My cousin sent me some photos from her iPhone that are in “HEIC” format. I can’t open them on my Windows 10 PC. Help!
There are dozens and dozens of different image formats in use nowadays, with the most common being JPEG and PNG. Those stand for “joint photographic expert group” and “progressive network graphics”, if you’re curious. They’re good, but the engineers at Apple decided to adopt a newer option called HEIC, or “high efficiency image compression”, which should more accurately be known as HEIF or “high efficiency image format”. And that’s based on the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Compression) or H.265 video format already used on modern iPhones. Got it? Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz!
The long and short of it is that HEIF is supported by all the modern Apple gear, from Macs to Apple Watches, but Microsoft hasn’t yet adopted the image format and so its support for HEIC images is, well, lacking. There are a couple of ways you can fix the problem, but my favorite involves installing a free program from a company called CopyTrans that includes low-level format support for HEIC that enhances Microsoft programs too!
Let’s have a look, and you’ll see how to install CopyTrans HEIC for Windows and how it makes your Windows 10 computer better and smarter both. To start, here’s a HEIC image in Windows:
You can see that it is correctly identified as HEIC, but a double click shows Windows doesn’t really know what to do with it:
Photos seems like a good option given that it’s a photograph, right? So let’s try that!
Ooops, that’s not useful. Photos refers to ‘codecs’ here and a codec is a compress / decompress low level utility that the program would access to be able to open up and display the HEIC file. To follow this particular breadcrumb trail, let’s go ahead and click on the “Download codecs at Microsoft Store” link.
That opens up the Microsoft Store and offers up a commercial solution:
Before you click Buy and pay $0.99 to add this feature from Microsoft (and really, Microsoft, why isn’t this free?) let’s look at the CopyTrans solution because it’s free and free is always better than paid, right? 🙂
Open up Microsoft Edge or your favorite other browser and go to www.copytrans.net/copytransheic/
Notice that it’s free for personal use, which is what we’re talking about, but if you are going to use it commercially, CopyTrans will ask that you pay for a commercial license. At that point, the Microsoft $0.99 solution might be a better deal.
Anyway, click on Download and if you have windows set up for maximal download safety, you’ll see this:
CopyTrans is safe so you can click on “Install anyway” to proceed. Won’t take long to install…
Once you’re done, it won’t seem like much has changed, but now if you try to open up that HEIC image, you’ll get a new option on the Open With menu:
Windows Photo Viewer is new, that’s the CopyTrans program, but you can also just stick with Microsoft Photos if you prefer, because now – ta daa! – Photos can open and display HEIC images:
And now, finally, you can see what the file eggman.heic contained too! If you’re curious, it’s a sculpture stuck on the side of a building in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Anyway, whether you use Windows Photo Viewer or just take advantage of the fact that Microsoft Photos can now show you HEIC and HEIF format images, at least you can see what your cousin sent you on your PC!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows for many years. While you’re here, please check out my extensive Windows help library for tons of useful tutorials!