How to empty scratch disk in Photoshop [Easy Guide]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • According to Adobe, a working disk is a (virtual) storage drive in your computer that is used as temporary storage for Photoshop when the program is running.
  • If you have used Adobe Photoshop on your computer, you've encountered the working disk error at least a few times. 
  • To learn more about this great image editor, check out our Photoshop webpage.
  • Take a look at our dedicated Adobe Fix section for other helpful troubleshooting guides.
empty scratch disk in Photoshop

Photoshop is an incredibly powerful application with great features. But while the program interface is overly intuitive, the same can’t be said about dealing with its bugs.

By far the most common Photoshop error is that the scratch disk is full. Some users get it when they try to start the program, others when they try to perform a certain action.

What is a scratch disk?

Photoshop requires memory to store temporary project files. If the program doesn’t have enough RAM to store something temporarily, it uses the hard disk space as a temporary virtual memory holder.

This hard disk space is called working volume (scratch disk). If both the memory and the working volume become full of temporary files, you’ll get an error message that says Scratch Disk is full.

In the following lines you will find effective solutions to empty the scratch disk in Photoshop.

How do I empty my scratch disk in Photoshop?

1. Free up enough disk space

  1. Open Photoshop, and go to Edit.
  2. Select the Preferences menu.
  3. Click on Scratch Disks… and check which drives are being used as the working volume. photoshop scratch disk full
  4. Make sure you have at least 40 GB free space available.

Make sure that you have enough space in the drive partition where the working volume is located. If you do not specify it yourself, the C:/ drive is automatically selected as the working volume.


Looking for a bigger hard drive? Check out this list with the best hard drives to buy right now.


2. Delete the temporary files

delete photoshop temporary files

  1. Go to partition C:/Users, and select YourUser.
  2. Navigate to AppData, and click on Local.
  3. Select Photoshop Temp, and choose to delete the temporary files.

If you have the habit of forcibly closing the program without giving it enough time to close projects properly, a large portion of the temporary files will be left behind.

If you do this often enough, your temporary folder becomes full of Photoshop files. But these files are easy to identify and delete. Usually, their name starts with PST or Photoshop Temp.

You can safely delete them without affecting the system.

If you’re having problems deleting your temporary files, check out the simple solutions from this handy guide and get rid of them once and for all.


3. Change the location of the working volume

  1. Start Photoshop.
  2. Press and hold Ctrl + Alt.
  3. See the menu for Scratch Disk Settings.
  4. Select another partition from the drop-down menu, and click OK.
  5. Your Photoshop should know to reboot without the scratch disk is full.

This is a nice shortcut that you can use to change scratch disk settings, in case your Photoshop shows you the scratch disk is full, before you manage to get into the settings.


4. Increase the amount of memory allowed by Photoshop

photoshop increase ram

  1. Open Photoshop, and go to Edit.
  2. Click on Settings, and select the Performance menu.
  3. Adjust the sliders under Memory Usage to increase the amount of RAM that Photoshop is allowed to access.
  4. Do not set the 80% threshold as this will cause your PC to run slower.

By default, Photoshop is programmed to use 60% of all RAM. However, you can use even more as above mentioned.


5. Customize your working drives

  1. Open Photoshop, and go to Edit.
  2. Click on Preferences.
  3. Select Scratch Disks…. photoshop select scratch disk
  4. Select the checkbox next to each partition to enable them as scratch disks, and click Ok.
  5. RestartPhotoshop.

By default, only your C:/ drive is selected as a working volume, but you can allow all your partitions to share this load.

Experienced Photoshop users sometimes set up a special hard disk partition to prevent a problem like this from occurring.

Don’t forget to leave any other questions or suggestions that you may have in the comments section below, and we’ll be sure to check them out.

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