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HEIF vs. HEIC: What Are Them & What You Should Know About Them


"Is there any difference between HEIC and HEIF files?"

- from Quora

Apple is replacing JPEG images with HEIF or HEIC. A lot of Apple users are finding this very beneficial. This is because these image formats are designed to use less space and still retain high-quality images. But what are they exactly, and what are the differences? This post explores everything you need to know about HEIF vs. HEIC. Are you ready? Let's get started!

heif vs heic


Part 1. What Is HEIF Image Format? (High-Efficiency Image Format)

HEIF is a new image file format that aims to provide higher image quality with smaller file sizes. HEIF utilizes advanced video compression technology to store images, which enables it to save image data more efficiently than the traditional JPEG format.

what is heif

1.1 Pros of HEIF

  • HEIF files are smaller in size compared to JPEG.
  • Advanced compression algorithms, such as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), achieve significantly better compression efficiency compared to JPEG.
  • Support a wider color gamut and higher dynamic range, allowing it to capture and display a broader range of colors and tones.
  • HEIF is a container format that can accommodate various types of data beyond images, such as audio, text, and depth maps.
  • Both lossless and lossy compression are supported.
  • Built-in support for generating thumbnails and previews without decoding the entire image.
  • Store multiple images, including image sequences and image collections, in a single file.

1.2 Cons of HEIF

  • It is not universally supported across all platforms, software, and devices. Even major web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Apple Safari do not open HEIF files.
  • The complexity of the data stored - making it more challenging to implement and work with HEIF files. It may require specialized software.
  • Patent and licensing concerns may lead to potential legal or licensing issues for software developers and users who want to incorporate or use HEIF in their applications.
  • You can't print the HEIF file since printer manufacturers do not support it.

1.3 What Kinds of Data Can HEIF Store?

  • Still images.
  • Sequences of images allowe for the creation of animations or image sequences.
  • Burst photos, which are multiple photos captured in rapid succession.
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range) images capture a wider range of brightness and color compared to standard images.
  • Depth maps along with corresponding images.
  • Audio data within its container enables the synchronization of audio with image sequences.

Part 2. What Is HEIC Image Format? (High-Efficiency Image Coding)

HEIC is actually a specific implementation of HEIF. HEIC stands for High Efficiency Image Coding. In short, HEIC is a subset of the HEIF format specifically designed to store individual images and image sequences. Since iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, Apple has adopted HEIC as the default photo storage format on its devices, leading to its rapid popularity.

what is heic

2.1 Pros of HEIC

  • Higher compression efficiency compared to JPEG. (HEIC V.S. JPEG)
  • Improved image quality.
  • Smaller file size.
  • Support for advanced features such as transparency, alpha channels, and depth maps.
  • Store various types of data beyond images.
  • Initially adopted by Apple devices.

2.2 Cons of HEIC

  • Similar to HEIF, not universally supported across all platforms and devices.
  • Limited editing options, especially when it comes to third-party software or online image editing tools.
  • Inconvenient for users who regularly share or exchange images with others who do not have HEIC-compatible devices or software.

2.3 What Kinds of Data Can HEIC Store?

There're no inherent differences in the data types that HEIF and HEIC can store. HEIC is simply a file extension used to indicate that the file is compliant with the HEIF standard. The capabilities and types of data that can be stored are the same for both formats.

Part 3. How to View HEIC & HEIF Files?

The problem is that not everyone uses Apple devices. Some individuals love using devices with other operating systems, such as Android and Windows. However, if you are glued to Apple devices, you just need to make sure that your iPhone has the latest iOS version, and you will be able to open HEIF easily.

Luckily, if you want to open HEIC files on a Windows computer, you can read this article; to open HEIC files on your Android devices, you can check here. What's more, you can also use a professional HEIC viewer to view your HEIC/HEIF files.

Part 4. Operating System Compatibility of HEIC & HEIF

The best thing is that both Microsoft and Apple support the HEIF images in their operating systems. This makes opening and viewing them super easy. All iPhones on iOS 11 and newer versions can software-decode HEIC images and HEIF content. However, only Apple devices with an A9 chip can open HEIF images. To view 8-bit video content and HEIC photos on Mac, the device must have newer CPUs and use Intel's 6th Generation. For 10-bit video content, the device should have newer Intel CPUs and use Intel's 7th Generation.

use heif or hevc media on ios

If you have a computer that runs on Windows, you have to update your Windows operating system to the latest version to be able to open the HEIF file. Third-party post-processing tools and Internet browsers do not support viewing HEIF photos and content. Unless you use an application such as Affinity Photo or Lightroom, you need to wait until your favorite software supports software decodes HEIC files later. Meanwhile, you can use third-party tools to convert your HEIF image to another file format that supports your browser, e.g., JPEG.


That's all about the HEIC and HEIF. I believe, after you rea this article, You will gain a deeper understanding of them. HEIF and HEIC provide improved image quality, efficient compression, support for various media types, and serve as a multifunctional container format. However, due to compatibility issues, you may consider converting HEIC/HEIF to JPG/PNG.

Related Articles:

Unveiling the Visual Showdown: HEIC vs. PNG - Which Reigns Supreme?

How to Convert HEIC to JPG on Google Drive? [3 Effective Ways]

How to Convert HEIC to JPG on Windows 11/10/8/7 PC

How to Convert HEIC to PNG Online or Offline? (7 Simple Methods)

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