Are you wondering about the difference between JPEG and HEIC image file formats?

The JPEG image file format is still popular and widely used. However, in 2017, Apple introduced support for its HEIC image format that’s now replacing traditional JPEGs more and more.

Not only are HEIC files smaller than JPEGs, but they also don’t sacrifice any image quality. In certain situations, HEIC files may even provide slightly better image quality, which has made them increasingly popular. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the difference between JPEG and HEIC and which image format is best to use in different situations.

What Is a HEIC File?

HEIF or HEIC is a modern photo file type that’s inspired by JPEGs but designed to do more without taking up the extra space.

HEIFs save pictures using the High Efficiency Image Format. They are also referred to as HEIC, or High-Efficiency Image Codec.

Apple uses HEIC to store the HEIF photo as well as additional data like sounds or motion when recording a live photo.

what is the difference between jpeg and heic

What’s beneficial with a HEIF or HEIC file is that it takes up roughly half the space of a JPEG without reducing the actual image quality.

While the image uses smarter, more modern compression algorithms, it’s only small on space, keeping just as many megapixels and details intact.

So, if you choose to shoot in HEIF, your photos will take up less space on your camera roll, hard drive, and cloud storage.

What Is a JPEG File?

Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the JPEG format stores digital photos with the help of color pixels. JPEGs are good for keeping the detail and colors in photos.

Also, their ability to compress images into smaller files has made them a popular format for web designers and photographers over the years. 

Used by most digital cameras as their default format, JPEG is the most common file type which can be used online or for hard prints. A JPEG image can store up to 16 million colors and its lossy compression algorithm removes minute details that your eye is least likely to notice to save space. 

However, the compression ratio is adjustable so you can select the level of quality you want in your image. In general, the compression is enough to provide a reasonably high-quality image without worrying too much about the file size.

A drawback of JPEG files is that unlike PNG files, the layers of a JPEG file are flattened. That means you have very limited ability to tweak past edits. 

Worse, if you edit the same file several times, the edited image may become worse than the original. This image degradation can be a real headache, especially if you are working on lossy formats such as JPEG.

One way to mitigate this problem is to keep an unedited, original version of the file. In that way, if anything goes haywire during the editing process, you can always go back to the original version.

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What Is the Difference Between JPEG and HEIC Files?

what is the difference between jpeg and heic

Despite their shared ability to store detailed photographs, there are many differences in compression, size, image quality, and compatibility between HEIC and JPEG files to consider before choosing between them.

Let’s take a look at some of the main differences between these image file formats.

1. HEIC Files Offer Better Image Quality

When it comes to both compression and image quality, HEIC files win over JPEGs. The HEIC format can actually enhance the quality of photos with regards to transparency and a broader dynamic range capabilities. 

2. JPEGs Can Be Compressed to Smaller File Sizes

JPEGs are the more popular choice for many web designers since they can compress large images into more manageable files. 

However, the trade-off for that smaller file size is what’s known as lossy compression, which means that whenever you edit and resave a JPEG, it loses some background data. This, in turn, can affect image quality.

On the other hand, HEICs offer a much more efficient, modern compression method than the older JPEG format and can break images into significantly smaller files without affecting quality. 

3. HEIC Files Take Up Less Storage Space

Most HEIC files will take up significantly less room than a JPEG on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Their innovative compression process means HEICs can use as little as half the space than a JPEG file would. 

This can ease the strain on your hard drive while allowing you to store a much larger number of files. Additionally, more streamlined storage is one of the reasons why Apple made the switch from JPEG to HEIC back in 2017.

4. JPEGs Have Universal Compatibility  

While JPEGs have almost universal compatibility, HEIC files don’t.

HEICs have become more commonplace in recent years, but their primary use is on Apple devices. You may even need to convert your HEIC files to JPEGs when transferring photos from an iPhone to a PC. 

5. HEICs Support Image Transparency

HEICs support image transparency in a similar way to PNG files. Transparency is especially useful in web design because it allows images — like logos or graphics — to merge seamlessly with the existing background of a webpage.

The JPEG format, on the other hand, doesn’t support transparency, which limits its flexibility when it comes to website design and can make it less suitable for logos.

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Best Program to Open HEIC Files?

The best way to open a HEIC file and edit it is by using Adobe Lightroom. You can also use any image viewer to open this file format. 

But if you would face any issue in opening your HEIC files, then you can simply save your images in Apple devices in JPEG format and then open them in a photo editing program.

Wrapping Up

If all of your devices and apps support HEIC, then choosing that format will save you hard drive space and even offer more flexible editing.

As cameras continue to ramp up the megapixels, storing images can become difficult and HEIC can help ease some of that burden.

We hope this blog posts helped you understand the difference between JPEG and HEIC image file formats. Before you go, you may also want to check out the following resources:

Stina Pettersson

Professional Blogger

Stina is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, and professional blogger who's passionate about real estate photo editing, being outdoors with her pup, and sweaty gym sessions. She loves the written word and has been writing for publications like Forbes and Thrive Global. Originally from Sweden, she's called South Florida her home since 2013.

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