Photographers have to deal with a variety of image types, and new file formats appear from time to time, usually offering advantages that, while useful, may not be immediately obvious. This can lead to frustration and wasted hours when simply trying to complete a project. This is especially true when a new camera or device saves images that cannot be opened or edited in the normal workflow.
After Apple released iOS 11 in September 2017, the default photo file format on the iPhone and iPad changed from the ubiquitous JPG to a file format known as HEIC. Apple was the first major manufacturer to introduce HEIC, and it created ripples that are still felt today.
Although HEIC offers significant storage space savings, working with files can be tricky. The good news is that HEIC files can be easily converted to JPG for viewing and editing in your favorite apps.
Here’s a guide that will help you figure it all out, along with information that can prevent this from being a permanent problem, and resources to convert HEIC to JPEG for an immediate solution to dealing with a folder full of HEIC photos. which can’t be used.
What is the HEIC format?
HEIC stands for High-Efficiency Image Container. As a “container” format, it can contain a single image or a sequence of images, the same way a GIF can be a still image or an animation. Apple supports capturing and editing photos in HEIC format, as do many other smartphone and camera manufacturers, including Samsung, Canon, and Sony.
The image format is called High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) and it is based on High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). HEVC is also known as H.265 or MPEG-H Part 2. All of these acronyms sound confusing, but the only thing the end user needs to know is the file type. If a file extension is HEIC or HEIF, it is a High Efficiency Image. If it is HEVC, it is a high efficiency video file.
Although HEIC is still a compressed image format, it stores 10 bits of data for each pixel and results are generally much better than older lossy formats.
What is the JPEG format?
JPEG is a much older and more widespread image format that is largely responsible for most images seen on the internet and social media. Although it’s no longer the most efficient way to store photos, it was a revolutionary advancement in image quality for the early days of the internet, and that’s why it works just about anywhere. .
JPEG is the acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group, which became a standard following discussions within a committee of the same name. Like many image formats, there are several variations and JPEG has become more efficient over the years, but cannot match the quality of newer formats.
JPEG compresses both luminance and color, creating blocks that are sometimes visible as artifacts as well as blurring in certain parts of a photo. Several image quality options are available to reduce this problem, but the tradeoff is larger file size. When you are looking for the absolute best quality, another file format is needed.
Which format is better, HEIC or JPEG?
HEIC is the newest system and with technology, newer often means better. In this case, it’s true. HEIC has the ability to further compress data while reducing the impact on the original image quality. The file size is reduced by almost half and it is generally accepted that an image compressed as a HEIC file will be closer to the original uncompressed photograph than a JPEG compressed file of the same file size.
Either way, HEIC wins in terms of image quality and efficiency. While HEIC stores 10 bits of color and brightness information per pixel, JPEG can only handle 8 bits.
There are other considerations though, which is why HEIC and JPEG are often offered in hardware solutions. The only real flaw with HEIC is that it is newer and therefore has less software support. This means that there may be times when a HEIC image file needs to be converted to JPEG to be used everywhere.
Where can I use HEIC?
HEIC images can be used across the entire line of Apple products, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and MacBook computers.
Windows does not support HEIC, but it can be added with the free download of Microsoft’s HEIF Image Extensions for Windows 10 or higher. The HEVC Video Extensions package must also be installed as it is used to encode and decode HEIC images. Microsoft charges 99 cents for this software. After installation, Windows will be able to read and write image files encoded in HEIF format and with file extensions HEIC and HEIF.
On Linux, a HEIF library (libheif) can be installed to allow compatibility.
Phones and tablets running Android 10 or higher also include HEIC support. While most operating systems are compatible with High Efficiency Images or can be easily updated to support this format, a problem may arise when trying to upload a photo in HEIC over networks social media or opening it in an application that is not compatible with this image. type.
Is iPhone not automatically converting to JPEG?
In some cases, iPhone will automatically convert HEIC photos to JPEG format as needed. Since HEIC is more efficient, it makes sense to use this format on a smartphone with limited storage and in iCloud where it costs more to store larger files.
When iOS recognizes that the photos will be used elsewhere, it converts them before transferring them. Specifically, using AirDrop, Messages, or Apple Mail may trigger the conversion to JPEG format, depending on whether the receiving device supports the new media format.
How to Convert HEIC to JPEG on Mac, Windows and Linux
If a large library of photos in HEIC format has been transferred to an incompatible system or if the operating system can read the file but an application or website cannot, the only solution is to convert them all to the JPEG format much more compatible, despite the increase in file size. There are probably hundreds of ways to achieve this, but a few stand out as the least expensive and most convenient.
Since Apple accepts HEIC as standard, using a Mac computer greatly simplifies the process. Individual photos can be opened in the Preview app and saved as a JPEG file. Once a HEIC photo is open, simply select File>Exportto select JPEG in the Format option, and press Save.
From macOS Monterey, you can also right-click on a HEIC file and navigate to Quick Actions>Convert Image. In the window that appears, make sure JPEG is selected as Format then click Convert to JPEG.
If Windows has installed HEIF image extensions, the Photos app can be used to save HEIC images in JPEG format.
These solutions are inexpensive and simple when dealing with a small number of photos but are not really ideal if dozens of images need to be converted as they all need to be opened first. Instead, it is better to install a utility that can batch process a folder full of photos without continuous effort from the user.
For a more robust solution, it’s hard to go wrong with iMazing’s free HEIC converter. The application is available for Windows and Mac, offering a very simple and straightforward method to convert a large number of files from HEIC format to JPEG format with minimal hassle.
The process is quite simple with a drag and drop interface to provide the list of HEIC files, a slider to adjust the image quality from the default 95 and a Convert button which opens a file picker to choose where the images are. converted are saved. There are no ads or subscription fees, so if that solves the need, look no further.
For Linux users, the heif-convert utility allows batch conversion from the terminal, as explained by Ubuntu Manual. To install it, open the terminal and run the command: sudo apt install libheif-examples.
How to Change Your iPhone’s Image Format from HEIC to JPEG
If you know in advance that the JPEG image format will be needed and compatibility is more important to you than storage, the easiest solution is to simply tell the iPhone to use that format when storing. of a photograph. It’s pretty simple to do in the Settings app by scrolling down, tapping the Camera tab, then Formats and selecting Most compatible rather than High efficiency.
Then all photos will be captured in JPEG format, unless you are taking RAW or ProRAW images. Live Photos will appear the same on iPhone, however, the new format appears after transferring to another device. The iPhone will send a folder containing a JPEG file and an H.264 video file (the animated part of LivePhoto) in an Apple MOV container. Live Photo, RAW and ProRAW can all be disabled in the Camera app if only JPEG is desired.
HEIC can sometimes seem like a troublesome format, however, it offers significant advantages over JPEG. Image quality is improved with fewer artifacts even after editing. File size is also reduced, an important detail when storing a large number of photos.
The original purpose of JPEG was to save images more efficiently to make them easier to store and share online. Now HEIC is here to improve that efficiency even further and with Apple championing the format and other major players also offering support, the need to work with HEIC will likely continue for many years to come.
The good news is that OS support is relatively easy to secure and conversion tools are free. It is even possible to choose the format saved in the iPhone to completely avoid the problem. In the end, embracing the change and making HEIC an acceptable part of the workflow is probably best.