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Cocoa Programming for OS X: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide by Aaron Hillegass, Adam Preble, Nate Chandler

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For the More Curious: Universal Type Identifiers

One of the enduring problems in working with computers is embodied in the question: What does this data represent? On the Mac, this question gets asked in several places: when a file is opened from Finder, when data is copied off the pasteboard, when a file is indexed by Spotlight, and when a file is viewed through Quicklook. Thus far, there have been several answers: file extensions, creator codes, MIME types.

Apple has decided that the long-term solution to the problem is universal type identifiers (UTIs). A UTI is a string that identifies the type of data. This data may be in a file or in a memory buffer. UTIs are organized hierarchically. For example, the UTI public.image conforms ...

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