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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.

429 comments

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  • I have been suffering with the screen overlay issue for some time after buying a redmi note 4....thanks to Android pit I was able to solve the problem... You guys rock!!

  • Registered just to let it be known that in addition to security apps, it seems that apps that "boost" phone performance cause this message to come up too. If you force stop or uninstall the App, the screen overlay message will not come up.

  • Found a solution that worked for Sony XA ultra. It may work for other devices.

    1.Settings
    2. Apps
    3. Gear icon (top right)
    4. Draw over other Apps
    5. Options (three-dots button top right)
    6. Reset APP Preferences
    7. Tap Reset Apps in confirmation

  • I did this, step by step with want is said here and other places, and yet, it is still telling me to turn off the screen overlay. HTC One M8. Recent apps, Transformers, Arrow, Navy Federal, Youtube Studio, Hellofresh, SiriusXM. Error was discovered while trying to use Youtube Studio app. I'll go and uninstall that to see if it is the fault. (moments later) I have restarted the phone and the error went away. However, reading further in the comments while waiting for the phone to reboot, turning off all the overlay permissions REQUIRES A RESTART of the phone. So.... either one of these fixed my phone. It works now.

  • My screen overlay is not disabling

  • *Galaxy s6 Edge - I tried it all of the above and nothing worked. Finally, I found the app causing the problem. I had the "360 Security - Antivirus Boost" app installed and notice under permissions allowed it had all the permissions ON so automatically I realized the app causing the "Screen Overlay" so I immediately uninstalled the app and guess what...the darn "Screen Overlay Detected" message was gone!

    • Thank you this worked for me after days of trying

    • I didn't notice the "all the permissions ON" setting of 360 Security, but after turning all the screen overlay programs to off, restarting my phone and still having the error, I just took a guess at what might be causing the problem and uninstalled 360 Security and it fixed my problem too. I'll look for another virus scanner now. 360 Security has too many 'features' creates too many messages to clean my phone and is covered in adverts.

  • I disabled all my apps but my phone still won't give permission for location access and says there's still an overlay somewhere. I'm getting really pissed off and don't know what to do. PLEASE HELP!!! None of these methods are working!!!!

    • Same happened with me. Then I found that I had enabled ES Swipe in ESFile Explorer and disabling from Es file explorer made this error away. Even when I disabled it in the draw over app settings it didn't worked, so I suggest you check if you have enabled any apps swipe settings disable it from that app and try again.

  • I've noted and disabled all the the apps that draw over screen accept the ones that are blocked like systems apps but still I'm unable to give permission. I'm really frustrated now as I can't even save a contact in my phone as it requires permission to storage which I'm unable to give.
    Any other suggestions?

  • I can't get passed step 1 on my phone (Motorola Droid Maxx 2). I put in "draw" and it acts like it's trying to find a wifi connection. Does anyone know how to fix overlay screen problems on this phone? Nothing so far will open.

  • I uninstalled 360 security and it worked and then reinstalled it

  • Mine was 360 security. I'm pretty tech savvy and I even broke down and called samsung and they were no help. So I factory reset my phone and the problem was still their. I read some comments and deleted 360 security and Its back to normal. Thanks everyone

    • Thank you so much, Ohmboy! Uninstalling 360 did the trick. My recently acquired Samsung phone was almost rendered unusable by this—well, that's maybe exaggerating a bit, but I couldn't even use Skype, so it was pretty bad. I guess I'll be looking around for another anti-virus app to replace 360 now...

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