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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.

460 comments

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  • 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..!!

  • I have tried absolutely everything and nothing seems to work. Every time an app wants to access my photos or use my location or anything like that it says "give permission for location" and I click yes and then the screen overlay thing pops up and says I have to get rid of that or I can't allow my location. I don't know what to do but I know it is really frustrating me because it restricts me from doing simple things like using snapchat and sending photos on Facebook. PLEASE FIND ME A SOLUTION

  • For me the culprit was es file manager... When i uninstalled it, sreen overlay problem gone😀😀😀

  • Worked perfectly on my Xperia X compact!
    Looks buggy (button in "deactivated gray") but sure did The trick :)

  • I tried all steps but doesn't work.
    Finally I reset my device. Still error is there. I fade up with this.

  • I must report that the steps listed above have failed me miserably. I have a new Samsung j3 and I have turned them all off n i still get the screen overlay detected message. Please help me out if possible.

  • I agree, I have the Vodafone smart ultra 6 and this new feature to it I dislike very much. Can't it just be removed?. Apps have worked over other apps on here before. I tried the all ways I've seen on here so far and nothing. Its taken 4 hours to be able to take a photo of time sheet to send for work. Sorry if this is all easy for geek's, but I build buildings not apps

  • I followed the whole procedure and no apps have screen overlay permission now. It made no difference. It's a Simbans Presto tablet with Marshmallow. Same problem with every file manager I've tried, including ES Explorer, X-plore, and File Manager Plus.

  • i have assistive touch app, i disable draw other apps and the screen overlay problem gone, thanks for the tips😸

  • Hi, I have an itel1513 android 6.0 marshmallow. I've tried everything and still can't fix the Screen overlay error problem?? Please help me. Thank youx

    • All of you guys can solve this problem by a very simple step first switch off your phone then again switch on your phone with long pressing the volume down key then your phone work in safe mode after it you can give all permission to your apps then switch off your phone and again switch on your phone without pressing any key thanks for reading and go for it if you like pls like it

      • Thank you. I tried all the steps listed above for my Samsung S5. No apps showed overlay permissions so that didn't work. I couldn't find one handed operation so that didn't work. Booting in safe mode, setting permissions, then rebooting did the trick. Thanks for sharing.

  • Du battery saver is one of the culprit for this error, just press force stop it will be fine.

  • For me, it was CM Locker that caused the overlay. This sucks because the built-in phone security lock app in my Samsung S5 has a tendency to freeze and not allow me to unlock it so I don't use it.

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