How to Open HEIC Files: A Step-By-Step Guide in 2024

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HEIC files offer superior compression compared to traditional formats like JPEG, allowing for the storage of higher-quality images in less space. This format is essential for managing large photo libraries without issue.

Join us in learning how to open and manage HEIC files across various devices and platforms.

Key Takeaways

  • HEIC files provide superior compression, allowing for high-quality images in smaller sizes.
  • While native on iOS devices, opening HEIC files on other platforms may require additional software or extensions.
  • Converting HEIC to JPEG is simple via online tools or apps like Adobe Photoshop.
  • HEIC is fully supported on Android devices, starting with Android 10.

What is HEIC File Format?

The HEIC file format, which stands for High-Efficiency Image File Container, is a modern image format used primarily for storing photos. It was developed to improve upon older formats like JPEG by offering better compression, which means it can reduce file size without losing image quality.

Technically, HEIC uses advanced compression methods provided by the High Efficiency Video Compression (HEVC) standard, which is also used for video coding. This allows it to maintain high resolution and vibrant colors in a smaller file size, making it a great solution for storing high-quality images on devices with limited storage.

History of the HEIC File

The HEIC file format was introduced as part of the HEVC standard, which was finalized in 2013. Originally developed to enhance video compression, the HEVC standard also included capabilities for image encoding, leading to the creation of HEIC for photographic content.

Apple was the biggest player to popularize HEIC when it adopted the format for its devices with the release of iOS 11 in 2017. This move pushed HEIC into the mainstream, as it became the default format for photos on millions of iOS devices.

What are HEIC Files Used For?

HEIC files are primarily used for storing digital photos on devices where space efficiency is important. This format is especially advantageous for users with high-resolution cameras on their smartphones and tablets, as it allows them to store more images in a given amount of memory.

The key benefits of using HEIC over other formats like JPEG include:

  • Improved Compression: HEIC files offer better compression ratios, meaning they take up less storage space while maintaining high image quality.
  • Preservation of Image Quality: Despite the smaller file size, HEIC maintains better image quality and supports a wider range of colors and higher dynamic range compared to JPEG.
  • Advanced Features: HEIC supports modern features such as storing multiple photos in one file (ideal for burst photos or live photos), capturing image sequences, and including image properties like depth maps and thumbnails within the same file.

How to Open HEIC Files on Windows 10/11

Want to learn how to open HEIC files on Windows 10 and Windows 11? It only requires a few steps, but these operating systems do not have built-in support for the format by default. The process is the same for both OSs.

  1. Locate the HEIC file on your Windows 10/11 PC and double-click it to attempt to open it.
  2. If you’re asked to choose an application to open the image with, choose Photos.
  3. The image will now be displayed in the Photos app. If not, it means you don’t have the proper extension to display the file. If that’s the case, you’ll see an error message with a link. Click that link.
  4. A message will appear asking you if you meant to switch apps. Click Yes. You’ll now be in the Microsoft Store’s HEIF Image Extensions page.
  5. Click Install.

You’ll now be able to view HEIC files in the Photos app.

How to Convert HEIC Files to JPEG on Windows

Converting an HEIC file to a JPEG file on Windows is simple.

  1. Open the HEIC file with the Photos app.
  2. At the top of the window, click the Ellipses icon and then select Save as from the menu.
  3. File Explorer will appear. Select the destination you would like to save the new file.
  4. Then, click the box next to Save as type. From the dropdown menu, select .jpeg.
  5. Click Save. The HEIC file is now a JPEG file. You can also use these same steps to convert HEIC to JPG, HEIC to PNG, and other formats.

How to Open HEIC Images in Other Applications

Opening HEIC files isn’t limited to the default photo apps on your device. Several popular third-party applications across different platforms also support HEIC files.

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop Supports HEIC files on both Windows and macOS. You may need to install additional codecs on Windows, specifically the HEIF and HEVC extensions from the Microsoft Store. On macOS, Photoshop should open HEIC files natively without extra steps, thanks to built-in support by the OS. To open a file, simply navigate to File > Open in Photoshop and select your HEIC file.

GIMP
A free and open source image editor can open HEIC files with the help of plugins. For Windows and Linux, install the libheif library that adds support for HEIC files. Once installed, HEIC files can be opened in GIMP through the File > Open menu.

IrfanView
A lightweight image viewer for Windows that can open HEIC files if you install the necessary plugins. Download and install the HEIF plugin from IrfanView’s official plugins page. After installation, you can open HEIC files in IrfanView by navigating to File > Open.

These are just a few of the popular apps you can use. There are more out there, so check with the developer to see if it supports HEIC files.

How to Convert HEIC Files to JPEG on the Web

Converting HEIC files to JPEG format can be easily accomplished using online tools, which are useful if you do not want to install any software on your device.

Note: While online tools are convenient, it’s important to consider the security of your data. Uploading sensitive or private images to a third-party server carries risks, as your data could potentially be accessed by unauthorized parties. Techopedia recommends only using services you know and trust.

We took the liberty to test an online tool to see how well it works. We did a quick search to convert HEIC to JPEG and chose the first result in Google, which was HEIC to JPEG.

The interface was simple to use. All that’s required is that you drag and drop an HEIC file, and the tool will automatically convert it.

Then, just download your new file.

Can You Open HEIC Files on Android?

Support can vary depending on the device model and the version of the Android operating system.

Native support for HEIC format was included with Android 10, allowing users to view and manage HEIC files directly from their photo gallery app.

How to Open HEIC files on Android via Google Photos

Google Photos is a convenient tool for Android users to open and manage HEIC files. Here’s how it works:

  1. Install Google Photos: If Google Photos is not already installed on your device, download it from the Google Play Store and follow the installation prompts.
  2. Set Up Google Photos: Open Google Photos and sign in with your Google account. If it’s your first time using the app, you may need to go through a setup process, including giving the app permission to access your photos.
  3. Upload HEIC Files: To view HEIC files, you need to upload them to Google Photos. To do this, tap Upload within the app and choose the HEIC files from your device’s storage.
  4. View HEIC Files: Once uploaded, HEIC files will appear in your Google Photos library. You can view them just like any other image file.

Want to know how to open HEIC files on an iPhone? That’s natively supported, so there’s no trick to it.

How to Open HEIC Files With Cloud Storage Options & Third-Party Apps

Various cloud services and third-party apps support HEIC files, offering straightforward ways to manage and view them across devices.

Here’s a very brief overview of some of the popular ones:

Dropbox
Upload HEIC files to Dropbox to view and manage them on any device with the app installed.

OneDrive
Use OneDrive to upload and view HEIC files across all connected devices.

Adobe Lightroom
Import HEIC images into Adobe Lightroom for advanced editing and flexible export options.
File Viewer Apps
Apps like File Viewer for Android allow direct opening and viewing of HEIC files from device storage.

These tools provide efficient solutions for accessing and managing HEIC files without needing complex conversions or installations.

Pros and Cons of HEIC File

Pros

  • HEIC files use advanced compression algorithms, allowing them to store high-quality images in smaller file sizes compared to JPEG
  • Maintains better image quality and supports a broader range of colors and higher dynamic ranges
  • Supports storing multiple images in one file and can include metadata
  • Particularly beneficial for devices with limited storage, allowing more photos to be stored

Cons

  • Not all devices and software support HEIC files natively, which can lead to issues when sharing or transferring images
  • Often requires conversion to more common formats like JPEG for compatibility with many platforms and services
  • Fewer image editing programs support HEIC compared to more established formats, which can restrict editing options
  • The use of HEIC may involve licensing fees or patent issues, impacting its adoption and use in some software

The Bottom Line

HEIC files offer efficient storage and high-quality images, making them great for devices with high-resolution cameras. However, their use is limited by compatibility issues, as not all devices and software support the format natively.

For those in the Apple ecosystem or with modern Android devices, HEIC works seamlessly, but others may require conversion tools.

As more platforms adopt HEIC, its benefits are expected to become more universally accessible, improving its use in digital imaging practices.

FAQs

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Marshall Gunnell
IT & Cybersecurity Expert
Marshall Gunnell
IT & Cybersecurity Expert

Marshall, a Mississippi native, is a dedicated expert in IT and cybersecurity with over a decade of experience. Along Techopedia, his bylines can be found on Business Insider, PCWorld, VGKAMI, How-To Geek, and Zapier. His articles have reached a massive readership of over 100 million people. Marshall previously served as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and technical staff writer at StorageReview, providing comprehensive news coverage and detailed product reviews on storage arrays, hard drives, SSDs, and more. He also developed sales strategies based on regional and global market research to identify and create new project initiatives.  Currently, Marshall resides in…