Scratch disks, plug‑ins, and application updates

About scratch disks

When your system does not have enough RAM to perform an operation, Photoshop Elements uses scratch disks. A scratch disk is any drive or partition of a drive with free memory. By default, Photoshop Elements uses the hard drive on which the operating system is installed as its primary scratch disk.

You can change the primary scratch disk, or designate additional scratch disks. When the primary disk is full, additional scratch disks are used. Set your fastest hard disk as your primary scratch disk. Ensure that the disk has plenty of defragmented space available.

For best performance, use the following guidelines when assigning scratch disks:

  • Do no create scratch disks on the same physical drive as Photoshop Elements or any large files you are editing.

  • Do not create scratch disks on the same physical drive as the one used for the operating system’s virtual memory.

  • Create scratch disks on a local drive, not a network location.

  • Create scratch disks on conventional (non-removable) media.

  • RAID disks/disk arrays are good choices for dedicated scratch disk volumes.

  • Defragment drives with scratch disks regularly. Or better yet, use an empty drive or a drive with plenty of unused space, to avoid fragmentation issues.

Change scratch disks

Photoshop Elements needs contiguous hard drive space to create a scratch disk. Frequently defragmenting your hard drive ensures that there is contiguous space available, especially the disk containing your scratch disk. Adobe recommends that you use a disk tool utility, such as Windows Disk Defragmenter, to defragment your hard drive on a regular basis. See your Windows documentation for information on defragmentation utilities.

  1. In Windows, choose Edit > Preferences > Performance. In Mac, choose, Photoshop Elements > Preferences > Performance.
  2. Select the desired disks from the Scratch Disks listing (you can assign up to four scratch disks).

  3. Select a scratch disk and use the arrow keys next to the Scratch Disks list to rearrange the order in which scratch disks will be used.

  4. Click OK, and restart Photoshop Elements for the change to take effect.

About plug‑in modules

Adobe Systems and other software developers create plug-ins to add functionality to Photoshop Elements. A number of importing, exporting, and special-effects plug‑ins come with your program; they are inside the Photoshop Elements plug‑ins and optional plug‑ins folders.

Once installed, plug‑in modules appear as:

  • Options added to the Import or Export menu
  • Filters added to the Filter menu, or,
  • File formats in the Open and Save As dialog boxes.

If you install a large number of plug‑ins, Photoshop Elements may not be able to list them all in their appropriate menus. If so, newly installed plug‑ins appear in the Filter > Other submenu. To prevent a plug‑in or folder of plug‑ins from loading, add a tilde character (~) at the beginning of the plug‑in name, folder, or directory. The program ignores files marked with a tilde character, while starting. To view information about installed plug‑ins, choose Help > About Plug‑In and select a plug‑in from the submenu.


To use an optional plug-in module, copy the plug-in module from the optional plug-ins folder to the relevant subfolder in the plug-ins folder. Then, install the plug-in module, and relaunch Photoshop Elements.

You can select an additional plug‑ins folder in which to load compatible plug‑ins stored with another application. You can also create a shortcut for a plug‑in stored in another folder on your system. You can then add the shortcut or alias to the plug‑ins folder to use that plug‑in with Photoshop Elements.

Install plug‑in modules

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Use the plug‑in installer, if provided.
    • Follow the installation instructions that came with the plug‑in module.
    • Make sure the plug‑in files are uncompressed, and then copy them to the appropriate plug‑ins folder in the Photoshop Elements folder.

Select an additional plug‑ins folder

You can select an additional plug‑ins folder in which to load compatible plug‑ins stored with another application.

  1. In Windows, choose Edit > Preferences > Plug‑Ins. In Mac, choose Photoshop Elements > Preferences > Plug‑Ins.
  2. In the Preferences dialog, select Additional Plug‑Ins Folder, select a folder from the list, and click Choose.

  3. To display the contents of a folder, double-click the directory. The path to the folder appears in the preferences window.

    Do not select a location inside the plug‑ins folder for Photoshop Elements.

  4. Restart Photoshop Elements to load the plug‑ins.

Load default plug-ins only

When Photoshop Elements starts, all plug-ins that are pre-installed, third-party, or located in additional plugins-folders, are loaded. To load only the preinstalled plug-ins Photoshop Elements was shipped with, press and hold the Shift key while starting the software. When asked, click yes on the dialog that requests confirmation to skip loading optional and third-party plug-ins.

Application Updates


Application Update options are not available in the Windows Application Store version of Photoshop Elements.

Application update options in the Preferences dialog

You get to decide when an application update is installed. In Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements, and Elements Organizer, you have the option to set what to do when an application update is available from Adobe.

To access the update dialog, press Ctrl/Cmd + K to open the Preferences dialog, browse to the Application Updates tab, and then make a choice:

  • Automatically download and install updates: Downloads an available update and installs it when you next restart your application.
  • Notify me when an update is available: Notifies the user about an available update in the application. You can choose to delay an update or use the notification to start the update process.
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