If you have an iPhone running iOS 11 (or later) or a Mac running macOS High Sierra (or later), chances are that, at some point in time, you might have come across the HEIF (or HEIC) and HEVC formats on your device. Not to mention, Google, which followed Apple’s footsteps and introduced support for HEIF on Android with Android P. However, if you are unaware of what these new formats are, here’s a quick explainer on the same, along with the steps to enable support and open HEIF or HEVC files on Windows 10.
To give you some background, HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) aka HEIC (High Efficiency Image Codec) is a container for individual images and images sequences with improved compression that promises to retain twice the information in half the file size compared to some of the traditional formats like JPEG. Although Apple was the first to adopt the HEIF on its system, it is the MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) that developed the format. [Note – HEIF and HEIC files can be found ending with extensions .heif or .heic.]
Similar to HEIF (or HEIC), another addition to Apple’s ecosystem was the adoption of HEVC (High Efficiency Video Codec). As the name suggests, the format applies to video, and much like HEIF, it also promises to retain more details with around 50% better data compression than some of the other video formats such as AVC. The HEVC format is also often referred to as H.265, and it builds upon the H.264 standard by keeping the overall file size small without affecting the video quality.
With a bunch of advantages over the previous formats, both HEIF (or HEIC) and HEVC got adopted by Apple starting iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, and soon, also by Google with Android P. While this change did not affect iPhone users (who also own a Mac), the problem started arising when iPhone users (who own Windows) had to transfer and access these files on their Windows 10 machine. As it was not until Google introduced HEIF (or HEIC) on Android that Microsoft found the need to add support for the same on their operating system. And, as of now, although Windows 10 supports HEIF (or HEIC), it does not natively offer support for HEVC, and therefore, requires users to install a plugin separately.
Although you can change the capture format to Most Compatible to avoid the hassle of going through the tedious process for sharing and accessing these files on non-Apple devices, some people own an iPhone with the base storage variant, and therefore, cannot afford to capture images/videos in JPEG/H.264, since it requires a lot of storage space. Also, if you happen to have a newer-generation iPhone, you might have the “capture outside the frame” option enabled, which requires you to set the capture format to High Efficiency. So, if you happen to be an iPhone user who owns a Windows 10 computer, here’s how you can enable support and open these files on your machine.
How to Enable support for HEIF and HEVC Files on Windows 10
1. Open a web browser and go to this link.
2. Here, you will be presented with HEIF Image Extensions on the Microsoft Store. Tap Get.
3. Next, you will now be asked to open the extension in Microsoft Store on your device. Tap on Open Microsoft Store.
4. Now, as soon as the extension is downloaded, tap Install.
5. Similar to the above steps where you downloaded HEIF Image Extensions, tap on this link to go to the HEVC Video Extensions.
6. Once here, hit the Get button, and then, the Install button, to install the extension on your device.
How to Open HEIF and HEVC Files on Windows 10
Once you have installed the HEIF and HEVC extensions using the method above, your machine is now ready to view and edit the files in HEIF and HEVC file format. To access these files, all you need to do is double-click on the file and select an app that you want to open it with, be it the Photos app, or the Microsoft Paint app, you should now be able to view these files for free on your machine.
How to Fix HEIF and HEVC Extensions not working on Windows 10
Although, if you managed to install the HEIF and HEVC Extensions from the Microsoft Store successfully, you should be able to view files with HEIF and HEVC format. However, in case something goes wrong during the installation process, here’s how to fix it and get these extensions working.
1. Open Settings and go to Apps.
2. From the left pane, select Apps & Features.
3. On the right pane, scroll down to find HEIF Image Extensions and tap on it.
4. Select Advanced options, and on the next screen, tap the Reset button.
5. Now, similar to the above steps, go back to the Apps & Features page and scroll down to find HEVC Video Extensions and tap on it.
6. Finally, select Advanced options, and on the next page, tap on the Reset button.
Once you hit Reset, the extension will be reinstalled, and all the settings will be set to default.
By following the above steps, you should be able to access HEIF and HEVC files on your Windows 10 machine. For future instances, if your work requires frequent export of images/videos from your iPhone to a Mac or a PC, you should change the Transfer to Mac or PC settings. Here’s how —
1. Open Settings on your iPhone and scroll down to Photos.
2. Scroll down to find the settings for TRANSFER TO MAC OR PC.
3. Here, choose Automatic.
And that’s it!
Now, every time you transfer an image or video from your iPhone to a Mac or a PC, the file will automatically be converted to a compatible format before it is transferred. However, do note that only the images and videos that you take after making changes to the capture settings will be automatically converted to a compatible format while transferring. And not the images and videos that were taken before making the changes.