How to clean a scratch on a Mac for Photoshop 2021

Erasing a scratch disk on your Mac may not be a problem you’ll encounter often, but those who work in apps like Photoshop should understand exactly how to fix the problem when it occurs. Intensive programs like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro often handle this error and can be confusing.

Here we will show you how to clean a scratch disk on a Mac, how to empty a scratch disk for use, why Photoshop scratch discs are full, and how to better manage memory to reduce or eliminate the frequency of these pop-ups.

What is a scratch disk?

Think of a scratched disc as a paper scratch. Using a scratch pad, make notes about something; maybe it’s ideas for a book you’re writing or manually sketching some illustrations before testing the water in a design application.

Scratch discs work the same way. Large, intensive applications need little hard disk space to be used as virtual memory when there is not enough RAM to complete the task. Like a scratch pad, it temporarily holds things while performing tasks that are difficult to process, such as editing videos or photos with many edits and layers. Although these files are temporary, they need a place to live – a scratch disk.

What causes a disk scratch error?

The main reason you see “Photoshop scratch disk full” errors are temporary files. If you often forcibly leave applications like Photoshop, the temporary files do not disappear. The app thinks you might want to use them later, so it saves them. These files may not even appear as busy memory, which adds to the confusion as to why you see the error message.

Another reason you see the error is that there is no space in the drive where the scratch disc is located; this is most often when your Mac’s memory is too full. Similarly, the Photoshop partition or other applications in use may be too full, and the limited amount of RAM available to the application may also cause this error.

What do you do when the scratch discs are full?

When you see “Photoshop scratch disk full” Macs don’t have a good way to solve the problem. It will not automatically clear disk space or create a single partition to avoid a problem. You need to know the scratch disc cleaning methods yourself.

How to clean a disc from scratches

There are a few tips and tricks for cleaning your scratch disk that are effective, but remember that the best way forward is always proactive memory management. Here we will show you how to clean the disk partition from scratches and show you some applications that can prevent errors from appearing again.

1. Clean the disk space

You’re here to learn how to clean a scratch drive in Photoshop, but the root of the problem is the cluttered storage space of your Mac. How often do you save items and never touch them again?

CleanMyMac X has an amazing feature called Space Lens that gives you an overview of your Mac’s storage composition, so you can quickly identify which folders are full of stuff. It analyzes your entire system and areas that folders are too bulky and offers a quick way to delete files you don’t need. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Open CleanMyMac X on your Mac
  2. Select “Space Lens” on the left side of the window
  3. Select “Scan” at the bottom of the window
  4. When the application finishes analyzing your Mac, select the folders you want to delete
  5. Select “Remove” at the bottom of the window

The app also has a feature called Large and Old Files that is very similar to Space Lens, but examines individual files by size. Maybe you saved the movie a long time ago and then forgot about it. CleanMyMac X reminds you of this and allows you to quickly and easily delete from your Mac forever.

2. Delete the temporary Photoshop files

Knowing how to remove Photoshop scratch errors on a disk is sometimes as simple as deleting temporary files. To locate and delete temporary Photoshop files, search all files with the extension “.tmp” in your search engine. Photoshop starts the file name with “pst” so that anything that matches these parameters can be deleted.

3. Clean the Scratch Disk in Photoshop

While you want to know how to clean a disc from scratches, Photoshop doesn’t make the job easier, does it?

When you want to clean your Photoshop scratch disc, you are essentially clearing its cache. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open Photoshop on your Mac
  2. Select “edit” in the menu bar
  3. Select “Clear”
  4. Mark all “
  5. When the pop-up window appears, select “OK”

Now the Photoshop cache is clean and it is free to write multiple temporary files to the scratch disk.

4. Move your scratching disc

You can also change the location of your scratch disc in Photoshop! One popular method is to use an external drive as a scratch drive – don’t forget to leave it plugged into your Mac.

Here’s how to change the location of the scratch disc on your Mac:

  1. Open Photoshop on your Mac
  2. Select “Photoshop” from the menu bar
  3. Select “Settings”
  4. Select “disc scratch”
  5. Select the drive you want to use
  6. Select “OK”
  7. Force Photoshop to close, then reopen it.

Now the location of your scratch disc has changed!

5. Defragment the hard drive when the scratch discs are full

Macs don’t need defragmentation, and if you have a modern Mac with an SSD, you can damage it by defragmenting. Macs with SSDs manage file storage differently than older Macs with hard drives, so defragmenting them can be harmful.

It is best to back up your file system frequently. Get Backup Pro for Mac helps you automate backups, sync files between your computer and connected devices, and encrypt those backups for storage. You can also create projects within Get Backup Pro to save files from applications like Photoshop!

Backing up your files is a great option because there will be times when you unintentionally destroy or delete the files you actually wanted to keep by clearing the application or file cache. A safety net is your safety net.

get a backup pro

6. Free up RAM in the terminal

Sometimes your Photoshop will just freeze, and freeing up cleaning space may not help. In this case, try to clear a bit of RAM, the lack of memory on the Mac often causes problems with intensive programs like Photoshop. With CleanMyMac X, the easiest way to clean RAM is to:

  1. In the application, go to Maintenance
  2. Select Free RAM
  3. Click Run. That’s it!

Free up RAM in the terminal

You can also free RAM manually in the terminal:

  1. Open the terminal through Spotlight
  2. Type sudo purge
  3. Enter your password

free ram terminal manually

7. Reset Photoshop

If you tried to fix the “scratch disk is full” error using the above methods, but it didn’t help, you may need to restore Photoshop to factory settings. Note that this action will reset your color settings and other settings to their original defaults. So it will take you a while to get back to the right way after the reset. Here’s how to reset Photoshop:

  1. Go to Photoshop> Settings> General
  2. Click Reset Preferences On Quit
  3. Click OK to confirm your action
  4. Restart Photoshop to continue the reset.

Alternatively, you can simply exit Photoshop, press and hold Command + Option + Shift, and open Photoshop without releasing those keys. When you see a dialog asking if you want to delete the settings file, click Yes and reopen Photoshop. This should solve the problem of scratching the disc.

This should win you a good chunk of memory to keep your Photoshop running smoothly. Try restarting Photoshop to see the difference.

Is it possible to empty my scratch disc without opening Photoshop?

Using CleanMyMac X is the best way to delete temporary files and clean up disk space on your Mac without digging through Photoshop. Remember that scratch disks hold only temporary files, and those files are not always deleted by themselves when not in use.

The CleanMyMac X maintenance module has a feature called “Cleanup space free” that deals with temporary files stored on disk space. It was considered a good idea to run the entire maintenance module and really bring your Mac in perfect condition, freeing up cleaning space is great when you just need to free up space on the scratch disc. Just keep in mind that you should run Photoshop when you run this module!

cleanMyMac space for cleaning

How to Clean a Scratch Disk in Windows |

Unfortunately, if you have a Windows computer, you are not immune to the “scratch disk is full” error. Here’s how scratch-scratched the disk is in Windows:

  1. In Photoshop, choose Edit> Settings
  2. Click Scratch Disks and select the drive to be used as the scratch disk
  3. Remove large files from disk if there is less than 40 GB of free space.

You can also consider deleting temporary files – on Windows computers they are generated in the same way as on a Mac. To do this, close Photoshop and go to C: Users Your username AppData Local Temp. You can remove all files that have a “temp” in their names.


The power of Photoshop is a gift and a curse. It can do everything you want about photo editing, but it’s expendable. Cleaning up disk space may not be routine for you, but if you’re a strong Photoshop user, you’ll probably come across it at some point.

Get Backup Pro and CleanMyMac X are available for free with a seven-day trial period of Setapp, a powerful suite of productivity apps for your Mac. In addition to these two apps, you’ll get instant and unlimited access to nearly 200 other amazing apps, all for free!

When the trial period ends, Setapp costs only $ 9.99 per month for unlimited access to the entire app catalog. Why wait? Try Setapp today!

Frequently Asked Questions: Scrub disc hot for cleaning

Why does Photoshop say “scratching the disk is a lot” if there’s still room on the hard drive?

Photoshop can use your hard drive, SSD, or even an external drive as a scratch drive. You may be checking for the wrong disk space. You can read more about assigning scratch discs here. It is recommended that you do not use your main drive – the one on which macOS is installed – as a scratch drive for Photoshop.

Another reason may be that, although your drive has space, it lacks free space – which is essential for Photoshop to work properly. Some sources recommend running Disk Defragmenter in such cases, but this is not always safe, so we recommend that you back up your drive regularly using Get Backup Pro.

What does scratching the disk mean a lot in Photoshop?

An error usually means that you are running out of RAM or disk space on the drive where the Photoshop scratch disk is located. This is a very common problem because Photoshop tends to generate a lot of temporary files in the background, which pile up and overwhelm your drive.

How to prevent scratching the disc in Photoshop?

Perform regular disk cleaning with CleanMyMac X. It will remove unwanted files, including tons of temporary files generated by Photoshop. One month of cleaning should be enough to prevent errors when erasing the disk completely.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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