macOS Big Sur 11.7.4 fixes favicons not appearing in Safari’s Favorites section

Following widespread complaints, the Big Sur update fixes an issue with website favicons not appearing in Safari’s Favorites section on macOS.

Illustration showing an Apple Safari logo set against a blue gradient background
  • What’s happening? Apple has launched an update for its older operating system, Big Sur, fixing an ongoing problem with website favicons in Safari.
  • Why care? macOS Big Sur 11.7.3 broke favicons in Safari’s Favorites section, but the macOS Big Sur 11.7.4 update has now fixed the annoying problem.
  • What to do? If you use macOS Big Sur or Monterey, download the Safari update by venturing into System Settings → General → Software Update.

macOS Big Sur 11.7.4 fixes Safari’s favicons problem

macOS Big Sur 11.7.3 dropped in January 2023, and soon after, people started complaining about favicons disappearing from Safari’s Favorites section.

These are the icons you see on newly created tabs. Typically, websites saved in Safari’s Favorites section appear on the New Tab and Start pages as large icons, making it easy to visually distinguish between one’s favorite websites. Instead of favicons, people saw blank web icons showing only the website’s first letter.

Many affected customers took to Reddit and Apple Support Communities to vent their frustration with this problem. Someone has suggested that clearing Safari’s history may help resolve the issue, but only temporarily. It’s too drastic a solution that should be avoided (in our opinion), especially now that Apple has provided a fix.

Refreshing favicons in Safari with a Terminal command also yields no results.

Interestingly, at some point, Apple seems to have removed a setting to hide or show website icons in Safari tabs from the iPhone, iPad and Mac software because the toggle is nowhere to be found in the current versions of iOS, iPadOS and macOS.

What’s new in Safari 16.3 for macOS Big Sure and Monterey

Unrelated to the macOS Big Sur 11.7.3 update, Apple also released Safari 16.3.1 for the Big Sur and Monterey systems, available via the usual Software Update mechanism. It delivers a fix for a WebKit security vulnerability that was also addressed in iOS 16.3.1, iPadOS 16.3.1 and macOS Ventura 13.2.1.

The vulnerability permits an attacker to craft malicious web content that could let them execute rogue code on a customer’s device. Apple deemed it important enough to issue an advisory in which it admitted that bad actors may have exploited the vulnerability. After installing this update, the build number for Safari 16.3 will be 167614. on macOS Big Sur and 177614. on macOS Monterey.

Don’t underestimated the importance of the latest Apple software updates. The WebKit issue alone is apparently severe enough to have warranted an alert from the National Cyber Awareness System at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, urging people to update.