Understanding Why Photos are HEIC Instead of JPEG Explained

why are photos heic instead of jpeg

Have you ever wondered why some photos are saved as HEIC (High Efficiency Image Format) instead of the classic JPEG format? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this shift, the advantages of HEIC over JPEG, the technical aspects of the HEIC file format, and methods to convert HEIC files to JPEG for compatibility purposes.

Key Takeaways:

  • HEIC is a newer and more efficient image format compared to JPEG.
  • HEIC offers superior image quality and supports advanced features such as transparency and multiple images in a single file.
  • HEIC utilizes advanced image compression techniques like HEVC to achieve smaller file sizes without compromising image quality.
  • Converting HEIC files to JPEG may impact image quality and compatibility, but there are various methods and tools available to do so.

Advantages of HEIC over JPEG

High Efficiency Image Format (HEIC) offers several advantages compared to the traditional JPEG format. Let’s explore some of these advantages:

Superior Image Quality

HEIC format uses advanced compression algorithms that result in higher image quality compared to JPEG. It uses HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) to compress the image and retain more image details. As a result, HEIC images have better color accuracy, dynamic range, and sharpness. Moreover, HEIC supports 16-bit color, which translates to over 280 trillion colors, compared to JPEG’s 8-bit color support, which offers only 16 million colors.

Efficient Compression Algorithms

HEIC can compress images more efficiently than JPEG, meaning that HEIC image files are smaller in size. HEIC uses a technique called intra-frame compression, which compresses each image frame individually, unlike JPEG, which uses inter-frame compression. In practical terms, this means that a HEIC image file will take up less space on your device while maintaining overall image quality.

Advanced Features

HEIC supports advanced features such as transparency and multiple images in a single file. HEIC allows for transparent backgrounds, which is useful for designers and developers. Additionally, HEIC can store multiple images in one file, enabling users to store burst photos, live photos, and even short videos in one file.

Compatibility Challenges

Although HEIC offers several advantages over JPEG, it is currently not widely supported by all devices and software. Some older operating systems and devices may not recognize the HEIC format, causing compatibility issues when sharing or opening HEIC files. However, many modern devices and operating systems, including Apple devices and the Windows 10 operating system, offer built-in support for the HEIC format. Users can also convert HEIC images to JPEG to ensure compatibility with older devices and software.

Overall, HEIC offers several advantages over JPEG, making it an attractive option for those looking for high-quality, efficient image compression. Despite the compatibility challenges, HEIC is still widely used and offers promise as a future image format.

Technical Aspects of the HEIC File Format

HEIC image compression is one of the key reasons behind the format’s superiority over JPEG. HEIC files use advanced compression algorithms, such as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), to achieve smaller file sizes without sacrificing image quality. This means you can save more photos on your device without taking up as much storage space.

The HEIC file format also supports transparency, allowing for images with transparent backgrounds to be saved without losing quality. Additionally, it can store multiple images in a single file, making it easier to organize and view similar images.

However, not all devices and operating systems are compatible with HEIC files, which can pose a challenge when sharing or transferring photos. Some devices may require a specific app or software to view or edit HEIC files, while others may not support them at all.

When it comes to HEIC file size, the format’s compression techniques can result in significantly smaller files compared to JPEG. For example, a HEIC file can be up to 50% smaller than its JPEG counterpart without any noticeable loss in quality. This not only saves storage space but also makes it easier to transfer photos over networks with limited bandwidth.

Converting HEIC to JPEG for Compatibility

If you have HEIC files but need to share them with someone who doesn’t have a compatible device, you’ll need to convert them to JPEG. Converting HEIC to JPEG is a straightforward process that can be done using a variety of software and online tools.

One of the easiest ways to convert HEIC to JPEG is to use the built-in Photos app on a Mac. Simply open the app and select the HEIC files you want to convert, then go to File > Export and choose JPEG as the file format. You can also use the Preview app on a Mac to convert HEIC to JPEG by opening the HEIC file and then choosing File > Export and selecting JPEG as the format.

If you don’t have a Mac, you can use online converters like Convertio or CloudConvert to convert HEIC files to JPEG. These tools are free to use and allow you to convert multiple files at once. Simply upload your HEIC files, select the output format as JPEG, and then download the converted files to your computer.

It’s important to note that when you convert HEIC to JPEG, there may be some loss of quality. HEIC files are capable of storing more information than JPEG files, so converting them can result in a slight loss of detail and color. However, the difference in quality is often negligible and most people won’t notice a significant change.

If you’re concerned about maintaining the highest possible quality, you can try using a tool that supports the conversion of HEIC files to PNG. PNG files are lossless and support transparency, making them a good alternative to JPEG for certain types of images. However, PNG files tend to be larger in size, so they may not be suitable for sharing online or via email.


In conclusion, the HEIC image format offers significant advantages over the traditional JPEG format in terms of image quality and efficient compression algorithms. HEIC supports advanced features such as transparency and multiple images in a single file. However, compatibility challenges with HEIC still exist across different operating systems and devices.

Converting HEIC files to JPEG is one solution to overcome the compatibility issues. However, it is important to note that the conversion process may result in a slight loss of image quality. Therefore, it is recommended to keep a backup of the original HEIC files.

Despite the ongoing challenges, the trend toward HEIC adoption is expected to continue as more devices and applications support this format. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that new and improved image formats will emerge, but for now, HEIC is a superior option for those looking to capture and store high-quality images.

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