How to turn off screen overlay on Samsung Galaxy S8

There's an interesting issue that crops up now and then on Samsung Galaxy phones pertaining to "screen overlay" settings preventing you from using some apps. It's an issue most people aren't used to seeing all that often, and to be fair the settings for screen overlay are deep and not explained very well.

The issue has been mitigated some in the last year, it seems, but the settings remain in the Galaxy S8 in case you're running into issues running some apps and seeing this screen overlay error message. Here's how you can fix it.

To provide a bit of background, "screen overlay" is the system by which an app can overlay elements on top of other apps. The most popular example would be Facebook Messenger's "Chat Heads" feature that lets little bubbles persist as you change apps, but other apps can use the feature in many ways. These apps need your permission to run screen overlays for security reasons — for example, an unwanted app could put a button on top of another button, unbeknownst to you, getting you to select something you didn't mean to.

You may run into situations in which you'll have to head into your settings to enable screen overlay so an app like Facebook Messenger can provide a feature, but more likely to happen seemingly randomly is the requirement to disable screen overlay so the foreground app can work properly. In either case, here's how you can manage screen overlay on an app-by-app basis so everything works.

How to turn on or off screen overlay

  1. Launch Settings from your home screen.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Apps.
  3. Tap the overflow menu button in the top-right corner and tap Special access.
  4. See how this is confusing? "Screen overlay" wording isn't used consistently.
  5. Or, to keep screen overlay enabled, tap the toggle to turn it back on again.

Now in the case of needing to enable screen overlay for an app, you'll have a good idea of which app to toggle on. But in the case of needing to disable screen overlay to use a different app, you may have to play the guessing game a bit. Toggle off apps one by one as you go back to the primary app you're trying to use, and you'll eventually find the culprit.

Unfortunately due to the security concerns highlighted above, there's no full-on "fix" for the issue of screen overlays blocking the use of other apps. If the app you're using doesn't permit the use of screen overlay while running, you'll just have to use these toggles more frequently.

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below if you continue to have these problems on your own Galaxy S8.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

9 Comments
  • I get this problem so often on my Note 5 running Android 6.
  • It does also happened when I was using the Samsung J7 2016, when I was downloading that assistive-ball-like from the third party app.....
  • One of the problems that may occur when installing a new app on an Android device relates to this “Screen overlay detected” problem
  • This is a very poorly written article for a very annoying problem. I was hoping it would definitely answer questions but it wasn't helpful in the slightest. The biggest problem I encounter is that some apps insist I turn Screen Overlay OFF for or the new app won't work. In the past, I used to turn off the option on all apps, run the new app, then turn them back on and everything worked fine. But, it was such a pain in the ass I no longer bother with apps that ask me to do this. Instead, I just delete them. The biggest troublemaker for me was always Twilight. I'll never install that app again it caused me so much frustration.
  • Yes, the blue light filter apps were what I found presented a PIA.
  • I must really be in the minority here... I have no idea what this article is about and the explanation is completely useless. Maybe he should have posted a video of this so as to make sense. Things must be getting pretty dull in Android land to have to post articles that only highly technical people understand. I really like my s8 and have had absolutely no issues with it. That's all I need to know!!
  • "The biggest problem I encounter is that some apps insist I turn Screen Overlay OFF for or the new app won't work. In the past, I used to turn off the option on all apps, run the new app, then turn them back on and everything worked fine. But, it was such a pain in the ass I no longer bother with apps that ask me to do this. Instead, I just delete them." Honestly, do people enjoy this SO much that they would rather do Frankenstein fixes like this to use a device, vs something that just works, like iPhone?
    I am using the iPhone 7 while I wait for the Note 8, but when I see articles like this, and Frankenstein fixes like the one above makes me wonder if I even WANT to deal with garbage like that.
    So I can't move icons around or use real widgets, but in return, everything works, ALL THE TIME. I haven't had a Single issue over the last several months. Everything is fast as can be and buttery smooth and I don't have to do dumb crap like Turn this off , install this , cancel that, re-enable that and "Sometimes" it worked....
    A Good OS needs this kind of upkeep? really?
  • In one word...YES. I'd put up with that and a lot more rather than feel claustrophobic with IOS.
  • My Droid Turbo did this horribly when I had to use it recently.