mimetype Man page

MIMETYPE(1p) User Contributed Perl Documentation MIMETYPE(1p)


mimetype – Determine file type


mimetype [options] [-] files


This script tries to determine the mime type of a file using the Shared
MIME-info database. It is intended as a kind of file work-alike, but
uses mimetypes instead of descriptions.

If one symlinks the file command to mimetype it will behave a little
more compatible, see “–file-compat”. Commandline options to specify
alternative magic files are not implemented the same because of the
conflicting data formats. Also the wording of the descriptions will

For naming switches I followed the manpage of file version 4.02 when
possible. They seem to differ completely from the spec in the
‘utilities’ chapter of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 (POSIX).


-a, –all
Show output of all rules that match the file.

TODO: this method now just returns one match for each method
(globs, magic, etc.).

-b, –brief
Do not prepend filenames to output lines (brief mode).

Force the program to look in these directories for the shared mime-
info database. The directories specified by the basedir
specification are ignored.

-d, –describe
Print file descriptions instead of mime types, this is the default
when using “–file-compat”.

-D, –debug
Print debug information about how the mimetype was determined.

-f namefile, –namefile=namefile
Read the names of the files to be examined from the file ‘namefile’
(one per line) before the argument list.

Make mimetype behave a little more file compatible. This is
turned on automatically when you call mimetype by a link called

A single ‘-‘ won’t be considered a separator between options and
filenames anymore, but becomes identical to “–stdin”. ( You can
still use ‘–‘ as separator, but that is not backward compatible
with the original file command. ) Also the default becomes to print
descriptions instead of mimetypes.

-F string, –separator=string
Use string as custom separator between the file name and its
mimetype or description, defaults to ‘:’ .

-h, –help
-u, –usage
Print a help message and exits.

-i, –mimetype
Use mime types, opposite to “–describe”, this is the default when
_not_ using “–file-compat”.

-L, –dereference
Follow symbolic links.

-l code, –language=code
The language attribute specifies a two letter language code, this
makes descriptions being outputted in the specified language.

-M, –magic-only
Do not check for extensions, globs or inode type, only look at the
content of the file. This is particularly useful if for some reason
you don’t trust the name or the extension a file has.

-N, –noalign
Do not align output fields.

If you want an alternative output format, you can specify a format
string containing the following escapes:

%f for the filename
%d description
%m mime type

Alignment is not available when using this, you need to post-
process the output to do that.

Determine type of content from STDIN, less powerful then normal
file checking because it only uses magic typing. This will happen
also if the STDIN filehandle is a pipe.

To use this option IO::Scalar needs to be installed.

-v, –version
Print the version of the program and exit.

These variables can list base directories to search for data files.
The shared mime-info will be expected in the “mime” sub directory
of one of these directories. If these are not set, there will be
searched for the following directories:


See also the “XDG Base Directory Specification”

The base dir for all data files is determined by two environment
variables, see “ENVIRONMENT”.

All other files are compiled from these source files. To re-compile
them use update-mime-database.

Compiled information about globs.

Compiled information about magic numbers.

Descriptions of a mimetype in multiple languages, used for the
“–describe” switch.

If a file has an empty mimetype or an empty description, most probably
the file doesn’t exist and the given name doesn’t match any globs. An
empty description can also mean that there is no description available
in the language you specified.

The program exits with a non-zero exit value if either the commandline
arguments failed, a module it depends on wasn’t found or the shared
mime-info database wasn’t accessible. See File::MimeInfo for more

The ‘–all’ switch doesn’t really show all matches, but only one per
mime-typing method. This needs to be implemented in the modules first.


If you find bugs, please file them in our Github issue tracker at

mimetype doesn’t provide a switch for looking inside compressed files
because it seems to me that this can only be done by un-compressing the
file, something that defeats the purpose. On the other hand the option
should exist for strict compatibility with file. Possibly a subclass
should be made for this one day.


Jaap Karssenberg Maintained by Michiel Beijen


Copyright (c) 2003, 2012 Jaap G Karssenberg. All rights reserved. This
program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
under the same terms as Perl.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of


file, update-mime-database, File::MimeInfo(3),

perl v5.20.2 2015-02-23 MIMETYPE(1p)