Apple’s new image format HEIC and Microsoft Office

Apple has introduced a new image and video format for iPhone and iPad, here’s how to handle it in Microsoft Office documents.

.HEIC image files are made by default in some Apple devices with iOS 11.

Microsoft Office and Windows don’t support the new format yet but there’s workarounds available in the meantime.

Automatic HEIC conversion

You’re unlikely to see .HEIC images appearing on your non-Apple device anytime soon because there’s features in place to convert to JPG automatically.

  • If you email an image from an Apple device, it will automatically convert the .HEIC image into a .JPG for the attachment.
  • It’s similar for adding images to Twitter or Instagram – both will convert automatically.
  • Dropbox‘s iOS app already supports HEIC. Under the Gear icon | Camera Uploads | Save HEIC Photos as … you have the choice of uploading the .HEIC file or a .JPG version.
  • OneDrive app also converts HEIC to JPG. You can change that at Settings | Advanced | Upload |

Most Compatible.

  • In an Apple device you can force it to save in JPG format only at Settings | Camera | Formats and choose Most Compatible.  That’s NOT recommended.  HEIC images take up less space on Apple devices and have the potential to add features not available in other formats.

Your own HEIC conversion to JPG

If you do get a HEIC image, there are simple and free options available for conversion to JPG.  Once converted to JPG you can add them to Office documents in the usual way.

There are online converters like https://heictojpg.com/ but we don’t recommend any of these because of the privacy concerns.

Better to use a conversion tool on your computer.  iMazing HEIC converter is free and available for both Windows and Mac computers.  Thanks to Rose Vines for this tip.

About HEIF and HEIC

The new image and video format is called HEIF – High Efficiency Image File Format and is supported in iOS 11 (iPhone 7 and later or newer iPad Pro) and macOS High Sierra.     It’s new to the public but the specification has been around for the last two years.

It’s an openly published format from the MPEG Group, officially called  MPEG-H Part 12 or ISO/IEC 23008-12. It’s not an Apple proprietary format

The file extensions are .heif or .heic for images.  Apple is using .MOV for HEIF video.

The file compression is better than JPEG so the same image at the same resolution should result in a smaller file size.  The claims are the HEIC can be half the size of a JPG image.

Even better, HEIF is a container.  A single file can contain multiple files to suit different purposes.

  • A photo can be stored in high-quality format plus a smaller version for quick display on a web page or thumbnail.
  • Additional data like EXIF/XMP information (location, photo specs, copyright etc).
  • Similar images like a ‘burst’ photo sequence or group of exposures can be saved in a single HEIF file.
  • Cropping and rotation information can be added separately without touching the original image. Other editing operations are available to adjust the display version of an image without changing the source image.

Apple has some developer presentations on the new format  HEIF  and HEIF/HEVC

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