macOS AVIF Support: Tutorial

UPDATE June 22

Beta 1 of macOS Ventura supports AVIF in the Finder and the built-in Preview application.

There is a limitation with Finder in that it does not yet associate *.avif files with Preview. You may open AVIF files with Preview, but you must manually select the "Preview" application. Otherwise, Finder will inform you it does not know which application can open the AVIF file.

So, AVIF is definitely on its way to macOS, but it has not yet appeared in Safari. Safari falls back to JPEG for AVIF tests. However, with AVIF working with Preview and Finder, it is safe to say that AVIF is on its way.

The Advent of AVIF

Imagine a world where images load in the blink of an eye, without sacrificing quality or eating up precious space on your devices. That's precisely what the AVIF format, an avant-garde image compression technology, brings to the table. By leveraging efficient compression and functional flexibility, AVIF creates pictures with a 50% reduction in image size compared to the established JPEG format, without skimping on quality. It's like folding a high-quality painting into a compact letter, ready to be sent across the digital world.

AVIF also boasts of features like lossless and lossy compression, an alpha channel for transparency data, extended color spaces, High Dynamic Range (HDR) functions, and the ability to store animated sequences akin to GIFs. With the HDR technology, AVIF paints vivid colors and contrasts on high-contrast images, making them come alive on screen. All of this happens while keeping the file size in check, like an invisible magician pulling rabbits from a hat.

Enter macOS Monterey

On the other side of the digital realm, Apple's macOS is the cornerstone of their desktop operating systems, powering devices from the sleek MacBook Air to the powerhouse Mac Pro. Their latest creation, macOS Monterey, brings a plethora of new features, such as an upgraded Safari browser, improvements to FaceTime, and a brand-new Shortcuts scripting language for automating tasks. Recent macOS versions, including Monterey, have also integrated tightly with Apple's ecosystem of devices and services, making for a seamless experience across the board.

Yet, this synergy doesn't quite extend to AVIF support. As of now, macOS Monterey doesn't natively support AVIF images or sequences. This means that when users transfer or download AVIF files, they are left puzzled like detectives without a clue, unable to open the files with built-in tools.

The State of AVIF in macOS

However, the winds of change are beginning to blow. With macOS Ventura Beta 1, support for AVIF has made its way into Finder and the built-in Preview application. It's as if a missing puzzle piece has finally been found, connecting the AVIF format to Apple's world.

There is, however, a small hiccup in this marriage – Finder doesn't yet associate the "*.avif" files with Preview automatically. But worry not! Users can still manually select the Preview application to marvel at their AVIF images.

While Safari hasn't yet boarded the AVIF train, the support in Preview and Finder is a clear indication that AVIF files are en route to becoming first-class citizens in macOS. In the meantime, users can muster the powers of third-party tools like AVIFQuickLook to enhance their AVIF experience, providing a temporary solution in this evolving landscape.

The (Near) Future of AVIF and macOS

As the stars align in the macOS universe, AVIF support across the operating system is inching closer to reality. While there isn't an official timeline for complete AVIF integration, the progress made in macOS Ventura Beta 1 paints a hopeful picture for users eagerly awaiting the day when AVIF files are universally embraced by macOS applications and Safari. Until then, third-party tools and workarounds can quench the thirst for a more efficient, vibrant, and versatile image experience on macOS devices.

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