1. What is a Favicon?
2. How can I make one?
3. How do I use it?
4. What are the security/privacy concerns related to favicon.ico files?
5. Where are my favicons?
What is a Favicon?
The favicon (pronounced fav-eye-con, shortened form of 'Favorites Icon') is specific to Internet Explorer 5, and the Konqueror web browser. It is used to customise the icon next to your bookmarked web site to be your own customised logo. This is useful because it will remind a visitor about your site, as your link in the favourites will stand out. The favicon is a normal Windows icon file (.ico). It generally measures 16x16 pixels and consists of 16 colours.
How can I make one?
There exists an online favicon generator (requires Java support). This is fine if you only want to make a couple of icons. However my preferred method is to use an icon editor. There are a large number of shareware programs to choose from. I have used Microangelo 98 (on PC Pro coverdisc) and Axicons. Microangelo 98 is a better program, but it is more invasive in your Windows setup and therefore I am using Axicons. Another program that has been highly recommenced is Icon Forge, and I plan to try it shortly.
Using these programs allows you to create an icon file containing two
icons if you wish, one using 16 colours and the other using 256. Using
256 colours allows a better icon to be displayed if the monitor supports
it. Browser recognition is not required for this to work.
How do I use one?
Once you have created it you need to upload it to your root directory. Microsoft reccommend that if you have pages outside your root directory then you add a
<link rel="SHORTCUT ICON" href="favicon.ico"> in the head of your
page. This is not advisable, as I believe it does not comply with
the standards laid down by the W3C.
What are the security/privacy concerns related to favicon.ico
When you bookmark a page, the browser requests the favicon.ico file. The web surfer is unaware that a request has been made and users can not turn this feature off. The web site can then use their logs to build a record of the user's bookmarked pages. Visitors could then be tracked by a cookie. This would allow sites to build more profiles of visitors interests. I'm not sure how you could do this, so if anyone can fill me in on the details please contact me. Most people do not think the privacy concerns that result from this bookmarking/favicons scheme are anything to worry about. (No one has created a real uproar regarding the privacy issues related to favicon branded bookmarks).
I used to see favicons, but now they've all disappeared.
Favicons are cached very similar to HTML documents. When they are deleted from the cache, they revert to the standard IE icon. If you want to prevent the icon from disappearing:
1. Create a local directory (i.e. c:\favicons)
2. Copy the desired favicon into the directory created above.
3. Right click the mouse over the favorite/bookmark and select properties.
4. Enter the path (or use the "Browse" feature) to the favicon you want for that bookmark.
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