How to Clear Scratch Disk in Photoshop: A Comprehensive Guide

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Are you tired of experiencing slow performance and unexpected crashes while using Adobe Photoshop? One possible culprit could be a full or corrupted scratch disk. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of clearing the scratch disk in Photoshop, ensuring optimal performance and a seamless editing experience. So, let’s dive in and learn how to clear the scratch disk in Photoshop like a pro!

Understanding Scratch Disk in Photoshop

Before we delve into the methods of clearing the scratch disk, let’s take a moment to understand what exactly a scratch disk is and why it plays a crucial role in Photoshop’s functioning. In simple terms, a scratch disk is a designated storage space where Photoshop temporarily stores data that exceeds the available RAM capacity. This temporary storage allows Photoshop to handle large files, complex edits, and resource-intensive tasks.

When Photoshop runs out of available RAM, it automatically utilizes the scratch disk to store the excess data. However, if the scratch disk is full or corrupted, it can severely impact Photoshop’s performance, leading to slow processing, lagging brushes, and even crashes.

Signs of a Full or Corrupted Scratch Disk

To determine whether your scratch disk is the root cause of Photoshop’s sluggish performance, it’s important to recognize the signs of a full or corrupted scratch disk. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  1. Slow Response Times: If you notice a significant delay when executing commands or opening files, it could indicate that your scratch disk is struggling to handle the data load.

  2. Frequent Crashes: Does Photoshop crash frequently, especially when working with large files or complex edits? This could be a clear indication of an overloaded scratch disk.

  3. Error Messages: Pay attention to any error messages related to scratch disk issues. These messages may appear as “Scratch disk is full” or “Could not initialize Photoshop because the scratch disks are full.”

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By being aware of these signs, you can take proactive measures to clear your scratch disk and restore Photoshop’s optimal performance.

Methods to Clear Scratch Disk in Photoshop

Now that you understand the significance of a clean and optimized scratch disk, let’s explore two effective methods to clear the scratch disk in Photoshop:

Method 1: Changing Scratch Disk Preferences

The first method involves modifying the scratch disk preferences in Photoshop. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Photoshop Preferences: Launch Photoshop and navigate to the “Preferences” menu. On a Windows computer, click on “Edit” > “Preferences,” while on a Mac, click on “Photoshop” > “Preferences.”

  2. Access Scratch Disk Preferences: Within the preferences menu, locate and click on the “Scratch Disks” option. A dialog box will appear, displaying the available scratch disks.

  3. Add or Select a New Scratch Disk: To add a new scratch disk, click the “+” icon and choose a suitable location with ample free space. If you already have multiple scratch disks, make sure to select one with sufficient free space.

  4. Reorder Scratch Disks (Optional): If you have multiple scratch disks, you can also change their priority by dragging and dropping them in the desired order. Photoshop utilizes scratch disks in the order they are listed.

Method 2: Deleting Unnecessary Files and Temporary Data

Another effective way to clear the scratch disk is by manually deleting unnecessary files and temporary data. Follow these steps:

  1. Locate Temporary Files: In Photoshop, go to the “Edit” menu and click on “Purge.” This will display a list of various temporary files used by Photoshop.

  2. Delete Unused Files: Review the list of temporary files and remove any that are no longer needed. Be cautious not to delete any files that are currently in use or essential for your ongoing projects.

  3. Empty the Trash: After deleting the unnecessary files, make sure to empty the trash or recycle bin on your computer. This will permanently remove the deleted files from your system.

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Regularly performing these methods will help maintain a clean scratch disk and ensure smooth operation of Photoshop.

FAQs about Clearing Scratch Disk in Photoshop

  1. What happens if I don’t clear the scratch disk in Photoshop?

    • If you neglect to clear the scratch disk, Photoshop’s performance will continue to suffer. Slow response times, frequent crashes, and errors can become more frequent, hampering your editing workflow.
  2. Can I use an external hard drive as a scratch disk?

    • Yes, you can! Photoshop allows you to use external hard drives as scratch disks. However, ensure that the external drive has a fast connection and ample free space for efficient performance.
  3. How often should I clear the scratch disk?

    • The frequency of clearing the scratch disk depends on your usage patterns. As a general guideline, it is recommended to clear the scratch disk regularly, especially when you notice a decline in Photoshop’s performance.


Clearing the scratch disk in Photoshop is a vital step to ensure optimal performance and a seamless editing experience. By following the methods outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can effectively clear your scratch disk, fix performance issues, and enhance your productivity. Remember, a clean scratch disk is the key to unleashing the full potential of Adobe Photoshop. So, take charge, clear that scratch disk, and let your creative genius shine!

Note: The information provided in this guide is intended for educational purposes only. Always backup your important files before making any changes to your scratch disk settings.

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