HEIF is an image and video format that’s been around for a while. Up until Apple released iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, this format wasn’t exactly something the average user needed. That’s changed though since iOS 11 is now saving photos in that format. We covered a little codec before that lets you open HEIC images on Windows 7, 8/8.1/10 but with the April Update, there is native support for HEIF files in Photos. It’s not enabled by default though so if you’re an iPhone user, you’re going to want to know how to enable support for HEIC and HEVC files in Photos.

HEIC And HEVC Files In Photos

To enable support for HEIC and HEVC file in Photos, you need to install two extensions/apps. The HEIF Image Extension is for viewing photos, and the HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer is for videos. Once you install them, you’ll be able to open HEIC and HEVC files in Photos.

On principal, if you only want to open HEIC files, installing the image extension ought to do the trick but if it doesn’t, install both the image and video extensions and that should do the trick.

Once you’ve added these extensions, you can use the import feature in the Photos app and use it to import photos and videos directly from your iPhone. You won’t have to change settings on your iPhone and have it convert photos to JPEG or save them to that format.

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These extensions/apps may install system wide but that doesn’t mean that support for these files is system wide. For example, if you’ve enabled the Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10, these apps won’t work with it. You’re going to have to use the codec we mentioned earlier.

For all other file viewers such as IrfanView, this app will do absolutely nothing. It will be upto developers of file and image viewing apps to add support for this file type. It seems not even Chrome has support for this format so if you own an iPhone you’re going to want one of the stock app on Windows 10 to be able to open it. It’s either that, or you convert your photos to JPEG.

In case you were wondering, the HEIF files i.e. both HEIC and HEVC are not as big as JPEG files and that’s saying something. It’s a pain to convert files before you can move them to your PC but if you plan on storing them on your hard drive, or an external drive, having an easy-to-open format that takes up less space than a JPEG is a big plus.