AAE is a file type found on iOS 8 and newer, macOS 10.10 or later systems. It stores information about any edits made to .jpg photos in the Photos app. AAE files are in addition to original files and let users revert photos to their original state if required. When images are imported from macOS to Windows, the accompanying AAE files also get transferred.
AAE File Format
AAE files are saved to disc as XML files which is a human readable file format. This means it can be opened in any text editor such as Apple TextEdit on macOS and Microsoft Notepad on Windows OS. Notepad++ is another rich editor that can open AAE files.
When an edited JPG file is opened in Photo app, it reads the change log from the corresponding .aae file and apply the edits on the photo before displaying to user.
Advantage of AAE File
The advantage of using .aae files is that the original user images are not modified when edited.
Can AAE files be deleted on Windows?
AAE files accompany the edited pictures when you import these to Windows or some older version of macOS. As these files only contain the modifications information about the pictures, you can delete them without affecting the original images. These files have the same name as the associated pictures.