How do I empty my scratch disk in Photoshop? - (2023)

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Last updated on January 29, 2023 @ 11:02 am

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of storage being used on your scratch disk in Photoshop?

Are you constantly reminded of how much space is being taken up, but don’t know how to go about freeing up the disk? You’re not alone. Many Photoshop users have the same issue and find it difficult to know where to start.

Fortunately, it is not difficult to empty your scratch disk in Photoshop. By following a few simple steps, you can quickly have the disk cleared and free up valuable storage space. With this guide, you will learn how to empty your scratch disk in Photoshop and free up valuable space.

What is a scratch disk?

Scratch disks are the temporary storage space on your hard drive where programs like Photoshop can temporarily save work in progress. They require access to memory, or temporary storage, in order to function. Scratch disks allow the software to quickly access files they need by storing temporary files and backups.

Having Photoshop use a scratch disk instead of RAM for temporary storage improves performance. Scratch disks store previous versions of your projects, making them useful in the event of a Photoshop or operating system crash.

How do I empty my scratch disk in Photoshop? - (1)

Scratch disk types

You can improve performance by assigning each scratch disk type to a different disk, but you can also use the same disk and just designate different folders. The following scratch disk options can be adjusted by going to Edit > Preferences > Scratch Disks / Adobe Premiere Elements 13 > Preferences > Scratch Disks.

Captured Video: Videos recorded with the capture panel will be saved in this directory.

Captured Audio: The folder or disk where your captured audio files will be stored after being recorded using the Capture panel.

Video previews: The place where you keep your video previews on a disk or folder. When you export to a movie file or a DV device from the Timeline, or select Timeline > Render Work Area, these files are generated. If an effect is used in the area being previewed, it will be rendered at full quality in the preview file.

Audio previews: A directory or disk dedicated to audio previews. When you go to the Timeline menu and select the Render Work Area option, the corresponding files will be generated. When exporting to a video file or DV device using the menu option Clip > Audio Options > Render And Replace, the same thing happens. If an effect is present in the area being previewed, it will be rendered in high quality in the preview file.

Media cache: The folder or disk that stores the audio peak files, audio conform files, video index files, and any other files that Premiere Elements generates to speed up the process of reading media files.

DVD encoding: A DVD Encoding folder or disk is where your encoded video and audio files will be stored once your DVD has been created.

The “scratch disk full” error – what does it mean?

Photoshop crashes with a “scratch disk full” error when its temporary files and cache become too large. When all the space on your hard drive designated as Photoshop’s scratch disk has been used, Photoshop will notify you that the disk is full.

Could not initialize Photoshop because the scratch disks are full” is a message that may appear if your hard drive is already at capacity when you try to launch Photoshop.

How do I empty my scratch disk in Photoshop? - (2)

The reason for this is minor and temporary (and often useless) files left over from previous projects. Photoshop will save these files automatically as you work, but once you’re done with a project, you can delete them.

The “scratch disk full” error may also be caused by insufficient storage space on the hard drive. If you don’t have enough free space on your hard drive, you may encounter a “scratch disk” error. Scratch disk space needs to be monitored on a regular basis on a Mac.

How to empty scratch disk in Photoshop

There are a few ways to empty your scratch disk in Photoshop:

  1. Choose File > Empty Trash.
  2. Choose Window > Empty Recycle Bin.
  3. Choose Edit > Empty Recycle Bin.
  4. Choose Window > Preferences > General > Delete Files When Closing Photoshop.
  5. Choose File > Save As. to save your file on your hard drive.

Or, in order to fix the scratch disk is full error in Photoshop, do the following in the order given:

  • Reduce data usage. Make some room on the hard drive that you’ve designated as the scratch disk in Photoshop’s preferences, whether it’s a Mac or Windows computer. A free space analyzer tool, such as Disk Cleanup, will yield the best results.
  • It’s time to get rid of Photoshop’s temporary files. Photoshop temporary files can be safely deleted in order to make room on the scratch disk. On Windows, Photoshop temporary files are saved as PST####.tmp, while on Mac they are saved as Temp####.

How do I empty my scratch disk in Photoshop? - (3)

  • Disk defragmentation is a must. Even if there is plenty of room on the scratch disk drive, the scratch disk is full error may still appear. This is because Adobe Photoshop needs a large amount of free, non-fragmented space on the scratch disk. Scratch disk drive shows plenty of free space, but you still get the error message. Try a disk defragmentation utility.
  • In order to reset Photoshop, the cache must be deleted. If Photoshop launches, select File > Edit > Purge > All (on Windows) or Photoshop > Edit > Purge > All (in Photoshop CC) (on Mac).
  • Return defaults to the Crop tool. When cropping an image in Photoshop, the error may appear if the values in the Crop tool’s options bar are in the incorrect units. For instance, if you try to create a file with dimensions of 1200×1600 when the units are set to inches rather than pixels, you will end up with a very large file that may cause the scratch disk is full message to appear. Click Clear in the toolbar’s alternatives menu after picking the Crop tool to get rid of this issue.
  • Improve Photoshop’s efficiency by adjusting the settings. To raise the limit of RAM that Photoshop can use, open the program, navigate to Edit > Preferences > Performance (on Windows) or Photoshop CC > Preferences > Performance (on Mac), and then move the sliders under Memory Usage.
  • Swap out the scratch disks or put in some extra ones. A separate hard drive partition should be made if at all possible to use as a Photoshop temporary storage area. Photoshop can still be used with just one scratch disk on the system partition, but performance will be greatly enhanced if you make the scratch disk the system’s fastest drive.
  • From Photoshop’s Preferences menu, you can move or create new scratch disks. Select Edit > Preferences > Scratch Disks (or hit Ctrl+Alt on Windows) to enable scratch disks. To access the Scratch Disks preferences in Photoshop CC for macOS, choose Preferences > Scratch Disks from the main menu or use the shortcut Command+Option.

PRO TIP: If you are using a Mac, do not empty your scratch disk in Photoshop. This can cause serious problems with the application.


For creative professionals, Photoshop is a must-have tool. To avoid the worst-case scenarios, it’s crucial that you properly manage your available memory. That shouldn’t be an issue if you’ve taken our advice to heart. We wish you a lot of fun while you’re busy making awesome things.

Do you recall ever having a completely full scratch disk? What options did you find to be most helpful? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

8 Related Question Answers Found

How Do I Empty the Scratch Disk in Photoshop Windows?

The Scratch Disk is where Photoshop stores information as you’re working on an image. It’s like a virtual chalkboard where Photoshop can do its math. The default location for the Scratch Disk is on your startup drive, but you can change it in the Preferences dialog box.

How Do I Bypass Photoshop Scratch Disk Full?

When your Photoshop scratch disk is full, it can really put a damper on your creative workflow. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to bypass this issue and get back to editing your photos. First, try closing some of the other programs you have running on your computer.

How Do I Clear the Scratch Disks in Photoshop Windows?

If you’re running Photoshop on a Windows computer, you may have seen the message “scratch disks are full” at some point. This means that your computer is running out of space to store temporary files that Photoshop uses while it’s running. Clearing your scratch disks can free up space on your hard drive and help Photoshop run more smoothly.

How Do I Empty the Scratch Disk in Photoshop Windows 10?

It is important to empty the scratch disk in Photoshop on a regular basis, especially if you are working with large files or have a lot of applications open at the same time. Photoshop uses the scratch disk to store temporary data, and if it becomes full, it can slow down your computer or even cause it to crash. To empty the scratch disk in Photoshop, go to Edit > Preferences > Performance.

How Do I Change My Scratch Disk Without Opening Photoshop?

If you’re working in Photoshop on a file that’s getting too large or complex for your computer to handle, you may need to change your scratch disk. Photoshop uses your scratch disk to store information temporarily as it works on a file. The scratch disk is where Photoshop saves information about the image you’re working on, as well as any history states and undo information.

How Do You Add a Scratch Disk to Photoshop?

Adding a scratch disk to Photoshop is a relatively easy process, but one that can be easily overlooked if you’re not familiar with the program. A scratch disk is simply a location on your hard drive where Photoshop can store temporary files, and is used to improve performance when working with large or complex files. By default, Photoshop will use your system drive ( typically C: ) as the scratch disk, but you can change this to any other location on your hard drive.

Is It Safe to Delete Scratch Disk in Photoshop?

When it comes to digital image editing, Photoshop is the gold standard. Photoshop provides users with a wealth of tools and features for creating and manipulating images. One of these features is the scratch disk.

How Do I Add a Scratch Disk to Photoshop?

Adding a scratch disk to Photoshop is a simple process that can be completed in just a few steps. By adding a scratch disk, you can improve the performance of Photoshop and make it run more smoothly. Here’s how to add a scratch disk to Photoshop:1.

How do I empty my scratch disk in Photoshop? - (4)

Kathy McFarland

Devops woman in trade, tech explorer and problem navigator.


How do I free up scratch disk space in Photoshop? ›

How to clear your Photoshop scratch disk
  1. In Photoshop, open the Edit menu and click Purge.
  2. Select All to clear all caches, or choose an individual cache to clear (Clipboard, Histories, Video Cache).
Mar 24, 2022

How do I free up space on my scratch disk? ›

Free up additional hard drive space by deleting unnecessary files from the scratch disk, or by moving your files off the scratch disk to another storage location. For example, if your assigned scratch disk on your Windows machine is drive C:\, you can simply clean up and delete the files you no longer need.

How do I empty the scratch disk on my Mac for Photoshop? ›

Go to Photoshop > Preferences from the menu bar. Select Scratch Disks and tick the checkbox to select or remove a drive as the scratch disk. Click OK. Reopen Photoshop.

Why is Photoshop saying scratch disks are full when I have space? ›

By default, Photoshop uses the hard drive on which the operating system is installed as the primary scratch disk. If you encounter a 'Scratch disk full' error, it often means that your hard drive (or drives) used as scratch disk is (are) running out of storage space required to perform a task.

Where is Photoshop cache located? ›

It's in C:\Users\User\AppData\Local\Temp. To access that, you can type %LocalAppData%\Temp in the Start > Run field. Look for "Photoshop Temp" file list.

What does purge all do in Photoshop? ›

To delete all the Photoshop memory off your RAM (from Undo, Clipboard, and History), go to the Edit menu, select Purge and select the item you want to purge. If you select All, it wipe out everything off your RAM.

Where are scratch disks located? ›

A scratch disk is automatically located in your main hard drive, which would be the C: drive for most of us. Photoshop provides an option to shift that location elsewhere, namely to another internal or external hard drive that has ample space to save Photoshop's temporary files and data.

What do I do when my disk space is full? ›

One of the easiest ways to clean up files you no longer need is by using Disk Cleanup. Open Disk Cleanup by clicking the Start button . In the search box, type Disk Cleanup, and then, in the list of results, select Disk Cleanup. If prompted, select the drive that you want to clean up, and then select OK.

Why is my disk space always full? ›

For many computer users, most of the disk space used is by applications and games. If you find that you no longer use certain programs, you can uninstall and remove them from your hard drive. Again, Windows provides the ability to easily get rid of any unwanted programs that we may have on our computer.

How do I manually empty a scratch disk on a Mac? ›

How to clear scratch disk
  1. Open CleanMyMac X on your Mac.
  2. Select “Space Lens” from the left side of the window.
  3. Select “Scan” at the bottom of the window.
  4. When the app is done analyzing your Mac, select the folders you want to delete.
  5. Select “Remove” at the bottom of the window.
May 17, 2022

How to clear Mac cache? ›

How to clear the cache on your Mac using shortcuts
  1. Open the Finder window and press shift + command + G.
  2. Type ~/Library/Caches into the search box and click Go.
  3. Press command + A to select all folders, or manually select individual items.
  4. Press and hold command + delete to clear the selected files from your Mac cache.
Dec 9, 2022

Why does it say my scratch disk is full when it's not? ›

Defragment Your Hard Disk

It is also possible to get the "scratch disk is full" error, even if the scratch disk drive has free space. This is because Photoshop requires contiguous, unfragmented free space on the scratch disk drive.

Could not initialize Photoshop because the scratch disks are full OK? ›

If Photoshop 2019, or earlier, cannot launch because the scratch disk is full, hold down the Cmd + Option keys (macOS) or Ctrl + Alt keys (Windows) during launch to set a new scratch disk.

How do I reset all settings in Photoshop? ›

Resetting your Photoshop Preferences
  1. Step 1: Open The Preferences Dialog Box. ...
  2. Step 2: Choose "Reset Preferences On Quit" ...
  3. Step 3: Click "Yes" To Delete The Preferences When Quitting. ...
  4. Step 4: Close And Relaunch Photoshop.
Jan 18, 2023

Where is hidden cache? ›

Here's how to clean hidden cache on Android: Open device Settings, and select Apps. Find the app you want to clear app data for, tap it, and select Storage. Tap Clear cache to delete all cached data for the selected app.

Where is cache cleanup? ›

On your Android phone or tablet, open the Chrome app . At the top right, tap More . Tap History Clear browsing data. At the top, choose a time range.

What is the difference between purging and clearing? ›

Clearing often involves overwriting data once (and seldom more than three times) with repetitive data (such as all zeros) or resetting a device to factory settings. Purging data is meant to eliminate information from being feasibly recovered even in a laboratory environment.

What is the difference between purge and clear? ›

Purge refers to a physical or logical technique (while Clear only uses logical techniques) that renders target data recovery infeasible using state-of-the-art laboratory overwrite, block erase, and cryptographic erase methods.

Is purging the same as deleting? ›

The purging process allows an administrator to permanently remove data from its primary storage location, yet still retrieve and restore the data from the archive copy should there ever be a need. In contrast, the delete process also removes data permanently from a storage location, but doesn't keep a backup.

How do I free up space when there's nothing to delete? ›

How to solve low disk space but nothing to delete?
  1. │Method 1. Run Disk Cleanup to delete Temporary files.
  2. │Method 2. Make hidden files show to see what occupies space.
  3. │Method 3. Delete system restore point.
  4. │Method 4. Move programs from C drive to another(recommended)
Sep 15, 2022

How do I open Photoshop when scratch disks are full Mac? ›

Note: If Photoshop cannot launch because the scratch disk is full, hold down the Cmd + Opt keys (Mac) or Ctrl + Alt keys (Windows) on launch to set a new scratch disk.

How do I wipe my Mac and reinstall from scratch? ›

Choose Apple menu > Shut Down, press and hold the power button until “Loading startup options” appears, select Options, click Continue, then follow the onscreen instructions. In the Recovery app window, select Reinstall for your macOS release, click Continue, then follow the onscreen instructions.

Can I delete disk cache Adobe? ›

There are two ways to purge and clear out the Disk Cache. The first is to head up to Edit > Purge > All Memory & Disk Cache. Just be aware that this will purge your RAM Cache as well. The second option is going to be to head over to Preferences > Media & Disk Cache.

How do I manually delete Adobe cache? ›

Delete any Adobe cache files
  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click the Go menu and choose Library (if you don't see Library, press the option key).
  3. Open the Application Support folder.
  4. Open the Adobe folder.
  5. Open the Common folder.
  6. Delete the Media Cache and the Media Cache Files folders.
Mar 8, 2022

Is it OK to delete all cache files on Mac? ›

Is it safe to delete cache files on Mac? It's safe to delete cache data on Mac, especially browser cache. If your browser is running slowly, or you're looking to remove junk and uninstall apps to make space, deleting the cache helps.

Should I empty my cache on a Mac? ›

Caches are there to store temporary files that help your Mac run quickly, but they can become clogged with unnecessary old files, so it's a good idea to clear them out regularly. There are two main caches on Mac: a system cache for OS files, and a user cache for app files.

How do I clear and reload cache on Mac? ›

Mac: Hold ⇧ Shift and click the Reload button. Or, hold down ⌘ Cmd and ⇧ Shift key and then press R.

Where is the reset button in Photoshop? ›

With Photoshop closed, press and hold Shift+Ctrl+Alt (Win) / Shift+Command+Option (Mac) on your keyboard and relaunch Photoshop the way you normally would.

How do I reset my default workspace in Photoshop? ›

You can revert the currently selected Workspace back to its original default settings by going to Window > Workspace > Reset {Workspace Name}.

Where is Adobe scratch disk? ›

A scratch disk is automatically located in your main hard drive, which would be the C: drive for most of us. Photoshop provides an option to shift that location elsewhere, namely to another internal or external hard drive that has ample space to save Photoshop's temporary files and data.

How do I get more disk space on my Mac? ›

Move or delete files
  1. Delete music, movies, podcasts, or other media, especially if it's media that you can stream or download again as needed.
  2. Delete files in your Downloads folder. ...
  3. If you use the Mail app for your email, choose Mailbox > Erase Junk Mail from the menu bar in Mail.
Mar 8, 2023

How do I delete Photoshop temp files on Mac? ›

Here's how to clear the caches in Photoshop: Open Photoshop on your Mac. Click the Edit button in the menu bar, hover your mouse over Purge, and select the item you want to clear or select All to remove all your caches in Photoshop.

How do I find my scratch disk on Windows 10? ›

Step 1: Open up the Edit menu in Photoshop. Step 2: Then select the Preferences option at the bottom. Step 3: In the Preferences, select the Scratch Disk to open up the Scratch Disk menu. Step 4: Here, select the drive you want to use as the scratch disk and click on OK.

Where is dust and scratches Photoshop? ›

The first step is to apply Photoshop's built-in Dust & Scratches filter. Go to Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches. You don't have to go far to see what a mess the Dust & Scratches filter can do if used alone. This is with a radius of 46.

Why is my Mac disk always full? ›

The warning message indicating that your startup disk is almost full appears when there is no longer enough free space on your disk. This is often due to having too many files occupying your Mac's hard drive, bringing free space to a dangerously low level. To resolve this issue, you need to free up some disk space.

Why does my Mac keep saying not enough disk space when there is? ›

My Mac says there's not enough disk space, but there is

It's basically the space taken by all the unnecessary stuff that can be purged and converted into free storage. One way to free up your purgeable space is to disable iCloud drive optimization. Open your System Settings > Apple ID > iCloud.

What happens when your Mac disk is full? ›

Once “Your disk is almost full” notification pops up on a screen, it's time to do some work. Running low on storage might cause your Mac to slow down or behave strangely. This usually happens if you have too many outdated files, old logs, caches, and apps you no longer use.

What is a scratch disk in Photoshop? ›

Photoshop uses your hard drive space as a “scratch disk”, a secondary memory resource to improve performance. If you have more than one hard drive installed in your computer, it is recommended that you allocate one of them as a scratch disk.

Is it OK to delete temp files in Mac? ›

Most of it is system junk, in other words, temporary files and caches. If you are overloaded with temporary files and too much cache data, it will highlight this, and you can safely delete everything, saving you time and space.

Is it okay to delete temp files? ›

The simple answer is yes; you should delete temp files. It's not only important to delete them to free up space but also to ensure that your PC runs smoothly. So, to sum it up, deleting temp files can: Speed up your PC once again.

Could not open Photoshop because scratch disks are full? ›

The easiest way to clear up space on your scratch disk is to simply delete some of the files that are taking up space on your hard drive. You can do this by opening up My Computer (or This PC in Windows 10) and deleting any unnecessary files. Once you've freed up some space, try opening Photoshop again.

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