What is MIME?

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What is MIME?

MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions and as the name suggests, this Internet standard is used to support non-text attachments to basic email. Basically this standard is being followed when sending email over the internet, specifically those that contain non-text items such as video, graphics, and audio files. And aside from these non-text email attachments, MIME is also able to support non-ASCII text character sets, email message bodies that contain more than one part, and all header information that may contain non-standard ASCII characters.

MIME was developed and first defined back in 1992 to allow the sending of non-text attachments via email. The IETF of the Internet Engineering Task Force were the ones who created this Internet standard. MIME-based email messages have distinguishing features in the form of headers. This simply means that email messages with non-text attachments may be shared with other people who have MIME-compliant email applications also.

But besides allowing for the exchange of non-text attachments over email or over the internet, the MIME standard has grown to become a standard in other areas of the internet including the giving of descriptions of content type. MIME is also a standard used for rich content storage over the internet. In the case of HTTP or HyperText Transfer Protocol for example, the MIME standard is used in data transmission across the World Wide Web. Although the data involved may not necessarily be email messages, MIME allows for the data transfer using its own standard of allowing support for non-text content.

Most email software in the market today are MIME-compliant making it easy for people to send email messages with various non-text attachments. In this case, MIME compatibility between different email programs is necessary when it comes to opening email messages with non-text attachments. In the case of email messages received using non-MIME-compliant email software, attachments may appear scrambled and may not be viewed properly. To properly open a particular attachment, one may have to acquire an email attachment decoder or conversion software, which is also available on the internet.

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