Scratch Disks are Full? | Clear space to Fix Photoshop Scratch Disk Error

Photoshop scratch disk error

Adobe Photoshop is highly useful to edit and enhance images that are captured across various devices. Due to its high utility, the tool uses more resources from the computer such as memory (RAM) and storage. If you are working on a project, you might have come across an error stating” Could not initialize Photoshop because the scratch disks are full”. Read the complete article to know more about the error and the various ways to fix scratch disk error on Photoshop.

What is a Scratch Disk?

Scratch Disk is storage space on a hard disk that is used to store temporary files. It is a virtual memory used by Photoshop when there is insufficient memory space to run its operations. When the hard disk space is used up by the system, the amount of virtual memory needed by Photoshop reduces. Therefore, Photoshop returns an error message stating,” Could not complete the command because the scratch disks are full.”

How to clear Scratch disks?

Free the Available Disk Space:

When Photoshop shows an error message that the scratch disk is full. One easy method to clear a scratch disk is by deleting some unused files on the drive, where Photoshop is installed. This will ensure that the application has sufficient virtual memory space available to run the program.

Increase the Memory Limit on Photoshop:

Photoshop Scratch disk error

The computer usually limits the amount of RAM used by Photoshop application. However, by increasing the memory limit Photoshop will have enough space to work with.

  • Open Photoshop application
  • Click on Edit and navigate to Preferences > Performance
  • In the performance, window adjust the memory usage slider to 80%


Bonus information: There can be scenarios where Photoshop also returns error messages due to PSD file corruption as well. In order to fix this issue, you would have to use software such as Remo PSD Repair Tool

Change the Location of Scratch Disk:

If you are unable to clear storage space on the drive where the scratch disk is present, you can relocate it to a different storage drive. By doing so you will be able to give more virtual space for the application to run the programs.

  • As you launch Photoshop click on CTRL + Alt simultaneously
  • In the Scratch Disk Preference, specify the scratch disk that has sufficient space.
  • Click on OK to and continue using the Photoshop application.

Erase Temporary Files:

At times you are unable to open PSD files on Photoshop because the scratch disk is full. The usable virtual memory space for photoshop can be increased by deleting the temporary files on the drive. Here is how you can do it.

  • Press Windows + R key simultaneously
  • Type %temp% and click OK
  • In the Temp folder select all the files and press Shift + Delete key
  • Click on Skip if you are unable to delete some files

After clearing the temporary files, Photoshop will have enough space to open and use the PSD file.

Create Separate Disk Partition:

You can create separate disk space for your Scratch disk if the drive has only one partition.

  •  Click on Start menu and type Disk Management in the search box and click on the result
  • In Disk Management, click on the C drive and select Shrink Volume
  • On the Shrink C: dialog box, click Shrink button
  •  From the Disk Management Window, right-click on the unallocated space and select New Simple Volume
  • In the New Simple Volume wizard assign a drive letter to the new unallocated space and click on Next
  • Select NTFS as a file system, set the allocation unit size as default and click on Next.
  • Next, click on Finish to create the new partition
  • After the creation of partition, start Photoshop and press Control + Alt
  • Now, select the newly created partition as your Scratch Disk


Scratch disk error is one of the commonly occurring problems while using a Photoshop application. Such situations can be avoided in the future by regularly deleting the temporary folders in the dive. This will ensure that Photoshop will have enough space to run its programs utilizing the scratch disk. However, if you still come across scratch disk error the above-mentioned steps will help you troubleshoot the issue.

Scratch Disks are Full? | Clear space to Fix Photoshop Scratch Disk Error was last modified: June 19th, 2020 by Molly Owen

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