How Mac Users Should Use Scratch Disk in Photoshop

May 23, 2023

Photoshop requires a minimum of 8GB to run smoothly. That means you need a Mac with more than 8GB to use the application. Nevertheless, you can still do your designs if your MacBook has limited RAM. What you need is a scratch disk for temporary storage while using Photoshop.

The application creates this storage when the amount of RAM available is small. Normally, Photoshop is a resource-intensive program. If it cannot find enough space to run in RAM it uses your Mac hard drive. As long as the program is running, part of the hard drive acts as RAM. The only main challenge is that it fills up fast.

photoshop design 

How much RAM does Photoshop require on Mac? 

No matter the size of RAM you are using, Photoshop requires about 70% of it. Nevertheless, your Mac still needs RAM to run the OS and other programs. Due to this, Photoshop automatically creates a space of about 6GB in your hard disk. It uses this space as extra RAM for temporary storage.

Since the program has too many features, it fills up this space too fast. After it fills up, your Mac suddenly becomes slow. This is why you need to understand how to clear scratch disk Photoshop. There are different ways to clear Photoshop cache and continue working smoothly.

Use the CleanMyMac app


When your scratch disk is full, Photoshop fails to work. It might display an error message on the screen that says it cannot open. The problem is easy to solve with just a few steps. The CleanMyMac app was developed to provide solutions for apps for macOS. The scratch disks are full Mac error is mainly caused by Photoshop temporary files. If the app fails to work and you force it to quit, it leaves large traces of files.

For instance, if you are working with videos, you will find a lot of video cache Mac. In the long run, you will have limited RAM, and your hard drive will soon be full. MacPaw has provided a detailed step-by-step guide on how to clear scratch disks. There are other different ways you can use to clean Mac hard disks.


Remove your Photoshop temporary files


Photoshop gathers a lot of caches as you work on your designs. With time, the temporary files begin to make the software run slowly. It is easy to learn how to delete scratch disk Photoshop cache. You can manually remove them using the inbuilt feature for removing the cache. To avoid losing your important files, close the application first.

  • Open the menu bar and then click Go to Folder.
  • In the box that opens, type /tmp
  • Click on all the files that start with Photoshop and end with .tmp
  • Move all of them to Trash. If the Trash folder is full, empty it to create more space.

Transfer the Photoshop scratch disk to another hard disk


Instead of deleting files to clear scratch disk Photoshop Mac, you can do a transfer. In this scenario, you can choose to use the same hard disk on Mac. Alternatively, you may decide to use an external one. If you choose to use the same disk, follow the right steps to create a new space.

  • Open the scratch disk and then edit
  • Click preferences and then choose scratch disk
  • Choose the drive or drives that you want to use as RAM

You can also use an external hard drive to solve Photoshop scratch disk full Mac errors. The best would be an SSD connected through a high-speed USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. This method will solve the problem but still, your scratch disk will fill soon. You must keep cleaning your RAM and hard drive often.

photoshop design


Change your Photoshop preferences


Apart from the scratch disks being full error, your Photoshop can encounter other errors. Due to this, your knowledge of how to empty scratch disks in Photoshop might fail to work. You can solve more than one issue by restoring Photoshop’s preferences. Once you reset, you restore the application to its original settings. This resolves many errors including the scratch disks are full error. There are other methods that will still work.

  • Remove your temporary files from the scratch disk space. Most of the temporary files found there are from Photoshop. Open the space and delete them.
  • Clean the entire Mac hard disk.
  • Replace your hard disk. If the hard disk space is limited, you can upgrade to a higher one. Replace it with 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and more



Photoshop needs a lot of space to work smoothly. When there is not enough space in RAM, it creates temporary storage in the hard drive. Still, the space can fill up fast if you are a busy designer. One of the best ways to clean your Mac disk space is to use the CleanMyMac app. You may also choose to delete temporary files in Photoshop. Also, you may choose to clean your hard disk or transfer the files to another hard drive.


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