Beginning with the release of iOS 11 in 2017, Apple changed the iPhone and iPad’s default photo file format. Instead of the universally standard JPEG or JPG file format, photos taken with an iPhone are now saved as HEIC (High-Efficiency Image Container), Apple’s proprietary version of the HEIF format, which offers significant storage space savings without diminishing image quality.
And while it’s an improvement over the ubiquitous JPG, HEIC files aren’t typically compatible with non-Apple devices, which may hinder your workflow. Luckily, HEIC files can be easily converted to JPG for viewing and editing in your favorite image processing software.
In this guide, we’ll explain how to convert HEIC to JPG using several different methods on different platforms, along with information that will prevent compatibility issues from being an ongoing problem. So, let’s dive right in.
4 Steps to Convert HEIC to JPG on a Mac
Since it’s the company’s proprietary file format, HEIC is compatible with all Apple devices. That’s why using a Mac to convert HEIC to JPG significantly simplifies the process. Here’s how you can do it:
- Open the HEIC photo you want to convert in the Preview App.
- Once the file is opened, click File in the upper left corner.
- Select Export, then JPEG in the Format section
- Select Save to save the file as a JPG image.
Quick Action Drop-Down
However, there’s a quicker way to convert a HEIC file. Since macOS 15 (Monterey), Apple has introduced an option to export HEIC as JPG through the Quick Action drop-down. Here’s how to do it:
- Right-click the HEIC image file to open the context menu.
- Select the Quick Actions drop-down near the bottom, and select Convert Image.
- Make sure to select JPEG as the Format in the window that pops up
- Click Convert to JPEG to initiate the conversion process.
4 Steps to Convert HEIC to JPG on an iPhone/iPad
Before we start, it’s important to note that this method doesn’t convert your existing HIEC images to JPG. Instead, it changes your iPhone’s settings to either use JPG to capture images or capture them with HEIC, then automatically convert them to JPG during file transfer to another device. Here’s how to change the photo capture format:
- Open the Settings App on your iPhone/iPad.
- Tap Camera.
- The camera settings menu will appear; tap Formats.
- Tap the Most Compatible option.
Your phone or tablet will now capture pictures using the JPG file format. While they maintain the same image quality, JPG files consume more storage space. However, they eliminate any compatibility issues. To reverse the process, repeat the steps above and choose High Efficiency instead of Most Compatible.
Apple’s Automatic Conversion
However, you don’t have to sacrifice your storage space because of compatibility issues. Apple has enabled their devices to automatically convert HEIC files to JPG when you transfer them to another device. The receiving device accepts images as JPG, but they remain in HEIC file format on your device. Unfortunately, this setting isn’t enabled by default, so here’s how to do it:
- Open the Settings App on your iPhone/iPad.
- Tap Photos.
- Under Transfer to Mac or PC, select Automatic.
This will automatically convert outgoing HEIC files to JPG, and help you avoid file compatibility issues on your receiving device. To reverse the process, follow the steps above and select Keep Originals instead of Automatic.
4 Steps to Convert HEIC to JPG on Windows PC
Windows doesn’t natively support HEIC image format, and its Photos app (yes, Windows has apps now) can’t reproduce HEIC images. Luckily, Microsoft thought of a simple solution to enable Windows to make HEIC readable in any first- or third-party image viewing and processing software. All you need to do is install a HEIF Image Extensions codec (a program that compresses and decompresses file formats for reproduction). Here’s how to install the codec:
- Open the Microsoft Store app — it’s usually located on the taskbar, though you can access it through the Start menu.
- Once the app is open, search for “HEIF Image Extension.“
- Once you open the HEIF Image Extensions page, click Get, located at the top right corner.
- Allow Windows to install the codec and close the Microsoft Store app.
After the codec is installed, all HEIC files will work properly on Windows. Please note that this doesn’t actually convert the HEIC files to JPG, it just enables Windows to read and write said files. It also enables third-party image processing software solutions to read and edit HEIC. You can use any first- and third-party image processing software on Windows to open the HEIC file and save it as JPG.
Most of the aforementioned conversion methods are entirely free and quite straightforward, especially when dealing with a small number of HEIC photos. However, they’re less than ideal when you have to convert entire batches of HEIC photos, since it forces you to open and convert images one-by-one. And there could be hundreds of photos you’d have to go through.
Instead, it’s best to invest in a software solution that can batch process a folder full of HEIC photos — containing hundreds or even thousands of photos — without ongoing effort or monitoring from the user. There are paid third-party software solutions that provide users with a straightforward method of covering large numbers of HEIC files to JPG with minimal effort.
Convert HEIC to JPG on Linux
Enabling, converting, and batch processing of HEIC files on Linux requires running several commands in the Terminal. The process is too extensive to cover in this article, but you can find the step-by-step guide in the Ubuntu Handbook.
What is HEIC Format?
HEIC is actually an acronym for High-Efficiency Image Container, Apple’s proprietary file format based on High-Efficiency Image File (HEIF). Since it’s a container format, HEIC can hold a single image or an entire sequence of images, similarly to GIF file formats. Besides Apple, other smartphone and camera manufacturers, such as Samsung, Canon, and Sony, support the taking and editing of HEIC format photographs.
The image format is based on High-Efficiency Video Coding, also known as HEVC, H.256, and MPEG-H Part 2. Most of these acronyms sound perplexing to the average user, but they’re ultimately easy to discern. If the file format is HEIF or HEIC, that’s a high-efficiency image. HEVC file extension indicates a high-efficiency video file.
It’s important to note that HEIC is still a compressed image format. Just like JPG, it stores 24 bits of data per pixel. This is significantly better over older lossy formats, but it’s still a drawback compared to the 36 bits per pixel associated with RAW file formats.
What is JPEG Format?
The majority of the photographs you see on the internet and on social media are in the JPEG format, which is older and more widely used. Although it isn’t the most effective method for storing photographs these days, it represented a significant improvement in picture quality for the early internet. This explains why it’s so universal.
JPEG is an abbreviation of Joint Photographic Experts Group, which was developed during the debates inside the committee by the same name. It comes in a variety of forms, and while it has improved in efficiency over time, it still falls short of the quality of more recent formats, like RAW.
JPEG blurs some areas of a photo and compresses both brightness and color, resulting in blocks that can occasionally be seen as artifacts. There are several ways to improve image quality in order to mitigate this issue. However, doing so results in greater file sizes.
HEIC vs. JPEG
The HEIC compression is more recent; and in tech, more recent often means better — which is also true in this case. HEIC has the ability to compress data further without adversely affecting image quality, which reduces its storage size by almost half.
When it comes to image quality, most HEIC files use three 8-bit color panes, which are saved as 24 bits per pixel. JPG images also store 24 bits per pixel, but HEIC has an advantage as it can also compress an image using three 10-bit color panes, which results in 30 bits per pixel. So, for all intents and purposes, HEIC is a superior file format.
Converting HEIC to JPG: Final Thoughts
Although HEIC sometimes seems like a problematic format, it has many advantages over JPEG. Image quality is improved with fewer visual artifacts, even after editing. Additionally, the file size is decreased, which is crucial when saving a lot of images.
JPEG was created with the intention of saving photos more effectively, making them simpler to save and share online. With Apple promoting the format and other important companies providing support, HEIC can now increase that efficiency even further. It’s entirely possible for HEIC to supersede the JPG format in the years to come.
The good news is that free conversion tools are available, as is operating system support. Ultimately, it’s best to accept the change and integrate HEIC into the workflow.