I upgraded from Kubuntu 20.10 to 21.04. According to the answer at Any app on Ubuntu to open and/or convert HEIF pictures (.HEIC, High Efficiency Image File Format)? support for HEIC/HEIF is a part of KDE Frameworks 5.80, which is included in Kubuntu 21.04. Similar information is seen from the KDE Frameworks 5.80.0 release annoucement.

Nevertheless, after upgrading to 21.04, I can neither get thumbnails of HEIC images in Dolphin, nor can I open them in either Gwenview or Kdenlive. The only support continues to be similar to that before the upgrade, namely in GIMP and DigiKam. Strangely enough, a folder of HEIF/HEIC images does have some sort of thumbnail in Dolphin. But not the individual images. Right clicking on one only offers GIMP as an option to open it with. When I nevertheless try opening in Gewnview, the error message reads, "Loading 'so-and-so.heic' failed. Gwenview cannot display documents of type image/heif." When trying to add one to a Kdenlive project, the message reads, "Cannot open file so-and-so.heic."

Suggestions, please? Why can I not open HEIC/HEIF images?

EDIT: I don't know if it makes a difference, but the arch page for kimageformats 5.82.0-1 lists libheif as an optional dependency. The closest Ubuntu package is libheif1, which is installed for me, yet the Ubuntu package of kimageformat-plugins seems to have no equivalent dependency.

  • The release announcement says a plugin was added. Do you have the kimageformat-plugins package installed? (It's in universe, so I don't think it's installed by default).
    – muru
    May 13, 2021 at 8:54
  • It's already installed. I checked in muon before posting.
    – 007
    May 13, 2021 at 11:00
  • 1
    Answer to your question in your comment on the other question: I don't know as I don't use Kubuntu. The Kubuntu Release Notes don't reveal much, it says "KDE Apps updates, including 20.12.3 release service and other updated apps", just it say "including 21.04 ..." to include KDE Gear 21.04.
    – Filbuntu
    May 13, 2021 at 14:26
  • 1
    The Kubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo Releas News does not say much neither :(.
    – Filbuntu
    May 13, 2021 at 14:26
  • You can update to KDE Plasma 5.21.5 with KDE Frameworks 5.81.0 in (K)Ubuntu 21.04 via PPA, maybe this will help.
    – Filbuntu
    May 15, 2021 at 15:02

3 Answers 3


Unfortunately, HEIF images are still not supported in KDE Plasma / Gwenview as of Kubuntu 21.10 (and even Plasma 5.23 from the backports ppa), because the package kimageformat-plugins is compiled without HEIF support by default.

The support flag is not enabled yet in the default (K)ubuntu packages. There is a pending bug on launchpad "kimageformat-plugins should be built with HEIC / HEIF support” regarding this, please indicate that it also affects you and comment if needed.

I just managed to view HEIF images in Gwenview by recompiling the kimageformat-plugins package (I'm not a DEB expert, it is the first time I recompiled a DEB package, so please correct me if I'm doing something wrong, but it did work for me tonight):

[Update]: there is now a short bash script for the below mentioned recompiling steps you can just copy&paste and call after every package update available at https://superuser.com/a/1713233/196387 . Just use that an be happy! [/Update]

  1. Make sure deb-src lines are enabled /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/kubuntu-ppa-ubuntu-backports.list (if you use the backports ppa with the latest KDE software)

  2. Install dependencies:

sudo apt-get install build-essential devscripts
sudo apt build-dep kimageformat-plugins
sudo apt install libheif-dev
  1. Create a directory somewhere, pull the package source into it and cd into the source directory kimageformats-5.xx.x within the new directory:
mkdir kimageformats-build
cd kimageformats-build
apt source kimageformat-plugins
cd kimageformats-5.*
  1. Edit the file CMakeLists.txt in this directory: In the line which says option(KIMAGEFORMATS_HEIF "Enable plugin for HEIF format" OFF) change OFF to ON

  2. Rebuild the package with debuild -us -uc -b

  3. Go into the parent directory (cd ..), there should be new .deb file called something like kimageformat-plugins_5.xx.**.deb (in my case today it was kimageformat-plugins_5.88.0-0ubuntu1~ubuntu21.10~ppa1_amd64.deb). Install that package by sudo apt install --reinstall ./kimageformat-plugins_5.*.deb

  4. As @user1421503 said in his answer: Edit /usr/share/kservices5/imagethumbnail.desktop and add image/heif to the line which begins with MimeType=

Enjoy viewing your iPhone images in Gwenview!

  • I was able to use the instruction posted by Wasinger (thanks) to get heic working. Some modifications were required on the Kubuntu 22.04.1 installation. Step 1 : deb-src lines - I need to uncomment ALL deb-src lines in 1 file /etc/apt/sources.list, but a "sudo apt-get update" is required, or it still complains of missing deb-src entries. Step 6 : "sudo apt install --reinstall ./kimageformat-plugins_5..deb" did not work for me. Error message is '-reinstall' option is not understood in combination with other options. What worked for me is "sudo apt reinstall ./kimageformat-plugins_5..deb"
    – Ham
    Oct 26, 2022 at 13:36
  • Top instructions! thank you
    – br1
    Sep 30, 2023 at 11:48
  • It worked! Anyway, are you sure devscripts is needed? Nov 25, 2023 at 21:21
  • I just did this on a fresh install of Kubuntu 22.04. I couldn't get the script to work but I followed all the steps in the answer and they did the trick. Will try the script again after kimageformat is next updated from apt.
    – stephan
    Apr 8 at 1:35

HEIF plug-in is included in kimageformats package but package maintainer has to explicitly enable it (use cmake with -DKIMAGEFORMATS_HEIF=ON). Otherwise the plug-in will not be built/installed (check if you have kimg_heif.so).

There is a pending bug on launchpad "kimageformat-plugins should be built with HEIC / HEIF support” regarding this, please indicate that it also affects you and comment if needed.

The plug-in needs libheif>=1.10.0 build with libde265 support.

If you have the kimg_heif.so installed, you can modify following file to enable HEIF/HEIC thumbnails:


add image/heif to the line which begins with MimeType=


I was just trying to open a bunch of *.heic images, and found this question when neither Dolphin nor Gwenview could load them.

Luckily there is good news: just 'do-release-upgrade' to 22.10 (kinetic) and HEIC support is in (see https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/kimageformats/+bug/1951278/comments/5).

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