Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

4.31. What is MIME?

MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. MIME beefs up the capability of electronic mail so that it can handle more than boring, low ASCII text (letters, numbers, and punctuation). If dull 80-column, single-font text is beginning to bore you, consider that with MIME, you can send and receive multimedia e-mail messages with a variety of beautiful fonts and color pictures.

MIME makes e-mail more powerful by adding the ability to exchange messages in languages with different character sets and with character sets other than ASCII. MIME mail can also include pictures, sounds, PostScript images, file pointers to FTP sites, and other good stuff.

MIME isn't a program; it's a specification. Many of today's e-mail programs understand the MIME specification, but remember that not everyone has access to programs that understand MIME. If you aren't sure whether your message's recipients can read MIME messages, stick with plain old text, the lowest common denominator of electronic mail.

Discussions about MIME take place on the Usenet's comp.mail.mime newsgroup. There is also a mailing list gatewayed with comp.mail.mime. If you are unable to read Usenet news, send a subscription request to

If you're in the United Kingdom, you can receive info-mine by sending a request to

An overview of the MIME specification is available by FTP from for the text version or for the PostScript version

For more information, read the comp.mail.mime frequently asked questions list on Usenet at comp.mail.mime or available by FTP from

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