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How to Use HEIC Images in WordPress

In this guide, we’ll explain how WordPress handles HEIC images. Since 2017, Apple has used the HEIC format to store images. If you have an Apple device, your images are probably stored as HEIC files.

However, HEIC images are not supported by many browsers, and so this can cause problems if you’re uploading photos from an iPhone to your website.

What is a HEIC image file?

HEIC is short for “High Efficiency Image Format”, and the name explains why Apple loves this format. HEIC is really efficient at storing images without using much space. So, you can have really clear and sharp pictures without them using up too much storage on your phone.

HEIC also has other benefits for phone users. For example, HEIC can store multiple images in one file. If you take a burst of photos, HEIC can keep all those photos together in a single file, which helps keep things organized.

HEIC wasn’t developed by Apple and they don’t control the format, although they are the major users. HEIC was created by the MPEG group, which produces industry standards for audio, video, and graphics.

Can HEIC images be used on websites?

Browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari have begun supporting HEIC images, but compatibility is still very limited. Only Safari has native support for HEIC images, and that’s because it is also an Apple product.

Here’s a current overview of browser support. You can also visit the CanIUse website to get detailed feedback on each browser. This screenshot is taken from CanIUse and shows browsers with HEIC support in green:

HEIC image support in browsers

How to Use HEIC Images with WordPress

At the moment it’s not possible to upload HEIC images directly to WordPress without using a plugin. There has been discussion of this issue for several years in this WordPress developer issue. However, this is a complex issue and a solution will not be available soon.

If you want to upload HEIC images from your phone, you will need to convert HEIC images to more widely supported formats like JPEG or PNG.

One approach is to use a plugin called “HEIC Support“, which is available from WordPress.org.

The HEIC support plugin for WordPress

I tested this plugin successfully with images from my phone. The original HEIC images were successfully converted to JPG images, as in this screenshot below:

Upload HEIC images to wordPress

Comparing HEIC Images to JPG, PNG, and WebP

In this table, we’ll compare HEIC to the three image formats that are most commonly used in WordPress.

CompressionHigh Efficiency (lossy or lossless)LosslessLossyLossy or Lossless
QualityHigh qualityHigh qualityLossy compression, quality can degradeHigh quality, can vary with compression
File SizeSmaller than JPEG, comparable to JPEG at higher qualityLarger than JPEG, smaller than BMPSmaller than PNG, comparable to JPEGSmaller than JPEG, comparable to WebP
Browser SupportLimitedWidely supportedWidely supportedSupported, not as widespread as JPEG
Metadata SupportYesLimitedLimitedYes
Lossless OptionYesYesNoYes
Alpha ChannelYesYesNoYes
Animation SupportNoNoNoYes
UsageCommonly used in iOS and macOS, becoming more widespreadGraphics with transparency, lossless imagesGeneral purpose photography, web imagesHigh-quality web images, animation

WordPress and HEIC Images Conclusion

We recently tested all the file types that you can upload in WordPress. JPG, PNG, GIF, WebP, AVIF, ICO are all officially supported formats.

HEIC is one of many formats with partial support in WordPress. For example, SVG support in WordPress is happening very slowly. However, don’t count on official support for HEIC images any time soon in WordPress. I would recommend using a plugin for the foreseeable future.

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