MIME Description

MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. The purpose of MIME is to allow the use of a wide variety of media types through internet mail. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Working Group defined the standard for MIME in 1992.

Internet mail could originally only transfer seven bit ASC-II messages. MIME allows the sending of text and many other file formats including formats for images, sound, video and more. It also allows the sending of messages in more than just US-ASC text along with the capability to put multiple objects in one message, and use more than one font in a message. One of the reasons that MIME is so important today is that its standard is being used to identify content for sources other than mail including HTML file content and more. MIME competes with the X.400 Message Handling Standard.

MIME allows messages with several parts which may be of different types to be sent. A "body of information" refers to a part of a multipart message.

MIME Functionality

MIME provides for identifying the methods used to both transfer and process the information being sent. In some cases, the data being transmitted cannot be sent in its original form over various transport mechanisms. Some of this data must be transformed into a seven bit format, then restored to the original format when it is received. MIME provides:

  • Specification of how the content is encoded for transfer (Content-Transfer-Encoding).
  • The type of content which will help identify programs that must be used to present the content to the user.