Some Windows 11 users have complained of a strange overlay over the search icon on the taskbar. I can confirm that this screen overlay appears intermittently at random times. On most occasions, the overlay comes on after I have clicked on the search box to search for apps or files on the computer. The strangest part is that if you hover over the overlay, you will get a spinning wheel. The spinning wheel remains in the overlay part.
And, you will be unable to make use of the screen part of overlay for anything. Your mouse freezes in the overlay. You are unable to make use of keyboard. It just becomes a dead zone on the screen. It would appear that the screen overlay over the search option on the Windows 11 taskbar becomes a dead zone. The processing thread seems to be waiting for something to load fully. It has the characteristics of a classic hanged program or hanged thread on the Windows 11 operating system. The screen capture below shows you the overlay. You will notice that it sits right on top of the search icon of taskbar. The size and position of the overlay remains same at all times. I can confirm that this is a big annoyance.
In the initial period, I was unable to make sense of this overlay. At first, it appeared that the system had hanged. However, it turned out that only the small overlay part corresponding to the search box popup was affected. Restarting the system did take care of the issue, as the overlay disappeared upon restarting.
But, the issue returns as and when you make use of the search box multiple times. So, restarting the system every time did not make any sense or justification. Clearly, one of the file explorer threads hangs and causes a sectional freeze on the screen. And, from the frequency and impact of this issue, it looks like a bug on the Microsoft Windows 11. I can live with it, provided it offers minimal disruption. So, I have been looking at ways to get rid of the overlay or remove it altogether from the system.
Disable search history on the search icon of Windows 11 taskbar
It turns out that the blank overlay over the search icon on the Windows 11 taskbar is actually the search history popup. When you hover the mouse over the search icon, Windows 11 will bring up a small popup with the search history of the file explorer or file operations.
To remove the blank overlay issue, we will disable the search history on the search icon of the Windows 11 taskbar. This search history has got nothing to do with your browser’s Internet history. This search history is your file explorer or Windows explorer search history.
To disable the search history on the Windows 11 computer, please follow the steps below:
- Open the System applet through the control panel. Or, you may search for ‘System’ on the search box to bring up the options on the system.
- Click on ‘Personalization’ on the left part of the screen.
- Click on ‘Taskbar’ to bring up the taskbar customization screen.
- Click on ‘Taskbar behaviors’ and uncheck the option next to ‘Show recent searches when I hover over the search icon’.
The image below shows you the screen on which you are supposed to make the change to let go of the search history on the search box on the taskbar.
If this does not resolve the issue, you may follow with further tweaks, given below.
How do I get rid of overlay over search box on Windows 11 taskbar?
Disabling the search history on the Windows 11 taskbar search should resolve the issue. However, if you do not wish to disable the search history due to any reason, then we can move on to the next step of resolution.
The blank and non-responsive overlay over the search box on the Windows 11 taskbar can be killed through the Task Manager. This issue appears to be related to File explorer of Windows 11. So, restarting the File explorer from the Windows 11 task manager resolves the issue immediately.
Here is a list of steps you need to undertake to bring up the file explorer in the task manager and force a restart of the file explorer.
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Del keys to bring up the login options. Choose task manager to open the task threads and processes that are running on the system. Alternatively, type ‘Task manager’ on the search box of taskbar on Windows 11 computer.
- In the task manager, look for the processes under ‘Windows explorer’. You will, normally, see Windows folder icon in front of the Windows explorer threads.
- Select Windows explorer and right click on it. This will bring up the context menu on the task manager. This context menu is specific to the options available to manage the Windows explorer threads.
- Choose ‘restart’ to force a restart of the Windows explorer threads on the task manager.
- Upon successful restart of the task manager thread corresponding to Windows explorer, you will notice that the screen overlay over the search box disappears. Full functionality of the screen area is restored. Mouse and keyboard work fine on the zone where the overlay existed.
- From the look and effect of this overlay, it does appear that this is a bug on the implementation of Windows file explorer.
- Until the bug gets taken care of in the future updates of Microsoft, restarting the file explorer from the task manager is the quickest and hassle free way to kill the non-responsive overlay on the search box over taskbar on Windows 11 computer.
We genuinely hope that Microsoft will address this irritating issue of the screen overlay in one of the future updates of the operating system.
However, it may not be a bad idea to check your system configuration to see if the processor or memory on your computer is getting maxed out. You can do so by checking the task manager data for the processor and memory.
Are system resources causing the screen overlay?
It may be a good idea to check the following and ensure that the system resources are not causing the frozen screen overlay:
- Check the memory usage on the task manager.
- Check the CPU usage on the task manager.
- Also, you may want to see if a browser extension is causing the consumption of system resources on a Windows 11 computer. I would suggest disabling the browser extensions and notice the behavior of the search box on task manager.
- In some cases, your computer resources may be held up in one of the Chrome or browser threads. Within the task manager, validate if you have a Chrome or Edge thread that is consuming too many resources of memory or the CPU. If you see a browser thread that is consuming higher than usual resources, try to kill that particular process or thread of the Chrome or edge browser.
In most cases, you can live with this screen overlay. It is an annoyance for sure.
Windows 11 users have had experience of getting a small non-responsive overlay over the search icon of task bar. This overlay becomes a dead part of the overall screen. To get rid of this frozen screen overlay, restart the file explorer from the task manager of Windows 11 computer.
You may also want to read the following related content of Windows 11:
- Restore Windows 11 taskbar and Start to Windows 10 type
- Apple AirPods soft sound after Windows 11 update
- Windows 11 widgets not working
- Can I disable Windows 11 S mode?
- How to remove the mica effect from Windows 11
- No sound issue after Windows 11 update
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Rajesh Dhawan is a technology professional who loves to blog about smart wearables, Cloud computing and Microsoft technologies. He loves to break complex problems into manageable chunks of meaningful information.