If you have a phone that takes photos in HEIF format or records videos in high efficiency, HECV, and you are using Windows, you have surely encountered a problem. It is not possible to open these files on PC, either natively or with third-party applications. That is why we are going to see how HEIF images can be opened on the PC, whether with Windows 10 or Windows 11.
This was not the case at first, as Windows 10 was natively supported in its early days. Later, in a more than questionable move, Microsoft separated the codec and made it available to interested parties, for a fee, in the App Store. But besides the official option, there are other options.
High efficiency format
To put us in the background, the HEVC codec allows access to high definition video while minimizing the size and bandwidth required for transmission. The images in HEIF format are the same but in photo format. A high-efficiency storage system offered as an option by certain mobiles, the latest iPhone or Samsung terminals, among others.
By the way, HEIC is just a variant of HEIF introduced by Apple in their operating systems. In fact, they’re both exactly the same.
If we focus on photographs, HEIF is the new standard format replacing the traditional JPEG. HEIF stands for High Efficiency Image File Format and is an image (and audio) container that allows you to store image sequences (JPEG only allows one at a time), which allows you for example to record after a certain time after taking the picture and thus, for example, to choose the sequence or to do something similar to a long exposure.
The truth is that the new format is plagued with incompatibilities in Windows operating systems and in versions prior to iOS 11. And in the case of Windows, fixing this incompatibility is possible in several ways. We will see different methods, leaving for the end the one that I consider the most effective.
Use Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive
If you want to open a HEIC file and use Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, you can do that without a problem and you only need a network connection. These platforms integrate compatible viewers.
These cloud storage services support the new highly efficient file format, so you just need to select the image and click on the eye icon to preview it.
Use free apps or web converters
Besides using the cloud, you can also use free apps like iMazing HEIC Converter available from Microsoft Store or Apowersoft HEIC to JPG Converter. In the first case, we are faced with a very accessible application.
Simply drag and drop, allowing users to reformat HEIC files to JPEG or PNG format. With the second, we can use the app or use the web converter. And there is also the possibility of using online converters, where there are several options like the previous ones or this other to name a few examples.
All these methods are valid, but it would be much more practical to do it natively, and if possible, to save the 0.99 euros that Microsoft asks for the codec in the Microsoft Store and which can be downloaded from this link .
The first method is to access this link from the Microsoft Store. This is an extension designed for manufacturers to install a codec in their products before they go on sale. This way, it is already pre-installed and the user does not have to do anything. The problem is that currently it can only be downloaded with a gift code.
The main advantage of installing the codec over converters or viewers is that any installed photographic application will be able to open HEIF images. Even Photoshop becomes compatible and opens them without a problem.
Or change settings on mobile
So, can we just go to checkout and download Microsoft’s codec for HEIF images? Yes, but for the more adventurous, you can browse the forums and websites where this codec can be downloaded for free.
Plus, if you don’t mind a photo or video taking up more space, you can always turn off High Efficiency Pictures in the mobile setup, which in the case of iOS is through access. in “Settings” and inside these search “Camera” and in “Formats” choose the most compatible type (jpeg) instead of HEIC.