Safari

How To Delete Favicon Caches From Safari

Safari Icon

Every Mac user knows that it’s essential to have your machine running in tip-top condition to keep things speedy and in good shape. One of the most common complaints among the Mac community is that Safari can become slow, but there are lots of easy ways to speed it up slightly. One such method is to delete the Favicons used by Safari.

This guide shows you how to delete the Favicon database in a few simple steps.


What is a Favicon?

A favicon is basically a website or bookmark icon which is displayed in Safari’s address bar to help you quickly identify a website (and it’s also used in the bookmarks list). These icons are typically just 16 x 16 pixels and have a .ico extension, and because they’re not essential for websites to run properly, they can be safely removed. Over time, the Favicon cache in Safari grows larger and means that it must take longer to search for the correct icon when it loads the page, so it does slow Safari down somewhat.

Here’s an example of a typical Favicon in Safari:

Favicon Example in Safari
Many website display tiny "Favicons" on the address bar

If you look in your bookmarks, you’ll also notice that Favicons are used to quickly identify individual sites:

Favicon Bookmark Example
Favicons are also used in your bookmarks folder

Deleting The Favicon Database

Safari stores Favicons in a database file inside your Library folder, so the first thing to do is navigate to that and locate the file as follows:

1. Open Finder and select COMMAND + SHIFT + G

2. In the drop-down window that appears, type ~/Library/Safari and hit the Go button. Note that older versions of Safari used to store the Favicons in the ~/Library/Safari/Icons folder which doesn’t exist in newer versions, but the process to delete them is almost identical

3. Locate the file named WebpageIcons.db but before you delete it, you might want to Get Info (COMMAND + I) and check the size. In this example, my Favicon database file has grown to 10.7 MB, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering that Safari has to search this every time you go to a web page, it can impact it’s speed noticeably

WebpageIcons Get Info
Check the file size of the Favicon database file

4. Next, just delete the file to send it to the Trash. Note that once the file is deleted, Safari will create a new file and start to populate it, so you will need to delete it periodically to ensure that it doesn’t grow too large

It’s also possible to permanently delete the Favicon database file to ensure that it doesn’t return as follows:

1. Open up Terminal from the Application -> Utilities folder or just type it into Spotlight

2. Type the following command at the prompt: defaults write com.apple.Safari WebIconDatabaseEnabled -bool NO

That’s all there is to it!

This should allow Safari to run more smoothly, ensuring a slightly better browsing experience.

About the author

Roland Banks

I've been passionate about Apple ever since I bought my first iPod followed by a white polycarbonate MacBook in 2007. I currently own a MacBook Pro Retina, an iPad Mini Retina, and an iPhone 6.

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