The MHT file format, short for MIME HTML, is a web page archive format used to combine HTML code and its associated resources into a single file. Conceived around the time when web technologies were rapidly evolving, MHT was introduced as a convenience for storing and sharing complex web pages.
History of MHT Filetype
MHT files trace their beginnings to the early days of the internet when there was a need to encapsulate the entire content of a web page, including images, scripts, and style sheets, into a single file. This made it easier for users to save and distribute web pages without losing any visual or functional elements. The format is based on the MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) standard, which extended email to support text in character sets other than ASCII, as well as attachments of audio, video, images, and application programs.
How MHT Files Work
MHT files are essentially web page archives. They encode the HTML and related content into a base64 format and store it all within a boundary-defined structure, akin to how emails encapsulate attachments. This enables the representation of a full web page in a standalone file that can be viewed offline.
Software for MHT Files
Various web browsers and email clients have historically supported MHT files. Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge could save and open MHT files natively. Email clients like Microsoft Outlook also use the MHT format for archiving email messages as web pages. Despite its utility, the adoption was not universal across all web browsers; for instance, Firefox and Chrome needed extensions to handle MHT files.
Alternatives to MHT
While MHT files provide a single-file solution for storing web pages, there are alternatives that have become more popular. Modern browsers typically use the 'Save as' function to store web pages and their resources in separate files, often within a folder. One such alternative format is MAFF (Mozilla Archive Format File), which is essentially a ZIP file containing a web page and its resources. Moreover, PDFs are also frequently used as a cross-platform way to save and share web pages in a format that maintains the layout and formatting.
As web standards and technologies continue to evolve, the relevance of MHT files may continue to diminish in favor of more flexible and supported formats, ensuring accessibility and ease of sharing in the digital world.