How to Open HEIC Files in Windows & Convert to JPG

Since iOS 11 (released in September 2017), HEIC has been the default way to save photos on iPhone and iPad. There are a few good reasons for switching from JPG, mainly to reduce file size. However, HEIC can also store multiple images (from a continuous sequence, for example) in a single file.

Android 9 (Pie) also adds support for this highly efficient format, and it might be worth using if your phone doesn’t already save photos in this modern format.

The drawback is that you may find that you cannot open these files after transferring them to your laptop or PC. Microsoft added HEIC (and HEIF) support in version 1809 (October 2018 update), but even if your computer is running the latest version of Windows, you may still have to install a few things. (and actual pay) before the original Windows. The Photos app will open these files and let you view them.

TIP: You can tell which version of Windows your computer is running by typing winver in the Windows search box, next to the Start button, and then pressing Enter.

However, this is not your only option. Here we will explain how:

  • Install extensions and open HEIC files in Windows
  • Convert HEIC files to JPG (free) so you can open them
  • Transfer photos from your iPhone to a more compatible format
  • Stop your iPhone from saving photos in HEIC . format

How to open HEIC files in Windows 10

Make sure you have Windows 10 version 1809 or later. If the version is lower than 1809 (very unlikely), open the Settings app and go to Update & Security > Windows Update.

Next, you need to install the support extension, which is available on the Microsoft Store as a HEIF Image Extension. This will be free, but it may already be installed on your device.

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How to Open HEIC Files in Windows 10 & 11

Now click on the following link to get the HEVC Video Extension. This will cost you £0.79 / US$0.99, but it’s claimed along with HEIF support – unfortunately Microsoft doesn’t make this clear in the HEIF Extensions list.

You used to be able to get this software for free using an identical Device Manufacturer version, but as of October 2020, it is only available if you redeem an eligible code.

See more on how to open H.265 video in our separate guide on how to install the HEVC codec on Windows.

HEVC . Video Extensions

For both tools, click the ‘Get’ button and wait for the software to be installed.

Now, you will find that double clicking on the .heic file will open it in the default Windows 10 Photos app. Otherwise, you’ll see a window similar to the one below, where you can click the Photos app and check the box marked: Always use this app to open .HEIC files.

How to open HEIC files in Windows 10

How to convert HEIC to JPG

If you have installed the HEIF and HEVC extensions mentioned above, you will find that when you open a HEIC file, it will behave like a JPG file. You can edit it as usual using the tools available in the Photos app, but you’ll also notice that even if you don’t make any changes after clicking the ‘Edit & Create’ button at the top right, there is still a blue ‘Save Copy’ button at the bottom that allows you to save the photo again in your preferred format, including JPG.

How to open HEIC files in Windows 10

That method is fine if you want to convert photos infrequently, but there are easier ways to batch convert photos to JPG

There are quite a few free apps including

If you want more control, such as how much to compress JPG, rename files, and more, check out Duckhead’s HEIC to JPG – The HEIC Image Converter on the Microsoft Store.

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Here is iMazing converter, a small application that allows you to drag and drop files and choose to convert them to JPG or PNG, as well as the output folder.

How to Open a HEIC File in Windows and Convert

Apple users can easily convert HEIC files to JPEG on their Mac.

How to make your iPhone transfer photos as JPG instead of HEIC

If you don’t want to convert files in Windows, there are different ways to share those photos so that they are automatically converted to JPG. To share photos, open the Photos app, tap Select at the top, select the photos you want, then tap the share icon (bottom left) and choose an app or method to share them.

You can send them by email or upload to a cloud storage service. Sharing via WhatsApp or other social media is a bad idea, as photos always lose quality.

When you choose to share via Mail, you’ll have to choose a size – always choose the original (maximum) file size if you want to retain the best quality.

And if you choose a cloud provider like Google Drive, you will find that the files will be saved with the .jpeg extension.

How to open HEIC files in Windows

How to stop your iPhone from saving photos in HEIC . format

Open the Settings app and scroll down until you see Camera. Tap it then Format (at the top).

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

How to stop iPhone from saving photos in HEIC . format

It’s a similar story for video, with H.265 files requiring a codec to open in certain applications. Learn more in our guide on how to install the HEVC codec on Windows.

What is a HEIC file?

If you copied photos from a recent iPhone or iPad to your PC or laptop, chances are you’ll see a lot of weird HEIC files:

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How to Open a HEIC File in Windows and Convert

The format was developed by MPEG – not Apple – so it’s not like Apple is trying to do its own proprietary thing. In fact, HEIC is slowly usurping the established (but old and flawed) JPG format.

.heic images are compressed using HEVC, which is a highly efficient video codec. These images are then stored in a HEIF file, which stands for High Efficiency File Format

There are many benefits to using a HEIF file, even if it’s a bit confusing that the file is called HEIC and not HEIF.

Here’s why HEIC files are great:

  • About half the size of a JPG for the same quality
  • Can store multiple photos in one file (ideal for Live Photos and burst shooting)
  • Support transparency like GIF files
  • Image edits, such as crop and rotate, can be stored so you can undo them
  • Supports 16-bit color compared to JPG’s 8-bit

You may want to read our tips for taking better photos with your iPhone.

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