How to Fix Screen Overlay Detected Error

App permission issues can cause this problem

Screen Overlay detected error

Akash Jaiswal / Twitter

The Screen Overlay Detected error is one of the most frustrating to encounter on your phone. It often appears when you're about to dive into a new app or make a purchase on a store. Then, suddenly, your phone stops you for what appears to be an arbitrary reason. Fortunately, getting around it is easy.

The instructions in this guide apply to Android 10 and later.

What Is the Screen Overlay Detected Error?

The Screen Overlay Detected error usually appears as a popup that reads: "To change this permission setting, you first have to turn off the screen overlay from Settings > Apps."

Although it provides you with a quick link to your device's settings and some basic instructions on how to fix it, the solution to this problem isn't immediately obvious, nor does it give you much detail on why it's blocking you in the first place.

Screen overlays are a function used by a number of applications to draw over other apps, which allows them to continue operating even if you have another app open. Think Facebook Messenger's chat heads, which can pop up when you're doing something else to let you know you received a message.

The function could be used maliciously to hide information from a user, tricking them into agreeing to, or paying for, something they didn't want to. The error message appears to ensure screen overlay is turned off before making important decisions on your device.

Which Devices are Affected by Screen Overlay Detected Errors?

Any device that supports screen overlays is susceptible to the Screen Overlay Detected error. Samsung and Lenovo devices commonly encounter it because they're popular, but any Android device has an equal chance of running into the problem.

This error has reportedly appeared since at least Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. How it appears and how it's fixed has changed over the years. Google introduced a much more streamlined system settings menu with Android 8.0 Oreo, making the problem much easier to counter.

How to Fix a Screen Overlay Detected Error

In order to bypass the Screen Overlay Detected error, you need to disable the draw overlay function of the app getting in the way. You can re-enable it later if you wish, or leave the function off permanently to hopefully avoid this problem in the future. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open Settings > Apps & Notifications.

  2. Open the Advanced options, then select Special app access.

  3. Select Display over other apps.

    You can access screen overlay settings in Apps & Notifications
  4. If you suspect you know which app is causing the screen overlay error, select that particular application and use the toggle to disable its ability to draw over other apps. If you're not sure which app is causing the issue, you may need to experiment.

Some commonly problematic applications noted to cause the Screen Overlay Detected error include Facebook Messenger, ES File Explorer, and Twilight, but there are likely many others as well.