Well it turns out I am an idiot and the premise of my question was incorrect. I was confused about the size and format by some alternate versions of the same photos that were airdropped, and the ".HEIC" filenames in the shared album. The versions in the shared albums and the versions after using "Import" are virtually identical (although weirdly they lose one pixel of height).

Here's the info pane for an image in the shared album. The ".HEIC" title confused me, but I see now that it's a JPEG.

Shared album image info

Here's the version that was imported. The title has changed to ".JPEG" and it has mysteriously lost a single pixel of height, but otherwise it appears exactly the same.

Imported image info

Original question with incorrect premise below:

When someone shares a photo that I want to keep using the Shared Album feature of Photos, my workflow has been to open the shared album in the desktop Photos app, right-click the photo, and choose "Import" from the contextual menu.

Only today I noticed that instead of importing the photo in its original size and format, it converts it from HEIC to JPG at a smaller size.

I know that there are less convenient ways to get the original (for example "Export Unmodified Original" and then re-import) but I wonder: Is there any way to direct the "Import" command to just import the photo without changing it?

This is in the current version of MacOS Monterey 12.3.1.

1 Answer 1


By size, are you referring to the file size or pixel size?

Converting HEIC to JPG at the same resolution (pixel size) would actually increase the file size, because HEIC files much more compact.

The photos you are importing are smaller because Apple limits the resolution of photos in Shared Albums - to 2048 pixels on the long edge for regular photos and 5400 pixels for panoramic photos. See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202786 ("File types that you can use in Shared Albums" section) for details.

  • Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to pixel dimensions, but it turns out I was confused and the premise of my question was incorrect. The photos in the shared album show a .HEIC filename, which I assumed meant they were in HEIF format. Looking closer I see the JPEG indicator in the info box. So the version that's in the shared album is already a JPEG and there's no additional data to download. I've edited the question to explain. Perhaps I should delete it?
    – Robert
    May 9, 2022 at 18:32
  • 1
    Probably worth letting it stay here because there's plenty to get confused here. I tested by adding a 3024 × 4032 .heic image from library to a shared album. It got downsized to 1537 × 2049 with .heic extension. Exporting it from the shared album by (Export 1 photo) and (Export unmodified original) gave .jpg files in both cases, which suggests it was already a .jpg after saving in the shared album.
    – MacEater
    May 11, 2022 at 10:50

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