Using HEIF or HEVC media on Apple devices

Upgrade to iOS 11 or later or macOS High Sierra or later to view, edit or duplicate HEIF or HEVC media captured with an iOS device.

iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra introduced support for these new, industry-standard media formats:

  • HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format) for photos
  • HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), also known as H.265, for videos

HEIF and HEVC offer better compression than JPEG and H.264, so they use less storage space on your devices and iCloud Photos, while maintaining the same visual quality. 

To fully view, edit or duplicate HEIF and HEVC media on your device, upgrade to the latest version of iOS 11 or later or macOS High Sierra or later.

Capturing this media

When using iOS 11 or later, the following devices can capture media in HEIF or HEVC format. Other devices can view, edit or duplicate this media with limitations, if using iOS 11 or later or macOS High Sierra or later.

Though capturing in HEIF and HEVC format is recommended, you can set these devices to capture media using older formats, which are more broadly compatible with other devices and operating systems:

  1. Go to Settings > Camera.
  2. Tap Formats.
  3. Tap Most Compatible. This setting is available only on devices that can capture media in HEIF or HEVC format, and only when using iOS 11 or later.
  4. All new photos and videos will now be in JPEG or H.264 format. To return to using the space-saving HEIF and HEVC formats, choose High Efficiency.

Working with this media

Support for HEIF and HEVC is built into iOS 11 and later and macOS High Sierra and later, letting you view, edit or duplicate this media in a variety of apps, including Photos, iMovie and QuickTime Player.

On some older devices, support for HEVC is affected by the resolution and frame rate (fps) of the video. Resolutions of 1080p or lower and frame rates of 60 fps or lower are more broadly compatible with older devices. To reduce the resolution and frame rate that your capture device uses for recording video, go to Settings > Camera > Record Video, as well as Settings > Camera > Record Slo-mo. 

If you're using iCloud Photos with iOS 10 or macOS Sierra, you may see a warning icon  in the upper-right corner of the photo or video, or you may see an alert message. To fully view, edit or duplicate HEIF and HEVC media on your device, upgrade to iOS 11 or later or macOS High Sierra or later.

Sharing this media

iCloud Photos retains media in its original format, resolution and frame rate. If your device can't fully view, edit or duplicate HEIF or HEVC media in iCloud Photos, or displays it at a lower resolution, upgrade to iOS 11 or later or macOS High Sierra or later.

When you share media using other methods, such as AirDrop, Messages or email, it may be shared in a more compatible format, such as JPEG or H.264, depending on whether the receiving device supports the newer media format.

Converting this media

You can convert HEIF and HEVC media by exporting it to a different format from an Apple or third-party app. For example:

  • If you open an HEIF image in Photos or Preview on your Mac, you can choose File > Export, then choose a format, such as JPEG or PNG, before saving.
  • If you open an HEVC video in QuickTime Player on your Mac, you can choose File > Export As, then save to H.264 by making sure that the HEVC checkbox isn’t selected.

Importing this media via USB

When you import HEIF or HEVC media from an attached iOS device to Photos, Image Capture or a PC, the media ma be converted to JPEG or H.264.

You can change the behaviour of the import in iOS 11 or later. Go to Settings > Photos. In the TRANSFER TO MAC OR PC section, tap Keep Originals to prevent the media from being converted to JPEG or H.264 when importing. 

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