Reading HEIC images with python PIL on Windows


Earlier today, I needed to open a HEIC image in PIL. A quick search found the packages pyheif and pyheif-pillow-opener. Well, turns out they don't work on Windows. And while I could just switch to a supported OS I really wanted to use Windows for this for a few reasons.

Some fiddling around later I had it working, here's how:

Install libheif using vcpkg:

In order to read HEIC images we need libheif. The easiest way to get it is using vcpkg, a Microsoft tool to manage C and C++ libraries. Follow the installation guide on their github repo. In short:

  1. Clone the repo: git clone
  2. Run the installation script: .\vcpkg\bootstrap-vcpkg.bat
  3. Install libheif (skip this if you're on a 32-Bit system and only run step 4): .\vcpkg\vcpkg install libheif:x64-windows
  4. I also installed the 32-Bit version, but I don't think it's necessary: .\vcpkg\vcpkg install libheif
  5. Not sure either if this is necessary, but I ran their integration from an elevated command prompt: .\vcpkg\vcpkg integrate install

Install Imagemagick

I used the Windows binary, 16 bits-per-pixel, 64bit installer

Install the python wand package

Just run pip install wand. Make sure you're using a python 3 version and not python 2.7!

And that's it! Here's a snippet how to use it:

from wand.image import Image
import PIL.Image
import io

with Image(filename=r'img.HEIC') as img:
    pil_image ="jpg")))

It's pretty slow, because it needs to convert the image to jpg, but it works!

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