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.

Troubleshooting: 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.

Troubleshooting: I'm seeing duplicate uploads of HEVC files

Dropbox imports files you add to your account, even if they already exist somewhere else in your Dropbox folder. This means it’s possible to have two copies of a video or photo if:

  • The file name is different between the different copies
  • The file location in your Dropbox folder is different between the different copies

This means it’s possible to have two different copies of the same file even if the photo or video is visually identical, and has the same file size and format. If you have duplicate copies, you can delete one of the versions.

To check the location of a video or photo file:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com.
  2. Find the duplicate files.
  3. Select the first copy of the file, and select Show in folder.
  4. Note the location of this file in your Dropbox, and then repeat for any remaining duplicate copies.

I have duplicate imports where the file size or format is different. Why?

You may find that you have two visually identical versions of a photo or video, but where the file size or format is different.

If the file size is different between two copies, it’s possible a third party application changed one of the versions. This would lead the Dropbox app to detect a new version and upload it as a new file. If you have duplicate copies, you can delete one of the versions.

See file size on the Dropbox iOS or Android App

  1. Open the Dropbox app.
  2. Open the original image.
  3. Tap "" (ellipsis), and then select More details…

See file size on dropbox.com

  1. Open the folder that contains the files.
  2. Click Modified, and then select Size.
  • Note: The file size is shown in megabytes. The Dropbox website doesn’t show file size in bytes, so it might not be clear if there are small differences in file size.

See file size on the Dropbox desktop app

Windows:

  1. Right-click on a file.
  2. Select Properties.

Mac:

  1. Right-click on on a file.
  2. Select Get Info.
  • Note: This option is only available if you have the Dropbox desktop app running.

I have two files that look similar but have different extensions. Why?

If you have two files that look the same but have different extensions, they may be in a different file format. For example:

  • MyImage.jpg
  • MyImage.cr2

File formats are standards in the way information is encoded for a file, and they may contain different data. Dropbox previews certain file formats on dropbox.com and the Dropbox iOS and Android apps, and even files that look similar may be in different file formats.

If you have duplicate copies, you can delete one of the versions. However, note that one version of a file may have different metadata than another. This metadata will be lost if you delete the copy.

  • Note: In some cases, files may have the same extension but a different file format

I’m seeing duplicate photos or videos on iOS 11 or higher. Why?

If you use desktop camera uploads, you may find certain photos are imported twice. This is likely due to the way some iOS 11 devices work with the Dropbox desktop app. This can happen if:

  • You connect to desktop camera uploads with the Transfer to Mac or PC setting on your iOS device set to Automatic or Keep originals, and
  • You later change that device’s Transfer to Mac or PC setting, and connect to desktop camera uploads again

Learn more about automatic and manual upload settings.

In these scenarios, Dropbox may import two different versions of the same photo or video. Duplicate videos will always have the same extension (.mov), while duplicate photos may have the same or different extensions (.heic and .jpg). Usually, these different versions will have different sizes, too.

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

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