Software: iPhone/Android image doesn't work on a PC

Windows Photo HEIC error
TL;DR: Installing the HEIF Image Extensions will let you see HEICs and convert them, but you should probably just ask the person who uploaded them to resend as JPEGs instead.


iPhones and newer Android phones often store their camera images as HEIC (also sometimes called HEIF) - a newer, more efficient, but less compatible alternative to JPEG.

Devices using HEIC will typically convert the image back to JPEG on the fly when sending it to the internet or other devices that may not understand them, but if the conversion doesn't happen, you may be stuck with an image you can't view. Microsoft offers HEIC support in Windows via the HEIF Image Extensions, but UWRF is currently unable to provision these. 

A common way this happens is that someone takes a photo with an iPhone, transfers it to their Mac, and then uploads it via a web browser. The iPhone doesn't do a JPEG conversion since it knows Macs understand HEIC, and the browser doesn't do the conversion because it treats the upload as just another file rather than a displayable image.

There are several routes to deal with this problem depending on how you got the image and if you can reach the sender. Generally you should strive to get the sender of the image moved to a process where they will upload JPEGs, but this may not always be feasible.

If you can reach the sender of the image:

  • Ask them to reupload the images as JPEG from the device.
    • Uploading through a browser or app directly from the iPhone or iPad will trigger an automatic JPEG conversion.
  • Alternately, ask them to convert the images using iCloud or Google Photos and reupload.
    • Photos taken on an iPhone will commonly be stored in iCloud, or in Google Photos for an Android device. Both also have web interfaces.
    • If the iCloud Photo web interface is accessed from a Windows computer, download photos are automatically converted to JPEGs.
    • The Google Photos web interface will download JPEGs only if the image has been altered (including trivial changes such as rotating or cropping), otherwise a HEIC will be downloaded. You can still view the uploaded images in the browser, however.

If you have access to a Mac (including lab Macs):

  • Convert the images in Preview
    •, the default macOS image viewer, can open HEICs and save them as JPEGs. Choose File | Export.

If you are using a university issued Windows computer:

  • Install the HEIF Images Extension in Software Center
    • This will let Photos, Adobe applications, and other Windows applications display HEICs. .

If your are using a personally owned Windows 10 or later computer:

Additional Notes (ways that do not work):

  • Photoshop and related Adobe applications will not open HEICs on Windows unless the HEIF Image Extensions are already installed.
  • As of this writing, web browsers do not display HEICs on their own.
  • There are online services that will convert HEIC, but there are substantial concerns regarding privacy and the risk of them offering malware in the process, so DoTS generally does not recommend their use.
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Article ID: 137322
Fri 8/27/21 1:55 PM
Mon 5/13/24 12:45 PM