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Is your Photoshop scratch disk full? – We have a solution.


We understand how frustrating it can get if you keep getting the “Photoshop scratch disk full” error time and again and how it tampers with your working process. This can be fixed in no time if you understand how Photoshop uses your computer’s memory.

To begin with, A Photoshop scratch disk is a virtual storage drive or a temporary swap space which is used when your computer’s RAM doesn’t have enough space to store project files. To simply understand, the Photoshop scratch disks are full when you’re working on a large-sized project and the drive which Photoshop is using as a scratch disk is almost full.

By design, Photoshop uses the drive in which the operating system is installed as the primary scratch disk. (You can change this preference and go a long way – Explained below)

Every so often, you can get this “Could not complete your request because the Photoshop scratch disk is full” error while trying to start Photoshop or in the middle of editing a project. Orderly, to prevent this abrupt shutdown, you need to perform troubleshooting on your hard drive. 

Since the “Photoshop scratch disk full” error is easily and undoubtedly fixable, let’s look at all the credible and tested ways to get your Photoshop running back perfectly.


Follow the steps diligently in an orderly fashion to fix the scratch disk full error in Photoshop, once and for all.

Method 1 : Set up a Scratch disk 

You can either start by adding scratch disks in Photoshop, by creating new hard drive partitions.


You can easily change the location of your scratch disk according to your preferences. 

To avoid the ‘scratch disk full’ error, start by choosing a partition with enough space to set as your scratch disk for Photoshop. Follow these steps for the same – 

  1. Open the edit tab
  2. Go to Preferences from the drop-down menu.
  3. Select the Scratch Disks (Windows 10) option.
  4. In the menu – Select your drive preferences with enough space and set it as your scratch drive location. 
  5. For MAC – Do the same through (Photoshop > Preferences > Scratch Disks). 

This method is the easiest way which can help you to do adjustments in order to avoid the ‘Scratch disks full in Photoshop’ error in the future. 

Method 2 : Free up the disk space without opening Photoshop 

Clear up space on Mac or Windows drive. Start by deleting the unnecessary large files which have been sitting on your drive completely unused like movies, shows etc. Delete the files from your scratch disk partition drive. (You can view your preference drive by following the above steps). Make sure you have at least 40GB of free space in the scratch disk. 


Method 3 : Defragmentation of the hard disk 

The Photoshop scratch disk full error can also appear even when your scratch disk has free space. Keep in mind, the scratch disk is mainly operating to turn into virtual memory and replace your RAM as and when necessary. This isn’t possible with fragmented disks. Photoshop requires defragmented free space on your scratch disk for better performance. To do this, open the start menu, search for the defragmentation utility and run it on the drive/partition in question.


Note – disk defragmentation will erase all the files on the particular disk hence back up everything of importance.


Method 4 : Delete Temporary Files

A crash in the middle of editing or forced closing of Photoshop without giving it enough time can clutter your scratch disk with temporary files, thus leading to ‘Photoshop scratch disk is full’ error. To fix this effectively start by manually deleting the temporary files in this folder – C:\Users\YOUR USERNAME\AppData\Local\Temp. Photoshop temp files are typically named ~PST####.tmp on Windows and Temp#### on Mac (where #### is a series of numbers).

If you aren’t able to delete the files and get ‘This action can’t be completed’ error, then you’ve probably left an Adobe program open. Go and close it from the task manager and try deleting the files again.


Method 5 : Purging the Photoshop cache 

Clean cache and temporary files within the system, just go to Edit > Purge > All (on Windows) or Photoshop CC > Purge > All (on Mac). Keep in mind, Photoshop also stores the previously undo steps, thus purging cache will clear that storage too and will further prevent you from going back (undoing) to the recent changes. 


Method 6 : Increase Photoshop performance settings 

To do the above, Go to Photoshop CC > Preferences > Performance (on Mac) or Edit > Preferences > Performance (on Windows) and adjust the sliders under Memory Usage to increase the amount of RAM utilization by Photoshop. Do not set the memory usage above 80% because that slows down your computer. 


Method 7 : Cropping the image

You may get the Scratch disk full error while trying to crop an image too. This happens because the values in the options bar for the Crop tool are in the wrong units. For example, if you use inches instead of pixels for 1760×1080, it prompts Photoshop to create a huge file, resulting in the Photoshop scratch disk full error. 

Select the Clear in the options bar after you select the crop tool to avoid the Scratch disk full error in Photoshop. 


In the end, deal with full scratch disks in Photoshop and maintain them on a regular basis to avoid the “Photoshop scratch disk full” error. By following the above methods, you can not only run Photoshop smoothly but also optimize your system’s performance. 

Do let us know in the comments which method worked best in fine-tuning this “Photoshop scratch disk full” error for you.

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