Photoshop: Working volume full – you can do that

Photoshop: Working volume full – you can do that

If you see the error message "Working volume full" in Photoshop, you cannot continue editing the image. Instead, you have to solve the problem first before you can continue working. We reveal what you can do when your Photoshop scratch disk is full.

The "Working Volume Full" error message in Photoshop indicates disk problems. This can always happen when the available hard disk space is too tight. Basically, it is advisable not to install Photoshop on the system partition, but on a separate partition with sufficient free space.

Because: due to many factors, such as updates, the storage space of the system hard drive sometimes fluctuates greatly – and then it can get tight for Photoshop. So first delete Photoshop's temporary memory.

Photoshop: Clear temporary storage

  1. Start Adobe Photoshop.
  2. Go to "Edit> Empty> Everything> OK".
  3. Confirm the deletion of the temporary data by clicking on "OK".

Certain files that can no longer be temporarily stored in the RAM are temporarily stored on the working volume, i.e. on a hard disk or SSD storage. But how much storage does Adobe recommend? As so often, that depends on personal needs. Basically:

  • For minor changes to the picture, at least 1.5 GB of storage space and twice the space of all files open at the same time are usually sufficient.
  • For extensive changes to dense pixel layers – multiple filters or editing large smart objects – you need a multiple of the original file size.

Clean up the hard drive and set another scratch disk

To avoid problems for the operating system, Photoshop always reserves 6 GB of space on startup drives and 1 GB on non-startup drives. Therefore, first delete files you no longer need on your scratch disk so that Photoshop has more storage space available. If you cannot free up enough storage space, you can also define a different working volume.

  1. Edit> Preferences> Scratch Disks (Windows) or Photoshop> Preferences> Scratch Disks (Mac).
  2. Enable or disable the desired scratch disk in the " Preferences" area.
  3. Use the arrow keys to change the order of the work volumes.
  4. Click OK to restart Photoshop and make your changes take effect.

In the Photoshop settings you can define a different working volume if you have space problems. Image: © Screenshot 2021

In some cases, Photoshop's preferences file can be corrupted, which can adversely affect the handling of work volume. In this case you can reset the default settings and then reconfigure. This will fix the "Scratch disk full" error. All you have to do is move the preferences file to another directory.

  • Windows: "User [username] AppDataRoamingAdobeAdobe Photoshop [version] Adobe Photoshop [version] settings"
  • macOS: Users / [username] / Library / Preferences /
    Adobe Photoshop [Version] Settings
  • The file is called: " * Adobe Photoshop [Version] Prefs.psp".

If you moved the file, Photoshop will create a new preferences file the next time you start it.

I can no longer open Photoshop – what now?

With Photoshop 2019 and older it can happen that you cannot open Photoshop at all due to the error. In this case you can define a new scratch disk using a key combination.

  • Windows: Hold down "Ctrl + Alt" at startup to set a new volume.
  • macOS: Hold Command + Option to define a new volume.


  • The error message "Working volume full" means that there is not enough free space for Photoshop.
  • Therefore, first delete any files you no longer need on your hard drive.
  • Also clear Photoshop's temporary storage.
  • Alternatively, you can also define a new working volume in the settings.
  • Resetting Photoshop preferences can also help.

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