Both Android phones and iPhones have an option to save photos in HEIC format, which presents a problem when they are transferred to a PC. How do you view and edit .heic images? Here’s how.
The reason why the HEIC photo file format has become popular is because using it results in smaller file sizes than JPEG without affecting the quality. Images look just as good, but they take up less space on your phone, camera, computer and online.
The disadvantage of HEIC photos is that not all operating systems and software support the file format. It can mean that you cannot view or edit your photos, which is obviously not a good situation to be in.
If you have transferred photos from a phone or camera and found that you cannot view or edit them on your Windows computer, here are some easy and free solutions, including bulk conversion to JPEG.
We looked at WALTR HEIC Converter previously, but let’s try a different method.
Add Windows support for HEIC images
If you find that .heic images do not work in Windows, open the Microsoft Store and search for HEIF Image Extensions by Microsoft. It is a free update to Windows that adds support for .heic image files. Explorer can show thumbnail images of photos and the Photos app and other photo editing software can load and work with HEIC image files.
If you still cannot view or load .heic images, search the Microsoft store for for HEVC Video Extensions by Microsoft and install them. These are not free, but they are very cheap, £0.79 in the UK, maybe $1 in the US. Not everyone needs them, so try without first and then get them only if you need them.
Convert .heic images with FastStone
FastStone Image Viewer is a free photo browser for Windows 11 and 10 that also enables you convert images from one file format to another. If you have installed HEIF Image Extensions from the Microsoft Store, it will show image thumbnails and enable you to convert .heic image files to any of nine other image file formats, including the popular JPEG format.
Download FastStone Image Viewer. There are several different versions and I prefer the portable version. Just download it, unzip it and double click FSViewer.exe to run it. There is no installation and if you ever want to remove it, you simply delete it.
I made the window small to fit this web page and normally you would have a big window so that you can see dozens of photo thumbnails at a time.
Go to the Tools menu and you can either click Batch Convert Selected Images if you have already selected some, or Open Batch Convert / Rename Dialog to select them afterwards.
Either way, this window opens. If you have not selected any photos yet, use the file/folder browser controls on the left to find them and select them, then click the Add button to add them to the Input List on the right.
A useful trick here is to select Details view on the left, click the Item Type column header. All the .heic files are grouped together. Click the first .heic file and Shift+click the last one. Click Add and they are all added to the Input list on the right.
Select the Output Format on the right, such as JPEG Format (*.jpg), then click the Settings button and select the quality.
Drag the slider to the right for the best quality or the left for the smallest file size. Around 90 gives good quality JPEG files. The JPEG files will be bigger than the HEIC originals, but JPEG is easier to work with since everything supports the format.
Back at the main dialog, if the Output Folder checkbox is selected, you must select a folder to save the converted images to. Clear the checkbox and they are saved to the same folder. This is OK because the converted files will have a different filename extension, so they will not overwrite the originals.
Click the Convert button and FastStone converts all the HEIC images to whatever format you selected, like JPEG.
Edit HEIC images with GIMP and Photos
Once you have added HEIF Image Extensions to Windows, they enable other applications to load .heic files. For example, the Windows Photos app can load and display .heic photos. There are basic image editing features in the app and they are accessed by clicking the first icon in the toolbar at the top.
Images can be cropped, the brightness, exposure, contrast, saturation and other attributes can be adjusted, and the edited image can be saved. It saves a copy as a JPEG image.
GIMP photo editor is free and is a much more powerful app for editing photos (I use GIMP portable version). When the Windows HEIF Image Extensions are installed, GIMP can load .heic images for editing. The edited image can then be saved in many different file formats.