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How Do I Get iOS to AirDrop JPG Images Instead of HEICs?

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Illustration for article titled How Do I Get iOS to AirDrop JPG Images Instead of HEICs?

Screenshot: David Murphy

Tech 911Tech 911Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? We’d love to answer it! Email [email protected] with “Tech 911” in the subject line.

Lifehacker’s Tech 911 column has a simple purpose: to answer your tech questions no matter big, small, or chaotic they might be. If you’ll permit me a little indulgence this week, an off-the-cuff conversation with Joel, patron saint of Lifehacker video, brought up a tech issue that some of you might also be wondering about, but have never asked.

As Joel wrote me in Slack yesterday:

Is there a way to airdrop photos without having them default to the HEIC format?

He’s speaking, of course, about his iPhone—if “AirDrop” didn’t give that away. However, his question gets to a core part of the iOS experience. The HEIC/HEIF file formats are designed for maximum performance. You’re saving a higher-quality image than a typical JPG using a lot less space on your device. And the file can store both editing information (allowing you to revert that which you no longer want) and multiple images contained within a single file, like that whole “Live Photo” thing that most modern smartphones can do nowadays.

The drawback? HEICs aren’t as compatible as JPGs depending on what app or service you’re using. Personally, I keep a handy HEIC converter on my desktop—integrated into Windows 10’s right-click context menu—so I can convert everything on the spot.

As for one’s iPhone, well, you’ll have to jump through a few extra hoops if you want to send a JPG version of an HEIC image to a friend via AirDrop. I’ll start with the nuclear approach. You can switch away from using HEICs entirely via Settings > Camera > Formats. Pick “Most Compatible” instead of “High Efficiency,” and you’ll be back to JPGs for any new images you shoot. In doing so, however, you’ll lose every single advantage HEICs provide. I don’t think the trade-off is worth it, but that’s just me.

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