Apple's codec for photos and videos in iOS 11, HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), as well as the container, HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File Format), result in a reduction in size for pictures and movies without sacrificing quality. Seems like a win-win situation, but Windows-users can't open the .heic extension that these files use.
In order to open HEIC files on a Microsoft Windows PC, you'll have to turn to third-party apps and tools. One of these tools, CopyTrans HEIC for Windows, essentially teaches your PC to read HEIC files without needing to go through an external program or converter.
Simply install the free CopyTrans HEIC for Windows plugin, and your PC will be able to view and use all of your iOS 11 photos from your iPad or iPhone. You can even add your HEIC photos to any Microsoft Office application, such as Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, or Excel. It's like HEIC was built for Windows, so long as you have this plugin installed.
It's worth mentioning you don't need this tool in order to get your photos from your iPhone to your PC. By default, your iPhone will convert your HEIC files to JPEG when transferring to a PC. However, as CopyTrans points out, those JPEG files will take up as much as twice the disk space as HEIC. If you want to preserve HEIC's storage optimization, the HEIC plugin is your best bet.
However, CopyTrans does take time to warn users about losing the original HEVC file codec when transferring files to a Windows PC. To avoid this losing this information, make sure "Keep Originals" is enabled under Trasnfer to Mac or PC section in the settings for the Photos app on your iPad or iPhone.
CopyTrans is only one way for Windows-users to read HEIC files on their PC. For more tips on dealing with Apple's tricky new codec, check out our guide below.