Deciding between HEIC and JPEG can be a challenge when you need to store digital images across your devices. Both formats are raster files and can handle highly detailed photographs. Learn more about their key features, pros and cons and the main differences with this helpful guide.

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What is a HEIC file?

HEICs save pictures using the High Efficiency Image Format. This file type became widely associated with Apple after they chose it as the default file for iPhones and iPads in 2017. HEIC files use the .HEIC extension.

Learn more about HEIC file types

What is a JPEG file?

Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the JPEG format stores digital photos with the help of colour pixels. Its ability to compress images into smaller files has made it a popular format for web designers over the years. A JPEG image can store up to 16 million colours.

Learn more about JPEG file types

What is the difference between HEIC and JPEG files?

Despite their shared ability to store detailed photographs, there are many differences in compression, size, image quality and compatibility between HEIC and JPEG files to consider before choosing between them:


Because they can compress large images into more manageable files, JPEGs are the more popular choice for many web designers. The trade-off for that smaller file size is what’s known as lossy compression, which means that whenever you edit and resave a JPEG, it loses some background data. This can affect image quality.

On the other hand, HEICs offer a much more efficient, modern compression method than the older JPEG format. HEICs break images into significantly smaller files without affecting quality.

Storage space.

Most HEIC files will take up significantly less room than a JPEG on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Their innovative compression process means HEICs can use as little as half the space that a JPEG file would. This can ease the strain on your hard-drive while allowing you to store a much larger number of files. More streamlined storage is one of the reasons why Apple made the switch from JPEG to HEIC back in 2017.

Image quality.

When it comes to both compression and image quality, HEIC files win out over JPEG. The HEIC format can actually enhance the quality of photos with transparency and a broader dynamic range capabilities.


JPEG files have a longer history than HEICs and are generally more compatible across operating systems, software and devices. It’s a straightforward process to open and edit JPEGs almost anywhere — from Windows computers to Macs, Adobe Photoshop, GIMP and beyond. You can also view JPEGs in most modern web browsers by simply dragging and dropping the file.

While JPEGs have almost universal compatibility, HEIC files don’t. HEICs have become more commonplace in recent years, but their primary use is on Apple devices. You may even need to convert your HEIC files to JPEGs when transferring photos from an iPhone to a PC.


HEICs support image transparency in a similar way to PNG files. Transparency is especially useful in web design because it allows images — like logos or graphics — to merge seamlessly with the existing background of a webpage.

The JPEG format, on the other hand, doesn’t support transparency. This limits its flexibility when it comes to website design and can make it less suitable for logos.


Because JPEG is a lossy file format, the files lose data each time you edit and resave an image. This means the quality of a file can degrade over time as you edit and re-edit, destroying more data each time.

HEICs, while also a lossy file format, tend to retain better image quality over time. They also store editing information, so even once you’ve saved edits to an image, you can reverse them in the future.

HEIC and JPEG files: frequently asked questions.

Can HEICs and JPEGs store metadata?

HEICs and JPEGs can both store EXIF metadata. The data comes directly from your camera and offers specific information about the photo, including the date and time of the shoot, the GPS location and even the camera exposure.

How easy is it to convert HEIC files to JPEGs?

You can easily convert a HEIC file to the JPEG format. Your images may even automatically make the switch when you transfer them from an iPhone to a PC. Converting from HEIC to JPEG might simplify sharing files with friends or colleagues who don’t use Apple devices.

Do the HEIC or JPEG formats support animation?

The HEIC and JPEG file formats support still images rather than animation. The GIF, a similar raster file type, offers basic animation features. GIF files are a good option if you’re looking to create memes to share online.

Can iPhones save photos as JPEGs instead of HEICs?

You can switch your settings to start saving images as JPEGs instead of HEICs. On your phone, navigate to Settings > Camera > Formats and click Most compatible.

Is it easier to open a JPEG or an HEIC file in Windows?

JPEGs tend to be easier to open in Windows because they’re compatible with most image-viewing programmes. Opening an HEIC in Windows may be trickier because you’ll need to install the Microsoft HEIF Image Extensions package first.