Backup Header Below

How to fix “Screen overlay detected” error

If "screen overlay detected" has suddenly popped up on your smartphone's screen, you're in the right place. Here we'll explain why this message is appearing, and how to make it go away. Follow this step-by-step guide to handle it the right way.

Error message “Screen overlay detected”: the cause

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

The reason: This message appears when you’re running a floating app, and then start a newly installed one, which requests access rights. Common 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, among others. AndroidPIT managed to replicate the behavior on a Vodafone and a Samsung smartphone.

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

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 out 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. / © NextPit

Step two: check app permissions

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 are some pointers on how to identify the app that’s causing the trouble:

Do you see an app bubble on your screen? If so, 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. / © NextPit

Step three: re-try the app

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.

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 only the apps that you actually use.

Step five: use safe mode

If the above steps don’t work, there’s an additional step you can take to try and fix the issue. This requires you to use the “safe mode” Android feature to manage the app permissions.

This method requires you to remember the app you’re having these issues with. (e.g., if it’s WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger).

First, press the power button of your phone.

Press and hold the Power Off option on the pop up prompt.

After holding it for a few seconds, another prompt pops up, asking you to enable Safe Mode. 

Choose OK, the device will reboot in Safe Mode.

Now, when your phone has turned on, go to Settings, and then to Apps.

Here, scroll down and find the app that suffered from the screen overlay problem, select it.

On the app page, select Permissions.

On the Permissions page, enable all the permissions the app was asking previously. 

After this is done, reboot the phone.

It’s 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. Newer versions of Android don’t appear to suffer significantly from this problem, and it seems to be mainly reported by users of Android Marshmallow. 

App-based solutions

There are a couple of apps that exist to address this issue. Because it involves downloading additional software and displaying ads, we still recommend to first try the manual solution detailed above. Still, if it does not work, it could be worth giving these apps a try.

Install Button Unlocker

There’s an app called Install Button Unlocker that unlocks the install button caused by the screen overlay error. 

Install Button Unlocker

Install on Google Play

When you activate this app, you’ll be asked to allow it access and permission to draw over other apps which is required for it to override issues caused by other apps. Once the Install Button Unlocker is activated, re-try the activities that were previously affected by the overlay error. If it’s working correctly, the error should no longer occur.

Alert Window Checker

Then there’s Alert Window Checker, which checks if any app is using screen overlay permission.


Other Press Releases