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How to open HEIC and HEVC files on Windows 10

HEIC and HEVC support for Windows 10
HEIC and HEVC support for Windows 10 (Image credit: Windows Central)

On computing, the High-Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) is a container for images and videos designed specifically to improve the compression of files and at the same time continue improving image quality and additional benefits over older formats (JPEG, PNG, and GIF) and videos using the High-Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) specification.

Although the file format existed for many years, it was not until Apple began using the HEIF container to save photos on its devices that it became popular, and other companies started adopting it into their platforms. For instance, Google began using this format in 2018 with the Android 9 Pie mobile OS release.

On Windows 10, support for HEIF comes pre-installed on every installation starting with the October 2018 Update. However, this is only for the image codec (MPEG-H Part 2). If you want to play H.265 videos, you still have to install the HEVC extension.

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

How to add HEIF codec support on Windows 10

On Windows 10, the codecs may already be available, but you will have to install them from the Microsoft Store if they are not. The only issue is that if you need to get them manually, you may come across the paid version of the required extensions. However, you may be able to download them for free using these instructions.

To set up the HEIF support on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open your preferred browser.
  2. Open the HEVC extension page in the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab).
  3. Click the Get (or Install/Open) button.Quick tip: The free option is only available when you are signed in with your Microsoft account. Otherwise, it will prompt you to redeem a code to get it.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Open button.
  2. Click the Install button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Open the HEIF extension page in the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab).
  2. Click the Get (or Install/Open) button..

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Open button.
  2. 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 like the Microsoft Paint program.

How to fix HEIF codec support on Windows 10

In the event that you are experiencing problems viewing images and videos with this format in the Photos app, you can reset the extensions to resolve the most common issues.

Reset HEIF extension

To fix HEIF problems 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.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Reset button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Reset button again.

After you complete the steps, images using the HEIF container should now open with compatible apps like the Photos app.

Reset HEVC extension

To fix HEVC issues 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.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Reset button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Reset button again.

Once you complete the steps, the video encoded with the HEIF container should now play normally on any compatible app, such as Movies & TV or Windows Media Player.

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

12 Comments
  • Windows automatically installs these within minutes of installing it on a machine. No one needs a guide for this :-P
  • Thanks for this! I didn't mind paying a dollar, but it was the principle behind it that was irritating! Works fine now!
  • So since the beginning of shelter at home and my university's move to remote teaching, we've had to have students send in their assignments by taking a photo and sending it in. It's been crappy, but particularly so because many students send in HEIC files and they just don't work like JPEGs in Windows. Specifically, I can't select a bunch of images and print them as a single PDF, as you can with JPEGs. Any advice on that?
  • When printing images in File Explorer, you still use window's "old" printing dialog that uses the legacy image processor. Search for "copytransheic" on Google and navigate to the first result (I can't insert URLs here). This plugin adds a decoder for HEIC files to the legacy parts of Windows. You should be able to print images in bulk and insert them into Word as you would do with any other image. Do keep in mind that Windows 10's modern apps (like the modern photos app) won't get affected by this plugin, hence the tutorial above. Hope this'll help :)
  • Thank you! Will try this.
  • This is only for supported devices. Not for every other computer.
  • Great Support - Thank you
  • HEVC extension is paid, even after login. It's okay because I use Media Player Classic for videos. It's faster than VLC and glitchy W10 video player.
  • Glitchy!! Movies & TV is miles better than the media player. Keep living in the past
  • My wife left her iPhone 7 on default recording options. I installed all these to view the media files produced by her device. I was able to view images, but live photos and video recordings (mov) could not be played. I told her to quickly set that iPhone to "decent" settings amd ended up having to convert all media content by an app found in the Microsoft Store. It had a free option to convert 10 files a day.
  • That version of the HEVC codec is only for devices with hardware decoding support and built-in license, I believe it is automatically installed on eligible devices.
    The one that can be bought as an add-on for other devices is this one: https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
  • Microsoft removed the Device Manufacturer CODEC from the store. My Windows Laptop is not unable to play HEVC without using a 3rd party app unless I create a Microsoft Account and buy it from Microsoft. Honestly, I think I'm just going to get the MacBook. I got a MBP and returned it, but I'm thinking I'm going to go and "get it back" and shelve this windows laptop. Too much hassle, like the fact that Store apps are tied to user accounts so even if you get it on your primary machine account, anyone else with an account on that machine will be missing the CODEC because the package is installed for only your user - not the entire machine. My entire video library, whicih was viewable yesterday before I created a new user account, is not unviewable on the same machine. Lol. Priceless.