“Photoshop could not be initialized because scratch disks are full”, “The default tools could not be loaded because scratch disks are full” … One of the most common errors in Photoshop in all its versions (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 …) is related to scratch disks. Specifically, the program does not allow certain actions to be carried out within the interface, such as adding new layers, applying filters, moving objects and elements, or changing the image mode. This error also affects the execution of the program, which sometimes Fails to initialize due to Photoshop virtual memory issues. This time we will solve this common problem through a series of methods that we will detail below.
Solution to “Photoshop could not be initialized because scratch disks are full”
One of the most frequent problems when interacting with certain Photoshop tools. The solution depends on the source of the problem, as there is no single method to remove the message from the program.
Solution 1: purge Photoshop virtual disks
That’s how it is. To clean the virtual memory of Photoshop we will have to click on the Edit menu that we can find in the top bar of the program. Once inside, click on Purge and then on All.
Photoshop will automatically delete all the elements that have been stored in the virtual disks that we have previously selected.
Solution 2: clear the system cache (Windows and Mac)
The second solution is to eliminate the cache of the operating system, which can be Windows or Mac. In the windows system, we will have to write the following command inside the Windows search box on the Start menu:
The program will then open a folder with all the temporary files generated during the session. We will only have to empty its content to eliminate the running Windows cache making sure before deleting the contents of the Recycle Bin. The way to proceed on Mac is similar. In this case, we will have to open Spotlight (Command + Space) and type the following command:
Now the system will open a folder whose content we will have to delete completely. Once moved to the Trash, we will delete the content of this definitively.
Solution to “The default tools could not be loaded because scratch disks are full”
Another of the most common problems related to Photoshop virtual disk memory is related to the message that presides over this paragraph and that appears when trying to run the program. Like the previous error, the solution depends on the source of the problem, so there is no common method.
Solution 1: reboot the system completely
Since we cannot access the program options, the simplest solution is to turn off the computer and turn it on again to force the purge of virtual memory. To do this, it is recommended to select the Shut down option instead of Restart. After 10 or 20 seconds, we can proceed to turn on the equipment to start Photoshop again.
Solution 2: change Photoshop scratch disk
Although the virtual memory crash in Photoshop is usually related to the free space of the hard disk, the truth is that the problem may be related to the speed of reading and writing. This problem is especially frequent in mechanical hard drives, so from your expert.com We recommend using an SSD or a portable hard drive with a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 connection or USB 3.0 or 3.1, although we can also resort to pendrive or memory cards with high read and write speeds.
After connecting any of these units to the computer, the next thing we will have to do is access Photoshop preferences through the Preferences menu. Next, we will click on Virtual memory disks, as can be seen in the following screenshot:
Finally, we will select the unit that we just connected. Notably This unit must have a compatible format for reading and writing the system.. On Windows, the supported format is NTFS, while on Mac it is APFS or Mac OS Plus Journaled.
And if Photoshop doesn’t run …
Changing scratch disks is only possible if we access the Photoshop interface. The problem is that certain errors related to virtual memory do not allow access to said interface. For it, we will have to force the execution of the program preferences through a series of keyboard commands.
In Windows, we will have to hold down the following key combination when opening the program:
To force the execution of the preferences in Photoshop for Mac we will have to apply the following combination:
In both cases, the program will enable the Scratch Disks tab that we have shown in the previous solution. The process for changing the scratch disk is the sameAll you have to do is connect an external memory or an external hard drive and select the unit in question through the relevant menu.