What Are .aae Files? Can I Delete Them?

Many Apple users only discover the existence of AAE files after trying to transfer edited pictures from one device to another that is running a different operating system. If you’ve had this problem and are confused about an AAE file and what to do with it, we’re here to help.

What Are .aae Files? Can I Delete Them?

This article discusses everything you need to know about AAE files, including what they are, whether you can delete them, and how to open them. It also explains how to convert AAE files to JPEG so you can enjoy the edited images on another OS.

What Is a .aae File on iPhone and Mac?

AAE is a file type found on iOS 8 and newer and macOS 10.10 and newer systems. It details the modifications made to JPEG pictures through the Apple Photos app. Information about any edits gets stored in the AAE file (in XML format.) You can open it using any text editor program.

So basically, whenever you edit a photo on an iPhone or Mac, a corresponding AAE file with the detailed edits gets created and stored in the exact location as the image. AAE files aren’t readily visible in your gallery, but when you open an edited picture, the system analyzes its modifications and applies them instantly.

However, “.aee” files are unique to macOS and iOS and can’t run on Windows. So, if you transfer edited pictures directly from your iPhone or Mac gallery to a Windows device, you won’t get any changes made to them. Thankfully, this problem can be circumvented by emailing the pictures to yourself or sharing them through a messenger app to seal the changes before transferring them to another device.

Can I Delete an AAE File?

The corresponding AAE file has the same name as the JPEG file and resides in the same folder. Every time you open an edited photo, the AAE file gets analyzed, and changes are applied instantly. However, if you try to rename the file, the edits won’t appear because it links to the original filename.

This scenario also happens if you delete the AAE file from your iPhone or Mac. Thankfully, AAE files take up very little storage space, so the need to delete them isn’t a big issue. However, Windows and Android devices can’t read AAE files. Even though you can see them in the photos folder, they do nothing. You can safely delete AAE files from your Windows or Android device since they are useless to the OS, but remember that you lose any changes made to them.

How Do I Open an AAE File in Windows?

If you wish to open an AAE file on Windows or Android, you can because it is an XML formatted file. Even though it does not function in Windows, you can still view the file. Here’s how.

  1. Right-click the “AAE” file.
  2. From the dropdown menu, select “Open with.”
  3. Choose a text editor to open the file, for example, Notepad or Microsoft Word.

Note: Even though you can open an AAE file in a text editor or Windows or Android devices, you can’t apply changes listed in it to the corresponding JPEG file.

What Is a .aae Sidecar File?

In general, sidecar files are file extensions corresponding to main files that contain data of a different format from that of the original file. They are files connected to another file of another format. AAE sidecar files are a file type exclusive to the latest iOS and macOS versions, and they detail edits done to a JPEG picture using the native Photos app.

It gets used to preserve the original photograph. Whenever you open an edited version, the system analyzes XML data stored in the corresponding AAE file to apply the modifications. Thus, AAE files are sidecar files to JPEG pictures on Apple devices.


In closing., AAE files are a clever idea used by Apple on iPhones and Macs, which protects the original image and applies all changes made using Apple Photos by reading the data within the “.aae” file. You can delete “.aae” files on Mac or iPhone, but it reverts the image to its original state. As for Windows, your imaging apps are the only possible way to keep track of changes. If you need to transfer the image to another OS like Windows, save the edited version as a JPG file.

AAE File FAQs

Read this section to find out how to convert AAE files to JPEG, open them, and determine whether you can delete them.

How Do I Convert AAE Files to JPEG?

AAE files store the edits applied to a picture in an XML format. This action means that when you change an image on an Apple device, the system creates an AAE extension to the original JPEG instead of saving an entirely new JPEG. As AAE files are exclusive to the latest versions of iOS and macOS, devices running older versions or other operational systems won’t run these files.

Because of that, no changes get applied if you open these files on those operating systems – the edited pictures get opened in their original state. Thus, you need to convert the edits stored in the text format in AAE files to a JPEG file before transferring your pictures. You can do this in four main ways:

· Edit your pictures in any app apart from the native Photos app. AAE files only exist in the Photos gallery. Thus if you edit a picture through another app, the changes get saved as a new JPEG file rather than an original JPEG file with a corresponding AAE extension.

· Edit your pictures in the Photos app. Then, send them to yourself via email. Save the images to your devices – they will be saved as a new JPEG file. Transfer the JPEG files to another device using any method you prefer.

· Share pictures edited in the Photos app through a messenger app such as WhatsApp or Telegram and save them as a new JPEG file.

· Use third-party software. Plenty of apps and websites can help you convert AAE to JPEG – for example, convertimage.net.

Can I Delete AAE Files From iPhone?

AAE files are necessary to apply changes to an original picture on your iPhone. The corresponding edited image returns to its original state if you delete the AAE file. AAE files aren’t large, so deleting them isn’t necessary to save space. However, if you still wish to do that, you can convert AAE files to JPEG and delete them afterward.

How Do I Open an AAE File on iPhone?

On Apple devices running on the latest versions of iOS or macOS, AAE files get analyzed automatically. You don’t have to open them, but using any text editor program is possible. The same goes for Windows, Linux, or Android devices.

You can open AAE files in any text editor, such as a Notepad or Notepad++. You won’t be able to apply the changes stored in an AAE file to a JPEG on these operational systems, though, so opening them won’t affect them.

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