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Still Jeff

22nd of June 2000

     Several readers have asked recently how I get that cute little Internet Brothers beetle in their Favorites list whenever they bookmark this site. I will tell, but you have to promise to pass it on. Remember the Helpware pledge.

     This isn't anything new. The Favorites Icon feature was introduced when Microsoft released version 5.0 of their Internet Explorer browser for Windows. It isn't a standard, you won't find it in Netscape, Opera or any other browser except IE5+, so don't complain to me.

     As you study your web server logs, you may notice several "file not found" errors for favicon.ico. This is the key to the whole procedure. Whenever an IE5 browser user chooses to add your site to their Favorites list, the browser automatically looks for the favicon.ico. If a custom file is found — in Internet Brothers' case the cute little red beetle — it is saved along with the URL and Title of your site in the Favorites folder. If it isn't found, the standard default IE5 icon is displayed.

The Steps

     First you must create an icon. Microsoft lists the specification for the icon as follows: 16x16 pixels, no more than 256 colors, no more than one kilobyte in size, file type ico. If you stay within those limitations, you may use anything you want. Most people use their company logo or other identifying symbol. I chose the Internet Brothers beetle .

     You will need software to generate the icon. I recommend either Microangelo or Icon Forge. If you prefer, there is a free tool on the Web that will assist in constructing one for you at

     When your icon has the appearance you like, save it as favicon.ico. It must have this name (not entirely true, but let's leave this as simple as possible). Next, use your FTP utility to upload the favicon.ico file to every directory on your web server. If all your web site files reside in the root directory, that is the only place you need favicon. However, if your site consists of many subdirectories, the favicon file needs to be located in each.

     Test it first yourself. Go to a web page from each subdirectory of your site with IE5 and Add to Favorites. Now display the Favorites folder to see if your new icon appears as intended. That's all there is to it. Remember, you promised to pass this tip on.

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