Apple's recent mobile devices have started using HEIC, or high-efficiency image codec, for photos on iPhone and iPads. It's a technically impressive file format, but it's also not particularly compatible. If you try sending an HEIC file to someone else, there's a good chance they won't be able to open it.1
Converting the HEIC file to JPG will make it much more compatible. You don't need any fancy software--it's a function baked directly into MacOS and accessible to Automator. To save yourself some time the next time you have to do it, you can quickly set it up as a Quick Action (or what used to be called context menu services) so that you can right-click on the file and convert it to JPG with a single click.
Open the Automator App.
- When it asks you for the type of the document, choose Quick Action. (In older versions of Mac OSX, it was called Service.) Then hit the Choose button.
- It will have added an initial section to the workflow area at right. For the top option next to "Workflow receives current", select the "image files" option. Leave the rest at their defaults (you can customize the image and color fields if you like, but there's no need to).
- From the Library in the left column, click on Photos to narrow the available actions. In the list of actions (second from left), scroll down and choose "Change Type of Images." Click and then drag to the right-hand workflow panel.
- The action will be added, with the default "To Type" set to TIFF. Use the drop-down to change it to JPEG.
- That's all you need to do with the workflow section. Now you just have to export it as an action. In Automator's main menu, go to File > Export.
- In the Export As section, name it to whatever you like. Something like HEIC to JPG seems logical. Then choose where you want to save it. This is only a temporary spot for it, so it makes sense to put it somewhere you'll find it quickly, like the Desktop. Then click the Save button.
- Next, find the file you just saved using Finder or, if you put it on the Desktop, just go to the Desktop. Double click on the file. You'll get a popup asking if you want to install it as a quick action (or service). Click on the Install button. The .workflow version will then be automatically moved, and you can now use right-click in Finder to convert the file using the quick action.
Things Worth Knowing
- It's available immediately--no need to restart the computer or Finder.
- When changing the format from HEIC to JPG, you don't get any control with this method on the the level of compression or any other editing controls. For those, you'd need to use either different software or combine this simple action with other actions that can handle those kinds of image transformations and editing.
You can turn off HEIC and just use JPGs by going to Settings > Camera > Formats > Most Compatible. This has the effect of also switching any videos you record with the phone's camera to encode with the widely compatible H.264 codec rather than the newer, less-compatible H.265 HEVC codec. ↩