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 won’t show you website icons aka. favicons in its tabs. But that is — finally — about to change. In both iOS 12, and in macOS Mojave, Safari will finally display these favicons, and all you have to do is toggle one setting. Who cares? Well, being able to identify the site you want from a whole mess of tabs is a lot easier if you can spot that site’s colorful logo as an icon, instead of having to read few letters of truncated text when trying to identify it.

Favicons

It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, but favicons are arguably more useful on the larger-screens on the Mac and the iPad. On the iPhone, you don’t see any tabs at all until you tap the tab button, and then you get to see a stack of miniature versions of each webpage that 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.

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 after upgrading to the beta OS, head to Settings > Safari and toggle the switch Show Icons in Tabs. Congratulations: You have now joined the 21st century.

How to enable favicons in macOS Mojave

This 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 has only just made it into the world’s number one 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.

It’s not worth risking the new iOS and macOS betas just for this, but don’t say it isn’t tempting.