Despite the prevalence of services such as Dropbox, Flickr and Photo Stream, email is still the most popular way of sending photos to friends and family. It’s something we take for granted, yet many of us don’t tend to save the photos once we’ve seen them in our mail app.
Lost Photos is a rather unique utility that searches through every single email you’ve sent or received and extracts any photos it finds, ready for you to archive and preserve. Does it work? Read on to find out.
Lost Photos has just one feature – go through your email account and extract any images it finds. It works with a number of email services: AOL, Gmail, iCloud and Yahoo. Unfortunately, there’s no support as of yet for other email accounts. That means if you’re using an email account hosted with a company like Hover then you’ll not be able to use the app.
As soon as you launch the app, you can’t help but notice how pretty the rather sparse interface is. The only noticeable interface elements are the email address and password fields, as well as a noticeable button to start the process.
The options section is designed to be quite muted so as to not detract from the app’s ease of use. You can select if you want to skip photos smaller than 8k (thus avoiding small logos and icons), ignore gifs if you know someone who always used to send you memes or cat pictures and even ignore images before a certain time period.
Lost Photos remembers each account you’ve imported from so you can run it again and again, avoiding duplicating photos as it will ignore all images already imported.
The rather small number of options that are available are completely optional and although hiding them is a nice design touch, they can be easily missed.
Going Back in Time
Lost Photos operates in a similar way to your typical mail app such as Mail or Microsoft Outlook. The app logs in with the username and password, then begins to comb through your emails to find any photos. For your peace of mind, the app doesn’t save your email password so don’t be worried that your password is being saved on a server somewhere.
Depending on how large your email account is, it can take some time to go through every email you’ve sent or received. You’re kept informed on the progress by a progress bar and images will be displayed as they are found, all of which you can start browsing through whilst it continues searching.
Once Lost Photos has completed its search, app will provide options to then either import all the photos into iPhoto or just show them in the Finder.
One unexpected feature that the app has is that it can certainly give you a swift kick to the nostalgia! Before reviewing the app fully, I ran this through my primary email account that I’ve been using for about 8 years and, boy, were there some forgotten memories there! It makes the app’s icon truly fitting as there’s a whole wealth of treasure in the photos you’ll find.
Alas, like most treasure, you’ll have to find where it’s buried first. Lost Photos makes no attempt at any sort of organisation when imported, not even distinguishing between photos sent or received. This means whether you’ve found ten photos or a thousand, they’re all placed in the same folder.
Although Lost Photos creates a folder for each email account you search in, there’s no way to determine who sent you the photo, or even if it was a picture you sent or received. The filenames are preserved but other than that, it turns into a bit of a guessing game. At least you can use face detection in iPhoto to do the majority of the work in cataloging the photos, just don’t expect to know whose holiday snaps without people in that you’re looking at.
The developers of Lost Photos seemed to have the nostalgia effect in mind when they added social sharing features. You can tweet, send to Facebook or email photos that you’ve found. Trust me, you’re going to inevitably find that one truly memorable photo of you and your friends from years ago that you just have to post on Facebook. Other apps have social integration and it’s nothing new, but when you’re potentially looking at photos long forgotten, it makes perfect sense.
Is Lost Photos worth purchasing? Definitely. I’ve found hundreds of photos from over the years that I don’t even remember seeing when they first hit my inbox, so being able to easily extract these and save them made the small cost worthwhile. If you’ve been operating an email account for a long time then you’ll have a lot of fun seeing some of the photos you’ve sent and received over the years and I’ve no doubt that, despite it’s lack of organisation, Lost Photos will be something you’ll enjoy.