Opening HEVC and HEIF Files

by Eric Wyatt
(last updated September 16, 2019)

Recently, two new file formats have started to become prominent within the world of computers and smart devices. These two file formats, HEVC and HEIF, allow for better compression while improving the quality of the file. If you've never heard of these formats you're not alone. Unless you follow a lot of tech news or announcements, you could easily have missed information about them. What are these file formats, and why should you care?

HEVC is short for High Efficiency Video Codec. This relates to a video being encoded using H.265, again allowing essentially for the video to look better when you play them on your device. They also take up less space than previous file formats.

HEIF is short for High Efficiency Image File format. Similar to HEVC, this format allows your image to take up less storage space. It is not uncommon for an HEIF file to take up roughly half the storage space of a similar-sized JPG file.

So, why do you need to know about these formats? These formats are becoming more and more popular with smartphones. The iPhone from Apple started using the formats as recently as iOS 11, and now Android devices have begun to use them. This can be problematic if you take a photo or video using your phone (or a family member sends you a file) and then you're unable to view it on your computer.

Luckily, you can add support for these formats by installing the proper codec on your computer. Installing the codec or extension is simple and straight forward—just follow these steps for both formats:

HEVC Extension Installation

If you simply search the Microsoft store for "HEVC Video Extensions" you will get the "HEVC Video Extension" page from Microsoft that charges $0.99 for the codec extension. If you follow the steps below you can get the extension from Microsoft for free.

  1. Click on this link. This will open your web browser and load the "HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer" page on the Windows Store website. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer page on the Windows store website.

  3. Click on the blue Get button to install the extension. This launches the Windows Store app.
  4. Click on the blue Get button. (Yes, you'll need to click on the blue Get button twice in a row. Go figure!) Windows will install the extension.
  5. Close the Windows Store, as the extension should be installed and ready to use. Depending on your machine a restart may be required.

HEIF Image Extension Installation

Windows began including native support HEIF with the release of the October 2018 Windows 10 update. If you have not updated to Windows 10, version 1809 or later, you may need to manually install the HEIF extension.

  1. Press the Windows key and type (without quotes) "HEIF Image Extensions," then press Enter. Windows launches the Windows Store app and loads the page for the "HEIF Image Extension." (If this does not work, launch the Windows Store app and search for (without quotes) "HEIF Image Extension.") (See Figure 2.)
  2. Figure 2. The HEIF Image Extensions page in the Windows store.

  3. Click on the blue Get button. Windows will install the extension.
  4. Close the Windows Store, as the extension should be installed and ready to use. Depending on your machine a restart may be required.

Now with the HEVC and HEIF extensions installed, you will be able to enjoy these file formats on your computer without missing out on the photos your relative sent you.

 This tip (13676) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Eric Wyatt

Eric Wyatt is a swell guy (or so his friends tell him). He is a formally trained designer and branding expert, bringing a wide range of skills to his Tips.Net articles. ...


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