HEIC: all about the modern format. How to work with it on a Mac

November 28

12 min. to read

Images on the iPhone 7/ iPad Pro 2017 and newer models are saved in HEIF format with a .HEIC extension. HEIF photos and HEVC videos take up half the storage space of popular JPEG images and videos without losing quality.

After installing iOS 11, the camera automatically uses a format for saving photos in HEIF format with a .heic extension. We will describe several ways to convert .HEIC to JPG on Mac.

As a result, many Mac users work with this format and don't even realize it. This won't be a problem until you need to move your photos to a PC. If so, you want to know how to convert the.HEIC to JPEG on Mac format manually.

Sometimes there are difficulties with the HEIF format when syncing. Although all iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra devices can open images/videos in the new formats, many apps still don't support them. Looking for the easiest and most convenient way to do it? We will help and tell you how to turn HEIC to JPG on Mac.

For example, Pixelmator can import HEIF images, but cannot save them in the new format. The programs Photoshop and Illustrator as well as Microsoft Windows and Office do not yet support the HEIF format either, and you have to convert photos to JPEG for them.

How to Convert HEIC to JPG with Preview

If you're in a hurry or just don't want to upload any programs, you can change HEIC to JPG on a MacBook using the Preview feature. You must have macOS High Sierra or later installed.

  • The first and easiest task is to find the picture we want. For this, there is a special tool called Finder;

  • Press Command to select all the images. Some specialists prefer to use the combination Command-A. It's not complicated at all, so choose the option you like best;

  • Right-click one of the selected images, and then choose Open in program → View (the selected images will open in the program);

  • Select the images in the program's side menu by using the mouse and pressing Command-A;

  • Then select Export Selected Images. It's easy to find them: just open the File menu;

  • Press Options, then select Format, and choose JPEG;

  • Now press Select. Voila, it's very simple!

You can also be converting HEIC to JPG on Mac, and TIFF, PNG, and PDF images. In addition, you can customize the JPEG compression.

This method will save the date of image creation, location information, color profile, etc., which is a very big plus.

How to transfer HEIF images to a computer in JPEG format

iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra will automatically convert images when you transfer, but only if you use the “share” feature. You can also transfer HEIF images to your Mac using via DropDown menu, and they are automatically changing HEIC to JPG on Mac during the transfer process. But what if you need to publish a photo to an app that doesn't support the “share” feature? If you just want to share an image online, you don't need to convert it to JPEG.

If you want to move your HEIF images to your computer in JPEG format, iOS can help you with that as well. Go to Settings → Photos and select the Automatically under Transfer to Mac or PC option.

With this setting, all HEIF images and H.265 videos will automatically convert to JPEG/H.264 when you transfer the files to your computer via USB.

You don't need to convert HEIC (HEIF) to JPEG even if you really care about image quality, because it is the same in both formats. And the constant conversion of images from one format to another loses its quality.

But there are cases where converting HEIC → JPEG makes sense, so we'll tell you how. Now that you know how to make HEIC to JPG on Mac we will talk about another method.

How to Convert HEIC to JPG with Photos

You can convert an image format even without a third-party program, and you need to follow a few simple steps to take so:

  • Open Photos on your Apple Mac;

  • Next, you need to select a picture to change;

  • From the File → Export menu, select Export x photo;

  • In Photo Type, select JPEG;

  • Tap the Export button;

  • Select the folder where you want to save the finished images and start the export process;

  • Now you can close photos and go to JPEG images in Finder.

The process may take some time, depending on the number and resolution of images and the power of your Mac. After that, you will see a notification that the process is over.

Then select the best quality, compatible color profile, and full size. The most common format is still JPEG, and for compatibility or some other reason, you may need to convert Mac HEIC to JPG.

Another Method

macOS Monterey and newer has a new fastest way to convert a HEIC image to JPG or PNG.

  • Right-click on one or more selected HEIC images and choose Quick Actions > Convert Image;

  • Make sure that JPEG format is selected;

  • Click “Image Size” and select the original size, large, medium, or small;

  • Now tap Convert to JPEG.

If you have an iPhone 7 or newer with iOS 11, your Camera shoots HEIF by default, and most users don't even realize it. You can switch between HEIF/HEVC and JPG/MOV(H.264) in Settings → Camera.

Go to the new Formats section and select the format you want. Now that you know how to change a HEIC to JPG on Mac, we tell you how to do the same with standard tools.

How to Change HEIC to JPG on a Mac with Automator

Enter to Mac with Automator. This is a native macOS program that lets you automate built-in tools and make changes to multiple files in your own way. You can use the program's “Change Image Type” feature to convert multiple images to a different format at the same time.

To get started, open the Automator app on your Mac from the Launcher, Spotlight, or by going to the “Applications” folder in the Finder. Now you on one step closer to answering the question “how to change a photo from HEIC to JPG on Mac”. When the application starts, you will be prompted to open the file. In the pop-up window that appears, select the “New Document” option in the lower left corner. In the next window, select the “Quick Action” option under “Choose Document Type”, and then click “Select”.  

To select the Image Container feature, you need to select the “Photos” tab in the “Library” section on the leftmost sidebar, and then select the “Change Image Type” option on the second leftmost sidebar. An alternative way how to convert HEIC to JPG on Mac, you can search for “Change Image Type” in the search bar at the top. You can select a function by double-clicking it or by dragging it into the empty field on the right side of the screen. You will be prompted with a popup asking if you want to save the converted files as copies, with the original versions of the files intact. If this is what you want to do, click “Add”. Otherwise, click “Don't add.” 

If you decide on the second option, all of your converted image files will replace the original files on your Mac. You should now see the selected functions on the right side of the Automator window. Select “JPEG” next to the “Type” section in the “Change Image Type” field. You can select other file formats, such as TIFF, PNG, BMP, and JPEG 2000, to convert your images. You can select the default location for the converted files under “To” in the “Copy Finder Items” field. Once you have selected your preferred file format and saved location, you can start saving this Automator action. To do this, go to the “File”> “Save” menu. Enter a name for your Automator action in the pop-up window, then click “Save”. We call this “Convert to JPG”. We have described several ways how to convert to JPG on Mac.

Conclusion: Is HEIC better than JPG?

HEIC format is standard for iPhone, more demanding on memory, but better conveys the quality of the image. However, it cannot be opened on a PC without a special codec. JPEG is more convenient to send over the network, and archive, and we can say that it is a more universal format with much smaller files. Even if you take pictures in HEIC format, your iPhone is smart enough to share them with other devices in a compatible format. HEIF/HEVC format files will only transfer to your computer if it supports these formats. Otherwise, the photo format will be changed automatically during the transfer.