialogue to rebuild. Choose to Repair Database. If that doesn't help, then try again, this time using Rebuild Database.
If that fails:
Download iPhoto Library Manager and use its rebuild function. (In Library Manager it's the FIle -> Rebuild command)
This will create an entirely new library. It will then copy (or try to) your photos and all the associated metadata and versions to this new Library, and arrange it as close as it can to what you had in the damaged Library. It does this based on information it finds in the iPhoto sharing mechanism - but that means that things not shared won't be there, so no slideshows, books or calendars, for instance - but it should get all your events, albums and keywords, faces and places back.
Because this process creates an entirely new library and leaves your old one untouched, it is non-destructive, and if you're not happy with the results you can simply return to your old one.
You have a big problem and you need to fix it immediately.
OS X needs about 10 gigs of hard drive space for normal OS operations - things like virtual memory, temporary files and so on.
Without this space your Mac will slow down as the OS hunts for space on the disk, files will be fragmented, also slowing things down, apps will crash and the risk of data corruption - that is damage to your files, photos, music - increases exponentially.
Your first priority is to make more space on that HD.
Nothing else can be done until you do. Purchase an external HD and move your Photos and Music to it. Both iPhoto and iTunes can run perfectly well with the Library on an external disk.
Don't let the free space get any lower than what it is now. Keep as much free as possible. 10 GB is recommended mininmun for general use to offer optimal system and application preformance. If you use iDVD then it goes up to 20 GB.
Do you have sharing activated in iPhoto's Sharing preferences? If so turn off all. Under appearances also turn off shadow and outline. In the Advance preferences set Look up Places to Never.
In Photo Stream pane uncheck Automatic Upload if it's checked.
See if that helps at all.
Ok, thanks. I'll give this a try tomorrow and see if I can dump off some stuff on my hard drive to clear more space. Then I'll rebuild the library if necessary. I appreciate all your help you and Terrence Devlin both.
You don't want to run a library or store files on a TM drive unless it's partitioned so TM has its own volume. That way TM doesn't squeeze out iPhoto from having the space it needs as it grows.
I don't know if you can add a partition without losing what's on it. You could look into that.