What Are HEIC Files? How do you open HEIC Files?

2:39 PM


January 19, 2022 5:28 PM

Today let’s talk about the HEIC file format. You may not know what that is but you’re probably using it. So HEIC is Apple’s file extension for the HEIF file format. HEIF stands for the high-efficiency image file format.

Basically, it’s a replacement for JPEG. You probably know what JPEG is. JPEG you’d think of as the file format for images. But JPEG is pretty old and new advances in compression mean that we can do better. So Apple has adopted a standard that was established in 2015 for HEIF to replace JPEG. What this means is when you take a picture on your iPhone it’ll compress better so you have smaller file sizes. But it is a different file format than JPEG. This means older machines and machines that are using out-of-date software will not be able to open, read, or save in HEIC or HEIF format.

Another thing about HEIC is it can contain a series of images. It’ll actually compress it so that the differences between each image are saved. So it doesn’t have to save completely new versions of each one. So it’s ideal for the live photos feature. This is how you’re able to get a short video along with your photos and be able to choose a new one as the main photo without losing quality.


Size or Quality: Which one would you prefer?

Image may be in 1.1 MB as HEIC but the equivalent in JPEG is 1.7. So you’re definitely getting better compression. It’s hard to say if the quality would be better or not because it’s really quality versus file size. So what you’re getting kind of is the same quality but a smaller file size.

You could, of course, say well let’s compare the same file size. In that case, you’re definitely going to get better quality out of something that’s the same file size in HEIC over JPEG. Now if you’re using High Sierra or iOS 11 or better on all of your devices then you can just go ahead and use HEIC. But if you have some device or software that’s older it may not understand HEIC and you may need to convert to JPEG.

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Open HEIC files on PC

Unfortunately, some people have found that HEIC files are difficult to open in various apps in operating systems. If you’re running into trouble on Windows 10 you aren’t alone. The standard Windows 10 Photos app supports opening HEIC files but if you’re having trouble with a specific photo you have a couple of options.

First, you want to make sure you’ve updated windows 10 to its newest version that supports HEIC. This file support was added in the April 2018 update so while you’re likely running a version of Windows that does support the file format there is always the chance that you don’t yet have a version of Windows capable of displaying HEIC photos.

If you’re running into issues with codec support but you’re running the newest version of Windows 10 you might need to try downloading the codec extension for HEIC files published by Microsoft on Windows 10.

If you are still having issues it may be time to try a third-party app. Copytrans for Windows is a great third-party app that makes it easy to open HEIC files on your PC. Just download and install the app and you should be able to view these files within Windows with no extra steps. Plus Copytrans HEIC can also convert files to JPEGs.

How to turn HEIC file off on your iPhone?

Now you can turn this off on your iPhone. So if you have a lot of older devices and HEIC is just not working for you right now then you can go into Settings, Camera, and then Format. There you’ve got a setting to be able to turn off HEIC use for now. Although this really is ideal for iPhone users, especially since so many complain about photos taking up too much space. So having photos taking up a lot less space but keeping the space or even better quality is a big deal.


(If you want to know some history and details you can go to the HEIF page on wikipedia and it has lots of information there)

As for outside of Apple HEIC is supported by the most recent version of Windows 10. It’s supported by the most recent version of Android and it’s supported by lots of software. So it’s quickly becoming the new standard for images.

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