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How to Clear Scratch Disk in Photoshop on Mac

How to Clear Scratch Disk in Photoshop on Mac

How to Clear Scratch Disk in Photoshop on Mac

Photoshop is a powerful tool that allows you to create, edit, and enhance images. However, as you work on complex projects, you may encounter a common issue: a full scratch disk. This problem can slow down your workflow, cause Photoshop to crash, or even prevent you from opening the program. Fortunately, clearing your scratch disk on a Mac is a straightforward process. This guide will walk you through the steps to free up space and keep Photoshop running smoothly.

Understanding Scratch Disk

A scratch disk is essentially a designated area of your hard drive that Photoshop uses for temporary storage. When the program runs out of RAM while processing large or complex files, it shifts some of the data to the scratch disk. This process is known as 'paging out' or 'writing to the scratch disk'.

However, over time, this data can accumulate and fill up your scratch disk, especially if you're working with large files or performing memory-intensive operations. When your scratch disk is full, you may experience slow performance or receive an error message stating, "Could not initialize Photoshop because the scratch disks are full."

How to Check Scratch Disk Space

Before you start clearing your scratch disk, it's helpful to know how much space is currently being used. To check the available space on your scratch disk, follow these steps:

  • Open Photoshop.
  • Go to the 'Photoshop' menu in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Select 'Preferences' and then 'Scratch Disks'.
  • In the Scratch Disks window, you'll see a list of your drives and the amount of free space on each one.

    Clearing Your Scratch Disk

    There are several methods you can use to clear your scratch disk in Photoshop on a Mac. Here are some of the most effective ways

    Purge Photoshop Cache: The simplest way to free up scratch disk space is to purge Photoshop's cache. The cache contains temporary files that Photoshop generates as you work, and it can take up a significant amount of space. To purge the cache:

    • Open Photoshop.
    • Go to the 'Edit' menu and select 'Purge'.
    • In the Purge submenu, select 'All' to remove all cached data. Alternatively, you can choose to purge specific types of data, such as Undo or Clipboard.

      Delete Temporary Files: Photoshop creates temporary files as you work, which are stored on your scratch disk. These files can take up a lot of space, especially if you're working with large images or complex projects. To delete these files:

      • Open Finder.
      • Go to the 'Go' menu and select 'Go to Folder'.
      • Type '~/Library/Application Support/Adobe' and press Enter.
      • Find the 'Adobe Photoshop' folder and open it.
      • Locate the 'Temp' folder and delete its contents.

        Change Scratch Disk Location: If your current scratch disk is full, you can designate a different disk as your scratch disk. To do this:

        • Open Photoshop.
        • Go to the 'Photoshop' menu and select 'Preferences'.
        • Select 'Scratch Disks'.
        • In the Scratch Disks window, check the box next to the disk you want to use as your scratch disk.
        • Click 'OK' to save your changes.

          Preventing Scratch Disk Issues

          While clearing your scratch disk can solve immediate problems, it's also important to take steps to prevent these issues from occurring in the future. Here are some tips to keep your scratch disk from filling up:

          Maintain Hard Drive Space: Try to keep at least 40% of your hard drive free at all times. This will give Photoshop plenty of room to write to the scratch disk and prevent it from filling up quickly.

          Regularly Clear Cache: Make it a habit to regularly clear Photoshop's cache. This will prevent temporary files from accumulating and taking up space on your scratch disk.

          Use an External Scratch Disk: If you frequently work with large files or complex projects, consider using an external drive as your scratch disk. This can provide additional storage space and help keep your main drive free.


          Clearing your scratch disk in Photoshop on a Mac is a simple process that can significantly improve the program's performance. By regularly clearing your cache, deleting temporary files, and maintaining adequate hard drive space, you can prevent scratch disk issues and keep Photoshop running smoothly.

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