Website Icons Missing After Updating To Firefox 8

After upgrading to Firefox 8 many people have found that the little icon pictures (favicons) associated with their Bookmarks disappear – showing just an empty dotted square instead. Another problem reported is that the same empty square may also appear in the address bar next to a website name. There are separate issues at work here:

1.  Firefox 8 has replaced the default ‘blank document’ image for a missing favicon with an empty dotted square – personally we can’t see any benefit to this change and it looks pretty ugly but it is the intended behaviour of FF8. So, if a website does not have a favicon, FF8 will display this empty square in the address bar – and if you bookmark the site the bookmark will also show the empty square icon in lieu of a favicon. An example of the old and new default image is shown below:

FF8-faviconUsers of the Firefox forums have posted a potential ‘fix’ to revert back to the traditional missing favicon image of FF7 but such fixes are largely untested and involve replacing/editing core Firefox files which we do not think is a great idea – the changes would be overwritten by any future Firefox updates anyway so you’d be back to square one again…

In our view it isn’t worth trying to ‘fix’ this new default behavior – but feel free to complain in the forums to see if the Firefox developers take note and can change it back in a future release ;-)

2. This issue is more serious – existing favicons may have disappeared from many of your Bookmarks and been replaced with the empty square image, even though the websites do have a favicon. This seems to happen to a large number (but not all) of the bookmarked sites.

There are three possible solutions:

  • If you use (or have previously used) popular Favicon Picker add-ons (such as Favicon Picker 2), you may have problems with favicons not showing. You should disable the relevant add-ons and restart Firefox to see if that restores proper favicon behavior.
  • If you click a Bookmark link and visit the site – the favicon should automatically be reinstated in the Bookmarks. This will work over time as you gradually open sites from bookmarks but, if you want to force them all to be updated now, you will have to open all your bookmarks. That is easier if you have stored bookmarks in separate folders and can ‘open all in tabs’ rather than open a single bookmark at a time. If you have hundreds of bookmarks this solution may not be for you…
  • If you have hundreds of bookmarks a quicker solution might be to try PlacesMaintenance add-on available here. It lets you check the integrity of the database that drives the bookmarks module and rebuild indices if required. PlacesMaintenance is fairly easy to use but do check the developer’s homepage for more detailed instructions and screenshot of the options. To fix any remaining sites, manually visit them from their bookmarks to reinstate the correct favicons.


The new default image for a missing icon in Firefox 8 looks amateurish and we wonder why they didn’t leave it alone or at least make it a ‘Firefox’ icon – after a lot of negative user comments we would not be surprised if it is changed again in a future update.

The missing favicon issue is definitely a problem but so far the developers appear to be playing ostrich with it… A combination of PlacesMaintenance and manual intervention can correct the issue now but eventually most missing favicons would reappear anyway as you use the bookmarks. It’s disappointing that there is no update available to fix the issue.

We can’t help feeling that the recent change to a rapid release cycle (to match Google Chrome) is beginning to show cracks in Firefox development and testing – and introducing a ‘change for change sake’ mentality. Firefox 7 needed an emergency 7.0.1 update soon after release and a new update (8.0.1) has been issued to fix another major issue causing Firefox 8 to crash :-(

Having said that, Chrome has Google’s squillions behind it so it is not surprising that the non-profit Mozilla is struggling to keep up – perhaps they should concentrate more on testing and performance improvements than racing to push out unnecessary new ‘features’ like the empty square favicon?

10 Responses to: "Website Icons Missing After Updating To Firefox 8"

  1. Henrik E says:

    Excellent article!
    Yes, the new icon looks like sh…

    Vote for this bug to get it fixed:

  2. Steve says:

    There are also people who don’t want to use favicons at all. I’ve always had them disabled, so everything had the default icon. So this is extremely annoying.

    There is a workaround that involves editing some files. But it replaced ALL icons with the default icon…including the folder icon. So that doesn’t really help either

  3. Dave says:

    This article is right on target. Bad programming for the sake of having a release harkens back to Windows ME and before. As a programmer for over 40 years before there were floppy drives and monitors the issue of getting first to market has always driven buggy and not-ready-for-prime-time software into the world. Sadly this lesson was learned by Lotus 123 for DOS and Excel. Lotus inability to get their update out for two years allowed Excel to eat into their market share and the rest is history. Since that moment in history speed as opposed to quality has been the rallying cry. I have been a long time user of Firefox and have zero interest in Chrome. I would suggest that putting out buggy software regardless of features will cost you market share as opposed to gaining it. So I agree with this article. Slow down and get it right. Your reputation means a lot. Please don’t be known as the unreliable browser, nobody will want to try you then.

    • admin says:

      Spot on Dave. Your speed as opposed to quality theory worked well for Microsoft and even ME didn’t lose them market share because there was (and still is) no real competitor for deeply entrenched Windows users. FF is a different story – people are far more willing to switch browsers than op system and there is an obvious strong competitor (Chrome).

      The most worrying elephant in the room for FF is all the users of FF3.6 – when it reaches end of life next year will they finally upgrade to FF10 etc or just switch to Chrome/IE? Doesn’t bode well…

  4. Bob T. Yorke says:

    What MORON(S) did Mozilla hire that came up with the stupid dotted lines for the bookmarks? Sheesh.

    • Kelly says:

      I agree, its 1 of those changes that really makes you wonder why they did it, did they ask anyone? I mean we appreciate mozilla is non-profit and doesn’t have the backing of Google/MS but even so – why make more work for themselves??

  5. Ben G says:

    The new “empty dotted square” in my version has replaced a neat shiny blue ball, not the empty page icon you show…. so if changes are made to go back, I’d like my blue ball back !!

  6. Povilas says:

    That plugin doesn’t help. And opening bookmark doesn’t either (only for a small fraction it helps). This is so stupid, I removed text from bookmars and was orientated only by icons, now I don’t know which bookmarks corresponds to which webpage.

    Any way to fix that?

    • Roy says:

      Opening each bookmark ‘should’ put the favicon back (if the website has one) – make sure Options \ Privacy is not set to ‘never remember history’.

      I haven’t tried the following so be careful/take backups – in case your bookmarks (places.sqlite) file is corrupt: 1. import your bookmarks into Chrome, delete FF bookmarks file then reimport bookmarks from Chrome Or 2. create a new user profile in FF and import your bookmarks into it – if favicons appear, either use that profile or replace the sqlite file in your old profile with the new one.

      Other than that, favicons in Firefox are stored as code in the bookmark so you could delete the current bookmark, go to the site and re-bookmark it although that could be a pain if you a have a lot…

  7. julius balogun says:

    missing icons