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A certain cellphone maker has changed the default format of taking pictures to HEIF (.HEIC, High Efficiency Image File Format), without asking the users (although there is still the option to use jpeg/jpg).

Is there an app/program on Ubuntu that can open and/or convert HEIF-pictures and even let them be edited?

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In recent Ubuntu versions (>= 18.04):

sudo apt-get install libheif-examples

And then

for file in *.heic; do heif-convert $file ${file/%.heic/.jpg}; done

In older Ubuntu or Mint versions, first add this PPA and then do the above steps.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:strukturag/libheif
sudo apt-get update
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    1) This is an official package of 18.04 (packages.ubuntu.com/bionic/libheif-examples) and 2) I had to change .heic to .HEIC in both places since mine were capitalized. Thank you!! This worked so well! – bit-less May 21 '19 at 10:21
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    for file in *.HEIC; do heif-convert -q 100 $file $file.jpg; done – SD. Feb 7 at 14:19
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Official Packages

In Ubuntu 20.04: At least for eog, you have to install the package heif-gdk-pixbuf (no PPA needed):
In a terminal: sudo apt install heif-gdk-pixbuf
This will install libheif1 and libde265-0 along.

As of May 2020, programs that support HEIF via libheif1 include:

  • GNOME Image Viewer (Eye of GNOME - eog) is updated in Ubuntu 19.10 and later. (Thanks seanlano!) - if it does not work for you, see PPA tip below.
  • GPicView (at least version 0.2.5-3), can be installed from the Software Center or directly from the project page. Thank you, adasiko.
  • GIMP (2.10.2+)
  • Krita (Review of version 4.2, Feb 2019)
  • gImageReader (in Ubuntu 20.04)
  • heif-thumbnailer - a thumbnailer for HEIF images that can be used by Nautilus and Nemo.
  • libheif-examples – provides command-line utilities: heif-convert and heif-enc.

See How best to search for dependencies?

Unfortunately gThumb does not yet open HEIF images, a feature request is pending, please comment or help if you have the ability.

Ubuntu 19.10: There are some prominent bugs in the shipped version of libheif1, so update to the latest version available from the PPA libheif by “struktur AG” team:
In a terminal: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:strukturag/libheif

Unofficial Packages

If one is willing to install a Flatpak, Snap app, or PPA:

Those who do not wish to install a PPA may download the packages directly from the PPA webpages to install (dpkg -i) or recompile. Packages installed this way will not be automatically updated.

Online Tools

  • Google Photos and Dropbox both reportedly support HEIF.

  • There are other online converters (e.g. HEICtoJPEG), but check their privacy policies before use.

Miscellaneous

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    Not sure what the proper etiquette to mention this is (maybe I should edit instead of comment?), but I created a Qt image plugin that wraps libheif. I would like to create a PPA, but that hasn't happened yet. – jakar Jul 1 '18 at 21:53
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    The Qt plugin PPA is now up. – jakar Jul 19 '18 at 21:54
  • Yes, that was what I meant – Ben McCann Dec 9 '19 at 4:08
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    I'm using Ubuntu 19.10, and I was able to open a HEIF image in "Image Viewer" without needing to do anything special – no extra PPAs – seanlano Feb 6 at 10:23
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On Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa:

$ sudo apt install heif-gdk-pixbuf heif-thumbnailer gimagereader gpicview

then find an HEIC file in the file manager, right click, select Properties then Open With and select Image Viewer (if there's two of them, select the one with the more colourful icon) and then select Set as default (or Add if that's the only option.) example of setting the HEIF MIME type

After that you can double-click HEIF files to view them:

example of an HEIF image opened from the file manager

Older Ubuntu LTS:

On Ubuntu 18.04 you can sudo snap install gimp to get the latest version (2.10.10 8 as of May 2019) which can open and edit HEIC files.

On Ubuntu 18.04 there's also a commandline tool to convert HEIC:

sudo apt install libheif-examples
heif-convert IMG_1605.HEIC IMG_1605.jpg

NOTE: you must use lowercase .jpg or it will complain that it doesn't recognise the file format. That message is almost as misleading as the package name, and I can easily understand given these two papercuts why so few people have figured out how to use this tool.

For anyone who doubts that this is an official Ubuntu package:

user@host:~/Desktop$ dpkg -s libheif-examples 
Package: libheif-examples
Status: install ok installed
Priority: optional
Section: video
Installed-Size: 91
Maintainer: Ubuntu Developers <ubuntu-devel-discuss@lists.ubuntu.com>
Architecture: amd64
Source: libheif
Version: 1.1.0-2
Depends: libheif1 (= 1.1.0-2), libc6 (>= 2.14), libgcc1 (>= 1:3.0), libjpeg8 (>= 8c), libpng16-16 (>= 1.6.2-1), libstdc++6 (>= 5.2)
Description: ISO/IEC 23008-12:2017 HEIF file format decoder - examples
 libheif is an ISO/IEC 23008-12:2017 HEIF file format decoder. HEIF is a new
 image file format employing HEVC (h.265) image coding for the best compression
 ratios currently possible.
 .
 Sample applications using libheif are provided by this package.
Original-Maintainer: Debian Multimedia Maintainers <debian-multimedia@lists.debian.org>
Homepage: http://www.libheif.org

OK so now the punchline of this joke. ;-)

You can use fuseflt or yacufs FUSE filesystems to mount your pictures folder with automated temporary cached conversion of your HEIC files so all the stock Linux desktop apps can open the HEIC files without ever knowing they're doing it.

Mark Deven below says that he only needed to install libheif via aptitude to get these commands, though he didn't mention what distro he's running.

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  • After installing these packages, libheif-examples and heif-convert are not found commands. – Mark Deven Feb 13 '19 at 15:17
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    I got it working using aptitude and installing just libheif – Mark Deven Feb 15 '19 at 21:06
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    FWIW, Debian 10 (Buster) includes, in its standard repo, the libheif-examples package, which lists the libheif1 package as a dependency. Note that I've not tested said package, as I'm still (sadly) languishing in Debian 7 (Wheezy). – Digger Mar 4 '19 at 16:48
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    @Óscar: please read the first line of the post again. snap is off the shelf. gimp comes with snap. 2.10.10 is the current version for 18.04 via snap – Wil May 23 '19 at 17:40
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    For Ubuntu 20.04 it's now working in GNOME Image Viewer (Eye of GNOME - eog) – adasiko May 16 at 9:07
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GIMP 2.10.2 now reads, writes, and edits .HEIC container files, and ImageMagick will convert from .HEIC image container files.

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While not really a local conversion, it is possible to view .heic images using Dropbox.

Simply upload the subject images to your Dropbox account, then click on the desired image to view it. You can even right-click on the image to save the .jpeg file back to your local machine in JPEG format. (Note: don't click on the Dropbox's Download button, as that will just get the original .HEIC file.)

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    I voted you up solely because syncing your photos to the cloud is a great idea, keeping them in HEIC format saves space without degrading quality, and being able to access them via a browser means you can access and share them more easily. So it's win win win even if it doesn't really answer the question. – Wil Dec 8 '18 at 13:31
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This is how I convert .HEIC files into .jpeg.

  1. Download and install tifig package.

    wget https://github.com/monostream/tifig/releases 
    gunzip tifig-static-0.2.2.tar.gz #or the downloaded tifig file name
    
  2. make tifig executable.

    mv ./tifig ~/tools/tifig
    sudo chmod +x  ~/tools/tifig
    
  3. Now you can use tifig to convert your .heic files.

    for f in *.HEIC; do mv "$f" "\`echo $f | sed s/.HEIC/.heic/`"; done
    for file in *.heic; do echo $file | xargs ~/tools/tifig -v -p $file ${file%.heic}.jpg; done
    

References:

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