How to open or convert Google Photos in HEIC format

Some users downloaded photos from Google Photos to their PC only to be met with compatibility problems. If you took those photos on your iPhone, chances are that they are stored and backed up to Google Photos in HEIC format (Apple’s High-Efficiency Image Format that’s basically). Sadly, Windows can’t open images with this extension by default. Learn more below.

Table of contents:

  1. What is HEIC and how it’s different from JPEG/JPG image format
  2. How to disable HEIC (HEIF) on your iPhone
  3. How to convert HEIC to JPG

How do I convert HEIC to JPG in Google Photos?

You can use one of the HEIC converters found online to convert HEIC to JPEG. Alternatively, just right-click on a photo in Google Photos for the web and save it locally as JPEG or PNG. The ultimate way is to purchase HEIC Extension from Microsoft Store. You might be able to get it for free if you access it through the web page.

1. What is HEIC and how it’s different from JPEG/JPG image format

HEIC is Apple’s version of HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) which is, as the name implies, a novel image format that employs better compression while keeping the image quality intact. It’s almost always an improvement over JPG/JPEG except when it comes to compatibility on some platforms like Windows.

Just like the HEIC is the default format for images on iPhones, HEVC (H.265) is the default video format. And, it’s the same story — high-efficiency/high-quality video format when compared to standard H.264 but you might run into compatibility issues.

If you open Google Photos and expand a photo or video, you’ll see the exact format in the Details section. If you download photos from Google Photos for Web and store them on your Windows 10 PC, you won’t be able to access them.

2. How to disable HEIC (HEIF) on your iPhone

Luckily, Apple gives a choice to all iPhone users of storing photos and videos in either HEIC/HEVC (High Efficiency) or JPEG/H.264 (Most Compatible) formats. You can choose between the two, but have in mind that 4K at 60 FPS and 1080p at 240 FPS videos always get stored as HEVC files. All Android devices can open and access HEIC/HEVC files and, as you already realized, Google Photos store them just like JPEG/H.264 — in the same format they are stored on the device.

The problem arises if you want to open those photos or videos on a Windows PC. Here’s how to switch image and video formats on your iPhone:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Camera.
  3. Tap Formats.
  4. Choose High Efficiency for HEIC/HEVC or Most Compatible for JPEG/H.264.google photos heic

3. How to convert HEIC to JPG

Now, if you already have a lot of photos and videos in High-Efficiency formats uploaded to Google Photos, the problem might arise if you want to download and edit them on your Windows PC. Microsoft is not helping with the matter by offering a paid codec extension that sorts out this problem. What you can do is download a converter software and convert your HEIC photos into JPEG or PNG so you can use them later on.

The top two options we found online are (we’re not affiliated with their respective developers and these are direct links):

Alternatively, if you have only a few photos you want to download and edit on your PC, you can just expand the photo, right-click on it, and just save it to your PC. It will be downloaded and stored as JPEG instead of HEIC.

With that said, we can conclude this article. Thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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