iPhone images (.heic) are no longer compatible w/iNat?

I used to be able to airdrop all of my images onto my laptop (mac) and upload directly to iNat. I believe the files used to be .jpg (or maybe .jpeg - I can’t remember exactly) but the most recent software updates changed the default image file format to .heic.

Now when I attempt to upload, the images are no longer compatible with iNat and the metadata is not populated (see attached image). I naively changed the file names to .jpg but to no avail. I been relegated to upload directly from the app which is incredibly time consuming and has backlogged a ton of my observations.

I would like to be able to transfer iPhone images onto my mac and upload in batches like I used to. Does anyone know of a way to do this or a quicker method? Thanks in advance (:

Screen Shot 2021-06-17 at 11.32.05 PM

Yeah, that’s an Apple problem mainly. Apple, as usual, decided not to play nice with other systems. It’s a huge hassle and is typical of Apple.

If you’ve off-loaded from an iPhone to the computer there are a few free converters you can get that run as part of the OS options (eg. right click, or Mac equivalent, and select “convert”).

If you upload to iNat directly from the phone the conversion takes place automatically, as it does if you email an image directly from your iPhone.

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Nonsense. HEIf is developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group and is now adapted by Apple, also by newer Canon and Sony Cameras as well as Samsung.

HEIF is definitely an advantage but can be switch of from the settings in the iPhone or Android.


That *.heic format is pretty much incompatible with anything PC-related. Caused huge headaches with image submissions from students with iPhones during our online classes this past year (unrelated to iNat). None of these would open or show up as images, and some students were unable to ever figure out how to change it on their phones.


Change the camera format to Most Compatible from High Efficiency. No doubt it has a similar setting in Android/Samsung.


So how it is an advantage if by default smartphone is using format not used by most of websites, e.g. cameras by default are using JPG and not NEF, so it’s definitely problematic.

My camera used HEIF and CRAW as a default setting (Canon camera). The HEIF is a High Efficiency format that stores more data more efficient. Note it is not only for still photo. It is also for video. So without it I lost 60 fps and 240 fps. Websites needs to update. The RAW and NEF formats are the Canon and Nikon unprocessed files that contain all the colour data and allows editing.

I know, it was just an example, it’d be better if users were notified about such settings.
p.s. if jpg isn’t even an option there’s nothing to discuss, it was a bad idea to make it that way.

No, it can’t be, at least not in the iPhone 12 (See edit below). You can set it to take photos in RAW format or heic, but not to JPG. An iPhone will convert it to JPG if you email it or upload directly from the phone, and you can probably download third party apps that will convert the format, but it’s not a built in setting for the newer iPhones.

(EDIT: there is a setting to do this, but it’s buried deep down where the majority of users will never check, or even know to check: Settings → Camera → Formats → and toggle to Most Compatible)

The use you’re talking about with Canon and Sony are for video encoding and it’s generally wrapped in another shell so you computer can read it. That functionality isn’t built into the OS at present, hence the need for converters or third party software that makes it readable on the fly.

I just when through all this with my new phone and went down the rabbit hole looking for ways around Apple’s adoption of the format for static images.

NOTE: leaving the original text as I don’t believe in changing what’s said, I prefer to make corrections and still let people see what is being corrected rather than pretending there was nothing to correct).

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The Canon use 10 bit HEIF still files. This is noticeably better quality than the 8 bit jpg files. RAW and NEF is 12, 14 or 16.

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Our Canons at work use CR2 and JPEG formats, but our newest one is a 6D Mark II, so perhaps there have been changes since that came out.

Yes, the latest format by Canon is their CR3.

I had this same issue. I made a quick action in Automator that converts them to jpegs. It works great.

An alternative is to change what file type your iPhone creates in settings.

This may or may not be helpful, depending on your preferred process, but I upload my iPhone photos to an album created in Photos specifically for iNat images, and then just drag photos from Photos’ library browser straight into the batch uploader. Never encountered any file-format issues, and it’s easy to crop and edit photos and then drag them over to iNat.

(I’m running macOS Big Sur on a MacBook Air and an iPhone Xs running iOS 14.6.)

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I plug my phone in via USB and copy the files directly onto the computer for cropping and uploading (iPhone + PC, if I’m not using the app).

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honestly, I disagree with the criticism for this particular format. it’s less of an Apple problem and more so an issue of everyone else being late to the party. JPEG is very old at this point and is quite destructive to images—I think a push to have a more modern lossy image compression format that is also much more versatile is important. HEIF seems to have earned its spot—JPEG is old and messy while PNG files can be very large. it is also superior to GIFs while filling the same role—this could be greatly useful for iNat. these moments of transition are often kickstarted by major companies taking the initiative to move forward since standardization can be one of the biggest reasons we are resistant to changing from obsolete formats. I may not be informed on this particular subject enough to have a stance like this, but I think in general these things shouldn’t be rejected due to initial inconvenience. I think it’s up to the other parties to adapt to the change, as is the intent of not having JPEG as an option on iPhones. Now the headphone jack removal and continued use of lightning on the other hand…


iirc the underlying issue is patents on the encoding/decoding around these types of images that’s keeping the format(s) from being more popular outside Apple devices–depending on the platform and type of organization there might just not be a free or low cost way to integrate support.

it’s admittedly a really nice modern format but -imo it’s quite fair to criticize Apple (or anyone) for adopting a file format that’s not free to develop for


This is not true. JPG is also covered by patents, which is not always covered. Perhaps the way to look at is huge savings in terms of storing images for the cost of 40c in patent fees. HEIF images and especially videos are 2 x more compressed and transmitted faster for the same quality. It is however, more complicated coding for iNat.


Indeed, NEF is not an easy format since it is specific to Nikon and must be converted to use the files in other applications.

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