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Fri, Mar 21, 2014 9:55 pm


While trying to reduce entries in the site's Apache error log, I've decided I should eliminate the many "File does not exist" error messages for favicon.ico. I often see attempts to access that file from the site's root directory, but, since there is no such file, a lot of extraneous entries appear in the error log file for it when browsers attempt to access it. Favicon is short for "favorite icon" and is also known as a "shortcut icon". Favicons were first supported in March 1999 when Microsoft released Internet Explorer 5. In December of 1999, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) made it a standard element in HTML 4.01 recommendation to be used with a link relation in the <head> section of an HTML document. It is now widely supported among browsers.

The original purpose of a favicon was to provide a small icon, commonly 16 x 16 pixels, that a browser would associate with a website when a user bookmarked the site. Today, browsers typically display a page's favicon in their address bar and sometimes also in the browser's history display as well as using it in association with a bookmark. Those browsers that provide a tabbed document interface (TDI) also typically display the favicon next to a page's title on a tab for the site with which the favicon is associated.

I had an icon I had used years ago, but decided I liked the crescent moon icon, I found at better. That site provides a tool that will allow you to create your own favicon. It also provides many free icons that you can download.

To use the icon file, you can simply place the favicon.ico in the root directory of the website where browsers can automatically locate it. Or you can place it elsewhere on the site and specify its location by inserting the following code within the head section of the HTML code for a page, substituing the relative path from the website's document root for YOUR_PATH.

<link href="/YOUR_PATH/favicon.ico" rel="icon" type="image/x-icon" />

Something like the following is also acceptable. I.e., in addition to specifying the file's location you can can also give the file a name other than favicon.ico.

<link rel="icon" href="" />

The file also does not have to be a .ico file. See the file format support section of the Wikipedia Favicon article for other image file formats that are supported by various browsers.

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