Apple uses a new HEIC photo format to compress images taken with its iPhone, and here we’ll show you both how to open HEIC files on your Mac and convert HEIC to JPEG.

Since iOS 11, Apple has used the HEIC file format for saving photos on iPhone and iPad. We explain more in our What is HEIC feature.

Apple uses the HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) standards created by MPEG, and calls the file format HEIC.

HEIC comprises a number of advanced compression methods that allow photos to be created in much smaller file sizes - as much as half size - while achieving a higher image quality compared to JPEG.

It should be a win-win, but, as with all file formats, it is not compatible with all devices or applications. try uploading a .heic file to an online form, and you often get short shrift.

Mac HEIC image info

HEIC can also store multiple photos in one file - ideal for the iPhone’s Live Photos and bursts.

It also supports transparency, just like GIF files, and can store image edits, such as cropping and rotating so you can undo them.

Basically, it’s much better than JPEG. For example, it supports 16-bit colour vs JPG’s 8-bit.

But try uploading a .heic file in some applications, and you might have some trouble.

Even earlier versions of Apple’s own macOS (before 2017’s High Sierra) are not able to open HEIC files by themselves.

So we need an easy of converting HEIC files on a Mac to the more common and universal JPEG/JPG format.

Luckily, it’s easy to both open an HEIC file on a Mac, and convert it to JPEG.

How to convert HEIC to JPEG on a Mac

1. When you have the HEIC-formatted image on your Mac, open it in the Preview app (open Preview and choose Export from the File Menu. Find Preview in your Applications folder.

Mac HEIC Export Preview

2. Here you will see the native HEIC format is selected.

Export HEIC file on Mac

3. Change the Format to JPEG, and select where to save the new file to.

Change HEIC file format to JPEG

As you can see, the HEIC file size is much smaller than the JPEG, but you can use the JPEG in more applications, such as online forms. In this case, the HEIC is a third smaller than the JPEG.

HEIC vs JPEG file sizes

And, yes, you can save a JPEG as an HEIC in the same way via Preview.

Tell iOS to share Jpegs instead of HEICs

Set iPhone to take photos in JPEG

You can also set your iPhone or iPad to take photos in JPEG instead of HEIC:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Camera
  3. Tap Formats
  4. Tap Most Compatible

High Efficiency HEIF/HEVC reduces file size. 4K at 60fps and 1080p at 240fps require High Efficiency.

Most Compatible always uses JEG/H.264.

Our friends at Tech Advisor, show you how to open a HEIC file in Windows 10.