Disable favicons in Firefox and Safari

If you’ve used a web browser for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with favicons—those small 16-by-16-pixel images that appear to the left of the site’s address in the URL bar. While many people, myself included, like this little touch of personalization in the URL bar, others would prefer not to see them. Perhaps these users find them ugly, or notice that they can slow down the opening of the bookmarks menu. But whatever the reason, if you dislike favicons, today’s tip explains how to disable them in both Safari (3 and 4 Beta) and Firefox.

To disable favicons in Firefox, open the browser and type about:config into the URL bar, then press Return. You may then see a warning about how modifying advanced settings may void your warranty; click the “I’ll be careful, I promise” button to proceed anyway. You’ll now be looking at a long list of preferences, along with their status, type, and value. In the Filter box above the list, type browser.chrome; this will greatly shorten the list of preferences.

In the resulting list, double-click on browser.chrome.favicons to change its value from true to false. Then double-click on browser.chrome.site_icons, to set that preference to false, too. That’s it; you’re done. From now on, you’ll no longer see favicons as you surf the net.

To reset things to normal, just reverse the process—go back into about:config and double-click the same two preferences again to set them back to true.

For Safari, first quit the browser, then open Terminal (in Applications -> Utilities), and type this command:

defaults write.com.apple.Safari WebIconDatabaseEnabled -bool NO

Relaunch Safari, and you’ll be browsing favicon-free. To undo this trick in Safari, quit the browser, open Terminal again, and repeat the above command, but replace NO with YES. I’ve tested the solutions in both Firefox and Safari, and they work as described—though I did reverse the settings after testing, as I really do prefer to see the favicons.

Thanks to macosxhints readers bdash and dangil for these tips.

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