Mozilla To Remove Favicons From Firefox URL Bar

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 25, 2012
Updated • May 13, 2012
Firefox, Image

Jared Wein on behalf of Mozilla made an announcement two days ago that Mozilla had plans to remove the favicon from the Firefox browser's address bar. Firefox nightly users, who run the latest development releases of the browser, will already notice that the favicon has been removed in their versions.

You may now be wondering why Mozilla thought it be a good idea to remove the favicon from the address bar. Standard favicons help users identify websites, and there is nothing wrong with that. It becomes an issue however when malicious sites fake the secure site icon and display that to the user to make the user believe that the site uses a secure connection.

This should not be a issue for experienced users, as it is clear by the https protocol in the address bar whether a site is in deed using a secure connection using SSL or not. Inexperienced users on the other hand may have difficulties distinguishing fake secure websites from secure websites.

The browser distinguishes SSL certificates in the following way:

Websites that use SSL certificates with Extended Validation will now have a green padlock next to the certificate owner’s organization name.

ssl certificate with extended validation

Websites that use SSL certificates without Extended Validation will now have a grey padlock. The effective hostname will no longer appear next to the padlock. This information is redundant with our darkening of the effective hostname in the website address.

ssl certification without extended validation

Websites that do not use SSL certificates or have mixed-content will fallback to a globe icon.

regular websites

If you look at the way the information are presented, you will notice that it becomes difficulty to spot the differences on first glance. Especially SSL certifications without extended validation, and websites with mixed-content or no SSL certificate look very similar.

Firefox currently uses colors to distinguish different types of connections, which, with the exception of the green text when connecting to websites that use SSL certificates with extended validation, is no longer implemented in the browser. Mozilla is currently discussing plans to make the lock symbol darker, to make it more distinguishable from the globe icon.

Removing favicons can impact other functionality. It is now for instance no longer possible to drag and drop the favicon to the desktop or another location in the browser. Mozilla plans to release the changes to the release channel in mid-July.


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  1. fixitmanarizona said on August 14, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Wow, found this old thread (5 years old) and STILL Mozilla keeps screwing with Firefox. Up to version 55 now, and I still think version 3.6 is better than their latest. Why they don’t keep support for each older versions for two to three years instead of coming out with a new version every SIX WEEKS that they no longer support after the old one is released, I never understood. Software that’s ONLY GOOD for SIX WEEKS? Are you kidding me? How good can that be? Six weeks isn’t enough time to discover the bugs in it! And yes, they’re still removing features. The latest, they might as well just have given up the damn project to Google years ago, and made Firefox just another Chrome clone, like Opera is now.
    Think about this. FIVE years, they’ve gone through something like FIFTY versions. No freakin’ way. Every single one of those was bad, and changed stuff to confuse users, and removed the compatibility of extensions, which was Firefox strong point! They NEED TO go back to version 3.6, and make sure all add-ons in any future version (56 included) support all add-ons from version 3x and before, without compromise.

  2. fuzzyw said on September 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I use the plugin favicon restorer and it works great. Too bad it takes a plugin, but so be it.

  3. Migelle said on September 27, 2012 at 3:04 am

    Soemone got lazy and wants an easy way out. It’s not a solution to remove favicons, there are better ways and i bet people who read this got at least 10 worthy ideas.

  4. Bob said on July 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I have used Firefox and Firefox iterations for years and with each release, they take away something useful. So, in order to get back the functionality, people have to get add-ons to do it which will slow firefox and add memory usage. Now, they get rid of favicons in the navigation pane??!!!! This is crazy. yes, I understand that favicons will be in bookmarks and tabs, BUT ever since Firefox came out (and when it wasnt even called firefox), we all have grown up with favicons at the navigation bar. It just looks plain ugly with that grey circle. If people aren’t smart enough to tell that a website is fake , then they should not be using a computer. Put the favicons back because I am really thinking of uninstalling Firefox and never using it again. Remember, if it isn’t broke, DONT FIX IT

  5. Gustavo said on July 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Enough for me… goodbye, Firesux !!!

  6. Ken Saunders said on May 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm
  7. fuzzyw said on April 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I started with netscape and I am on the mozilla train since the beginning. This is starting to be ridiculous. Not only is the memory usage outrageous, but now this new idea is making me reconsider continuing using firefox. If someone doesn’t know how to use a browser then stop using it.

    Why not show favicon-name-lock(green) -URL or favicon-name-broken lock (red) -URL. I mean even if some fake site puts a lock in the favicon, it’s still red followed by a Firefox broken lock sign. Only a complete moron will disregard that in my humble opinion.

  8. Bruce Tech Guy said on April 27, 2012 at 7:57 am

    I am starting to wonder if idiots run Firefox development.
    Firefox 3.6.xx was pretty darn decent – great even.
    Firefox 4++++ seems to get crappier with every rush-it-out-the-door release. Useful features seem to get turned off for truly no valid reason. New worthless (IMO) features get added for no true benefit that I see.
    Pretty obviously they do not have to deal with ordinary users who are continuously befuddled by the changes –and losses– in Firefox.

    I have recommended (edit: used to) to so many people and clients over the years that they switch from IE to Firefox. Now I am actively changing that to a guarded option – either choose 10ESR, or keep your other browsers to use instead of the constantly changing Firefox.
    (And even 10ESR has items that are lost…)

    Specific to this issue:
    How to identify if a web connection is Secure.
    In Firefox 3.6, there was both an “HTTPS” in the Address URL bar, and an EASY TO IDENTIFY Yellow Padlock in the lower corner.
    Somewhere after v4, the yellow padlock was thrown out. (What idiot decided that was a necessary change?!) And the HTTP/S part of the address bar is now turned off by default, and requires a geeky change in the FF Config page. (which I now instantly and always turn back on in any v4+ FF install).

    So now there is a half-hearted attempt to put a padlock back, but doing it in a way that only the most visually acute can tell. And potentially throwing out the Favicon mini site icon in the process.
    I and many of the folks I know rely on the Favicon to give an instant visual cue as to which website is being clicked. And now it sounds like it will be another victim of the FF toss-it-change-it team.

    Really, what planet are the developers and managers living on?

    Firefox, you used to be great, now, it is the browser I am learning to despise and being forced into other options.
    (The fact that I took so much time to write this shows how much I have invested into Firefox over the years. What a betrayal of trust it has now embarked on.)

    1. fuzzyw said on April 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      couldn’t agree more …

  9. Peter (NL) said on April 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    This new padlock and the green color is very difficult to see in Firefox Nightly 15.0a1 version. They changed also the Forward- and Back button. Now does FF really look as an Opera browser clone !!

  10. Leslie said on April 26, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I have decided enough is enough and I am now actively looking for an alternative to FF. In the past year I have seen FF become virtually unusable on a dialup connection and I have tried every tweak there is. Memory usage has become a serious problem because I am increasingly having to add extra addons just so that I can have FF look like it did in version 3.

    It is such a shame because FF was pretty damn good back at v3 but they have ruined it and I just wonder why. So its with great disappointment and to be honest relief that I have decided to go elsewhere – I am tired of struggling on with it.

    RIP Firefox, Lest We Forget.

  11. Andrew said on April 26, 2012 at 9:32 am

    It’s ok to remove the favicon from address bar. Just don’t remove it from bookmarks bar.. I have delete all the titles of my bookmarks and only show the favicons, this saved me a lof of space. I know Avant browser has the options to hiden the titles on bookmarks bar, in chrome I should delete them manually one by one.
    Is there any extension in chrome that can do this?

  12. David said on April 26, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Will this be a user reversable option? Like when they removed the first part of the site address and just displayed the page name. I don’t understand how this and that change helps users identify bad sites. It seems to do the opposite.

  13. Guest said on April 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Is this news really worth that big of a fuss over? Fair criticism is one thing, but this is ridiculous.

    It’s only affecting the URL bar, favicons in Bookmark and Tabs are not going away. I REPEAT: FAVICONS IN BOOKMARKS AND TABS ARE NOT GOING AWAY!

    I wish people would stop saying Firefox is turning into Chrome.

    They maybe adopting certain ideas from Chrome as far as simplifying the UI, but the options for rearranging the UI and customizing how it looks is still there.

    I wish people here would stop having these knee-jerk reactions, and maybe realize that bringing certain new elements to FF while retaining the old ones is a good thing. Not every change is bad, and not everything should be the same as FF 3.6

    As long as FF gives the people options for shaping their browsing experience and improvements on performance, we shouldn’t be giving them crap for doing so.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 25, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      I personally think that this news is important as it means a significant change in the visibility of secure connections in the browser.

      1. Guest said on April 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm

        That’s why I said fair criticism is fine.

        It’s one thing to discuss how to improve the visibility of secure connections (even telling the Mozilla guys spearheading this change), but to simply say “Mozilla is ruining Firefox, I’ll never use the browser again! ” is just crazy.

      2. firefoxlover said on April 25, 2012 at 9:47 pm

        Martin, I totally agree with you.

  14. ReX said on April 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Is there a bug entry for driving users away from your browser with stupid changes that make no sense?

  15. Alex said on April 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I wonder why Firefox doesnt just simply adds a lock to the favicon, or a lock next to the url. If they are worried about a site pretending to have HTTPS mimicing the green color in the favicon, don’t use the color anymore, use other ways to tell that the site is secured.

  16. Rowr said on April 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    You wrote “It is now for instance no longer possible to drag and drop the favicon to the desktop or another location in the browser”, but that is not entirely true. You can still use drag and drop to create a bookmark or a shortcut on your desktop. It just isn’t a favicon you’re dragging, but a globe or padlock.

    I agree with Gary that they should make the padlock blue if there’s mixed content, because it would be hard to notice when they’re going to make it just slightly darker

  17. bastik said on April 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I switched from beta to stable (release) so won’t see that soon.

    It’s damn hard to teach people to check that their connection are safe.

    Back then, they removed the padlock (from the status bar). That was bad.
    They stopped painting the address bar yellow. That was bad.

    It’s not a problem for me, since the tabs and the bookmarks still show the favicon. I consider it a good step to reintroduce the padlock, and don’t show it when there’s mixed content.

    Not showing the hostname is bad again.

    It all looks to close to each other, which might change since it’s only on nightly. I certainly hope that.

    That’s nothing FF devs should highlight.

  18. Gary said on April 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I have no problem getting rid of favicons. But non-EV sites that are secure should highlight blue.

    It is DIFFICULT to see a difference between secure-sites and insecure mixed-content sites with this redesign.

  19. Gary said on April 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Dumb move Firefox!

    It’s too hard to tell a website is https if it’s not EV. A gray lock, PLEASE! What is wrong with how Firefox does HTTPS in Firefox 11– this is idiot proof and even my grandparents understand it? My grandma’s never gonna figure out the gray icon is safe.

  20. Max said on April 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Good news that favicons will continue to appear in bookmarks. I hope there will be an about:config setting to enable favicon in the URL bar.

  21. Peter (NL) said on April 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I read this news already yesterday via a Dutch site. I went later on to the fitness center and thus I noticed how angry I was about Mozilla’s plan to remove the favicons. I think as of today: lets see what Firefox 14 and FF15 will bring to the users. After that (End of August 2012) I will make up my mind to see whether I dump Mozilla Firefox or not.

  22. Emrea said on April 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    I love mMozilla and I really think it is an important acievement of the free open source software – and I think it is becoming even more important with Google’s lurking on to extort all private data people have through a plethora of means, including ooh-soo-nice chrome. I believe Firefox’s imortance will become even more visible for at least some more sections of the community, with Google’s reaching its apex of privacy invasions as such – which is not too far away.

    But — Mozilla, please stop Chromification of Firefox! This behaviour is what Chrome has for at least as long as I know of it, and I do not think t adds anything to the user experience or anything. It does NOT simplify the appearance but makes it dull, indiscernible and treats the user as if s/he is a dumb. And in the previous incarnations of Firefox (and I cannot remember which one due too Chromified rapid release cycle), there was the best implementation for the secure sites – with the green band on the adress bar, which became subtler in the later releases. Come on, how come people not understand a green highlight on the address bar should mean -at least- something, but a grey, dullest lock icon is better, huh?
    Stop Chromification of Firefox, Mozilla, we do not need this – and there is Chrome, alredy for those who like.

    –heh, and Martin thanks for your excellent posts, I really like to read your blog

    1. oss said on April 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      I couldn’t agree more than I do.

  23. Anon said on April 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Thankfully an addon or a setting will be there. But, this is just silly.
    What’s next? Removing favicons from favorites and tabs?

    1. Finvana said on April 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      I rant a lot about last Firefox changes (you can read my other comments). I don’t agree to use extensions just to get back features we had before. Every new extension adds memory usage. Today I compared palemoon 11 (speed dial was the only addon installed) compared to my default browser (firefox 3.6.28 loaded with addons). While palemoon with 5 tabs opened (one of them ghacks) used 117MB while minimized, firefox 3.x with the same pages opened used 126MB. Right now I’m writing from a different computer with firefox 11 (using addons like status-4-evar), only two tabs open and is consuming 259MB (plugin-container processes not counted). Firefox going in the right direction? I don’t think so.

      1. Anon said on April 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm

        You don’t need to agree. It’s my browser install, and my computer.
        It’s the only thing that makes Firefox worthy of any attention, so I am going to use all addons I want.

        If I wanted a vanilla browser that did nothing but show pages I’d use Chrome, but that’s not what I want.

  24. KYH said on April 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    This is enough, Firefox!! Stop making annoying changes to the browser. May be the developers should stop the rapid release schedule and calm down to think what great changes will benefit the users most!

  25. Wally said on April 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve been a loyal user of Firefox since it was called Phoenix (and later Firebird), however some of their recent changes are causing me to consider switching browsers. In this latest brain-fart, no value is added. JUST LEAVE IT ALONE! Fix security and stability, and then leave it the hell alone!!!

  26. Hafk said on April 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    While favicons will be removed from the URL bar, they will still be present in tabs/bookmarks/etc. I don’t see the problem with this.

    All of the other changes to the URL bar, though, I have problems with those.

  27. Damirora said on April 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I’m not using any of the FF nightlies, but it’s almost time for me to stop using Firefox/Waterfox for anything.
    I already have Opera installed, I may just uninstall FF forever, and settle on something aside from Chrome, to be my replacement browser.
    I have to use an add-on in FF, to put the RSS icon back in the URL Bar.
    I had to change the way it looks as I disliked the new interface.
    Now they take away Favicons¿ Ha, no thank you.
    Maybe I should look into MyIE2/Maxthon again. I’m opening the Maxthon website right now.

  28. kalmly said on April 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    FF just get better and better doesn’t it? :D

  29. Bart Degryse said on April 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    If they do so, it will be one of the last steps before me abondoning Firefox.

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