MIM (MME) definition

Contributor(s): Frank Pacheco

A MIM or MME file is a file in the Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) format that is created by some e-mail programs, including that of America Online (AOL), to encapsulate e-mail that contains image or program attachments. The MIM or MME refers to the three-letter extension or suffix (".mim" or ".mme") at the end of the file name. AOL creates a MIM or MME file when a user sends a note with attachments to other users. Such notes sent to other than AOL users tend to be restored to their original form by the receiver's e-mail software. However, AOL recipients receive a MIM or MME file that they need to "open" so that they can get the individual files inside. AOL users with Windows can use WinZip (using the "Classic Winzip" mode of operation). Mac users can use a similar utility.

AOL users who enter the keyword "MIME" receive this explanation from AOL:

The Internet's e-mail system handles basic text files nicely, but doesn't reliably handle binary files -- files like pictures or word processing documents. So, when you send an e-mail message with a file attachment to someone on the Internet, the AOL software automatically encodes or translates the attachment using a system called MIME. (MIME stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions.) MIME converts the binary attachment to a text format that can be handled by Internet e-mail. The message's recipient needs a program that can decode the MIME e-mail and turn it back into a binary file that the computer can work with.

When you receive MIME files...
When someone sends you a MIME-encoded file in e-mail, it needs to be translated back into a format that your computer can understand. Depending on the mail system that the sender used, the AOL software may or may not be able to automatically decode the MIME file. If it was able to decode the file, the e-mail's file attachment will be in its original, binary format: such as .GIF, or .ZIP.

If AOL was unable to decode the MIME file, the attachment will be in MIME format, with a filename extension of .MME. Download this file--it is simple to use a utility to convert the .MME file back to a binary file. Windows users can use these applications to easily decode MIME files.

* WinZip: http://www.winzip.com
* MIME Decoders: MIME Help & Software

After you've downloaded and installed these programs, please be sure to read the READ ME guide for information on how to use the decoder(s).

Macintosh users can use these applications to easily decode MIME files.

* Decoder: Harmony Software Home Page

After you've downloaded and installed any of these programs, please be sure to read the READ ME guide for information on how to use the decoder.

When you send an attachment to an Internet user...
When you attach a file to an e-mail message that you send to an Internet user, it will automatically be MIME-encoded. In order to use the attachment, your message's recipient must have a MIME-compliant e-mail program or use software that can decode MIME files--to translate it back into a format that his or her computer can understand. If the recipient has a MIME-compliant e-mail program, the MIME attachment will probably be automatically decoded for him. If not, the recipient can easily translate the file using a utility program.

This was first published in September 2005

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