iPad offers two formats for photos, HEIC and JPEG. If we import into Photos and export from there, the format (HEIC or JPEG) is preserved. But if we "Edit in GraphicConverter," GraphicConverter gets TIFF.


  • Is that a 3rd party editing extension? – Allan Apr 12 at 19:35
  • It's a very versatile photo editing app. But why should Photos convert to TIFF for any editor? – WGroleau Apr 12 at 20:17

HEIC and JPEG are both lossy formats. Which means, each time you change anything and save the file, the image looses in quality.

Photos and your iDevice usually avoid this by adding all edits as a separate file and leaving the original untouched. However, third party software would not understand this additional information (especially as it's an internal format and can change with any update of Photos or iOS). So Photos reverts to the old fashioned approach to avoid image quality losses with every edit: saving the file (with all the edits you did on the phone or in Photos) in a lossless format, TIFF. This can be edited as much as you like, and will not deteriorate each time you save it. At the cost of being more bulky.

Once you are finished editing, I suggest making a JPEG or HEIC copy and keeping the TIFF file only on your backup disk or such.

  • That makes sense, except … converting into TIFF is not going to put back what the iPad compression already lost. Also, when I’ve searched for JPEGs in the past, I have found them in the Photos library. So they are stored there in lossy format anyway. – WGroleau Apr 13 at 9:08
  • Sure - but why do you consider that an exception? – Carl Dombrowski Apr 13 at 9:17
  • The iPad has already lost detail by storing HEIC or JPEG. Photos does not restore anything by converting to TIFF. Then when the external app gives TIFF back to Photos, more is lost by Photos converting back to JPEG. No? – WGroleau Apr 13 at 11:24
  • The advantage only comes when you save several times while it is in TIFF format. That's why I suggested to keep the TIFF - if you want to edit even more, you use that, not the JPEG or HEIC you imported back into Photos. Every time you edit and import back, there will be some quality loss. – Carl Dombrowski Apr 13 at 12:47
  • Understood. But it was Apple's decision to store it in/convert it back to JPEG/HEIC. GraphicConverter returns the format it received unless I explicitly change it. – WGroleau Apr 13 at 15:30

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