Helper Application

What Does Helper Application Mean?

A helper application is any application that handles files received by a Web browser. It is non-native and unviewable by the browser. A browser invokes a helper application through a prebuilt component in the browser’s stored list of applications.

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Techopedia Explains Helper Application

A helper application is a separate, standalone application designed to operate a particular file. Typically, most browsers have a built-in list of helper applications that may be directly invoked by the browser.

For example, a standard browser is unable to directly play a MP3 file. If a browser receives or downloads a MP3 file, it will access its list of helper applications to locate a compatible MP3 application, such as Windows Media Player. If there is no related application, the browser may recommend finding a match by searching the computer and/or the Internet.

Moreover, a user may manually customize a browser’s list of helper applications, either to swap an existing helper application or add a newer helper application for different file extensions.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.