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Copyright 1998-2021, Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG, Warp Expo West, and Warpfest are trademarks of the Southern California OS/2 User Group. OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.

The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA

SCOUG OS/2 For You - September 1998


 Dear Mr. Know-It-All 

Mr. Know-It-All always has the answers to even the really tough questions.


Q.  Dear Mr. Know-It-All,

In Netscape (I'm using the OS/2 2.02 version), under Options - General Preferences - Helpers, there's a "File / MIME Type".

What is "MIME"?

A.  MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, and is a method of "encoding" a file so that it can be sent by email.

You can't send some files by email without encoding because they contain bytes which aren't able to get through the email system.  For example, an EXE file has every possible byte in it, but not all of these bytes will get through to the recipient because some of them look like control codes and, often, some of the bits in the bytes that do get through will be changed.

The MIME software encodes the bytes into other bytes that can get through.  When received, MIME decodes the bytes, thus recreating the original file.

MIME also adds some lines to each email message "header" so that the MIME software at the receiving end can properly decode the file.  If you open an email message in a text editor (or click on View. . .Document Source in your Netscape 2.02), you'll see some lines at the beginning you never knew were there, and some of them (Content-Type, Content-Transfer-Encoding, MIME-Version, Content-ID, and Content-Description) are MIME lines.

Historically, before MIME there were other encoding methods such as UUEncode.  MIME is much more robust, and is currently in wide use.

When you look at the Netscape screen you mentioned in your question, you see a scrolling window containing "File type", "Action" and "Extensions".  There are a handful of MIME types (application, audio, image, message, multipart, text and video) and lots of subtypes.  The "Extensions" are used to help classify the email file attachments you receive, and the "Action" is what you want Netscape to do when it receives such a file.

MIME is a standard that was finalized in 1993; see RFC 1521 (many sites have it, use your favorite search engine).  Also see the Internet mail standard RFC 822 created in 1982, and the MIME extension RFC 1563 from 1994.

 

Mr. Know-It-All lives in Southern California.



The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA

Copyright 1998 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG is a trademark of the Southern California OS/2 User Group.
OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation.
All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.