Turn on/off HEIC format for photos on iPhone (+ convert on Mac)

Similar to HEVC format videos, HEIC format photos are more space-efficient on Apple iPhone. However, they don't offer as much compatibility with editing programs, social media apps, messengers or Windows computers that you send them to. In this guide you can find out how you can set your iPhone so that the camera app saves the photos you take in the widely used JPG format instead of the HEIC format. Also, I will show you two ways to convert the images from HEIC to JPG. Do you have any questions or tips on the subject? Then please leave a comment!

What is the HEIC format for photos?

The High Efficiency Image File Format, HEIF for short, is compatible with various algorithms for compressing image data. The container format developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and first published in 2000 also allows the implementation of channel and depth information, text, GIF animations, bracketing and even audio. With regard to pure photos, however, it is actually only important that a significant reduction in the storage space to be used is possible - and without any noticeable loss of quality. 

By the way, it is not a mistake that I am writing here about the HEIF container and thus about the .heif file extension. Because both the ending .heif and the ending .heic are used. Despite the fact that the terms and file extensions are often used synonymously, there are a few differences between the two formats. The HEIC format uses the compression techniques from the video sector, i.e. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). This makes it more modern and efficient.

iPhone camera app: Save photos as JPG, not HEIC

So, the advantage of HEIC format for photos is that it consumes less storage space. This is good to know if you use an iPhone with the smallest storage capacity, but still like to install a lot of apps, download lots of music and take lots of photos. However, if you are not aiming for saving memory, but rather for maximum compatibility of the pictures taken, you can also set JPG as the photo format. That's how it works:

  1. Opens the Settings on your Apple iPhone
  2. Scroll down a bit and then tap Camera an
  3. Directly selects the first point named Formats from
  4. Check the “Maximum compatibility” box to save photos as JPG
  5. Close the settings and take photos with the camera App
Set the Apple iPhone to save photos in JPG format instead of HEIC – use the camera options in the iOS settings for this. The screenshots were taken under iOS 15.6 on the iPhone 12 Pro.

Set the Apple iPhone to save photos in JPG format instead of HEIC – use the camera options in the iOS settings for this. The screenshots were taken under iOS 15.6 on the iPhone 12 Pro.

Edit Photos on Mac: Convert HEIC to JPG

If you want to convert HEIC to JPG, you can use the options already built into the iOS and macOS systems on the iPhone and Mac. When using on the web or pasting into certain apps, the images are already converted automatically. Doesn't that happen or do you want to be on the safe side when taking a photo e.g. B. want to send by e-mail, then you can also convert it manually. Next to the iMazing Converter, in which the size and quality can also be adjusted, the macOS own preview app can be used:

  1. Opens the photo in the Preview app (double click or right click -> open with)
  2. Click in the menu bar File -> Export... 
  3. Choose a file name, a location and that file format (JPG or PDF, PNG, TIFF, etc.) and click on the "Save" button
There are various native and app-enabled ways to convert HEIC photos to JPG images. On Apple Mac, you can use the Preview app to convert HEIC to JPG.

There are various native and app-enabled ways to convert HEIC photos to JPG images. On Apple Mac, you can use the Preview app to convert HEIC to JPG.

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1 comment

  1. Joschi says:

    You can also solve this with the Automator on the Mac and have it directly as a quick action in the Finder context menu.
    Instructions here: https://bodo-schoenfeld.de/heic-bilder-zu-jpg-bilder-umwandeln-macos/

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