First of all, what the heck is a HEIC file? When Apple released iOS 11 last year alongside its new iPhone models, they also adopted something called High-Efficiency Image Compression files. Essentially, a file with a .heic extension is an image saved in a media container format known as High-Efficiency Image Format or HEIF. A single HEIF may contain one or more HEIC images – ideal for Live Photos or photo bursts. The technology is adapted from the video version, which is called HEVC, or High-Efficiency Video Compression, more popularly known as the H.265 video codec.

The format is excellent for iOS device users because it uses less memory to store images. In fact, the same HEIC image in JPG format is about twice the size, so you can imagine how much space this can save on an iPhone or iPad running iOS 11.

However, it’s not that great for Android or Windows users because those operating systems don’t support it for now. Although HEIC file support is expected to soon be available on Windows Photo Viewer app, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be part of the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update that’s due for release this week.

Interestingly, Google is said to be working with the Alliance for Open Media on an image format that’s 15% smaller than even HEIC files. However, since HEIC itself is not proprietary to Apple, Google may consider using it for the upcoming Android P.

Until there’s proper Windows support for HEIC, here are a couple of ways to open .heic files on your Windows PC.

CopyTrans HEIC For Windows

This simple plugin will allow you to open both HEIC and HEIF files. Also, you’ll also be able to convert the files into regular .jpg files, print them and even insert them into MS Office files.

All you need to do is download and install this free utility, and you’ll be able to double-click on any imported HEIC or HEIF file to open it. You can even right-click on the image and quickly convert it into JPG format.

Remember, it’s not a standalone software, but simply a plugin that gives Windows Photo Viewer the ability to read and render the alien image format.

HEIC To JPG/PNG Conversion Tools

There are also a number of conversion utilities that you can either download or use online to convert HEIC files into regular .jpg and .png formats.  HEIC Converter is a great tool, as is the HEIC to JPG Converter from Apowersoft. There’s also an online solution at heictojpg (dot) com.

heic converter

What tool you use depends on how frequently you open .heic images. If it’s just a once-off, then an online tool is probably more suitable for you. But if you have an iPhone and a Windows PC, it’s good to have a third-party app or plugin that can get rid of a big headache.