Why Are My Photos HEIC Instead of JPEG: Understanding the Shift

why are my photos heic instead of jpeg

Have you ever taken a photo on your iPhone or iPad and found that it saved as an HEIC file instead of the more familiar JPEG format? If you’re confused about the switch from JPEG to HEIC, you’re not alone. This new format has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, and it’s important to understand why and how it differs from JPEG.

In this section, we’ll take a deeper look at why your photos may be in the HEIC format instead of JPEG and explore the differences between the two formats.

Key Takeaways:

  • The shift to HEIC from JPEG is due to its more advanced compression algorithm and smaller file size.
  • HEIC offers better image quality at a lower file size and supports advanced features, such as live photos and depth maps.
  • Converting HEIC files to JPEG can be done through various software, apps, or online tools.
  • Choosing between HEIC and JPEG for your photos depends on factors, such as device compatibility, editing capabilities, and file size considerations.

HEIC vs JPEG: The Key Differences

HEIC and JPEG are two common image formats, but they differ in significant ways. Understanding their differences will help you make informed decisions about which format to use for your photos.

File Size

HEIC files are smaller than JPEG files of similar quality. This is because HEIC uses advanced compression algorithms that reduce the amount of data required to store an image. As a result, you can store more photos on your device without using up all your storage space.

Compression Algorithm

HEIC uses a more advanced compression algorithm than JPEG, resulting in better image quality at lower file sizes. This means that HEIC images have fewer artifacts, or visual distortions, than JPEG images.

Image Quality

HEIC provides better image quality than JPEG by using a high-efficiency compression algorithm. The HEIC format can store a wider range of colors and tones than JPEG, resulting in more vivid and lifelike images.

However, it’s worth noting that not all devices and software support HEIC yet. If you need to share your images with others who don’t have compatible devices or software, you may need to convert your HEIC files to JPEG.

Overall, the key differences between HEIC and JPEG are file size, compression algorithm, and image quality. HEIC files are smaller, use a more advanced compression algorithm, and provide better image quality compared to JPEG.

HEIC File Format: An Overview

The HEIC file format, also known as High-Efficiency Image Format, was introduced by the MPEG group in 2015 as a successor to the JPEG format. The HEIC format is based on the HEVC video codec, which provides superior compression efficiency to the older H.264 codec used in JPEG.

Apple adopted HEIC as the default photo format on iPhones with the release of iOS 11 in 2017. Since then, other tech companies like Samsung have also implemented support for HEIC files. However, older devices and operating systems may not support HEIC, which can cause compatibility issues when transferring or sharing photos.

One of the advantages of the HEIC format is its ability to provide high-quality images with small file sizes. This makes it ideal for mobile devices with limited storage capacity. Additionally, HEIC supports advanced features like depth maps, live photos, and burst mode, which are not available in JPEG.

Device HEIC Support
iPhone (iOS 11 and later) Yes
iPad (iOS 11 and later) Yes
Mac (macOS High Sierra and later) Yes
Windows Partial support, requires additional software or codec
Android (version 9.0 and later) Yes

When transferring HEIC photos to a device or operating system that does not support the format, they may need to be converted to JPEG. However, it’s important to note that converting from HEIC to JPEG can result in a loss of image quality due to the compression differences between the two formats.

In conclusion, the HEIC file format provides superior compression and advanced features compared to the JPEG format. While it may not be compatible with all devices and operating systems, it is the default photo format on newer iPhones and can help users save storage space on their devices.

Advantages of HEIC over JPEG

HEIC offers several advantages over JPEG, especially when it comes to image quality. Here are some key differences to keep in mind when comparing the two formats:

Supports wider color gamut and higher bit-depth, resulting in more accurate and vibrant colors. Limited color depth and gamut, leading to less accurate and vibrant colors.
Better compression algorithm, resulting in smaller file sizes without loss of quality. Compression algorithm can result in loss of quality, especially at higher compression levels.
Supports transparency and alpha channels, allowing for more complex image compositions. Does not support transparency or alpha channels.
Supports advanced features like depth maps and live photos, enhancing the overall image experience. Does not support depth maps or live photos.

Overall, HEIC provides better image quality at lower file sizes compared to JPEG. This makes it an ideal format for storing and transmitting photos while maintaining image fidelity. Additionally, its support for advanced features and transparency make it a more versatile format for creative professionals.

However, it’s worth noting that not all devices and software support the HEIC format. This can lead to compatibility issues when sharing or editing photos. Ultimately, the choice between HEIC and JPEG will depend on your specific needs and priorities.

In the next section, we’ll explore how to convert HEIC files to JPEG if needed.

Converting HEIC to JPEG: How to Do It

If you have HEIC photos that you need to convert to JPEG format, there are several ways to do so. Below, we’ll explore three methods: online conversion tools, software or apps, and using iCloud.

Using Online Conversion Tools

There are several online HEIC to JPEG conversion tools available that allow you to quickly and easily convert your photos without having to download any software. Simply upload your HEIC files to the tool, choose the JPEG format, and download the converted files.

Some popular online conversion tools for HEIC to JPEG include:

Website Price Maximum File Size
CloudConvert Free with limitations
(paid plans available)
HEICtoJPEG.com Free 50MB
Convertio Free with limitations
(paid plans available)

Keep in mind that some online conversion tools may have limitations on file size or the number of files you can convert for free. Additionally, uploading your photos to an online tool may pose privacy concerns, so be sure to choose a reputable tool and read their privacy policy.

Using Software or Apps

If you prefer to convert your HEIC files locally on your computer or mobile device, you can use software or apps designed for this purpose.

For Windows users, the built-in Photos app can convert HEIC files to JPEG:

  1. Open the Photos app and navigate to the HEIC photos you want to convert.
  2. Select the photos and click “File” > “Save As” > “JPEG”.
  3. Choose the folder where you want to save the converted files and click “Save”.

Mac users can also use the built-in Preview app to convert HEIC photos:

  1. Open the Preview app and navigate to the HEIC photos you want to convert.
  2. Select the photos and click “File” > “Export”.
  3. Choose “JPEG” as the format and adjust the quality as desired.
  4. Choose the folder where you want to save the converted files and click “Save”.

There are also many third-party software and apps available for both Windows and Mac, such as CopyTrans HEIC for Windows or iMazing HEIC Converter for Mac.

Using iCloud

If you have an iCloud account and want to convert HEIC photos to JPEG, you can use iCloud.com:

  1. Go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID.
  2. Click “Photos” and select the HEIC photos you want to convert.
  3. Click the “Download” button in the top right corner.
  4. Choose “Download and Keep Originals” to download the HEIC files in their original format, or “Download JPEG” to convert them to JPEG format.

Keep in mind that this method requires an internet connection and may take longer than using software or apps locally on your device.

By following these methods, you can easily convert your HEIC photos to JPEG format to ensure compatibility with programs and devices that do not support HEIC yet.

Choosing Between HEIC and JPEG for Photos

When it comes to choosing between HEIC and JPEG for your photos, there are several factors to consider.


One of the most important factors to consider is device compatibility. HEIC is a relatively new format and not all devices support it. If you plan on sharing your photos with others or using them on a variety of devices, JPEG may be the better choice due to its widespread compatibility.

Device Support

If you primarily use Apple devices, HEIC may be the more convenient option as it is the default photo format on newer iPhone models. This means that your photos will take up less storage space on your device and you’ll be able to take advantage of features like live photos and depth maps.

Image Editing Capabilities

Another factor to consider is your intended use for the photos. If you plan on editing the photos extensively, JPEG may be the better choice as it allows for more flexibility in editing without losing quality. HEIC, on the other hand, is more efficient for storage and transmission, but may not be the best choice for image editing.

File Size Considerations

Finally, file size is an important consideration. HEIC files are typically smaller than JPEG files, which means they take up less storage space and can be transmitted more quickly. However, JPEG files can be compressed to reduce file size without significantly impacting image quality.

Ultimately, the choice between HEIC and JPEG for your photos will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Consider the factors outlined above and choose the format that best fits your specific use case.


In conclusion, understanding the shift towards HEIC from JPEG is crucial in today’s digital world. As we discussed earlier, the HEIC format offers several advantages over JPEG, such as better image quality at lower file sizes, support for advanced features like depth maps and live photos, and improved efficiency for storage and transmission. However, compatibility and device support are crucial factors to consider while choosing between the two formats.

Fortunately, converting HEIC to JPEG is a straightforward process, and you can use online conversion tools or software to do so. With the instructions mentioned above, you can easily convert your HEIC files to the more widely supported JPEG format.

In summary, we encourage you to consider the benefits that HEIC offers and weigh them against your compatibility and device support needs. By doing so, you can make an informed decision and confidently choose the best format for your photos.

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