How to Open HEIC Files on Windows

Apple’s iPhone and iPad takes photos in the HEIF image format by default. These photos have the HEIC file extension. Windows 10 can view HEIC files in just a few clicks; or you can convert them to standard JPEGs and view them anywhere.

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RAYMOND OGLESBY @RaymondOglesby2
October 19, 2021

Apple’s iPhone and iPad takes photos in the HEIF image format by default. These photos have the HEIC file extension. Windows 10 can view HEIC files in just a few clicks; or you can convert them to standard JPEGs and view them anywhere. Let’s explore how this is done.

This is for devices running Windows 10, iPhone, and iPad

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What is HEIC

HEIC is the name that Apple gave to its container for the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) image format and is based on the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Compression) video format.

What it means for you are high-quality images that take up less storage space thanks to a more modern compression method.  

You can disable HEIC on the iPhone, but since its introduction in iOS 11, it has become Apple’s default photo storage format.

How to View HEIC Files

On modern versions of Windows 10, you can install support for HEIC image files.

First, locate an HEIC file in File Explorer on your computer and double-click it. If you are asked which application you want to open it in, select Photos.

Note! If the HEIC file does not open in the Photos app, right-click the HEIC file and select

Open With > Photos

Refer to below image:

HEIC 1
Selecting how to open HEIC photos

The Photos app will tell you that the HEIF Image Extension is required to display this file. Click the Download and install it now link to get it from the Microsoft Store. It’s a free download. If you do not see this requirement screen, do a Google search and install the extension. See below image:

HEIC 2
Google search for HEIF extension

If Windows asks Did you mean to switch apps?, select Yes.

This will open the HEIF Image Extensions page in the Microsoft Store app. Click the Install or Get button to download support for HEIC image files (which use the HEIF format.) See following image:

HEIC 3
Get or Install the HEIF extension

On the next screen, if the extension is already installed, you are set. If not, the Launch button will display Install instead. Just click to install the extension. Refer to below image:

HEIC 4
Status of the extension

Now, when you open an HEIC image in the Photos app, you will be able to view it like you would any other image file, like a JPEG, PNG, GIF, or BMP. See below image:

HEIC 5
HEIC photo

Windows 10’s File Explorer will automatically generate and display thumbnails for your HEIC image files, too. See following image:

HEIC 6
Thumbnails of HEIC photos in File Explorer

Convert HEIC to JPEG

To quickly and easily convert HEIC files to standard JPEG images on Windows, we recommend you download and install CopyTrans HEIC for Windows.

This tool installs full support for HEIC images in Windows, so it’s particularly useful on Windows 7 and older versions of Windows 10 that do not have integrated support in the Photos app. It adds support for HEIC images to the classic Windows Photo Viewer.

CopyTrans HEIC also allows you to right-click an HEIC file in File Explorer and select Convert to JPEG to easily convert it to a JPEG file. Select the option and you will get a JPEG version of the image automatically placed in the same folder as the original HEIC file.

JPEG files are more widely supported, so this will help you use the HEIC file in applications that support JPEG images but not HEIC files. Refer to below image:

HEIC 7
Selecting to convert HEIC to JPEG

Change the Default

If you find dealing with HEIC files inconvenient, you can also configure your iPhone to always take photos in JPEG format.

Go to

Settings > Camera > Formats > (and checkmark) Most Compatible

instead of High Efficiency. See below image:

HEIC 8
changing the default on iPhone

However, HEIC offers higher image quality in smaller file sizes. It’s a more modern image format, and we recommend sticking with it if the applications you use support it.

Quote For the Day

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I Would Like to Hear From You

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Author: Raymond

I am Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you. I plan on updating this blog at least twice a week about smart phone apps to Windows. Please feel free to leave a Comment or Tweet. I would love to hear from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

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