Saving Website Icons

It’s been a long time since I answered a reader’s question here on the site, so let’s do this thing!

Reader Jeff was setting up a computer for a co-worker, and wanted to place several website shortcuts on the computer’s desktop. Dragging the website icon from the browser’s address bar to the desktop created the shortcut, but the problem was that those shortcuts only had generic icons, and not the “website icons” Jeff wanted. So how can you create a desktop shortcut for a website that uses the site’s actual icon?

Well, first of all, those icons are called “favicons”, and in most cases they’re located at You can use Firefox or Chrome to load each address and save the icon as an ICO file. You can also do this with Internet Explorer, but in many cases IE will insist on saving the file as a BMP file. You can sometimes rename the extension of the saved BMP file to ICO, but a lot of times IE will mangle the file header and you’ll get an error message when you try to actually use it. So just use Firefox or Chrome if possible.

Save each favicon.ico file in a permanent location with a unique, meaningful file name (such as jimcofer.ico). All you have to do then is right-click each desktop icon, choose “Properties” and then click the “Change Icon” button. Use the “Browse” button to locate the correct ICO file you saved in the previous step, then repeat for any additional icons.

Note that the desktop icons will now be “tied” to the saved icons. If you move the saved icons (for example, from My Documents\Icons to My Documents\Stuff\Icons) you’ll need to re-map them via Explorer.

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