Best And Fastest Way To Fix Photoshop Scratch Disk Full Errors


Welcome to our blog where we decode the complexities of photo editing glitches! Today, we tackle the age-old conundrum of the Photoshop Scratch Disk Full error. We’ve all been there – you’re in the zone, doing your best editing, only to be rudely interrupted by this message popping up. Fear not, help is at hand! This article will serve as your guide, providing you with the best and fastest ways to address this issue. So buckle up and let’s get your Photoshop back on track, shall we?

Statistically, Adobe Photoshop is used by 90% of the world’s creative professionals and there is no doubt that it is a really great tool for graphic designers and other professionals. 

It is very possible that if you work with Adobe Photoshop for years and years, you might have experienced an error that states the program can not complete certain actions because the scratch disk is full.

To fix this issue fast, you can refer to this article, or dig in a little deeper to truly understand the issue by yourself and fix it step by step. If you would like to learn more, we’ll explain everything in more detail in this article below.

First Things First: Checking Your Scratch Disk Space

How to Check Your Scratch Disk Space in Photoshop

Before we dive into fixing the problem, we first need to understand how much scratch disk space Photoshop is currently using. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  1. Open up your Photoshop application.
  2. Navigate to the Edit menu located at the top of your screen.
  3. From the dropdown, select Preferences, then choose Scratch Disks.
  4. A new window will open, displaying the amount of space currently used by Photoshop on each of your hard drives.

Remember, Photoshop uses the scratch disk space as virtual memory when it runs out of physical memory (RAM). Monitoring your scratch disk usage can help you manage space effectively and avoid facing the dreaded ‘Scratch Disk Full’ error in the middle of an editing session.

Interpreting The Results

Once you’ve checked your scratch disk usage, it’s essential to understand what the results mean. If your scratch disk usage is high (above 80%), it signals that Photoshop is running out of space to perform operations smoothly. This lack of available space is what triggers the ‘Scratch Disk Full’ error. On the other hand, if your usage is below 80%, your Photoshop should be running relatively smoothly. However, if you still encounter the error, it might be due to some other underlying issue. In either case, knowing how to clean up the scratch disk or adjust Photoshop settings for better memory management can save you from future disruptions. Keep reading, as we’ll be diving into those solutions shortly!

Fixing The Photoshop Scratch Disk Full Error

So if you wish to learn how to fix this problem that is causing all of these errors, then follow detailed instructions that are listed below:

Basic Troubleshooting Techniques

Restarting Photoshop

The simplest solution to tackle the “Scratch Disk Full” error is restarting Photoshop. This method can resolve the issue if Photoshop has misinterpreted the available space due to recent disk space clearance. Restarting the program allows Photoshop to reassess the Scratch Disk space when it boots up again. To restart Photoshop, simply close the application and then open it back up. If you can’t close it normally due to the error, you may need to force quit the application. However, bear in mind that any unsaved work will be lost, so try to save your work regularly to prevent such situations. If restarting Photoshop doesn’t solve the problem, don’t worry; there are other methods to try.

Clearing Photoshop’s Cache

Another effective way to resolve the “Scratch Disk Full” error is by clearing Photoshop’s cache. The cache is a temporary storage area where Photoshop keeps certain data to speed up its performance. Over time, the cache can become bloated with unnecessary files, taking up valuable disk space. To clear the cache, navigate to the “Edit” menu in Photoshop, select “Purge”, and then “All”. This will remove all the temporary files that Photoshop doesn’t need for its current operations. Remember, purging the cache cannot be undone, so ensure that you have saved any unsaved work before doing so.


How to Free Up Space on Your Scratch Disk

Image by Freepik

Deleting Unnecessary Files

A surefire way to free up some space on your Scratch Disk is to delete unnecessary files from your computer. These could be old documents, images, or movies that you no longer need, duplicates of files, or even apps you barely use. To delete a file or an application, simply drag it to the trash bin and then empty the trash. Do remember, deletion is permanent, so ensure the files you’re deleting are really dispensable. If you’re a little unsure about what to delete, consider using a disk cleanup tool. These tools scan your disk and suggest files that are safe to delete, making the process easier and safer. By freeing up space, you’re not just creating room for Photoshop to function optimally, but also helping your computer to run smoother and faster.

Moving Files to an External Storage Device

If you’re hesitant about permanently deleting files or find that you’re often running into space issues, consider investing in an external storage device. This could be an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, or even a cloud storage service. Moving files to an external device allows you to free up space on your local disk without permanently losing access to your files. To move files, just simply drag them from their location on your computer to the storage device. For large files, this process may take a few moments. Once complete, make sure to safely eject your storage device to prevent any data corruption. By adopting this method, you’ll maintain a clutter-free workspace on your computer while still having your files accessible when needed, providing Photoshop the space it needs to work efficiently.

Utilizing Disk Cleanup Tools

Disk cleanup tools play a crucial role in managing your system’s storage – especially when dealing with hefty applications like Photoshop. These tools scan your entire system, identifying unnecessary, redundant, or seldom-used files that are consuming your precious memory space. Once identified, these files can be safely deleted or archived, helping you free up significant storage. Many of these tools also detect and remove temporary system files and browser caches, which often go unnoticed, contributing silently to your scratch disk’s saturation. When choosing a cleanup tool, opt for one that is reliable and has good reviews. Run it regularly to keep your scratch disk in check. Remember, a well-maintained system ensures Photoshop can run smoothly and efficiently, preventing the dreaded ‘Scratch Disk Full’ error.

Here’s additional tips you can do:

  • Make more disk space. If you want to have more disk space, you will have to free it up. No matter what kind of computer you are using – a Mac or the one that is using Windows operating system, you will have to clear the files that are recognized as the scratch disk in Photoshop Preferences. To make it easier, you can use a professional tool that cleans the scratch disc. 
  • Start by deleting temporary files that were created by Photoshop itself. You do not need to worry that you will delete some files that you should not – this action is completely safe to perform. Therefore this is a really great and easy way to clear some space on your hard-drive. To find these files and delete them, keep an eye for files that are named ~PST####.tmpn if you are a Windows operating system user and Temp#### if you use a Mac. The hashtag mark indicates numbers.
  • The next step is defragmentation of the hard disk. It is actually a big possibility that you are receiving this Photoshop error even if the scratch disk drive has some free space at that time. It is this way because Photoshop needs unfragmented free space on this disk drive. Therefore, if you receive the Photoshop Scratch Disk Is Full error when you do have enough free space on the disk drive, you might just need to defragment it.
  • Clearing the cache files of Photoshop. If Photoshop still opens normally without crashing, you can open it and easily delete temporary cache files. In order to perform this action on Windows, click on the Edit option, then choose Purge, and click All. If you are a Mac user, then you will have to Photoshop CC, choose Purge, and click All.
  • Clearing the Crop tool value. If an error occurs when you are trying to crop an image while using Photoshop, it is possible that the values in cropping options are set to the wrong value. Let’s say you enter the values and the value in inches instead of pixels. This will create an enormously large file that could trigger the disk error. To prevent or solve this problem, select the Crop tool, go to its options, and select Clear. 

Changing Photoshop performance settings. Some of your settings might also be causing the disk error. To solve this problem on Windows, go to Edit, click Preferences, and choose Performance. If you use a Mac, then click on Photoshop CC, choose Preferences, and click on the Performance option. Adjust your sliders under the Memory Usage option.

Reasons That Cause Photoshop Scratch Disk Full Error

What is a Scratch Disk?

A Scratch Disk is essentially a designated drive or part of a drive on your computer that Adobe Photoshop uses for temporary storage. When you’re working on large or complex files, Photoshop uses this space to store parts of the file or even the entire file. Think of it as an extension of your computer’s RAM, but specific for Photoshop use. This allows the software to process and manipulate these larger files without slowing down. When the Scratch Disk is full, Photoshop doesn’t have enough space to perform these operations, and that’s when you encounter the dreaded “Scratch Disk Full” error.

Why Does This Error Occur?

The “Scratch Disk Full” error typically occurs for one of two reasons – either your Scratch Disk is genuinely full, or Photoshop believes it is. The first scenario is straightforward, often due to large or numerous files taking up space. It can also result from leftover temporary files from previous Photoshop sessions. Photoshop treats every open image as a temporary file and stores it in the Scratch Disk. If you use Photoshop frequently and work with large files, these can accumulate quickly, causing the Scratch Disk to fill up. In the second scenario, it’s a bit more complicated. Photoshop sometimes misreads the available disk space, especially if you’ve recently freed up space. This prompts the software to report the Scratch Disk as full, even though there’s sufficient space. Understanding which scenario you’re dealing with is crucial to resolving the error effectively and efficiently.

The main problem is that the Photoshop scratch disk is using your computer’s hard-drive. Therefore, you need to change the way Photoshop uses your computer’s memory storage. Photoshop is using the hard-drive as a temporary virtual memory that is not permanent. 

But this only happens when your computer is out of RAM to perform certain actions. So if there is a single hard-drive on your computer, then the operating system will be installed on this exact hard-drive because there is no other place it can be installed.

So when the time comes and this hard-drive finally runs out of space, which will eventually happen, it causes errors in Photoshop and doesn’t give it the opportunities to function as it should. It could even lead to crashing in the middle of your work, which might end in losing a bunch of time and having to start over again. More to it, this kind of error leaves temporary scratch files on your hard-drive that can happen to be quite large. 


The Photoshop ‘Scratch Disk Full’ error can surface even when there seems to be enough disk space available. This is because Photoshop requires a substantial amount of unfragmented space to function optimally. Therefore, common solutions include defragmenting your disk drive, clearing Photoshop’s cache files, adjusting the values set on the crop tool, and altering Photoshop’s performance settings. Each of these actions can help avoid or rectify the disk error, ensuring smoother operation of Photoshop and enhanced user experience.

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