Jake McCrary

Use Google to get a site's favicon

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A few months ago I was implementing some changes to Lumanu’s user interface. Lumanu is a tool I’ve been working on that helps its users create, discover, and curate engaging content.

This interface change was to our discovery view. This is the view that surfaces interesting content to our users. The change involved showing the favicon of content’s origin in our interface.

I often browse the Internet with the network tab of the Chrome Developer Tools open. I do this because I find it interesting to see what services other web applications are using. I had the network tab open while browsing a site that displayed many favicons and noticed a lot fetches from google.com. This surprised me, so I took a deeper look at the requests and saw they were hitting a URL that appeared to provide favicons. It turns out you can query Google for favicons.


Let’s pretend we want to get the favicon for jakemccrary.com. You simply construct a URL that looks like https://www.google.com/s2/favicons?domain=jakemccrary.com and all of a sudden you have the favicon. Just replace jakemccrary.com with the domain you care about and you’ll be rewarded with that domain’s favicon.

My favicon from Google

This definitely isn’t a new feature. If you search online you’ll see people talking about it years ago. I had never heard of it before and discovering it saved us an unknown amount of time. It allowed us to iterate on our interface without having to figure out the nuances of favicons. We were able to quickly try out the interface change and then throw it away without costing us too much time.