How to Get Rid of the “Scratch Disk is Full” error on your Mac


If you have ever worked on Photoshop, then you must know that it is a powerful app. Even if you have worked with Corel Draw all your life, you’ll still admit that Photoshop features are far superior. However, the UI of Photoshop is excessively intuitive, the same cannot be said about Photoshop's slip-ups.

Talking about the photoshop errors, the most common error a user experience is “scratch disk is full”. Most of the users face it when they simply open the app, others when they try to accomplish a task or certain action. Still, what is the reason behind this error and how can you fix it? Let us find out.

What makes the Scratch Disk Error?

Before we discuss any further on how to fix the ‘scratch disk error’, you need to understand what a scratch disk is.

All programs or applications like Photoshop or After Effects require free space to store temporary files of the project which finds its home on the RAM of your Mac. When Photoshop doesn’t have enough memory to store something, it uses hard drive space as a temporary virtual memory holder. This particular hard disk space is referred to as a Scratch Disk’.

As you know, Photoshop is infamous for creating heaps of temporary files if you are working on a project. So, this is not a fault of your Mac, it is just that way how Photoshop works on any system. So when both RAM and the scratch disk exceed their limited storage space, you will get a “Scratch Disk is full” error.

So if you too are fed up with seeing “scratch disk full” errors when you start working on Photoshop or while performing certain tasks, there are many potential fixes that can prove very effective. Below we discuss those fixes one by one, please follow each guide to find a fix that works in your particular situation. Let’s dig in and find out the ways you can fix this annoying problem.

Free up your disk space

Right off the bat, make sure that you have ample space in your hard drive partition where the scratch disk is located. The most usual you see the “Scratch disk is full” error is due to the low space in the drive that contains the scratch disk. 

If you don’t know where your scratch disk is located, remember that the C:/ drive is the automatic destination chosen to assist as a scratch disk on your Mac. This link here,  shares some of the most useful ideas on how you can resolve this issue. However, if you are still unsure which drive is used as a scratch disk, open Photoshop and click on the Edit option located on the top menu bar, go to preferences and there you can find Scratch disk location.

Once you find the storage drive which stores scratch disk on your system, make sure it has at least 50 GB of available disk space. In case it doesn’t, go to your drive partition and start removing all the unnecessary files until you free enough space.

Remove temporary files

When you force close Photoshop while working on a project without giving it enough time to close down all the running processes in the background - it will leave a large mass of temporary files in its winding process. And as a creature of habit, if you keep repeating the same process of closing Photoshop in this manner, your temporary files folder will become full of Photoshop related data. 

However, it is nothing to worry about. You can easily identify and remove those files which Photoshop has been creating on your Mac. All you need to do is check the file name which starts with ~PST or Photoshop Temp. You can also delete these files without risking or affecting anything on your computer. In case you don’t know where your temp folder is located follow C:/ > Users > “YourUser” > AppData > Local > Temp. Delete those files and you are good to go.

Update the Scratch disk Location

Before your Photoshop shows you the “scratch disk is full” error, there is a smart trick that you can use to modify the Scratch Disk Preferences. To apply it, first, you need to launch Photoshop - as soon as the window pops up on your screen press and hold CTRL + Alt or press Cmd + OPT on a Mac.

And voila! you see a scratch disk preferences menu where you can select another partition from the drop-down menu. Your photoshop will restart and there will be no “scratch disk is full” error this time.

Expanding the RAM allowed by Photoshop

Another useful fix that will make the error go away is to authorize Photoshop with more RAM access. By default parameters, Photoshop is allowed to use 60 percent of your total RAM, but you can change it. Here’s how you do it.

Open Photoshop and go to Edit > Preferences and click on Performance. Now when you are in the performance menu, adjust the settings in the memory usage, and increase the percentage Photoshop is allowed to access. Still, do not set it more than an 80 percent threshold, as it can affect the overall performance of your Mac.

Modify your scratch disks

Professionals who work with Photoshop prefer to set up a dedicated hard drive partition just to prevent the scratch disk issue from happening. However, that doesn’t mean that photoshop is incapable of functioning properly with the default scratch disk configuration, but you may want to get rid of this error by allowing Photoshop to use other partitions. 

As a default partition, your C drive is selected to assist your scratch disk partition. But if you want this issue to never show up again on your screen, you can allow all the partitions to share the weight. To apply this fix, go to Edit> Preferences and click on Scratch Disks. Now, when you see the scratch disk tab, check the box near each partition so they can act as scratch disks.  

In Conclusion 

To have a flawless experience while working on Mac, you can apply these fixes and get the most out of Photoshop and its photo editing wizardry.

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