RAW conversion to jpg or heif for upload to iCloud Photos from old archive folders?

I’ve got quite a few photos from 15 years ago stored in old Lightroom libraries in RAW CR2 format, taken with an older Canon Rebel XT. I no longer use Lightroom and am pondering how I want to import these into Photos to save space for iCloud. Generally these are around 8 to 10mb each. I created a shortcut to convert them to jpg or heif and import into Photos. The jpgs are around 800kb and the heif files 200kb or less. Thoughts on the better format? 200kb seems like such a small file from the original though to my eye the quality seems to be about the same. The files are 2 MP 1526x1024.

I’ll be keeping the hard drive of RAW files around, the purpose here is to just have a more easily accessible, decent quality copy of the images.

Any thoughts on choosing between the two file formats?

In that situation, I would definitely go for the more modern format - HEIF. JPG is universal, sure, and also 23 years older tech. If it’s for your own use, most def I’d choose the more current solution.

The big decision is how to export/convert your CR2s. I believe you can use Lightroom for free to export your current catalog using whatever develop settings you have already applied. You can’t make additional changes without a license though. Might be worth a month of subscription if you want the option to do a final edit before the batch export.

Good luck!

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Thanks! Yeah, I was leaning towards HEIF and did a test export. Most of the images, while important to me, would fall into family snapshot category and weren’t edited. The easiest solution was a Shortcut. Almost too easy! I just accessed the drive from the iPad via filesharing on the Mac - selected 160 files and they were done and saved to Photos in just a few seconds.

You might want to look again and make sure your conversion settings are correct. The resolution of a RAW file from a Canon Rebel XT should be 3456 x 2304, not 1526 x 1024. Or to put another way, 8 Megapixels, not 1.6 Megapixels. So in addition to losing the the extra color information from the RAW files (which you could possibly live without) it looks like you’re losing a lot of detail.

Instead of using a Shortcut to convert to heic or jpeg, maybe you should export from Lightroom, and that way you can apply whatever process setting you want at the same time, even if it’s just auto/default settings. The resulting files may not look very good otherwise.


You can indeed open your Lightroom Catalogue and export the images without paying. This is due to a promise made by Adobe many years ago that they will never ‘hold your images hostage’.

You may find that they bombard you with messaging that it won’t work, but if you push on, it absolutely will.

Keeping your RAW files archived is a good idea because it gets around the disadvantages of HEIC. Namely, that pretty much the only thing HEIC is good for (now, at least) is personal viewing. If you ever need to use the images for something else later you will most likely need JPEGs, and you can generate those from the originals to whatever parameters you need. Converting from HEIC would be quite limited. Especially if you downsize them.

I had a bit of a moment recently where I thought “I wonder if HEIC would work for me anywhere?” The answer was a resounding no! I thought maybe modern browsers would make them practical (like for native H.264 video). But guess what… the number of browsers that support HEIC images is… ZERO.

It does seem support for reading HEIC files into graphics software is relatively common, way less software can create HEIC and there is zero browser support. Despite Apple’s weight in this campaign, HEIC seems still to be an edge case.


I’m trying to use WhatsApp via Shortcuts on the Mac to send Photos but it isn’t recognizing photos that are HEIC?

Never mind, the action for the app just isn’t as well integrated as photos.

Thanks for pointing out the resolution change. Upon a bit of investigation I think I’ve found a bug which I’ve submitted as feedback to Apple. My shortcut, when run from an iPad resizes the file during the conversion process. When the same shortcut is run from the Mac it results in a properly converted file that retains the original dimensions/resolution.

Most of these haven’t really been edited and the converted files look great to my eyes so for now I’m just going with the Shortcut solution run on the Mac. I’ll still have the RAW files should I ever want to reinstall Lightroom and go that route. Thanks for your feedback!

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