How To Fix: Photoshop Scratch Disk Full

When dealing with Photoshop, you may encounter the Photoshop scratch disk full errors, like “Could not complete your request because the scratch disks are full”, which will interrupt the picture editing session, or “Could not initialize Photoshop because the scratch disks are full”, when the application doesn’t launch.

Do not despair as I will share effective methods to use Photoshop PC memory, as well as troubleshooting methods on hard and scratch disks.

9 Ways to Fix Photoshop Scratch Disk Full Error

photoshop scratch disk full error message

The working disk error occurs when you are dealing with a large project and Photoshop scratch disks are full of temporary files for the following reasons:

  • lack of space on the physical disk where a scratch disk is located;
  • the scratch disk section used by Photoshop is full and contains many temporary files due to incorrect shutdown;
  • the limited RAM allowed for Photoshop was filled with the cache since the program was unable to erase the cache automatically.

Scratch disk is used for the temporary storage of documents and history panel states that don’t fit into RAM while Photoshop is running. The application uses this space as virtual memory or cache memory for storing temporary project files.

1. Clear Photoshop’s Cache

  • cache memory purging photoshop scratch disk full

    You may have added many layers to the picture because you can effortlessly undo the previous steps and experiment. But storing these steps takes up plenty of space on working disks.

    You can clear all types of memory without leaving the application and without interrupting the workflow. It is important to remember that purging the cache prevents you from undoing recent modifications you made to pictures.

    SOLUTION: Pick Edit > Purge > All (on Windows) or Photoshop CC > Purge > All (on Mac).

    You will receive the warning that the purge can’t be undone. That’s why ensure that the previous version of your picture isn’t needed and click OK.

    2. Delete Photoshop’s Temporary Files

    temporary files deleting photoshop scratch disk full

    In case you have involuntarily closed Photoshop without giving it sufficient time to finish the project correctly, it will leave behind large chunks of temporary files.

    Photoshop files can be easily determined: generally, their name starts with "~PST****” (where **** is a series of numbers) or “Photoshop Temp****” (in newer versions); or with "pst" or Temp**** for Mac. If your work is saved and the program is closed, you can safely erase these files.

    SOLUTION: You can access temporary files in several ways. Search by name or extension using File Explorer or navigate by pressing a keyboard shortcut.

    1. Open Explorer (press Windows + E) and go to the temporary file directory, by default C:/ > Users > "UserName" (your user) > AppData > Local > Temp or Windows + R > type %appdata% and hit Enter > Local > Temp.

    2. Manually erase the above-mentioned files via the Del button or the right-click on the context menu command.

    If you are running Photoshop on Mac, you can type in a file extension starting with “pst” or “Photoshop Temp” (with a space between two words) in the search box and erase all the files you found.

    3. Your Photoshop Version Must Be Official

    As it is specified in the Photoshop scratch disk full error message, the crash is probably caused by an overflow of allocated memory. Adobe has released official documentation with a description of the reasons. Troubleshooting issues offered by Adobe only works with the licensed version of their product.

    If you are using Photoshop crack, then the Adobe support service is unavailable for you. I strongly suggest purchasing Photoshop by means of the Creative Cloud subscription that provides a guaranteed license.

    SOLUTION: Download the latest version of Photoshop CC from the official site.

    4. Check Photoshop’s System Requirements

    system requirements photoshop scratch disk full

    The newest version requires plenty of resources. Photoshop always reserves 6 GB of space on bootable disks and 1 GB on non-bootable disks. Users of outdated and low-cost PCs face certain widespread problems.

    Since there is no 100% identical Photoshop alternative, people are willing to use it after encountering problems related to Photoshop display driver or slow startup.

    SOLUTION: Quite a performant PC is required for the processes associated with the usage of disk memory and RAM. You should pay special attention to the amount of RAM and dedicated physical storage – preferably not a system SSD.

    5. Update Photoshop to the Latest Version

    If you are sure that your disk configuration meets the system requirements, you should check whether your Photoshop version is relevant for this configuration.

    With outdated software, you may encounter a few issues that are fixed in the new version. Obviously, this only applies to the official version, not Photoshop keygen.

    SOLUTION: Update the Photoshop version to the latest one through Creative Cloud.

    6. Change or Add Scratch Disk

    • scratch disk changing photoshop scratch disk full

      Ensure that you have sufficient space in the physical disk partition where the working disk is located. If you don’t install it yourself, the bootable system disk C:/ (where the OS is installed) will be automatically selected as the working disk. If you have more than one disk, I suggest reassigning the working Photoshop disk from the system one.

      Although Photoshop operates with a single clean disk in the system partition, it is possible to enhance performance by installing the fastest disk with the largest volume on your system as a working one. With this method you can also resolve the “Clean Disk is Full” condition by selecting additional disks to use as working ones in the priority queue.

      SOLUTION: I suggest using a dedicated SSD as a working disk. External hard drive, network drive, or thumb drive aren’t recommended for such purposes.

      1. On Windows, pick Edit > Preferences > Scratch Disks. On macOS, pick Photoshop CC > Preferences > Scratch Disks.
      2. Select the checkbox to pick or erase a disk as a working one.
      3. Click OK.
      4. Restart Photoshop.

      7. Increase the Amount of RAM

      ram increasing photoshop scratch disk full

      RAM is important for storing Photoshop files. Generally, Photoshop occupies 60% of the total RAM by default. You can solve the issue by providing more RAM. Photoshop will give you the available RAM and the perfect range.

      SOLUTION: Take into account the suggested range and increase RAM usage to approximately 70% or 80%.

      1. Open Edit > Preferences > Performance. Mac users should go to Photoshop > Preferences > Scratch Disk.
      2. Increase the amount of RAM by pulling the slider to the right.
      3. Restart Photoshop.

      Setting memory usage above the suggested value of 80% may slow down the PC’s operation.

      8. Change Scratch Disk While Launching Photoshop

      launching photoshop scratch disk full

      If Photoshop is unable to start because the working disk is full, users can’t log in to settings. If this is your case, you need to do the following when launching the program.

      SOLUTION: Launch Photoshop and don’t miss the launch window.

      1. Press and hold Cmd + Option (macOS) or Ctrl + Alt (Windows) keys during startup.
      2. Release the buttons when you see the change scratch disk Photoshop menu.
      3. Pick a different section from the First drop-down menu and click Ok.

      Obviously, this method works for those who have multiple disk partitions.

      9. Defragment Hard Disk

      Photoshop requires continuous unfragmented free space on a clean disk. If you get a message about scratch disks full Photoshop error when there is sufficient free space on a clean disk, run the disk defragmentation utility.

      SOLUTION: It can’t hurt to perform defragmentation of all disk partitions, but it will take time.

      1. Pick the disk you wish to optimize, for instance, through Explorer – Windows + E.
      2. Open its context menu with a right click, then go to Properties > Tools > Optimize.
      3. Start defragmentation by following the prompts.
      4. Wait for the process to complete.

      Note that Photoshop scratch disk full Mac error can’t be resolved this way in the latest version of macOS. Apple has provided it with integrated utilities that automatically erase fragmented files. Thus, defragmentation can work for those whose OS version is earlier than OS X 10.2 installed on Mac.


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