What the HEIC? Apple’s Highly Compressed Image Format Still Confuses

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2020/06/26/what-the-heic-apples-highly-compressed-image-format-still-confuses/

Although it has been nearly three years since Apple introduced its version of a new standard format for highly compressed images and videos, the details remain hard to decipher. That’s partly due to Apple’s confusing labeling.

The only thing I find confusing about it is why Apple chooses to tell people it even exists and doesn’t do everything they can to hide its existence.

It’s a fantastic format that absolutely no average consumer cares about, asked for, or will ever use directly. But then, I suppose we could say that about much of the guts of Apple’s operating systems.

As with HEIC, iOS may export an H.264-encoded MOV file unless it can determine the destination can read HEVC/H.265.

You can check a MOV’s internal encoding formats by opening it in QuickTime Player in macOS and choosing Window > Show Movie Inspector.

I’m confused, isn’t QuickTime is deprecated. HEIC should be invisible, but using .MOV file extension is not a great idea, if these aren’t really MOVs.

As of Win10 at least Microsoft offers free HEIF / HEIC format support and HEIC converters and a $0.99 HEVC extension in the Microsoft App Store.

The problem is corporations may block the App Store on managed Enterprise Win10 computers.

Apple makes everything confusing when it has unclear nomenclature. I vaguely remembered what you were talking about—QuickTime being deprecated—and the confusion is that QuickTime encompasses several different things.

There was a QuickTime framework, there’s the MOV container, and there’s the QuickTime Player.

The framework went away a few releases ago. So Apple doesn’t support packaging content in QuickTime formats. The QuickTime Player remains active, as you know, and it can play many different audio and video formats, including ones that macOS can no longer produce. As of Catalina and the 64-bit requirement, a number of older audio and video formats can no longer be played within QuickTime in any package/file.

MOV, however, continues to be used as a generic A/V package, and there’s seemingly no effort to change that. However, MOV files can’t be directly read on non-Apple platforms without third-party software, as I recollect. But you can transform MOV files into other formats.

This rundown from a few years ago has a lot of detail.

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Thanks, I still have my qucktime apps in High Sierra and use them for quick fixes sometimes, and have a few other programs in case those don’t work. But i did build some sites (which actually still exist) that are broken now because i haven’t converted the mov files (I used the web features of quicktime to run these files in a webpage) at some point I’ll look to convert these to something else (it was audio, but i used the web control features of Quicktime). Lately, a lot of my customers have me putting together old systems that run old softwares, because there’s a lot of fear of access/broken file formats generated by Catalina.

The weird thing is, Photo Stream doesn’t recognize HEIC when it syncs with my iMac. I always wind up with two copies of all my photos on the Mac. Thats not space saving. :grinning:

I just ran into this as well recently. Photo Stream sends over JPG. In the past I would hook my phone up to my mac and download the images I wanted (Photo Stream did not seem to be working apparently). I was worried that the Photo Stream images would only stay on my mac for 30 days (which is what it says in the settings in iOS). I wanted them on my mac so I hooked up my phone with a wire to import them. I did this and ended up with duplicates, half JPG and half HEIC. And when I deleted any of the PhotoStream images in Photos it warned me that it would be deleted off of Photo Stream which scared me (I wanted some of them still on the phone). Then I read the description of Photo Stream in the Mac settings, and it says there that any images put through Photo Stream that arrive on the Mac are saved in the library. Confusing.

I use Image Capture to delete images from my iPhone when it is hooked up to the Mac. You can pick and choose which photos to keep or delete doing this. This is after i’m done syncing between the phone and computer.

Yes, My Photo Stream is quite limited (no support for HEIC or videos), and it’s clear Apple would prefer everyone used iCloud Photos. That’s apparently the tradeoff for it being free.

Yes I found that out and like you said, no videos. Thank you. Thats why i still sync with my Mac, the old fashion way. I’m sure they would love it if i used iCloud Photos. I cannot see paying that kind of money. My Photos library is 450 GB. I’ll put up with a little inconvenience and keep them on my Mac.