How to View/Read/Open HEIC Photos on Mac/Macbook

By Rico Rodriguez to HEIF, Photo Transfer | Last Updated on Dec 18, 2023

HEIC photos enjoy a great popularity after Apple made it as the default image format on iOS 17. Photos saved in HEIC format take up less storage space, up to half the size of JPG with the same high image quality. It does solve iPhone almost full issue for those whose iPhone storage is running out. Better yet, HEIC/HEIF files boosts more advantages like storing multiple photos in one file (ideal for Live Photo and Bursts), supporting transparency like GIF files, supporting 16-bit color vs JPG's 8-bit, and storing image edits such as rotating and cropping so you can undo them.

But along with its advantages, some drawbacks that may make HEIC/HEIF files less good. For example, as you're wondering to view HEIC photos on Mac, you may find your HEIF files cannot be open/read/view on your Macbook at all. That's all because of old system. Apple's tendency makes their older system obsolete so that you cannot open HEIC photos on MacOS Sierra (10.12) or lower. If you have a older version of macOS, you can get around this issue with a HEIC reader.

MacX MediaTrans - A Solid HEIC Reader & Converter to View HEIC on Mac

Since HEIC won't work natively on Photos or Preview in these older versions of macOS, you need a HEIC viewer for Mac to read HEIC files on Mac running on MacOS 10.12 or lower. Fortunately, MacX MediaTrans is one of the few programs that allows you view HEIC on Mac computer. After the HEIC reader is loaded and connected with your iPhone based on iOS 17, you can:

Directly preview the HEIC images thumbnails on Mac without extra steps. It helps for finding and locating the specific HEIC photos you've taken on iOS 17.
One click to convert HEIC/HEIF to JPG in bulk or one by one for limitless viewing on Macbook Pro/Air, iMac etc. with all the raw information reserved.
Export the HEIC images straightforward if you're already running on MacOS 10.13 or later. Also note worthy is that, unlike Wondershare TunesGo exports a thumbnail named in .HEIC, this HEIC photo transfer exports real HEIC photo with 4K resolution.
Drag and drop to get everything done, at unbelievable speed, merely 8 secs for 100 4k photos exporting. Besides, it's more safe than online HEIC converter without any risk of privacy leak.

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How to Open/View/Read HEIC/HEIF Photos on a Mac?

Firstly, you need free download the HEIC reader on Mac computer. If you'd like to view/open your HEIC pictures on Windows, you can pick up the Windows version HEIC viewer as well.

Step 1: Launch the Mac HEIC viewer and connect your iPhone X/8 (Plus) to your Macbook Pro/Air, iMac etc. with a USB cable.

view/open heic photos on mac/Macbook

Step 2: Click on Photo Transfer icon. All your photos will be displayed there by categories. And you're able to view them in thumbnails including HEIC photos. If you just preview your HEIC/HEIF photos instead of having them on Mac computer, you can use MacX MediaTrans as a photo browser - Either way will work!

Step 3: If you want to download the HEIC photos from iPhone to Mac, choose a single HEIC photo or in bulk, and click the inverted triangle next to Export. There drops two options: Export and Export HEIC to JPG.
Choose Export to directly extract HEIC pictures to Mac computer, which will only be opened on MacOS 10.13 or later.
Choose Export HEIC to JPG, your HEIC/HEIF photos will be converted to JPG and you're able to open/view HEIC on whatever Macs, Windows PCs, or Android.

Bonus Tips:

1. Turn Off HEIC Formats on iPhone

If you don't want your photos taken in .HEIC format, you can do some settings on your iOS 17 iPhone to make it a non-default format. Head to Settings > Camera > Formats and tap on Most Compatible under CAMERA CAPTURE to turn off High Efficiency. After setting, your photos will be saved in JPEG.

how to view HEIC photos

2. HEIC vs JPEG, Things you need to know

Comparing HEIC to JPG, HEIC requires nearly half the file size (bandwidth) of JPEGs without decreasing image quality, which means you can save a lot of space on your iOS 17 iPhone, yet in the same high quality. As I tried to take a photo both in HEIC and JPEG, the size goes that HEIC takes up 1.1 MB, while 2.2MB for JPEG. Afterwards, I converted the HEIC to JPG with MacX MediaTrans and found that the converted JPEG takes up 1.5MB only without quality loss. Thus this HEIC reader can also be used as a HEIC converter to convert HEIC to JPEG/JPG for saving more space, even in the same JPG format.


One-Click to View HEIC/HEIF Photos on MacOS Sierra or Earlier

MacX MediaTrans, an easy-to-use HEIC reader, which can directly export HEIC pictures for watching on macOS 10.13 and convert HEIF(.heic) images to JPG without any image quality loss, yet in smaller file size, for watching on whatever Mac desktops.

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