4 Ways to Fix “Scratch Disks are Full” on Your Mac! Yay!

Editorial

Adobe Photoshop and similar apps all rely on a scratch disk. This is also known as virtual memory or cache memory. It is a bit like a scrap piece of paper where you’ve made notes and it goes one step further and allows you to undo work and saves revisions. It helps you cut down on a lot of swearing.

Photoshop may create several scratch disks to help it manage what you’re trying to accomplish unless you have enough RAM to cope with demand.

When your hard disk becomes full Photoshop and similar apps can’t create the much-needed scratch disk and that is where you see the dreaded “scratch disk is full” error! Thankfully, there are easy fixes.

Clear Photoshop Cache

As soon as the error appears it is a good practice to clear Photoshop’s enormous cache file. The files are created every time you use the app and soon they eat into your hard drive space.

To remove them do the following.

Go Photoshop in Mac, ensure you have an image open.

Click Edit.

Hover the mouse over ‘purge’. You’ll see four different categories:

  • Undo – This is a history of your commands. Should you purge it you’ll delete all but the most recent command.
  • Clipboard– Anything you copied is stored here.
  • Histories – This is where previous versions of your project are stored.
  • Video Cache– This is where previous project files concerning videos are stored.

If you click all, you will purge all the cache files in these four categories, freeing up space.

You have an option now to purge all cache files are just specific ones. Once purged it is gone forever so make sure you are certain you want to do this before clicking.

Delete Photoshop Temp Files

Photoshop is like a temp file factory and this could be the reason you have no scratch disk space. To purge them do the following:

  • Ensure all work is saved and Photoshop (or other app) is closed.
  • Go Finder, Go to Folder.
  • Type ‘/tmp’
  • Delete all the files you see.

Hardware

It may not be a software issue that you are experiencing. Instead, it could be a hardware issue. Consider buying a new SSD. One that has a 256GB capacity should be enough to provide Photoshop and similar apps with what you need.

Switch Your Scratch Disk to Another Drive

Another solution to your scratch disk issue is to move it to another drive. If you do this, try and avoid the system drive as that could slow down your whole device which is not good for your mental health!

So, to change the drive do this:

  • Photoshop menu, Preferences, Scratch Disk.
  • Tick or untick the checkbox to select or remove a drive as the home of the scratch disk.
  • Click Ok
  • Restart Photoshop or similar app.

Once you have your scratch disk issue sorted, you can then go and create great things. As you can see there are fairly straightforward solutions to the problem.

See Apple Support for more information.

Last modified: April 2, 2022

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