How to Fix the Photoshop Scratch Disk Full Problem

MacBook users who work with photoshop will likely run into the “scratch disk full” error message at some point or another. The pesky pop-up is often accompanied by an overheating computer and a troubling whirring sound. It’s a nuisance that can bring your work to a grinding halt. Intensive programs like those in the Adobe Creative Cloud can take up a lot of space on your computer. For newbies, this error pop-up can be confusing and you may fear that you will fall behind on your deadlines. However, there are some easy ways to empty your scratch disk, manage your space, and prevent pop-ups in the future.

A scratch disk is essentially a hard drive that your computer uses for temporary storage. Applications like Photoshop use it to store information that won’t fit in your RAM memory. When your computer’s drive runs out of space Photoshop stops working properly. If you force-quit a lot, your computer thinks you may want to come back to the file and saves it. This can also happen if your computer’s hard drive is too full. To fix the problem, you just need to free up some space.

Free Up Disk Space

You can use CleanMyMac X to identify old folders and applications that are taking up too much space. Once it identifies the culprits hit “remove” and the program will get rid of the files.

Delete Temporary Photoshop Files

Any file stored with the extension “.tmp” or “pst” can be deleted. They are just taking up space and getting rid of them won’t affect your work.

Defragment Hard Disk

It’s possible to get this error even when you have free space on your computer. This is because Photoshop requires continuous, unfragmented space on your drive. Avoid doing this if you have a newer Mac with an SSD. This process could hurt your computer. However, you can still back up your files so you don’t lose anything when you clear your cache.

Clear Scratch Disk

If you’re still able to open the Photoshop application you can clear your cache. Select Photoshop CC > Purge > All to free up space on your MacBook. This option makes any recent edits permanent, so make sure you have your files saved in a secondary location if you’re not done working on them.

Change Photoshop Performance Settings

You can also increase the amount of RAM that Photoshop is allowed to utilize. You can adjust this by going to Photoshop CC >Preferences > Performance and choosing a new amount. Just be aware that if you slide the memory usage over 80% your computer can slow down.

Add Scratch Disk

You can either change the location of your scratch disk in photoshop or use an external hard drive. If you use an external hard drive, make sure you keep it plugged in.

You can change the location of your scratch drive in seven easy steps:

  1. Open Photoshop
  2. Select “Photoshop”
  3. Select “Preferences”
  4. Choose “Scratch Disk”
  5. Select the drive you want to use
  6. Select “OK”
  7. Force-close the application and re-open it

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