I am using Safari on macOS Sierra. I have added several commonly-used sites to my favorites section, like so:

My favorites icons

(there are 10 icons, and all but 2 of them are displayed as the proper, correct icon from the site. For example, the Wikipedia icon has the large W icon. However, for Google Drive and Gmail, the icons are just big, ugly, generic G's)

I would like for the two Google sites to correctly display their icons as well. At first, I thought it was because all 8 of the "correctly displayed" sites had successfully configured their "Safari settings" or something like that, while Google failed to do this (although this doesn't sound too plausible).

However, if I instead go to the top menu in Safari, click Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks, I get the following:

My bookmarks list

Strangely, this time, the two Google sites do have correctly displayed icons, while it is instead three other sites (out of the 10) that aren't displayed: namely Wikipedia, Amazon, and New York Times.

So it seems that there are two sets of icons, "big" and "small", and for big icons, Google Drive and Gmail are not displayed correctly, while the other 8 are, and on the other hand, for small icons, Google Drive and Gmail are displayed correctly, while Wikipedia, Amazon, and NYTimes are not.

I actually don't care too much about the small icons, but I would really like for all the big icons to display correctly. How can I do that?

# Fix Safari Favorites Icons

CS="cache_settings"; TIC="Touch Icons Cache"; DIR="$HOME/Library/Safari/$TIC/Images"
DB="$DIR/../${${TIC// }%%s*}${${(C)CS}//_}.db"; SQL=$(sqlite3 "$DB" "SELECT host FROM $CS")
sqlite3 "$DB" "UPDATE $CS SET ${${${(L)TIC// /_}#*_}//s/_is_in}=1, download_status_flags=1"
for png in "$1"/*.png; do URL="$(plutil -convert xml1 -o - "$DIR/../../Bookmarks.plist" | \
awk -F '[</>]' -v name="${${png##*/}%%.*}" '$3~name{getline;getline;getline;print $5}')"; \
cp -f -v "$png" "$DIR/${(U)$(md5 -q -s $URL)}.png"; done; chflags -v uappnd $DIR $DB

From here: https://gist.github.com/dardo82/f7cc7c5c864fb5afa04bb12ecbcf3a9f

The script takes a folder with the missing touch icons as its only argument.

Each favicon needs to have the same name as the bookmark associated with it.

The newly updated gist works with Safari 13 but now if you clear the browser cache the added favicons disappear in the new tab and reappear upon restart!

  • 1
    this is a fix nice and simple fix. I was confused about how to use the script at first before reading this answer more carefully, but I'll describe explicitly an example for those of us like me who rarely run shell scripts: if, say the bookmark named "Gmail" is not displaying an icon, download any suitable icon, such as this, put it in some folder such as ~/Desktop, cd to that folder, rename the file "Gmail.png" then do "zsh fixicon", where fixicon is a text file containing the script above, and has been "chmod +x"ed.
    – xdavidliu
    Dec 15 '17 at 9:58
  • Yes,you are right,thanks for taking the time to me more verbose than me...
    – dardo82
    Dec 16 '17 at 9:15
  • If someone is wondering it still works, at least on my machine using OSX 10.13.6 and Safari 13.1.2
    – dardo82
    Oct 26 at 0:04

Here's a hack that works very nicely (it takes a moderate amount of simple image manipulation though. Also, see a note at the very bottom of this answer in order not to completely lose this fix and have to redo it). it seems that the issue is that the the icons given by the websites were designed for the bookmark bar, which has smaller icons, and not the safari favorites screen, which has larger icons (at least 144 x 144).

The icons themselves are stored in ~/Library/Safari/Touch Icons Cache/Images/, with very long names (something like "908F6BBF6DA814ABAF917C4E7BB9E36F.png"). When a new Favorite is added (say New York Times, in the case of the original question), and the icon correctly displays in the Favorites screen, then a 144 x 144 png file appears in the aforementioned Cache folder, and everything's good and spiffy. However, if, say Gmail is added, and a big ugly, non-descript G appears instead of the nice Gmail icon, then that means a tiny png (designed for a bookmark bar instead of favorite screen) appeared in the Cache folder. (alternatively, if not even an incorrect tiny png appears in that folder, simply favorite another "decoy" site that does make a png file appear, perform the following, and then modify the Name and URL of the favorite later).

So in order to correct the icon, simply create another png that has the correct 144 x 144 resolution (see note below), then use that created png to replace the tiny "incorrect" file in the Touch Icons Cache folder, making sure to keep the long filename constant. Exit out of Safari (Command-Q) and restart, and the icon appears perfectly, as so:

Fixed favorites screen

Note that Gmail and Google Drive now have the correct icons. I had to do the same thing for The Economist as well, since that site also did not provide a proper 144 x 144 favicon.

For a very simple way of creating a 144 x 144 icon using just Preview, simply download a high-res image of the icon (Gmail, Google Drive), or whatever, open in preview, then tools->adjust size to 144 width. Now put this image aside and call it "image A". Note that transparency sometimes causes trouble for safari favicons (e.g. if a region of a picture is colorless, the color actually displayed in those regions might be inconsistent). If this happens, we can make a white background. To do this, simply do command-shift-4 and drag a rectangular portion of any white portion of the screen, then take the resulting screenshot and resize to 144 x 144. Finally, take "image A" from before, and copy and paste onto this white space. This usually creates a very nice icon.

Important note: If you happen to have the "Developer" menu item (e.g. at the very top of the screen, near "Bookmarks" and "Window") enabled in Safari preferences, make sure not to select "Clear Caches", or else this will delete all the icons you made too. Also, simply Clearing History does the same thing. Alternatively, if you really want to clear history or clear cache for more disk space, save the custom icons you created before you clear; that way you can put them back afterwards without having to create them again.

Caches can also be automatically cleared at times, so it is a good practice to create backups of icons.

  • 2
    I'd suggest to make backups of any icons that you make, since cache folders can be cleared at any time, sometimes by accident Aug 9 '17 at 9:21
  • "Note that transparency causes trouble for safari favicons" Seems to work fine for me. Also seems to work for you, as per your Google Drive icon, right? Aug 9 '17 at 9:30
  • 1
    Ah, good point Skeleton Bow, you are right about the Google Drive icon both having a transparent background and displaying fine. However, the reason I added that note is because my Economist icon had a red bar on "transparent" text, and at times was displaying the text as either white or black, the latter of which looks really strange. I had to put in a white background in order to get the text to display correctly. I slightly edited my answer to reflect the above.
    – xdavidliu
    Aug 9 '17 at 13:57
  • Thanks! But oh! I'm experiencing the problems you mentioned. I'm going to try to find out what exactly causes this transparency issue… Aug 13 '17 at 16:28
  • The answer says "simply create another png that has the correct 144 x 144 resolution". How do I do this?
    – David W
    Mar 26 '20 at 14:21

A long-term fix would be to contact your website's publisher to add the correct icons appropriately.

For example, I own a website on Wix, and it's just a matter of adding a few lines of Header Code with links to my icon's image, then the site icon appears to work as expected. So it should be easy to convince your favorite publishers to add the icon.

  • I really don't think this is a viable solution: it is extremely doubtful that large sites like Gmail will pay me any attention if I emailed them asking them to fix some icons.
    – xdavidliu
    Aug 3 '20 at 3:51
  • @xdavidliu if enough people ask, they will prioritize it higher. Nov 11 '20 at 4:04

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