How to convert HEIC to JPG: The ultimate 2023 guide

7 min read

Great things take time. So it might take a while until HEIC goes mainstream. HEIC is a relatively new file format, adopted by Apple in 2017, with the release of iOS 2017. While it’s tied to the Apple ecosystem and not very common on other devices, people often face the need to change HEIC to JPG to avoid incompatibility. 

Luckily, it is possible to convert HEIC to JPG on a Mac using native apps like Photos and Preview. In this article, we’ll guide you through it, as well as explain how you can tweak file formats in one click with a universal media converter.

What Are HEIC Images?

HEIC takes its roots in High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) as an improvement over the predominant JPG image format. MPEG claims that HEIF images like HEIC require about half the storage space of JPGs with equivalent quality. Imagine this outcome multiplied by the billions of JPG images and the results would be truly astounding. 

So while HEIC images have some serious advantages, their main problem until now has been the lack of adoption by popular software and operating systems. Even if you don’t feel it in iOS today, try transferring a HEIC image to Mac, and you’ll see that using HEIC to the extent of JPG is quite problematic to say the least: lots of apps won’t display it or edit it, and lots of websites won’t accept it. 

How to convert HEIC to JPG in one click 

The good news is you don’t have to deal with any complicated workflows to convert a batch of HEIC files to JPG — just make sure you have Permute installed on Mac. Permute is a universal media converter for Mac. The app works with tons of photo, audio, and video formats — making any file transformation smooth and easy. Here’s how to convert HEIC to JPG in Permute:

  1. Open Permute from Setapp  
  2. Drag and drop any number of HEIC images onto the Permute window
  3. Hit the Start button to convert to JPG.

convert HEIC to JPG Permute

That’s it. Select Show in Finder to access your JPG images. If you convert files regularly and want to streamline the process, use Permute’s presets. You can add your custom preset via Preferences so that whenever you add a specific file next time, Permute understands what it should be converted to.

Set iPhone to take photos in JPG

 Another workaround for using JPG instead of HEIC is to make it a default format on your iPhone. Here’s how: 

  1. On your iPhone, open Settings
  2. Choose Photos and scroll down to the bottom of the page
  3. Select “Automatic” under “Transfer to Mac or PC.”

Now, when you’ll be moving your photos to Mac, your iPhone will automatically convert them to a Mac-compatible format. 

iPhone to take photos in JPG

Before you start converting…

Clean up. As we’ve mentioned, JPGs take more space than HEICs, so you can expect your storage to shrink. This is why we recommend getting rid of clutter before you start converting. Make sure you don’t waste space on redundant HEIC images such as duplicates and similar photos with Gemini, a clever duplicate finder for Mac.  

Duplicate files finder and cleaner

Gemini can scan your folder, or even multiple folders, for similar files and duplicates. You can clean up automatically — in this case, Gemini will use its smartness to pick the HEICs that you don’t need and delete them. There’s also an option to review the duplicates that Gemini has found before deleting anything. 

How to convert HEIC file to JPG with Photos

If you don’t have Setapp membership, which grants access to both Permute and Gemini, consider native apps like Preview or Photos for converting HEIC to JPG. It’s slower and not as efficient, especially if you want to convert multiple files, but still works. 

As the most popular photo viewing and editing app among Mac users, Photos is probably the place where you interact with HEIC files the most. Luckily, Photos gives you two ways to change HEIC to JPG.  

First, if you’ve transferred some HEIC images from your iPhone to your Photos library, you could simply drag and drop them to your Desktop or any other Mac folder, and they will automatically convert to JPGs. 

Second, Photos gives you quite a bit of control over exporting images, so you can simply convert HEIC to JPG files while exporting them and set your exact preferences for quality, color profile, etc: 

  1. Select a few HEIC images from your Photos library
  2. Click File ➙ Export ➙ Export Photos in the menu bar
  3. Select all appropriate options for the new JPG images
  4. Click Export.  

export image HEIC JPG photos Mac

Batch convert HEIC to JPG on macOS Monterey

 If your Mac runs macOS 12 Monterey, you can use the native Quick Actions functionality to convert a bunch of photos from HEIC to JPG:  

  1. Go to the folder where your photos are located and hold down the Command key while selecting the photos you want to convert
  2. Right-click the selection and choose Quick Actions 
  3. Next, choose Convert Image > JPEG
  4. Customize image size if you like
  5. Click Convert to JPEG.  

convert heic to jpg monterey

How to convert HEIC to JPG with Preview

If you don’t use Photos and only need to occasionally convert HEIC file to JPG (to upload online as your avatar, for example), you can simply use the default image viewing app on Mac — Preview, which not only can display photos and documents but also edit them, mark them up, sign or watermark them, and much more.

Here’s how to convert HEIC to JPG on Mac using Preview: 

  1. Open any HEIC image in Preview
  2. Click File ➙ Export in the menu bar
  3. Select JPG in the format dropdown and adjust other settings as needed
  4. Choose Save

Preview export HEIC JPG Mac

How to change HEIC to JPG on Mac with Automator

Hands down, the most under-appreciated default app on macOS is Automator. In case you haven’t used it before, Automator makes lots of manual tasks a breeze, such as renaming files in batches, moving folders, filtering mail, etc. For our purposes, not only Automator can export HEIC images as JPGs, it can also add it to Quick Actions in your right-click menu, so you can easily repeat the action any time in the future without even launching Automator, on any macOS. 

To make converting HEIC to JPG a one-click action with Automator: 

  1. Open Automator and click New Document
  2. Select Quick Action ➙ Choose
  3. Look for the Copy Finder Items action and double-click to include it. Choose the folder where you want the converted JPG images to be saved
  4. Search for Change Type of Images action and double-click to include that too. Select JPG in the dropdown
  5. Click File ➙ Save and name your Quick Action (e.g. change HEIC to JPG).  

Automator change HEIC JPG Mac images

Now, anytime you need to convert HEIC to JPG on Mac, simply right-click on the file and select your saved workflow from Quick Actions. You can even do so with multiple images at once.  

On newer versions of macOS, the quick action of image conversion is included in Finder by default. However, if you need to set up a more advanced workflow, refer to Automator. 

How to edit image metadata quickly

Many photographers and creators love the JPG format because it’s easy to add lots of metadata to it, such as copyright, artist’s name, GPS coordinates, camera settings, and more. If that’s the only reason for you to convert a HEIC file to JPG, you should know that HEIC supports all the same metadata fields, you just need a good app to edit them. 

MetaImage is the most efficient way to fix image metadata on Mac. Unlike Photos, it doesn’t rely on one-by-one edits, but builds automatic workflows instead to process any number of images at the same time, regardless of whether you’re adding EXIF, IPTC, or XMP tags. Overall, the app supports over 5,000 tags and 90 file formats, and even has an extension that works within Photos as well.  

MetaImage metadata Mac add image HEIC

Here’s how to change image metadata with MetaImage:  

  1. Drag and drop or upload a bunch of images
  2. Navigate through blocks and edit metadata, from image description to date and camera — pick the tags you need 
  3. Click Use Preset Action if you have any presets (or create one by clicking the preset icon on the top of the window)
  4. Click the suitcase icon to export tags or just save the changes and quit. 

Solve the task with a productivity assistant

As you can see, there are lots of options for how to open HEIC file on Mac and convert HEIC to JPG. You can use the simplest tool — Permute converter. You can go with native tools such as Photos and Preview, or you can build quick workflows in Automator. If you need to compress resulting JPGs, there’s no better way to do so than Squash, while MetaImage would cover all your metadata needs.  

Best of all, Permute, Gemini, Squash, and MetaImage are available to you absolutely free for seven days through the trial of Setapp, a productivity assistant with more than 200 most useful Mac apps out there, from playing any video files (Elmedia Player) to combining your frequently used Mac features in a single click (One Switch). Try them all today at no cost and you’d be surprised how much easier your Mac tasks can be.

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