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A Sound Primer

Regardless of where you store digital audio information, it consists of 1s and 0s, just like any other file on your computer. Creating and editing audio files on your computer is easy, because they are just files like everything else. As you’ll see later in this book, OS X extends this “it’s just a file” idea to just about everything on your computer, but you’ll learn about that later. For now, you’ll focus on how computers store and manipulate audio files.

Any application that can read and write files stores its data in a specific format in the files it uses. For example, Microsoft Word stores its data in files that contain internal information about the application that created them. This extra information is known as standard file type and creator information. Macintosh applications use file type information to determine whether they can open a specific file. OS X uses the creator information to determine which application to use to open a file. Together, the file type and creator information identify those files as Word files, and cause the Word icon to be displayed when you view those files in the Finder. Files that are intended for general use, rather than for use by a specific application, have generic file type and creator information that more generally identifies them—their creator information generally maps to a default application, but does not uniquely identify the specific applications that created them. This enables many different applications to create, open, and use those files.


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