Your iPhone stores your photos in the HIEC image format. This format has numerous advantages over other image formats, but not every graphics editor supports it. In your attempts to find a suitable app, you may have heard about GIMP and wondered if it will work.
GIMP can open HIEC files but does not support all features. The number of supported features will vary between versions. For instance, all versions of GIMP will convert your HEIC files into JPEG while only the most recent ones can edit them.
If you need more HEIF functionality than what GIMP provides, you need another third-party solution. By reading further, you will learn which graphics editor can open HEIF files and their restrictions.
How to Open HEIC Files in GIMP
Developed by the Motion Pictures Experts Group (MPEG), the High-Efficiency Image Coder (HEIC) format is Apple’s native graphics container format. Introduced with iOS 11, it serves as the default format for all photos taken on iPhones and iPads. Also known as the High-Efficiency Image Format (HEIF), HEIC provides numerous benefits such as:
- Half the size of a similar quality JPG
- Multiple images in a single file
- 16-bit color
- Image edits versioning including cropping and rotations
Because it is an Apple format, only Apple devices fully support the format. Windows, Android, and Linux users must seek third-party solutions to open the files in any capacity. Luckily, a few of them are readily available such as GIMP.
GIMP Can Open HEIC Files
GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a freely distributed graphics editor. As the main open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop, you can use it to edit, retouch, and convert your photos, illustrations, and other artwork. It supports hundreds of image formats that can be augmented through plugins. These features include HEIC support as of Version 2.10.22, which added support for AVIF as well among others.
Converting HEIC to JPG
While Version 2.10.22 added formal support, GIMP could open HEIC files since its inception. However, the app only allowed you to convert the files to something else. You could edit the images as much as you want, but you could never revert them to HEIC.
Conversion is still the most popular use for HEIC files in GIMP. It is as easy as selecting “Export As” from the “File” menu. You can then choose your desired format from the “Select File Type” option.
Importing and Saving Images as HEIC in GIMP
The latest versions of GIMP added support for exporting files to HEIC. You just select “HEIF/AVIF” or “HEIF/HEIC” from the “Select File Type” option of the “Export As” tool. From there, clicking the “Export” button brings up the export configuration page. Just follow the prompts to save your files as HEIC.
Other Ways to Open HEIC Files in Windows
While current versions of GIMP can open and work with HEIC files, the functionality is still new, limited, and prone to artificing. Fortunately, you can use other graphics tools to get around this limitation.
Windows Photos Viewer
Windows 10 and Windows 11 can open HEIC files with a few clicks. However, you might need to install a HEIF Image Extension from the Microsoft Store before you can do anything with it. Just note that while the extension is free, some installations will require the HEVC Video Extensions package which is not free.
Like GIMP, the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop can also open and manipulate HEIC files with the same restrictions. Luckily, you can find countless HEIC plugins that will add full support to the graphics editing suite. From there, you can use Photoshop’s impressive customizable and flexible work environment to edit your HEIC files as much as you want.
File Viewer Plus
File Viewer Plus fully supports the HEIC format, letting you alter, open, convert, and spare your image files. You can even edit your HEIC files in batches.
Google Photos will let you open and view HEIC files. You can also save your iPhone and iPad to Google Photos if your device is synced up with your Google account.
Other Internet Apps
Numerous online apps will let you convert and view HEIF files. Some of them such as Placeit.net even give you editing options. You can then import your finished edits into GIMP for further processing.
While Apple made the HEIC popular, other graphics applications can handle it as well. GIMP is one of these applications. However, the support is limited to conversion to and from the format.