How to switch on Safari favicons in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave

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google chrome favicons
Chrome has managed to display favicons since, like, forever.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

It’s 2018, and yet Safari still wouldn’t show you website icons, aka favicons, in its tabs. But that has — finally — changed. In both iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, Safari can now display favicons. All you need to do is toggle one setting.

Who cares? Well, favicons make it much easier to identify the site you want among a whole mess of open tabs. You can simply look for a site’s colorful logo icon, instead of squinting at a few letters of truncated text when trying to find the right tab.

Safari favicons

It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, but favicons arguably prove more useful on the larger screens of the Mac and iPad. On the iPhone, you don’t see any tabs at all until you tap the tab button. Then you get to see a stack of miniature versions of each webpage you have open. On the iPad and the Mac, however, tabs are shown as just that — tabs. And when you open more than a handful of them, those tabs shrink to show just a few letters, making the labels pretty much useless.

Favicons in Safari. What took you so long, Apple?
What took you so long, Apple?
Photo: Cult of Mac

Favicons fix this, putting full-color icons in your tabs. These favicons sit at the leftmost end of the tab label, followed by the usual descriptive text (usually the page title or site name). And when the tabs shrink, the text disappears, leaving just a neat row of icons that are easy to spot.

Now, finally, you can enable this option in Safari.

How to enable favicons in iOS 12

To switch on favicons in iOS 12, which should be the very first thing you do, head to Settings > Safari and toggle the switch Show Icons in Tabs. Congratulations: You just joined the 21st century.

How to enable favicons in macOS Mojave

Turning on Safari favicons on Mac is just as easy. Open Safari, then click Safari > Preferences… in the menu bar. Then find the Show Icons in Tabs switch, and click that.

All joking aside, it’s frankly absurd that this feature only just made it into the world’s No. 1 web browser. The situation was so desperate that we’ve even covered workaround apps that do crazy things like draw the icons in a layer floating on top of Safari.