What is MIME?
MIME is an acronym for Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions. It is a standard first defined in 1992 to extend the capabilities of Internet e-mail beyond plain ASCII text. Before MIME, there was no straightforward and reliable way to transmit any material other than plain US-ASCII text using standard Internet mail protocols such as SMTP.
The MIME standard includes:
- specifications for character sets other than US-ASCII
- a defined set of content types (such as image, audio, and application types)
- a way to encapsulate several different objects (such as attachments) within a single message
- standard encoding methods such as base64 and quoted-printable
- extended mail headers for specifying character sets, content types, message parts, and encoding
Although MIME was originally designed for e-mail, Web browsers also use MIME content types to identify multimedia files so they can launch the appropriate plug-ins for retrieving audio, video, or other non-HTML information.
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