How to open HEIC files in Windows 10

Struggling to open HEIC files on your Windows 10 machine? There’s a reason for that.
Read on to find out what HEIC files are, why you can’t open them easily in Windows 10 and what you can do to make them work on your Windows machine. Let’s dive on in and begin at the beginning.

What are HEIC files?

HEIC files are an Apple file type, which explains why they’re easier to open on a Mac than on a PC. Files with an HEIC file extension are actually saved in the HEIF image format, a set of standards developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

HEIF stands for High Efficiency Image File Format, and it’s essentially designed to make it possible to take more compressed photos to save space on people’s devices. Available for iPhone 7 and later on devices running iOS11 or later, HEIC files have their uses, but they can also cause a little confusion.

It’s a little bit like when they introduced the lightning cable and removed the audio jack socket on iPhones. A lot of people were upset because it gave them less control over which audio devices they had access to, but it also came with advantages as well as new alternatives in the form of Apple’s ear pods.

And of course, the people who only had old format headphones and earphones had the option to use the technical equivalent of an HEIC file converter – a lightning cable to stereo jack adapter.

How to open HEIC files on Windows

As of April 2018, Windows 10 contains an update that’s designed to make it much easier for you to open HEIC files on a desktop PC. If you’re running this version or a later version then you should be able to double click on the HEIC file and it’ll open up in Windows’ Photos app.

It may also prompt you to download the latest set of codecs from the Microsoft Store, in which case you’ll want to follow the link in the Photos app to do so. You’ll need to hit the “get” button to download the codecs and to install them on your PC. Don’t worry, though – it’s free!

Once you’ve installed the codec, Windows 10 will be able to open and process your HEIC file just like any other image file. It will also be able to render and display thumbnails for HEIC images within Explorer. If either of these functions is unavailable, you may need to restart your PC or update to the latest version of Windows 10 if you’re not already using it.

Converting HEIC files into JPEGs

The problem with doing this is that HEIC file compatibility doesn’t come as standard, and so while adding the extension to your machine will help you to open them, it won’t do you any favours if you need to share an image with a colleague and they’re also on a Windows machine.

In situations like this, or if you specifically need a JPEG for some website or other, it can be easier to convert them directly. The good news is that the extension for Windows 10 will also allow you to right-click on an HEIC file and click “convert to JPEG”. When you pick that option, Windows 10 will automatically convert the file for you and save your JPEG in the same folder as the source file.

Another option is to open the HEIC file in Photos and then to save the file in a different format from there. This will only work if you have the extension already installed, and when that’s the case you can skip a step by converting them in explorer. But it’s always good to have a backup in case your main option doesn’t work for some reason.

There are other options, too. If you don’t want to install the extension or if you’re on a work machine where you don’t have the authority to install software, you can take a look online. There are a whole heap of free HEIC to JPEG converters out there, and while some of them work better and more reliable than others, they’ll all get the job done.


Now that you know a little more about what HEIC files are and how they might be able to help, it’s over to you so that you can start opening them on your Windows 10 machines and converting them into JPEGs for your convenience as and when you need to.

Did you find the tips in this article useful? And do you have any other tricks and advice to share with people? Be sure to let us know in the comments!