HEVC, HEIC, and HEIF files on iOS devices

With iOS 11, Apple added an option to compress photos and videos with a new, more efficient encoding called HEVC. By default, iOS devices with A9 and newer processors will capture images and video using HEVC compression.

  • Image files: saved in a new HEIF format, with extension “.heic” instead of “.jpg”
  • Video files: still saved with extension “.mov,” but encoded differently

The following iOS devices use A9 and newer processors:

  • iPhone 7 or newer
  • iPad Pro
  • iPad [2017] or newer

Dropbox supports HEIC (.heic) and HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) files, and can sync these file types. You can also preview these files on dropbox.com, the Dropbox iOS app, and the Dropbox Android app.

However, these new file types may not be compatible with all devices, operating systems, or applications. If you edit these files in a separate application, that application must support previewing and editing these file types.

Current support for HEIC (.heic) photos

Can view and open HEIC (.heic) photos

Cannot view or open HEIC (.heic) photos

  • iOS 11
  • macOS High Sierra (10.13)
  • All Windows versions
  • iOS 10 or lower
  • macOS Sierra (10.12) or lower
  • Android

Current support for HEVC (.mov) videos

Can open and play HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) videos

Cannot open or play HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) videos

  • Windows 10
  • Android 5.0 or higher
  • iOS 11
  • macOS High Sierra (10.13)
  • Windows 8.1 or lower
  • iOS 10 or lower
  • macOS Sierra (10.12) or lower
  • Android 4.4.4 or lower

Sections in this article:

How to tell if you have HEIC (.heic) or HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) files

HEIC images show the extension “.heic,” as in “SampleImage.heic.”

  • Note: You won’t see an extension on the filename if your operating system is set to not show extensions. In this case, you can check the file on dropbox.com to see find its extension.

All MOV videos will display the extension “.mov.” To identify an HEVC-encoded MOV video, you can check the file properties.

Mac

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Open the Dropbox folder, and navigate to the file.
  3. Right-click the file, and click Get Info. A new window will open with details about the file.
  4. Under More Info, the Codecs field will list “hvc1” for HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) files.
  • Note: If the More Info section isn’t expanded, you can click the triangle beside More Info.

Windows

To check file properties on a Windows device, you may need to install a third party application that can read EXIF data.

Why is Dropbox asking me to choose an upload format?

With camera uploads or manual uploads on the Dropbox iOS app, Dropbox gives you the option to upload HEIC (.heic) photos as either HEIC (.heic) files or JPG (.jpg) files. This lets you choose between the original file format (HEIC) or converting it to JPG.

Notes:

  • If you’re sharing a file with someone who might not have a device or software that can preview these new file formats, JPG is likely a better option
  • Converting a file to JPG will remove some features of HEIC files

You can change the settings for camera uploads or manual uploads at any time:

  1. Open the Dropbox app.
  2. Tap the person icon.
  3. Tap the gear icon.
  4. Tap Camera Uploads.
  5. Select Save HEIC Photos as.

Notes:

  • Changing these settings only changes the way new files are uploaded; it won’t affect files that were already uploaded to Dropbox
  • Neither camera uploads nor manual uploads support video conversion

Disable capturing HEIC (.heic) photos and HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) videos on your device

This new format is enabled by default on iOS devices that:

  • Have A9 processors
  • Are running iOS 11 or higher

To view or change this setting:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Open Camera.
  3. Open Formats.
  4. You’ll see two options: High Efficiency, and Most Compatible.
  •  High Efficiency: saves photos as HEIC (.heic) files and videos as HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) files
  • Most Compatible: saves photos in the format JPG (.jpg) and videos as H.264 (.mov) files

What if I use the Dropbox desktop app for camera uploads?

If you connect an iOS device to your computer, camera uploads will import the files in the format set in the iOS Settings app. To access or change this setting:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iOS device.
  2. Find the Photos section.
  3. Find the Transfer to Mac or PC section:
  • Automatic: iOS will automatically import the JPG (.jpg) or non HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) version of the file
  • Keep Originals: iOS will automatically import the HEIC (.heic) or HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) version of the file

If you manually drag files to the Dropbox folder on a computer running the Dropbox desktop app, they’ll upload in the same format they’re saved in on your phone or tablet.

Possible issues

You may run into some issues with these new file types.

Click an issue to learn more:

An HEIC (.heic) photo or HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) video isn’t opening on my device

HEIC (.heic) photos and HEVC-encoded MOV (.mov) videos are new file formats added by Apple with iOS 11. Your device must run a supported system and use a supported application to open these file types.

I'm seeing duplicate uploads of HEVC files

If you use the desktop app for camera uploads, some photos or videos may be imported twice. This is due to the way some iOS 11 devices work with the Dropbox desktop app. 

Problem: Changing settings

You connect to your computer with the Transfer to Mac or PC setting on your iOS device set to Automatic or Keep Originals. You later change the Transfer to Mac or PC setting and connect the desktop app for camera uploads again.

Solution:  Duplicate videos always have the same extension (.mov), while duplicate photos may have the same or different extensions (.heic and .jpg). Usually, these different versions have different sizes, too.

To avoid this issue, avoid changing your Transfer to Mac or PC settings when possible.

Learn more about automatic and manual upload settings.

Problem: Multiple devices

If you have two iOS devices signed in to your Dropbox account and you meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • One device is running an iOS version lower than iOS 11
  • Both devices are signed in to the same Dropbox account and both have camera uploads enabled
  • Both devices are signed in to the same iCloud account and both have iCloud photostream enabled

In this case, you could see the same images uploaded by both devices. 

Solution: The easiest way to avoid this issue is to either:

  • Upgrade to iOS 11 on all iOS devices where you’re signed in to your Dropbox account and camera uploads is enabled
  • Disable Dropbox camera uploads on any iOS device not running at least iOS 11  

If these solutions don’t work, there are other reasons why you may see duplicate versions of files.

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