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Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) type is standard that helps in classifying the types of files used on the Internet. MIME types were originally developed as a standard to identify the message of an email body. A MIME type consists of two parts, namely the type and subtype, which are separated with the slash symbol (/). The Request for Comments 2045 helps to define how MIME handles different media types.
Standardization and publication of the classifications related to MIME types are overseen by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). All MIME types must be registered using the IANA registration process. Internet applications such as Web browsers and Web servers have a list of MIME types which help them to transfer files in the same fashion regardless of the operating system they are associated with. MIME types help Internet applications such as Web browsers to determine the actions that can be performed on the file. Apart from the type and subtype, the MIME type can contain additional attributes after a semicolon.
There are certain advantages associated with MIME types. For Web servers, the response to the external Web browser can be sent based on the MIME type for the file. Transfer of files or any other file operations can be easily and conveniently done if the MIME type is known to the operating system. The MIME type also helps in determining the application kits to be used, especially the editor kits that are used for word document processing.
Although one may view the list of MIME types, it would be difficult to associate the extensions associated with the files. In other words, it would be difficult to guess the MIME type associated with a particular file type.