HEIF & HEIC: Everything You Need to Know

Wonder the HEIF and HEIC? Look no further. In this comprehensive guide, we provide you with complete information about the two image file format HEIF and HEIC. Dive in to discover everything you may concern.

Demi by Demi Updated March 6, 2024
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In the ever-evolving world of digital media, new file formats continue to emerge, aiming to provide better compression, quality, and efficiency. One such advancement is the High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF) and its container format, High Efficiency Image Codec (HEIC). These formats have gained significant attention due to their ability to revolutionize the way we capture, store, and share images.

heif and heic

In this article, we will delve into the world of HEIF and HEIC, exploring everything you need to know about them.

What are HEIF and HEIC?

HEIF, which stands for High Efficiency Image Format, is a file format developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) as a successor to the widely used JPEG format. HEIF uses advanced compression algorithms to store images with higher quality and smaller file sizes compared to traditional formats (like JPG). This means that HEIF files can store more detailed images while taking up less storage space on your device.

HEIC, on the other hand, is the file extension used for HEIF files that contain images encoded using the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) codec. HEIC files typically have the .heic extension and can store not only still images but also sequences of images, image metadata, and even audio.

Difference between HEIF and HEIC

Now, here comes the question: What’s the difference between HEIF and HEIC? In short, HEIC and HEIF are often used interchangeably, but it's essential to understand the distinction between the two.

Differentiating between HEIF and HEIC, it's important to note that HEIF is a file format specifically designed for storing individual images and image sequences. On the other hand, HEIC serves as a container for both image and video files, commonly utilized by Live Photos on iOS devices.

Now, you should have a clear idea about the question: Are HEIC and HEIF the same? Essentially, HEIC acts as the container that holds HEIF images. This distinction represents the main difference between the HEIC and HEIF file formats.

heic files

If you are also curious about the differences between HEIC/HEIF and JPG format, you can head to this guide: [Full Comparison]HEIC vs JPG to get more information.

Can you open HEIC files on Windows PC?

While HEIC files offer significant advantages in terms of file size and image quality, compatibility can be a concern, especially on Windows PCs. By default, Windows does not natively support the HEIC format, which means you may encounter difficulties when attempting to open or view HEIC files directly.

However, there are solutions available to overcome this limitation. One option is to install a dedicated HEIC viewer or codec on your Windows PC to view HEIC images directly in Windows Photo Viewer or other compatible image viewer applications.

Another option is to utilizing an HEIC to JPG/JPEG converter to convert HEIC files to a more widely supported format.

Tool 1. HEIF image extension

To open HEIC files on your Windows 10/11 PC, you can install the HEIF Image Extension. This extension allows your computer to natively support the HEIC format, just like any other image format. Follow the steps below to get the HEIF Image Extension:

Step 1. Launch the browser on your computer and go to the HEIF Image Extensions page on the Microsoft store.

Step 2. Hit the Get button to download and install the extension.

heif extension

Once installed, you will be able to open and view HEIC files seamlessly on your Windows 10/11 PC, making it easier to work with this file format.

Tool 2. FoneTool

For users of other Windows versions, if you want to open HEIC files, the best option is to install a photo converter. FoneTool, a professional image format converter, is compatible with Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP. With FoneTool, you can easily convert HEIC photos to JPG format by simply dragging and dropping the pictures into the converter.

The great advantage of using FoneTool is that it ensures your photos remain unaffected during the conversion process. You can convert HEIC photos to JPG/PNG without any loss of quality. Additionally, you have the convenience of converting multiple HEIC files at once, saving you time and effort.

And it’s also a handy iPhone photos transfer tool. You can firstly transfer photos from iPhone to PC with this tool. Free download FoneTool to your computer, and follow the steps below to convert HEIC o JPG/JPEG/PNG without compromising its quality.

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Step 1. Launch FoneTool, click Toolbox > Choose HEIC Converter.

choose heic converter

Step 2. When the converter program is launched, select Add Photos, and choose photos you need to convert.

add photos

Step 3. Specify the format, quality, speed, and storage path. Then click Start Converting.

start convert

In addition, if your photos are not showing up, FoneTool can help you discover how to copy hidden photos from iPhone to PC.

Summary & FAQ

In conclusion, HEIF and HEIC offer a significant leap forward in terms of image compression and quality. No doubt, the JPEG format is still widely used when it comes to sharing images across different platforms. However, the HEIF format is better than JPEG as it offers great file size benefits without quality loss.

As these formats continue to gain popularity, native support for HEIC files will likely become more prevalent in the future, making compatibility concerns a thing of the past.


Q1: Which devices and operating systems support HEIF/HEIC?
A1: HEIF/HEIC is natively supported on devices running iOS 11 (and later) and macOS High Sierra (and later). Some Android devices and Windows 10 also have built-in support, but it may vary depending on the manufacturer and software version.

Q2: Are HEIF/HEIC images backward compatible with older devices and software?
A2: HEIF/HEIC images may not be fully compatible with older devices and software versions that lack native support. It's recommended to convert HEIF/HEIC images to widely supported formats like JPEG for better compatibility.

Q3: Can I edit HEIF/HEIC images in popular image editing software?
A3: Many popular image editing software applications, like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, or GIMP, now support HEIF/HEIC files. However, it's essential to check the software's compatibility and ensure you have the latest updates installed.

Q4: Can I share HEIF/HEIC images on social media platforms and messaging apps?
A4: Most popular social media platforms and messaging apps have adopted support for HEIF/HEIC. However, compatibility may vary, and some platforms might convert HEIF/HEIC images to other formats automatically during the upload process.


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