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What the HEIF?

HEIF (High-Efficiency Image Format) is a new image format for storing and exchanging photographs and image sequences, such as a burst of images or succession of images. In practical terms, it will reduce image file sizes while maintaining higher quality than .JPG (JPEG) files. More and more devices are using it, including iOS devices, as we put more images on the internet.

Although you probably don’t even notice it, HEIF is often used as the default file format for picture capture and storage on Apple and Samsung devices. If you’re transferring photographs from your iPhone, for example, the device automatically converts them to JPEG before sending them to your friends’ or family’s Android phones. You might see it as an HEIC file extension on an iPhone, but it’s essentially the same as HEIF. Both are based on the High-Efficiency Video Compression (HEVC) standard.

That’s about as technical as you want to get in what’s behind the new format. What you really need to know is how to edit and share HEIF-format images. Unfortunately, you’ll need to download software that allows you to view HEIC photos, edit HEIC files and convert HEIC images to JPEG, PNG, BMP and TIFF formats.

The Windows HEIF Image Extension enables Windows 10 devices to read and write files that use the HEIF format. These files can have an .heic or .heif file extension. The system compresses images stored as HEIF files with the .heic file extension by using the HEVC format. They also require you to install the HEVC Video Extensions package. If the HEVC Video Extensions package is not installed, the HEIF Image Extension will not be able to read or write .heic files.

You can download the extension from Microsoft for free or download for free or buy extensions from several vendors. They should work like most every other photo editing application to crop and resize images and convert them to another format, such as .jpg.

If you just want to view images sent to you, Microsoft has a free viewer. All Microsoft products are available in the Microsoft Store. Just keep these four requirements in mind:

  1. Update Windows 10 to 1809 or later
  2. In Microsoft Store, get the ‘Microsoft Photos’ (Released by Microsoft and Free), and set it as Windows Default Photo Viewer
  3. In Microsoft Store, get the ‘HEIF Image Extensions’ (Released by Microsoft and Free)
  4. In Microsoft Store, get the ‘HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer’ (Released by Microsoft and Free)

Again, there are other options – free and for purchase or subscription – from various software vendors. In all likelihood, free apps will get better, and paid apps will become cheaper – or more sophisticated – as the format’s use becomes more widespread.

If you have any questions about installing HEIF apps on your computer or phone, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us.