What Is A Scratch Disk Full Error On Mac And How To Fix It?

If you regularly use Photoshop, you may have encountered the scratch disk full errors at some point or another. Such errors are very common issues faced by Photoshop users, and they are very annoying as they interrupt image editing sessions or make it impossible to launch the program.

In this article, we’ll share effective methods to fix such scratch disk errors on Mac, and if you need more information about different troubleshooting methods, you can see it here.

What Is The Photoshop Scratch Disk Full Error?

A scratch disk is a hard drive space that your Mac uses for temporary storage. When Photoshop is running, scratch disk space is used for storing temporary documents that don’t fit into RAM. The program uses this space as a cache or virtual memory.

The scratch disk full error typically occurs when you are working on large editing projects and Photoshop scratch disks are full of temporary files. That may happen because of the following reasons:

  • Not enough space on a hard drive where a scratch disk is located
  • Caches eat up the limited RAM allowed for Photoshop because they were not erased automatically
  • There are tons of temporary files that occupy space in the Photoshop scratch disk section; that happens mainly due to incorrect shutdown when temporary files remain undeleted.

What Can You Do To Fix The Issue?

To fix this common problem, you just need to free up some storage space. There are a number of practical and simple solutions you can try, and we’ll discuss some of them here.

Clear Photoshop Cache

When you are working with huge projects, cache files can occupy enormous disk space on your Mac, and that may have a negative impact on its performance if left unattended. That’s why it is critical to clear up cache, and you can use a built-in Photoshop tool to do it. Here are the steps you should follow.

  • Launch Photoshop and in the menu bar, select Edit.
  • Hover your mouse over “Purge” to see different options: Video Cache, Clipboard, All, Histories. Keep in mind that if any item has already been deleted, it will be greyed out.
  • Click on a specific item you would like to remove or select All if you prefer to get rid of all items.
  • You will see the pop-up warning that the purge can’t be undone. If you are sure, press the OK button.

Delete Temp Files

If temporary Photoshop files are not deleted automatically, you need to do it manually yourself. You should open Finder and search for files with the names that begin with “pst” and end with the extension “.tmp.” If you want to be sure that everything is found, you should look for such files not only on a scratch disk but on the entire computer. If your project is saved and you have closed the program, you can delete temp files that match the parameters above. If you are a heavy Photoshop user, you may find it really helps to remove these files once a month or even once a week.

Optimize Your Disk Space

It is recommended to have at least 20GB of space to create a scratch disk. So if you received an error message, you may need to free up storage space on your HDD. Open the Apple menu and select About This Mac. After you click on Storage, you’ll see a graph. If you hover over the bars, you’ll be able to see what each color represents. Then you should press the manage button to optimize the disk space. You can delete old and large documents and clear your Downloads folder, etc. Alternatively, you can transfer some files to cloud storage solutions or external drives.

Change Your Scratch Disk

It’s possible to change the location of the scratch disk to another hard drive in your system if you use multiple drives. You should launch Photoshop and select Preferences from the drop-down menu. Then you need to choose Scratch Disk. Check the appropriate boxes to select or remove a specific drive as the scratch disk. Press the OK button to save these changes and restart the program. You may also change the location of a scratch disk when you are launching Photoshop if you press the Command + Option.

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