If you are unable to open HEIC files in Windows 10, follow these steps to force the Windows 10 Photos app to open HEIC photos natively.
Most modern smartphones are now saving photos in the HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format) format with HEIC file extension. For example, my Samsung smartphone saves photos as HEIC files. Compared to the age-old JPEG format, HEIF offers, better image quality at lower overall file size. If you are interested, take a look at this Wikipedia page. It goes into great detail about the HEIF file format.
As good as the HEIF file format is, Windows 10 doesn't natively support files with HEIC file extension. Due to that, you cannot open the HEIC files with the default Photos app. In fact, you will just see the blank file icon for HEIC files rather than its preview in the File Explorer.
Follow the steps shown below to install the HEIF extension and enable HEIC file compatibility in Windows 10.
How do I Open HEIC Photos in Windows 10
You need to install the HEIF codec to open the HEIC files and photos in the Windows 10 Photos app. Microsoft provides an official extension called HEIF Images Extension to open the HEIC files. Follow the steps shown below to install it.
- Click here to go to the HEIF Images Extension page.
- Click on the "Get" button.
- In the Store app, click on the "Get" or "Install" button. This will install the extension.
- Close the store app.
- Reboot Windows.
After rebooting, you should be able to open HEIC format photos in the Photos app. The File Explorer will also show the thumbnail preview of all HEIC format photos and images.
Using CopyTrans - Alternative Method
CopyTrans is a free lightweight application that lets you preview, open and view HEIC files in Windows 10. If you are facing difficulties with the official Microsoft HEIF extension, try this method. It will work on all systems including Windows 10, 7, and 8.
To use CopyTrans to open HEIC files, follow the steps listed below.
- Download CopyTrans.
- Install the downloaded application in Windows 10.
- After installing, reboot Windows 10.
- Find the HEIC photo or image and double-click on it.
As soon as you double-click the image should be opened in the Windows Photo Viewer. In fact, you should also be able to see the HEIC file preview in File Explorer and on the desktop.
If the file did not open on double-click, right-click on the HEIC file and select the "Open with → Windows Photo Viewer" option.
In case you are wondering, yes the HEIC file will be opened in the old Windows Photo Viewer rather than the new Windows 10 Photos app. That is mainly because of the limitations and compatibility issues with the new Photos app.
That is all. It is that simple to open HEIF or HEIC photos in Windows 10. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible. If you like this article, do check out how to convert HEIC photos to JPG in Windows 10.