What Are HEIC Files?

Since iOS 11 on the iPhone the default file format for photos has been HEIC. This is a new image file format that gives better compression and image quality than JPEG. On the Mac, the Photos app and macOS understands HEIC since High Sierra. In the Photos app you can use either HEIC or JPEG, and can export either as well. Other apps and devices also support HEIC.

Comments: 6 Responses to “What Are HEIC Files?”

    Janice McLeod
    5 years ago

    I have a number of family “legacy” photos saved in the .tiff format on an external hard drive which I can easily view and use on my old “legacy” computer. However, I’m considering buying a new MacBook Pro once the newest version is launched and I imagine will also carry on using the HEIC format. Would these .tiff files I have saved also be able to be read by this HEIC file reader?

    5 years ago

    Janice: HEIC and TIFF are different formats. There is no "HEIC file reader" -- it is just one of the many formats that macOS and apps can open, display and save (like JPG, PNG, etc). I'd imagine TIFF will be a useable format for a long time now as some graphics pros still use it. But it may not be the most efficient format for normal photos.

    N O Van
    5 years ago

    Hi Gary. I've found that not all email apps (Gmail e.g.) support HEIC. I've been tracking this down for months now. Apple Tech didn't know. To send a photo via my Gmail account from Photos on my iphone, I have no choices for jpg sizes. Only HEIC. This results in a HUGE file: 2.2 MG! Sending a photo via Mail Account gives me all the jpg options. The same HEIC file, sent as a low jpg is only 22K! A huge difference. Help!

    So...is HEIC platform-dependent? I would love to be able to send photos

    5 years ago

    N O Van: Older browsers and email clients won't support HEIC, that's right. It didn't exist when they were created. So just send jpeg files in those cases. When you compress a JPEG to something like 22K, you are sending a much smaller version of it, which is fine for some uses. 2.2MB is normal for a full resolution image, which is what is needed in some cases too. It would certainly be more than 2.2MB if it was a full-resolution JPEG.

    5 years ago

    hi Gary
    I'm using High Sierra but the photos are showing up as JPEG not HEIC, also tried exporting them and HEIC is not an option.

    5 years ago

    Nick: What camera did you use to take the photos and when? If it is an older iPhone or non-iPhone it would have taken JPEG photos and that's what you'll see. Or any iPhone before iOS 11.

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