HEIC and HEVC support for Windows 10Source: Windows Central

The High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) is a container for images and videos created to significantly improve compression of files. Also, at the same time, it continues to provide better image quality and additional benefits over older formats (such as JPEG, PNG, and GIF) and videos using the High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) specification.

Although the file format has been available for many years, it wasn't until Apple began using the HEIF container to save photos on its devices that caused the popularity surged, and other companies to follow. For example, Google started using it since the release of Android 9 Pie in 2018.

On Windows 10, support for HEIF comes pre-installed on every installation since he October 2018 Update. However, this is only true for the image codec (MPEG-H Part 2), as you still need to download the HEVC extension to play videos (H.265).

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to add full support for HEIF on your computer, helping you avoid extra steps to convert HEIC to JPG to view pictures.

How to add HEIF codec support on Windows 10

If the extensions aren't already on your device, you'll need to install them manually using the Microsoft Store. The only caveat is that you may stumble upon the paid version of these extensions for some reason, but it's possible to get them for free using different links, as we'll show you in the instructions below.

To add HEIF file format support on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open web browser.
  2. Use this Microsoft Store link to get to the HEVC extension.
  3. Click the Get button.

    Hevc Codec Windows 10 DownloadSource: Windows Central

    Quick tip: The option to get it for free will only be available when you're signed in with your Microsoft account. Otherwise, it'll ask you to redeem a code to get it.

  4. Click the Open button.
  5. Click the Install button.

    Hevc codec free download on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  6. Use this Microsoft Store link to get to the HEIF extension.
  7. Click the Get button.

    HEIF codec free download on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  8. Click the Open button.
  9. Click the Install button.

Once you complete the steps, you should be able to view ".heic" file extensions encoded using the HEIF container with Photos or another compatible app, such as Microsoft Paint.

In October 2020, Microsoft released an emergency update to patch security vulnerabilities with the Windows Codecs Library and Visual Studio Code that could affect devices using the HEVC extension. Since the vulnerabilities have been fixed, you may need to check for apps updates manually on Microsoft Store > Downloads and updates (ellipses menu), and clicking the Get updates button. These steps will make sure the built-in HEIF Image Extension has the latest update before you can install the HEVC codec.

How to fix HEIF codec support on Windows 10

If the codecs are already installed and you are still having problems viewing images or videos with the Photos app, you can reset the extensions using the Settings app to solve the common issues.

Reset HEIF extension

To fix the HEIF extension on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps & features.
  3. Under the "Apps & features" section, select the HEIF Image Extensions item.
  4. Click the Advanced options.

    HEIF Image Extensions settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Click the Reset button.

    HEIF reset option on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the Reset button again.

After you complete the steps, you should now be able to open HEIF images on Windows 10 with compatible apps, such as the Photos app.

Reset HEVC extension

To fix the HEVC extension on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps & features.
  3. Under the "Apps & features" section, select the HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer item.
  4. Click the Advanced options.

    HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Click the Reset button.

    HEVC Video Codec Reset on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the Reset button again.

Once you complete the steps, try to play the same video encoded with the HEIF container one more time with the Movies & TV, Windows Media Player, or another compatible media app.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.