HEIC - What is it, and what should you do with it?

Starting with iOS 11, your iPhone and iPad uses a new file format for photos and videos: HEIC, also known as HEIF and HEVC. Windows isn't really ready for that yet, so how do you keep everything compatible? What is a .HEIC file and how can you convert HEIC to JPG?

iOS 11 defaults to a new file format for photos and videos on devices that can handle it. Called HEIC (or HEIF) and HEVC, new compression techniques have seen the light of day in Apple's mobile operating system. Photos and videos therefore take up to about 50% less space than .jpg and the older .H264. Now there is a problem: although HEVC (also known as .H265) is now fairly standard supported by self-respecting video players, this is much less the case with HEIC. One of the reasons is that HEIF/HEIC is heavily boarded up by Apple patents. So you won't easily find support in popular viewers like IrfanView, unfortunately.

Fortunately, iOS 11 is very cleverly set up and you don't have to worry about suddenly sharing photos that no one can open. For example, if you email something or upload a photo to social media, it will be automatically converted to the universal .jpg format. But conversion and associated recompression also results in some loss of quality. If you just want to continue shooting and filming in the most common formats, that's possible. Despite this, the new file format remains impractical and its closed nature makes it feel more like bullying than progress.

Choose standard sizes

Open the Settings app and tap Camera. Then tap Structures and choose the option Most Compatible. By default, in iOS 11, the High Efficiency option is selected. Note: if you select the Structures . option not under Camera, your device does not support HEIF/HEIC and there is nothing to worry about anyway. Unfortunately, for devices that do have the option, it is not possible to, for example, leave the more established HEVC (.H265) on and turn off the less compatible HEIC. So it's a typical all-or-nothing case.

Convert automatically

We just wrote that iOS 11 is smart and converts photos from the new to the old format with actions such as emailing and uploading to social media. You can also choose to shoot and film in HEIF/HEIC, where iOS also converts photos to .jpg during transfer to a Windows PC. Please note: this leaves you with a recompression which is never ideal when it comes to quality. But if you want this, look in the Settings app under photos or the option Automatically is enabled. In that case you will always get .jpgs in Windows. Should you eventually get your hands on a photo editor or viewer that supports HEIF/HEIC, you can select the Keep originals and then the original photos will be transferred without conversion. In short: don't panic about the new file formats, but make sure you know how things work in practice.

HEIC and jpg

The HEIC format or the High Efficiency File Format has much better compression than the much more popular jpg format. The bottom line is that the same image in heic format takes up half the storage space than in jpg format. So you can store many more pictures on the same device. Apple even promises to further improve the quality and compression of HEIC in the future. The flip side of the coin is that operating systems other than Apple's don't yet have support for this newcomer. Fortunately, until the HEIC format is established, there are solutions such as CopyTrans HEIC. You can find the software at www.copytrans.net/copytransheic. During the installation procedure you must confirm that you are installing the software for personal use, in a commercial environment you will have to go through the checkout.

After installing the software, you are supposed to associate the HEIC format with Windows Photo Viewer. So right click on the HEIC image and select Open with and after that Windows Photo Viewer. You can also right-click the command Choose another app select, then you can Windows Photo Viewer select and check that your system will always use this app to open HEIC files.

If you prefer to convert the HEIC file to the jpg format, you can also do that from Windows Explorer. Right click on the file and use the command Convert to JPEG with CopyTrans. That way, you can batch convert up to 100 images at once. The photo files are not processed on an online server, all conversion is done locally. The software will convert each image in the background to jpg and then place it in the same folder. In addition, CopyTrans HEIC will inherit the original EXIF ​​data from the HEIC image during the conversion. This means that the information about date, location, camera settings and so on will be preserved.

In addition, this software adds support for third-party freeware viewers such as FastStone Image Viewer (www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm) and IrfanView (www.irfanview.com). And now you can even add HEIC files directly into Microsoft Word documents.

You also have converters, such as heictojpg.com (web-based, useful for single photos) and iMazing HEIC Converter (suitable for multiple photos at once) that can do this for you.

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