My cousin has been sending me photos she takes on her iPhone and they’re all in “HEIC” format. What is that and how can I convert it to JPEG so I can share it further with other family members? I’m on a Windows 11 PC computer.
Apple introduced the High-Efficiency Image Container / High-Efficiency Image Format (HEIC/HEIF) format a while back after having spent a lot of time analyzing other photo and image storage formats. It’s not the only new image format, though; both Progressive Network Graphic (PNG) and WebP are also new to many users, though they’ve been around for a few years now. The challenge is for all of our devices and systems to learn how to work with them all because you never want to share an image that someone can’t view!
There are lots of third-party image file format conversion apps for Windows, Android, iPhone, even the Mac, but the built-in system applications are also slowly gaining the smarts to work with many different formats too. On the Windows side, the humble “Microsoft Photos” program that’s included in Windows 11 can actually work with – and convert between! – quite a few formats, including HEIC/HEIF!
WORKING WITH HEIC IMAGES ON WINDOWS
To demonstrate how it all works I sent myself a photo of a plate of food from a buffet I attended recently. It’s called “fruit plate” but as you’ll see, there’s also some non-fruit on the plate! Saved on the Desktop, Windows shows some basic info about the photo when the cursor hovers over the icon:
As you can see, the image is in “HEIC File” format (probably should say “HEIF”, but we’ll let Microsoft slide on that). A few years ago double-clicking on it would produce a message about an unsupported format, but nowadays it can be easily opened in Microsoft Photos:
Rather than get sidetracked editing, cropping, or otherwise manipulating the image, just notice on the top left that it shows the filename suffix – “.heic” – which confirms that it’s in High-Efficiency Image Container format.
LEARN MORE ABOUT AN IMAGE IN PHOTOS
Click on the “i” with the circle around it and Photos can show you quite a bit more about the image:
This includes when the image was captured and, often, where it was taken too (which has some privacy implications, so be aware of whether your own shared images include geolocation info too). What it doesn’t explain in more detail, surprisingly, is the actual image format. No worries, on the assumption that a file suffix is accurate, we’re viewing an HEIF photo.
Click on the “•••” link along the top toolbar. A very helpful menu appears:
As highlighted, choose “Save as” to proceed.
Photos will show a standard Windows File Save window, but since this image is in .heic the individual files shared will only be those that match (typically none!).
The bottom portion that lists “Save as type” is where all the smarts are tucked in terms of image format conversion. You can see that it supports a decent number of choices, including the PNG format mentioned earlier, along with HEIC. It doesn’t support WebP, however, so you’ll have to do some research and download a third-party app if that’s your target. For us, JPEG or PNG will work great, but you mentioned JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group image file format, if you’re curious) so let’s choose that. Or, well, the three-letter filename suffix JPG.
Once you choose a different format, then the File Manager will also show you all matching images in that format in the main area, which for me means that a lot of additional images show up:
As yet another aside, the tiny blue cloud icon versus the tiny green checkmark indicates whether the image (or folder) resides on the local computer or in OneDrive in the cloud. Modern tech magic, really.
I’m going to save the image as shown above, as “fruit plate” with the suffix “.jpg”. A click on “Save” and:
Mission accomplished. Now if you have a few hundred images to convert, that’s going to be a bit tedious so you might look into discussions like How to Batch Convert in Microsoft Photos to gain some insight. Good luck!
Pro tip: I’ve been writing about Windows for many years. Please check out my Windows help area for lots more useful tutorials while you’re visiting the site!