The High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) is a container for images and videos that can significantly improve file compression, while still providing superior image quality and additional benefits over older formats, such as JPEG, PNG, and GIF, as well as for videos using the High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) specification.

If you've never heard of this format, you're not the only one. Because it's not until Apple started using HEIF to save photos on its devices that the format began to gain popularity. (Google also supports HEIF since the "P" version of Android.)

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Initially, Windows 10 didn't include native support for HEIF, but since the October 2018 Update, the support comes pre-installed on every installation. However, this is only true for the image codec (MPEG-H Part 2), as you're still required to download and 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 to Windows 10. So you no longer have to convert HEIC to JPG anymore to view pictures taken with your iPhone or Android phone.

How to enable HEIF support on Windows 10

If the extensions aren't already available on your device, the Photos app will offer a link to get them from the Microsoft Store. But you'll be directed to a paid version of the extensions. However, it's possible to get these packages for free with different links.

Quick note: Starting with version 1809, the HEVC codec should install automatically on your device. However, if it's not the case, you can follow the steps below to get it. If you already have the HEVC codec, then you'll only need to install the HEIF codec.

To add HEIF support to 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.

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

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

After you complete the steps, you should be able to view files encoded using the HEIF container with Photos or another compatible app, such as Microsoft Paint.

How to fix HEIF support on Windows 10

In the case that you already have the codecs installed, and you're still unable to view images and videos with the Photos app, then you can reset the packages to solve the most common issues.

Resetting the 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.

  5. Click the Reset button.

  6. Click the Reset button again.

Once you complete the steps, close the Photos app, and try to open the image one more time.

Resetting the 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.

  5. Click the Reset button.

  6. Click the Reset button again.

After you complete the steps, close the Photos app, and try to play the same video encoded with the HEIF container one more time using Photos, Windows Media Player, or another compatible app.

More Windows 10 resources

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

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