What is a HEIC file and how to open it

If you have an Apple device, you may have noticed that all the photos you take with the camera are now in HEIC file format. Or maybe your friend who owns an Apple device sent you a HEIC image that you can’t open on your Windows machine. It’s certainly boring, but it’s not the end of the world. Here’s what a HEIC image is and how to open them.

Read more: How to Convert Apple HEIC to JPG


HEIC is an image format that was adopted by Apple in 2017 as the default preferred image file format with iOS 11. It produces an image quality greater than half the size of an equivalent JPG image, but all operating systems do not currently recognize HEIC. This hampered its development and popularity.


What is a HEIC file?

Comparison between JPEG and HEIF

HEIC (also known as HEIF) is an image file format created in 2015. However, it wasn’t really used until Apple adopted it as a standard file format in 2017 with iOS 11. A HEIC file is much more advantageous than a JPG file because it has the same image quality and compression as a JPG image at half the size. If you are aware of how much storage space is quickly consumed on your device, this is a pretty big advantage to have.

Some operating systems, such as newer versions of Android and Linux, recognize HEIC images. But others, like Windows, require a third-party tool to view them or convert them to JPG or PNG. If you intend to keep only images on your Apple device, then HEIC is the much better option. If you intend to share them with other types of devices, it may be better to completely disable HEIC and use JPG instead. At least until Windows recognizes HEIC natively without the need for third-party apps.

How to Enable and Disable HEIC File Settings

Ideally, you should keep HEIC enabled on your Apple device, as it has definite advantages over JPG. However, if you’re having trouble opening them on other operating systems, it may be safe to switch back to JPG for now until HEIC is more widely adopted.

To enable or disable HEIC, go to Settings > Camera on your iOS device and tap Sizes.

ios camera settings

High efficiency is the HEIC format, and Most Compatible is JPG. Choose the one you prefer. Of course, you can come and go as much as you want. However, as shown on the screen, some video formats will immediately become inaccessible if you switch to Most compatible.

ios heic camera

How to Open a HEIC File on Different Operating Systems

If you are opening the HEIC file on an Apple device, you just need to click or tap on it to open it. Apple has instant recognition for HEIC, and you will never have any issues with its hardware. The fun and games begin when you try to open HEIC images in Windows.

  • the Windows — Open the HEIC image with the Photos app. However, you will then be told that you need to install HEIF Image Extensions from the Microsoft Store. Once installed, you should be able to open HEIC images in the Windows Photos app. The extension is not highly rated though, so you might have to pay $3 to buy the higher rated one instead.
  • android – you can view HEIC images by tapping on them in the Google Photos app.

Read more: How to Save an Image on a Mac


It stands for High Efficiency Image Coding, which is part of HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format).

Far from there. When it comes to compression and image quality, HEIC is far superior to JPG. The only thing holding it back is that not all operating systems recognize it yet except for a few newer versions of Android and Ubuntu.

Mainly because HEIC images are smaller than JPG and higher quality. A HEIC image takes up only half the space of an equivalent high-quality JPG image.