How to open HEIC files in Windows

As of iOS 11 Apple has switched to the HEIC file format for photos to keep down file sizes which has been an issue for Microsoft based devices to open these files but now, there is a simple workaround for Microsoft users, enabling them to open HEIC files on their computer.

Benefit’s of HEIC files:

  • Around half the size of JPG for the same quality
  • Can store multiple photos in one file (ideal for Live Photos and bursts)
  • Supports transparency like GIF files
  • Can store image edits, such as cropping and rotating so you can undo them
  • Support 16-bit colour vs JPG’s 8-bit

How can I open an HEIC file in Windows 10?

You must have installed the April 2018 update for this method to work.

1

When you try to open the HEIC file with the Microsoft Photos App, you will get the message “Download codecs at Microsoft Store” link, click on this

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The Store app will open to the HEIF Image Extensions page.  Click the “Get” button to download and install the free codecs on your Windows PC.

You can now open HEIC files like any other image by just double clicking on them and they will open in the Photos app. Windows will also show thumbnails of HEIC images in File Explorer.

How to Open HEIC Files in Windows 7

Rather than messing with conversion tools, a simpler solution is to download and install CopyTrans HEIC for Windows.  This program adds full support for HEIC images to Windows.

You will see thumbnails for HEIC files in Windows Explorer on Windows 7 and they will open in the standard Windows Photo Viewer. With this tool installed, you will also be able to insert HEIC files directly into Microsoft Office applications.

While you do have to install this third-party software to view HEIC files, it doesn’t feel like you’re using a third-party app afterwards. It’s as if Windows always supported these images: just double-click an .HEIC file to open it.

If after installing the CopyTrans software you do not see the thumbnails, you may have to reboot your computer or at least sign out and sign back in.

This tool also allows you to right-click an .HEIC file and select “Convert to JPEG” to convert it to a JPEG file. Click this option and you will get a .JPEG version of the image automatically placed in the same folder.

JPEG files are more widely supported, so this also allows you to share that HEIC image with someone else or import it into an application that supports JPEG images but not HEIC files.

How to Convert HEIC Files to JPEG

What you can do is convert HEIC files to JPG using a free app (such as iMazing HEIC Converter or Apowersoft’s HEIC to JPG converter) or an online converter such as HEIC to JPG.

If you download iMazing converter, you’ll get a small app which lets you drag and drop files and choose whether to convert them to JPG or PNG, as well as the output folder.

If you prefer not to install an app, use HEIC to JPG online. Simply browse to the site and drag and drop up to 30 HEIC files.

They will be automatically optimised and converted but you have to download each one individually, which is a bit of a pain.

Alternative Method

As long as you still have the photos on your iPhone or iPad, you can select and share them via email or upload to a cloud storage service.

When you do this they’ll be converted to JPEGs automatically. When you choose to share via Mail, you will get to choose which size – always go for the original (maximum) file size if you want to retain the best quality.

And if you choose a cloud provider such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive, you should see that the files will be saved with a .jpeg extension.

If you do upload your HEIC files to your Dropbox folder from your phone or your PC.  Dropbox supports .heic already (along with HEVC videos) so you can view and share the photos using your Dropbox account.

Can I stop my iPhone saving photos in HEIC format?

Yes you can, Open the Settings app and scroll down until you see Camera. Tap it and then tap on Formats.

You will see this screen, and you need to change it from High Efficiency to Most Compatible:

 

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