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: Future)

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 example, 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 since 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 must install the HEVC extension.

This guide 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 on Windows 10.

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 in Store app 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.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Install button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Open the HEIF extension page in the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab).
  2. Click the Get in Store button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. 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

If 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.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Reset button.

(Image credit: Future)
  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.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Reset button.

(Image credit: Future)
  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.

More resources

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

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.