Graphic design and manipulation software such as Photoshop utilize large amounts of data to process and complete tasks. Normally, these information are loaded into your system’s memory (RAM). Occasionally, however, the data size is so large that a scratch disk is required.
Scratch disks are storage or space reserved by Photoshop to store temporary files while they are in use. It is created to temporarily hold excess data that the memory module cannot contain. The files utilized in the scratch space are designed to be deleted after the user has completed their task.
But, sometimes you may notice error saying “scratch disks are full” when using Photoshop. What this error means is that the scratch space or disks are either full or do not have sufficient space to hold the data. So, the only solution is to empty the scratch disk entirely for Photoshop to work.
How to Empty Scratch Disks
Normally, Adobe Photoshop creates the scratch disk space in the drive where you have installed your operating system. Photoshop automatically detects if the drive is a system drive or an external drive and creates the partition.
In system drives, it holds around 6GB of memory space whereas in external drives it reserves 1GB of memory space for the scratch disk. So, whenever you encounter the “scratch disks are full” error, deleting unnecessary files is the ideal solution.
Add or Change Scratch Disks
One of the first solutions is to add or change the scratch disk preferences from the splash screen while Photoshop is launching. Doing so will help you better manage your Scratch Disk’s storage space. Here’s how you can do it:
- Launch Adobe Photoshop.
- In the splash screen press the Ctrl + Alt keys to open the Scratch Disk Preferences window.
- Click on the drop down menu and select a drive which has enough space for the scratch disk to function.
- To add additional scratch disks, select from the drop down menu and add as needed.
- Click on OK to save changes.
- Photoshop will proceed to open in your device.
Clear Disk Space
If you do not want to add another drive for scratch space, you can also clear the drive allocated for scratch disk. Here are the steps to do so:
- Open Adobe Photoshop.
- Click on Edit from the top toolbar and select Preferences from the drop down menu.
- Now, in the new menu, click on Scratch disk.
- In the Scratch Disk section, the disk that has the check mark beside it, contains the scratch disk.
Finally, navigate to the necessary drive in file explorer and delete any unneeded files and folders. Make sure the drive has enough space as well.
When the application has been open for a long time, it takes up considerable amount of RAM. So, another method to empty the scratch disks is from the Purge method in Photoshop. The Purge function clears the memory modules and frees space for new data to be written in the RAM as well as disk cache.
Clearing the disk cache also clears the scratch space.
- From the top toolbar click on the Edit menu.
- Select Purge from the drop down menu.
- Click on All to clear the RAM.
Delete Temp Files
Another way of clearing out the scratch disk space is to delete the temporary or cache files. Temp files are created as a backup in case the system or Photoshop crashes and the user loses their work. Make sure to close Adobe Photoshop and disable any related background services. Failing to do so may prevent you from deleting the temp files.
Note: Before clearing the temp files, save any work in progress. Any ongoing task will be terminated after removing the files.
To open the Temp folder and cleanup the files:
- Open Run by pressing the Windows key + R button.
%temp%in the text box and press OK to open the Temp folder.
- Inside the Temp folder, look for a file named Photoshop Temp.
- After making sure Photoshop is closed, Delete the file.
- Launch Photoshop again and check for issues.
We also strongly recommend you clean temp files of your system from time-to-time. Clearing temp files helps maintain your disks and also make the system faster and smoother.