HEIF Image Format: All You Need to Know about HEIF in iOS 11

Brandon Wood
May 23, 2023

HEIF, also named High Efficiency Image Format, is a new image format released after iOS 11 and known for its ability to save photos in smaller size without compressing image quality. In another words, the HEIF image format can have the same or better photo quality while it takes up less storage space on device than JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF. However, it's not just the compression of the photo size, as a newborn and improved image format, you have much to know about HEIF image format.

Part 1. HEIF VS HEVC: What's the Difference?
Part 2. Supported Devices of HEIF Format
Part 3. How to Open and Transfer HEIF Images on Mac Computer?
Part 4. How to View and Backup HEIF Images on Windows PC/Mac?
Part 5. How to Setup or Disable HEIF Image Format on iPhone/iPad
Part 6. How to Automatically Convert to Compatible Format When Transferring
Part 7. How to Recover HEIF (.heic) Images on iPhone and iPad?

what you need to know about heif image format in ios 11

Part 1. HEIF VS HEVC: What's the Difference?

- HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) is the image format for photos with extension of HEIC (.heic) while the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) is the video format for videos with extension of MOV (.mov), and also it is known as H.265.

- HEIF can increase the compression rate by twice as much as JEPG while using HEVC can increase the compression rate by 40% compared with H.264, the previous video format.

- The minimum configuration of HEIF image encode support is A10 Fusion chip in iOS while the minimum configurations of HEVC movie decode support A9 chip in iOS and 6th Generation Intel Core processor in macOS. Besides, for 8-bit and 10-bit software decode, all iOS devices and Macs are supported.

Part 2. Supported Devices of HEIF Format

As a new image format, the HEIF image format is released after iOS 11 and is adopted on new Apple devices by default, not all devices support HEIF files.

Supported Devices to Read HEIC Images:

· iOS devices in iOS 11 or later, including iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus.

· iPad Pro (10.5 inch) and iPad Pro 12.9 inch (2nd generation) or later;

· macOS HIgh Sierra (10.12) or higher.

Unsupported Devices to Read HEIC Photos:

· iOS 10 or earlier, including iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5 and other.
· macOS High Sierra 10.12 and earlier.
· Windows PC (currently).
· Other operating system besides iOS, including Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and etc.

Can't Miss: How to Convert HEIC/HEIF Images to JPG/JPEG Format? [Free]

Part 3. How to Open and Transfer HEIF Images on Mac Computer?

On HEIF-supported Mac (macOS in High Sierra or higher), you can open and transfer HEIF pictures on your Mac with Photos app of Mac.

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to Mac with a USB cable to make Mac detect your iPhone.

Step 2. Launch Photos app on Mac, and hit "Import" option on the top right conner.

Step 3. Then you might check and preview the HEIF photos from your iPhone on your Mac computer.

Step 4. Now you might hit "Import All New Photos" option or select desired photos manually to import them from iPhone to your Mac computer.

how to view and transfer heif photos to mac

Part 4. How to View and Backup HEIF Images on Windows PC/Mac?

No matter you are having a Windows PC or Mac computer, you can also open and transfer HEIC images with the professional HEIF File Manager - Coolmuster iOS Assistant. It is fully compatible with iOS 11 and enables you to wholly or selectively transfer HEIF photos from iPhone to Windows PC or Mac computer for backup without restrictions.

Besides, it can better manage (import/export/edit and etc.) iOS data on iPhone/iPad/iPod like contacts, messages, photos, videos, calendars, notes, call history and etc. on all generations of iOS device.

Steps to manage HEIF photos on Windows PC/Mac:

Step 1. Launch Coolmuster iOS Assistant on your computer and connect your iPhone to computer via a USB cable.

Step 2. When the program detects the connected iPhone, please click "Photos" tab to load all the pictures from your iPhone, including the HEIC images. Now you can view HEIF photos on computer.

(Tips: The HEIF image viewing function is coming soon, and you can backup HEIF images with it for now.)

connect iphone to computer

Step 3. While previewing, please select the HEIC images you want to backup or download, and hit "Export" option to save them on your Mac or Windows PC all at once.

how to view and backup heic images on windows or mac

Can't Miss: Different Ways to Download HEIC Photos from iPhone to Computer

Part 5. How to Setup or Disable HEIF Image Format on iPhone/iPad

On HEIF-supported iOS devices, you can set up or decide whether you want to enable or disable the High Efficiency Image Format on your iPhone or iPad. After disabling HEIF image format, you can take photos with your iPhone camera in JPEG format as before.

Step 1. Unlock your iPhone or iPad and open "Settings" app on your device.

Step 2. Switch to "Camera" page, tap "Formats" option to set up photo format when taking photos with camera of iPhone or iPad.

Step 3. Under CAMERA CAPTURE section, please turn on "Most Compatible" to disable HEIF image format. To enable HEIF image format again, simply switch on "High Efficiency" from "Most Compatible" option.

how to disable heif image format on iphone and ipad

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Part 6. How to Automatically Convert to Compatible Format When Transferring

How to automatically convert to compatible format of HEIF photos/HEVC videos when transferring to PC/Mac?

On HEIF-supported iPhone and iPad, there is a setting for users who need to transfer HEIC images or HEVC videos to computer (Windows PC/Mac) for backup or share. The HEIF file creators are considerate and they have considered the limits of compatibility of the new image format or video format. So the iOS 11 devices support to automatically convert photos and videos to a compatible format when transferring to Windows PC or Mac computer.

What you need to do are:

Step 1. On your iPhone or iPad, launch Settings app on your device.

Step 2. Tap "Camera" option to see more settings.

Step 3. Scroll down to find "TRANSFER TO MAC OR PC" section, turn on "Automatic" option here to finish the job.

If you want to always transfer the original format files without checking the compatibility, please choose the "Keep Original" option here.

automatically transfer heic photos format from iphone to computer


HEIF differs from the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) format, which is primarily used for videos with the MOV (.mov) extension. HEIF achieves a compression rate twice as high as JPEG, while HEVC increases the compression rate by 40% compared to the previous H.264 video format.

To open and transfer HEIF images on Mac computers, users can utilize the Photos app and connect their iPhone via a USB cable. On Windows PCs and Mac computers, Coolmuster iOS Assistant provides a professional HEIF file management solution, allowing users to view, back up, and selectively transfer HEIC photos without restrictions. Thus, why not try it to organize your HEIF images?

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