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How to Open HEIC Files or Convert Them to JPEG, PNG, PSD, GIF and Other Formats

We show you how to open and view HEIC images on Windows 11 and how to convert HEIC to JPEG, PNG, PSD, GIF and other formats using Windows, macOS or your web browser.


Apple´s High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIC) has emerged as a notable player, especially for iOS users. Introduced in 2017 with iOS 11, HEIC files are now the default format for photos on iPhones and iPads.

What is a HEIC file?

The HEIC format is known for its high-efficiency compression, which allows for significantly smaller file sizes while maintaining high image quality. However, despite its advantages, HEIC files often present compatibility challenges, particularly when sharing images with users on Windows 11, Android or other different platforms or when trying to view them on non-Apple devices.

Fortunately, there are several methods and tools available that can help you convert HEIC files into more widely supported formats, or even enable your non-Apple devices to open and view HEIC files directly.

The need to convert HEIC files into more universally accepted formats like JPEG, PNG, PSD, or GIF is a common scenario faced by many. Whether you’re a professional photographer, a graphic designer, or just someone trying to share your latest photos with friends and family, understanding how to open HEIC files or convert them into other formats is essential. This tutorial aims to demystify the process, offering step-by-step guidance on how to handle HEIC files across various devices and platforms.

In the following sections, we will explore various approaches to dealing with HEIC files. From using built-in features on your devices to leveraging third-party software and online conversion tools, we will cover a range of solutions suitable for different needs and technical skill levels. Whether you prefer a quick and straightforward method to open HEIC files on Windows 11 or tools to convert HEIC files on Windows or other platforms, this tutorial will provide you with the knowledge and resources.

How to Open a HEIC File Natively via the Windows 11 HEIC Extensions

This section shows how users of Windows 11 can open HEIC files directly without needing any third-party software. It involves using the HEIC extensions available in Windows 11, which once installed, allows the native Photos app to open and view HEIC files seamlessly and enables the preview feature for HEIC files in the File Explorer app. This approach is ideal for those who prefer a straightforward, integrated solution without the hassle of additional software.

  1. Install “HEIF Image Extensions” using the Microsoft Store
    You can search for “heif image extension” to find the app or use this link for the web version of the Microsoft Store.

    Windows 11 - Microsoft - Store - Get HEIF Image Extensions

  2. Use File Explorer to show HEIF image thumbnails and image itself
    Go back to the folder containing the HEIC file. You’ll notice that the file’s thumbnail is now visible in File Explorer and the preview pane.

    Windows 11 - File Explorer - Folde HEIC Images

  3. Show HEIC images in the Windows 11 Photos app
    Via double click you then can also open the HEIC image files with the Windows 11 Photos app which offers full screen mode and zoom.

    Windows 11 - HEIC File - Photos App

How to Uninstall the Heif Image Extension in Windows 11

You might encounter issues with the HEIC extension or simply prefer to use an alternative method for handling HEIC files. This part of the tutorial will guide you through the process of uninstalling the HEIF Image Extension in Windows 11. This step is crucial for users who wish to switch to different software for managing HEIC files or troubleshoot problems related to the native HEIC support on their system.

  1. Open “Terminal” as an admin
    Press “Windows + X” to open the context menu and choose “Terminal (Admin)”.
    Windows 11 - Open Admin PowerShell
  2. Open a PowerShell-tab and check if the HEIF Image Extensions are installed
    This command will show if the HEIF Image Extensions from Microsoft on Windows 11 are currently present on your PC:

    Get-AppxPackage *HEIF* -allusers

    Windows 11 - Admin PowerShell - HEIF Extension Cmd

  3. Run the command to remove the HEIC Image Extensions from Windows 11

    Get-AppxPackage -allusers *HEIFImageExtension* | Remove-AppxPackage

    The -allusers flag removes it for everyone on the PC. If you just want to remove the HEIC Image Extensions for the current user, you can use the following command:

    Get-AppxPackage *HEIFImageExtension* | Remove-AppxPackage

    Windows 11 - Admin PowerShell - HEIF Extension Cmd - Remove Cmd

How to Convert HEIC to JPG on Windows 11 With CopyTrans

For those looking for a dedicated tool to convert HEIC files to JPG on Windows 11, CopyTrans offers a user-friendly solution. In this section, we’ll demonstrate how to use CopyTrans to efficiently convert your HEIC files into the more universally compatible JPG format. This method is particularly useful for users who regularly need to convert images for compatibility or sharing purposes.

  1. Download and install CopyTrans HEIC for Windows

    CopyTrans HEIC for Windows is free and allows you to easily preview and browse HEIC images using Windows File Explorer. You won’t need any extra software to do so. You can browse your photos or print them directly without converting them to JPEG format first. Besides, CopyTrans HEIC can assist other image viewers such as FastStone Image Viewer or IrfanView to identify and open HEIC files. Download and run the installer to add CopyTrans HEIC for Windows to your PC.

    Windows 11 - Install CopyTrans

  2. Convert HEIC to JPG via right-click
    Right-click a HEIC image file and select “Show more options” in the context menu.

    Windows 11 - File Explorer - HEIC File - Context Menu - Show More

  3. Click “Convert to JPEG with CopyTrans”
    This will convert the selected HEIC image file(s) as JPG images in the same folder.

    Windows 11 - File Explorer - HEIC File - Context Menu - Show More - Convert to JPEG

How to Convert HEIC to JPG or PNG on Windows or macOS With iMazing Converter

Imazing Converter is another excellent tool for converting HEIC files to JPG. This part of the tutorial will provide a step-by-step guide on using Imazing Converter, highlighting its features and ease of use. Ideal for both casual and professional users, this method offers a reliable way to convert HEIC files on Windows 11 or macOS while maintaining image quality.

  1. Download and install iMazing Converter
    You can download the free converter on the official website, on the Mac App Store of the Microsoft Store.

    Windows 11 - Download Imazing Converter

  2. Drag & Drop the HEIC image file to the iMazing Converter Window

    Windows 11 - Imazing Converter - Drop HEIC File

  3. Convert HEIC to JPG or PNG with different quality and resolution
    Select JPEG or PNG as “Format”, adjust Quality and Resolution using the sliders and click “Convert”. The converted HEIC image file will be saved in the source directory.

    Windows 11 - Imazing Converter - Drop HEIC File - Convert

How to Convert HEIC to JPG on the Web With JPEGmini

If you prefer an online solution, JPEGmini provides a convenient web-based platform for converting HEIC files to JPG. This section will focus on how to use JPEGmini to quickly convert your images without the need to download or install any software. This method is perfect for users who need a quick conversion or those using devices where installing software is not feasible.

  1. Open JPEGmini in your web browser and upload the HEIC image file
    Click on “Choose heic/jpg photos or drop them here”. As the text says you can also drag & drop the HEIC image file onto the grey area.

    Windows 11 - heictojpg.com - Add Icon

  2. If you clicked, you can select the HEIC files using the “Open” dialog
    The HEIC image will then be converted into a JPG image file which you can download on your PC.

    Windows 11 - heictojpg.com - Add Icon - Open HEIC File

How to Convert HEIC to JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD and Other Formats on the Web With Cloudconvert

For a more versatile online conversion tool, Cloudconvert offers the ability to convert HEIC files into a wide range of formats including JPG, PNG, GIF, and PSD. This method is ideal for users who need to convert HEIC files into specific formats for different applications or platforms.

  1. Open the Cloudconvert HEIC to JPG page and select the target format
    Cloudconvert can convert HEIC images to JPG, PNG, BMP, EPS, GIF, ICO, ODD, PS, PSD, TIFF, and WEBP.

  2. Click “Select File”

    Windows 11 - Cloudconvert.com - Select File

  3. Select the HEIC file(s) you want to convert and click “Open”

    Windows 11 - Cloudconvert.com - Select File - Open

  4. A click “Convert” will convert the HEIC image file(s)
    If you didn´t choose the destination format above, you can change after loading the HEIC file. Clicking on the tool button, you can fine-tune the conversion settings before the HEIC file(s) are converted.
    Cloudconvert.com - Choose Format and Convert
  5. Select “Width”, “Height”, “Fit” mode and Quality

    • Width: Output width in pixels
    • Height: Output height in pixels
    • Fit – “max”:  Resizes the image to fit within the width and height, but will not increase the size of the image if it is smaller than width or height.
    • Fit – “crop”: Resizes the image to fill the width and height dimensions and crops any excess image data.
    • Fit – “scale”: Enforces the image width and height by scaling.
    • Quality: JPEG compression level from 1 (lowest image quality and highest compression) to 100 (best quality but least effective compression). The default is to estimate the quality based on your input image.
    • Strip: Keep or remove any metadata such as EXIF data.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About HEIC Files

What is the main advantage of HEIC format over JPEG?

The primary advantage of the HEIC format over JPEG lies in its advanced compression technology, which allows it to store high-quality images at roughly half the file size of an equivalent JPEG. HEIC also supports 16-bit color compared to JPEG’s 8-bit, enabling a wider color range and finer gradients. Additionally, HEIC can store multiple images in one file, which is ideal for live photos, and it supports transparency, similar to PNG files.

Will converting HEIC files to JPEG increase their file size?

Yes, converting from HEIC to JPEG typically results in larger file sizes. This increase is due to JPEG’s older and less efficient compression algorithm. The extent of the size increase can vary depending on the image content and the compression settings used during the conversion process. While JPEG images take up more space, the format is more universally compatible across devices and platforms.

Can I open HEIC files on older versions of Windows, like Windows 7 or 8?

Natively, older Windows versions like 7 or 8 do not support HEIC files. However, you can open HEIC files on these systems by using third-party software such as IrfanView or XnView, which can be equipped with HEIC plugins. Another approach is to convert HEIC files to a more universally recognized format like JPEG using online converters or dedicated conversion software.

Are there any privacy concerns when using online HEIC to JPEG converters?

When using online converters, your images are uploaded to a server, which could pose privacy concerns depending on the sensitivity of the content and the policies of the service provider. To mitigate risks, opt for reputable services with clear privacy policies that state they do not store or misuse your data. For highly sensitive images, consider using offline conversion tools to avoid uploading your files to the internet.

How can I convert HEIC files on Linux?

On Linux, you can convert HEIC files using command-line tools like heif-convert, part of the libheif library. First, install libheif via your Linux distribution’s package manager (e.g., apt-get install libheif-examples on Ubuntu). Then, use the heif-convert command followed by your HEIC file’s name and the desired output file name, such as heif-convert input.heic output.jpg, to perform the conversion.

Can I revert a JPEG file back to its original HEIC format?

While you can technically convert a JPEG file back to HEIC, the original HEIC quality and compression efficiency won’t be restored. The conversion from HEIC to JPEG is lossy, meaning some original data is irreversibly compressed or discarded. Converting the JPEG back to HEIC will not recover this lost information, and the resultant HEIC file may actually be larger than the original due to the inefficiencies introduced by the initial conversion to JPEG.

Is there a quality difference between online and offline HEIC conversion tools?

The conversion quality primarily depends on the algorithms and settings used by the conversion tools rather than their online or offline nature. Offline tools often provide more advanced settings and control over the conversion process, which can lead to better quality outcomes, especially for batch conversions or when dealing with large files. Online tools offer convenience and quick conversions but may not always provide the same level of customization or quality preservation.

How do I handle HEIC files on devices that don’t support them?

For devices that don’t natively support HEIC files, converting the files to a more universally supported format like JPEG is the most straightforward solution. This can be done using various conversion tools or software mentioned in the tutorial, such as iMazing Converter for Windows and macOS or online services like Cloudconvert. Alternatively, some third-party photo viewers and editors on non-supporting devices might offer direct HEIC file support.

Can HEIC format handle animated images like GIFs?

Yes, the HEIC format can store sequences of images, enabling support for animations similar to GIFs. This capability makes HEIC a versatile format for not only static photos but also live photos and animated images, offering better compression and higher quality than GIFs. However, creating and viewing HEIC animations requires compatible software and devices.

Do all modern smartphones support HEIC format?

While HEIC is widely supported on modern Apple devices, its adoption on Android and other platforms varies. Some recent Android smartphones can capture and display HEIC images, but support is not universal. It’s essential to check the specifications of your device or its camera settings to determine if it supports HEIC. For broader compatibility, especially when sharing images, converting HEIC files to JPEG may be necessary.

What are the limitations of using the Windows 11 HEIC extensions for viewing HEIC files?

The Windows 11 HEIC extensions enable basic viewing and handling of HEIC files within the system’s native applications, like the Photos app and File Explorer. However, these extensions may not support advanced features of HEIC files, such as editing live photos or handling image sequences. For more complex operations or better integration with professional photo editing software, third-party HEIC support or conversion tools might still be needed.

How do cloud storage services handle HEIC files?

Cloud storage services vary in how they handle HEIC files. Some, like iCloud, fully support HEIC and store the files in their original format. Others may automatically convert HEIC files to JPEG for compatibility purposes when uploading or sharing. It’s advisable to check the settings and documentation of your preferred cloud service to understand how it deals with HEIC files, especially if maintaining the original format is crucial for you.

Is the transparency in HEIC files preserved when converting to other formats like PNG?

When converting HEIC files to formats that support transparency, such as PNG, most conversion tools aim to preserve transparency. However, the success of this preservation can depend on the tool’s capabilities and the specific conversion settings used. To ensure transparency is maintained, verify the conversion settings or use a tool specifically designed to handle transparency correctly.

Can I batch rename HEIC files during the conversion process?

Many desktop conversion tools offer batch processing features, allowing you to convert and rename multiple HEIC files simultaneously. This functionality can be particularly useful for organizing and managing large collections of images. Look for a conversion tool that includes batch renaming options, and check its documentation for instructions on setting up naming patterns and conversion preferences.

What’s the environmental impact of using HEIC format compared to JPEG?

The HEIC format’s more efficient compression not only saves storage space but also reduces the data transfer required when sharing or uploading images, potentially leading to lower energy consumption and a smaller environmental footprint. In contexts where large volumes of images are handled, such as data centers or cloud storage services, the cumulative energy savings from using HEIC instead of JPEG can be significant.

Extra: How to Convert a JPG to PDF (4 Methods)

Quite often, it’s necessary to turn downloaded or created images into an easily browsable document. For this purpose, there’s no better file format than the humble PDF. in our other guide we show you how to convert a JPG to a PDF using a variety of methods.
Featured - How to convert JPG to PDF

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.

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