Home Tech What Is AAE File? Why Can’t You Open aae Files on Windows

What Is AAE File? Why Can’t You Open aae Files on Windows

If you are in the habit of taking and editing pictures on your Apple device, you’re probably familiar with the .aae extension. For those of you wondering what is aae file, this article would answer your question. Other questions you may have will also be answered.

Often, for professional or personal use, we edit our pictures. The edges can be cropped, backgrounds can be changed, and different filters and effects can be used to make the picture look different.

The use of aae files is Apple’s unique approach to handling picture edits on iOS and macOS.

What Is an AAE File?

Simply put, an aae file is the file containing edits you made to an image on the photo app of your Apple device. All edits made to images are saved as aae files. The aae file is located in the same folder as the original picture.

What Is AAE File

On many devices, edits made to pictures overwrite the original picture. Hence, after making an edit, you can not get back the original picture. There are obvious downsides to overwriting the original pictures.

If you delete the edit you made, you will also delete with it the original. If you do not like the edits you made, it can be a long process reverting all the changes you made.

So, in the folder where the original picture and the edited aae image are, you have different files with similar names. If the original image was named IMG_123005.JPG, the edit will be named IMG_123005.AAE. So, pictures you edit on your Apple device have the .aae extension.

Another thing to note is that the aae files are based on the XML file format. 

What Is the Purpose of aae Files?

The main purpose of aae files is to separate your picture edits from the original image. Though the edited picture and the original would be in the same folder they are separate files.

Previously, any edits to a picture was basically an overwriting of the original. If for instance, you cropped an image, it was almost impossible to get an uncropped image. If you used several filters, it was not easy to get back the original unless you could perfectly remember what the original looked like.

With the use of aae extensions, you can make as many edits as you want without fearing the consequences of not liking your edits. Many people not only ask what is aae file, but what is the purpose of the extension. To that, the answer is, it allows you to edit pictures without losing or altering the original.

Who Can Use aae Files?

When you try to access the aae files from a Windows device, you usually get error messages. This shows that not every device can view the aae files.

The aae file extension is used by Apple products. Not every Apple product approaches picture edits the same way, if you use iOS 8 and above, or macOS 10.10 and above then all your picture edits will have the aae extension. Older Apple products do not have this feature.

What Should You Do With Your aae File?

The answer to that question entirely depends on you. Since aae files are basically edited versions of your picture, you can do anything you would have done with the original.

You can leave it in your photo gallery to show your friends the incredible effects your iPhone has. You can send it to others (particularly other iPhone users).

You can upload the pictures on your social media. Note that if you’re sending the aae files to people who don’t use Apple devices, they won’t be able to open and view the pictures unless you follow the processes that will be explained later in the article.

What Format Are aae Files Based On?

Moving from what is aae file, some people are interested in knowing what format the files are based on. From a technical perspective, this may be useful when it comes to converting the aae files to other formats that can be viewable on Windows.

To answer the question, aae files are saved in an XML format. This format is textual, meaning the file can be opened and viewed with a text editor such as Notepad.

Note, however, that relevant information about all the edits, as well as the various effects and filters applied to the original picture are encoded; and therefore can be read only with Apple software.

Should You Delete aae Files?

This is entirely up to you. If you do not like how your edits look, or if you have used the edited pictures for whatever they were planned for, or if you just want to create a little more storage space on your device, you can delete the aae files.

Whether on your iPhone or Mac, or on other devices such as Windows Computers, the deleting process is the same as that of any other picture or file.

Will Deleting the aae File Affect the Original Picture?

So far, in this article, the question of what is aae file has been tackled. This should let you know that the original jpg image and the aae file are different, though related entities.

Many other devices overwrite edits on the original, meaning you cannot delete the edits without losing the original. This is not the case with aae files.

Since the aae file is separate from the original picture, deleting the aae file will not affect the original file in any way. Care should be taken to ensure you don’t accidentally delete the original in place of the edits. Since the names of both files are similar, such mistakes can be made.

Why Can’t You Open aae Files on Windows?

If you regularly send pictures from your iPhone or Mac to Windows, you may have noticed that there are some pictures that are unable to be opened. Since aae extensions are native to only Apple, on Windows, the edits would not be present.

The aae files would be hidden and when you try and open them, an error message would pop up. Though the aae files will not be specified on Windows, and basically have the same name as the original file, you can still easily recognize them.

This is because pictures without the aae extension have a blank preview. So why can’t you open those images on Windows? Only Apple software will be able to open them.

What is aae file? It is an edited image file that can only be opened with Apple software. Hence, you won’t be able to open them on Windows. After the edits have been made on the photos app of an Apple device, only software built for Apple would open it. 

How Do You Open aae Images on Older Mac or Windows?

As has already been stated, you can’t open aae images on other devices that are enabled for it—at least, not with any conventional method.

Only unconventional methods are useful for opening aae images on Windows or older iOS or macOS devices. 

Simply transferring the files to Windows devices is not the solution. You have to use other methods to force Apple to modify the aae image to formats that are acceptable to other operating systems.

A simple method is to upload the image on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These uploaded images can then be downloaded on your other devices. The disadvantage of this method is that there is a loss of quality associated with uploading images on social media, therefore your modified image will be of lower quality.

A second method to be able to view aae files on Windows is to first use another app to open the aae file, and save it. Then you can send this modified file as an email or through a transfer app.

A third method is to upload the edited image on a hosting service such as iCloud or OneDrive. You can then access this image on Windows or other Mac devices. This modified image can then be downloaded.


Knowing what is aae file is important for iPhone or Mac users. Since the aae file can only be viewed on Apple devices, knowing how to make the modified images accessible elsewhere is also important. This article answers all the frequently asked questions about aae, from what is aae, to answering questions about its purpose, and how to view edited images on Windows.