i created an image with my own iPhone app. The image is in .heif format and it contains the depth map. (i know this because the Photos app recognizes it) I now downloaded and installed imagemagick. and ran the following command:

magick identify -verbose orginal.HEIC

This shows me only three channels (Channel 0, Channel 1, Channel 2). I guess these are the rgb colors of the image.

How can I access the depth data of this image?


2 Answers 2


I don’t know about using ImageMagick itself, but ImageMagick relies on libheif, and if that’s installed, e.g., with brew install libheif, then the heif-convert example program will do this with the --with-aux option:

# heif-convert --with-aux IMG_0123.HEIC blah.jpg
File contains 1 images
Written to blah.jpg
Depth image written to blah-depth.jpg

Note that older versions of heif-convert did not have options and wrote out those extra files by default.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This no longer seems to work. For me at least with the latest version of heif-convert I get just a jpg from an image that I know has depth information (I have transferred it back to my iphone and was still able to toggle portrait mode). \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnCH
    Jan 8 at 19:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JohnCH Post updated, does the updated answer work for you? I tried a newer photo and actually got an image called urn:com:apple:photo:2020:aux:hdrgainmap.jpg. It wasn’t portrait mode but I know newer multi-camera phones can take the picture with both wide and normal angle cameras, and use stereo differences to estimate depth, maybe that’s the file? \$\endgroup\$
    – andrewdotn
    Jan 10 at 3:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. My heif-convert doesn't seem to have this option. Screenshot of version number and heif-convert -h : ibb.co/wpRjQL2 I believe it is the latest version, but I suppose I could be wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnCH
    Jan 10 at 11:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aside: It sounds like that photo was taken with HDR mode and this file is something to do with the HDR conversion? \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnCH
    Jan 10 at 11:56

Here's a step-by-step How-To for extracting the depth map from iPhone portrait photos (AuxiliaryImageType=disparity) using heif-convert on all platforms:

  1. Make sure Docker is installed, e.g. Docker Desktop for Windows

  2. Open a terminal (e.g. Windows PowerShell) and use cd to navigate to the directory with your images.

  3. Run this command to start an ubuntu container:

    docker run -v ${PWD}:/mnt -it -w /mnt ubuntu

    (For classic Windows command line (CMD), use docker run -v %CD%:/mnt -it -w /mnt ubuntu instead)

    Now you are inside the docker container and the directory should be your initially chosen location with your photos.

  4. Run apt-get update && apt-get install libheif-examples -y to install the tool

  5. Run heif-convert -q 100 IMG_1234.heic IMG_1234.jpg (replace IMG_1234 with your actual image file name)

    This should print out:

    File contains 1 images
    Written to IMG_1234.jpg
    Depth image written to IMG_1234-depth.jpg
    Auxiliary image written to IMG_1234-urn:com:apple:photo:2020:aux:semanticglassesmatte.jpg
    Auxiliary image written to IMG_1234-urn:com:apple:photo:2018:aux:portraiteffectsmatte.jpg
    Auxiliary image written to IMG_1234-urn:com:apple:photo:2020:aux:hdrgainmap.jpg
    Auxiliary image written to IMG_1234-urn:com:apple:photo:2019:aux:semanticskinmatte.jpg
    Auxiliary image written to IMG_1234-urn:com:apple:photo:2019:aux:semantichairmatte.jpg
    Auxiliary image written to IMG_1234-urn:com:apple:photo:2019:aux:semanticteethmatte.jpg

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