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How to fix "Screen overlay detected" error

So, you’ve received the “screen overlay detected” message and have no idea what to do. Well, follow this step-by-step guide, and be troubled no longer.

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Error message “Screen overlay detected”: the cause

The problem: Android suddenly warns you that a screen overlay has been detected.

AndroidPIT screen overlay detected 1
The error message in question. / © AndroidPIT

The reason: This message appears when you’re running a floating app, and then start a newly installed one, which requests access rights. Floating apps include the chat heads of Facebook Messenger that can appear floating above other apps.

Affected Smartphones: Users across the internet have reported experiencing this problem on Samsung and Motorola smartphones. It seems likely to affect many manufacturers. AndroidPIT managed to replicate the behavior on a Vodafone and a Samsung smartphone.

Problem apps: We replicated the problem using Drupe, but CleanMaster, Lux and Twilight have all been blamed for the problem.

AndroidPIT screen overlay detected 2
Drupe is one of many apps that may be the cause of the error. / © AndroidPIT

The technical background: As a security measure, apps ask for permission to use certain parts of your phone (internal storage, camera, etc.). In theory, a display overlay can interfere with the dialogue requesting permission, so you need to disable the feature to interact with the dialogue.

The solution: a step-by-step fix

Step one: "Screen overlay detected" fix

Find you what apps have permission to draw over the screen. On a non-Samsung smartphone, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings
  • Tap the magnifying glass at the top right
  • Enter the search term “draw”
  • Tap Draw over other apps
  • Alternative route: Apps> [gear  icon]> Draw over other apps

For Samsung users:

  • Open the Settings
  • Then Applications > Application manager
  • Press on More > Apps that can appear on top
AndroidPIT screen overlay detected 3
How to find the settings for app overlays on a Samsung device. / © AndroidPIT

Step two

You will find yourself in front of a list of apps that have permission to use floating buttons or other screen overlays. Now you need to identify the problem app and temporarily deny it permission to draw over the screen. Here is are some pointers on how to identify the app that’s causing trouble:

  • Do you see an app bubble on your screen? If do, this app is almost certainly the cause. Either you hide the app bubble or disable the app in the list
  • Do you have an app installed that changes the colors on the display or adjusts the brightness?
  • Reportedly, Clean Master can be a trouble maker. If you see Clean Master in the list, disable it
  • If there’s no obvious cause, disable everything
AndroidPIT screen overlay detected 4
The list of apps that are allowed overlay permissions. / © AndroidPIT

Step three

Now you can try launching the app again, and it should request permissions without the “Display overlay detected” error getting in the way.

For Samsung users: We have also received a report that suggests the one-handed keyboard setting could be the root cause. Deactivate it by going to Settings> Advanced features > One-handed operation.

AndroidPIT screen overlay detected 5
Drupe can also be a victim of the screen overlay error, but here it is fixed. / © AndroidPIT

Step four: reactivate screen overlays

In order for the app(s) that you have disabled in step two to work again, you need to re-enable its overlay permissions. If you turned off all apps, it might be worth considering only reactivating those apps that you actually use.

This is a rather inelegant workaround, but it's the best we have until Google makes the necessary changes to prevent app overlays from interfering with permission dialogues.

Has this guide helped? If you are still experiencing the error after following our guide, leave a comment, so we can try and address the problem.

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  • Uninstalling ES File explorer worked for me... probably won't install it again!

  • I don't have ES explorer but I keep getting the screen overlay stuff, it's really frustrating me. Any more advice??

  • Joe B 1 week ago Link to comment

    It was ES File Explorer for me too, and when i uninstalled it the messages disappeared. They had started to really bug me and i could not work out what was wrong. i tried disabling all the apps as suggested above but the problem persisted, uninstalling ES File Explorer did the trick. Thanks to all who brought this issue up and shared experiences

  • Solution: Uninstall/disable ES File Explorer. It worked for me, thanks to all who commented earlier this month.

  • I struggled for hrs to come out of screen overlay problem on my Lenovo k5 note but after uninstalling ES file explorer shit my phone is ok now. I WL never again install it.

  • Very Easy SOLUTION. Just go to Settings -> Apps -> Configure Apps -> App Permissions

    Then select on the list, Then Turn ON all the apps permission..

    • OK, I do it, and it say again like "screen overlay detected, deny it first..." Such endless cycle. Eventually, I got tired of it, and I did a full reset of that shit phone. And it works for now.

  • I trying to fix this trouble at Nomi i4510 with Android 6, I have denied permissions to draw over the screen for all apps, including system ones, but no effect. It still say "screen overlay detected". No extra apps installed except Viber. What's more?

  • Thank you. For me like many others uninstalling ES File Explorer fixed the problem.

  • Thank you for this article. This was a major problem for me and has been driving me crazy ever since I purchased my cell phone at the beginning of the year

  • ES File Explorer was the problem for me. This was driving me nuts and after reading a couple of articles I remembered one of the last apps that I installed that might be causing the problem. I UNINSTALLED that file explorer and everything is working fine. What a crappy friggin app ... I won't be installing it back any time soon.

  • That Es file Explorer was the issue for me as well. Will install it back once I can find nougat update

    Thank you.

  • After trying almost everything with no success, I found the issue: I disabled ES File Manager Swipe function and worked!

  • To me, the issue was persisting even after restricting all the apps to "Draw over other apps". Then, I uninstalled ES file manager, and the problem got resolved. So, if the above steps didn't work, do uninstall all the file management apps and try again. will work mostly..!!

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