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5. Documents, Programs, and Dashboard > How Documents Know Their Parents

How Documents Know Their Parents

Every operating system needs a mechanism to associate documents with the applications that created them. When you double-click a Microsoft Word document icon, for example, it’s clear that you want Microsoft Word to launch and open the document.

In Windows, most documents bear a three-letter file name extension. If you double-click something called memo.doc, it opens in Microsoft Word. If you double-click memo.wri, it opens in Microsoft Write, and so on.

Mac OS 9 used a similar system, except that you never saw the identifying codes. Instead, it relied on invisible, four-letter creator codes and type codes. Apple carefully monitored and tracked these four-letter codes, in conjunction with the various Mac software companies, so that no two creator codes were alike.


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