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17.5. Text Encodings

At the lowest level, all text files (and strings of individual text within lager files) are just sequences of binary numbers. By knowing about the file's text encoding, the operating system can convert these numbers into readable text, which it can then display by applying an appropriate font to them.

Because of its capacity to contain all written languages and common symbols that modern humans use (with room to spare), Unicode is considered Mac OS X's native text encoding. Specifically, Mac OS X supports Unicode's UTF-16 (fixed 16-bit) and UTF-8 (variable-length) encodings. (See the next section for a brief introduction to Unicode encodings.)


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