You take a photo or video, send it to a friend and they say, “Hey, I can’t open this.” More often than not, your friend won’t be using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Instead, they are probably trying to open the file with a non-Apple device. But this problem can be avoided if you know which setting to change.
The likely culprit in this scenario is HEIF or HEVC. These two acronyms – High-Efficiency Image Format and High-Efficiency Video Coding, respectively – are “highly efficient” photo and video formats, as you’ve probably deduced. Apple uses these formats by default instead of standard formats such as JPG (photos) and H.264 (videos) to reduce file size. That means more 4K videos on your iPhone, which is a win for you, but maybe not for those you share content with.
If you send these photos or videos to other Apple devices, then there is no problem. As long as the destination can read HEIF and HEVC, the recipients will view your content as you would expect. However, some devices cannot read these formats. Instead, they look for those standard JPEG and H.264 standards and don̵
While you can convert your existing HEIF and HEVC media to solve the problem for photos and videos you have already taken, you can avoid the problem altogether by just changing a setting. Just open Settings -> Camera -> Formats and choose ‘Most Compatible’. That will save your photos and videos in standard formats that most devices read, rather than the very efficient formats that work very well in the Apple ecosystem.
There are three caveats to this setting: While normal photos and videos are recorded and saved in a standard format, videos recorded in 4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps, and HDR require the very efficient format to work. You will see this in your settings if you try to switch to one of these options after enabling Most Compatible. You have to tap “OK” on a prompt to let you know these rules, then tap the option again if you really want to shoot that way.
If you enabled “HDR video (high efficiency)” in the “Record video” settings, all video options will remain “High efficiency” with “Most compatible” enabled, but photos will continue to use the JPEG standard. You can turn off HDR videos to use H.264 for everything except 4K at 60fps and 1080p at 240fps videos.
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