What Is The Overlay In Discord?
Last Updated: September 26, 2020
The overlay in Discord is a graphical layer that can be added to some games that enables you to interact on Discord while playing. If you use a single monitor and still want to follow chat topics, see incoming calls or notifications, the Discord overlay makes it happen. It doesn’t work with every game and doesn’t work well with some games but the majority of AAA titles have some support for the Discord overlay.
You may already have seen an overlay notification if you had Discord running in the background while opening up a game. You will see a small blue notification in the top left of your screen telling you that the overlay is available.
Enable the Discord overlay
As far as I know, the Discord overlay is enabled by default but you can easily check. You can control many aspects of the overlay from the User Settings menu in Discord, including whether to use it at all or not.
- Log into Discord as usual.
- Select User Settings from the gear icon by your username.
- Select Overlay from the left menu.
- Check ‘Enable in-game overlay’ is set to the on position.
Now you will definitely see the overlay notification if you have Discord running and start a game!
There is one more setting you need to configure to fully utilize the Discord overlay.
- Select Game Activity from the left menu in Discord.
- Select a game under Added Games.
- Select the screen icon to the right of a game to enable or disable the overlay in particular games.
Here you can control what games use the overlay and which cannot. The overlay doesn’t work for every game and isn’t relevant to other games. It is here that you can tweak which works and which do not.
Configure the Discord overlay
While you’re in the Overlay menu in the app, you can control several aspects of how the feature works. You can make things small, change how display names are displayed on screen, control whether usernames are always displayed or not and control where the overlay appears. Scroll down the page to change where the overlay initially appears.
You can also pin overlay elements to a screen so you can further tweak how it works. When a Discord screen element appears in game, you can select the small pin icon in the top right of each window to keep it on the screen. Used sparingly, this can keep a chat window open while you’re gaming so you can follow and contribute to, conversations.
Troubleshooting the Discord overlay
The Discord overlay is pretty good if you like that kind of interaction in-game. It isn’t perfect though and the official Discord overlay page has a whole list of games it won’t work properly with. There is also a note saying that enabling the overlay can cause some antivirus products to think it’s a virus. It isn’t and those alerts are just false positives.
Games that don’t work properly with the Discord overlay include:
- Destiny 2
- Arma 3
- Minecraft Windows 10 Edition
- The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Final Fantasy XIV
- Overwatch: Origins Edition
- Forza Horizon 3
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Street Fighter V
- Call of Duty: WWII
- Ragnarok Online
- Elite Dangerous
- PlanetSide 2
If your Discord overlay is enabled and not working properly, try one of these fixes.
Whitelist with your antivirus
Most antivirus will now recognize Discord and work properly but it’s a good idea to check. Open your antivirus and look in the virus chest, quarantine zone or whatever your particular antivirus calls it. You’re looking for the files the program considered suspicious and stopped. You should see an option to add an exception or to whitelist the application. Do that and retry.
Disable hardware acceleration
Hardware acceleration uses your GPU to help drive the Discord overlay. If your GPU is busy drawing your game, it may not render the overlay properly. It’s worth trying it without hardware acceleration. Select User Settings and Appearance and toggle Hardware Acceleration off.
Run Discord as administrator
No part of Discord requires administrator access once installed but a few people have said that using it with admin privileges got the overlay working properly. This will only work on the Windows desktop app. It’s worth a try as your only other option is to remove and reinstall Discord…
- Shut down Discord.
- Right click the Discord executable file and select Run As Administrator.
If that works, right click the Discord executable again and select Properties. Select the Compatibility tab, check the box next to Run as Administrator and select OK. This will run it with admin privileges permanently.