Released to the public this week for Windows and Mac computers, Lost Photos, from software developer Space Inch, claims to find every image you've ever sent or received by e-mail. And the version for Windows did just that in my tests, finding numerous TIFFs and JPEGs in my Gmail account and saving them to a folder in my hard drive. I was then able to immediately share selected images with friends through an upload to my Facebook, Twitter or Gmail account, directly from the app. It's free for Windows users, but sells for $2.99 at the Mac app store.
Josh Segall, a spokesperson for Space Inch, describes the purpose of the app as follows: "As the years pass, our e-mail accounts become treasure troves of moments and memories. The photos we e-mail with family and friends are often the most important to us, but get buried deep in years of random messages. Lost Photos finds them all, and makes it easy to share and archive them."
I found using the Lost Photos app to be downright simple and intuitive while using my PC running Windows 7 and Gmail, as described in a moment. According to Segall, it would work in the same manner with Yahoo, AOL, .Mac, MobileMe, and Google Apps accounts, whether using a Mac or Windows OS. Mac users can search Lost Photos in the app store or visit the Lost Photos Website that provides a link to the Mac app.
Note re: User Privacy: As you would expect, the app requires access to the user's e-mail account and to the Facebook or Twitter account if the sharing feature is used. That does require entering the Password, raising some concern about privacy, but that is addressed on the Lost Photos Website. Segall re-confirmed that statement in an e-mail to me: "Using Lost Photos is just as safe as entering your login info over the Internet to check your e-mail. Just like e-mail (and Facebook and Twitter), we transmit data to and from e-mail servers using a secure SSL connection. Also, Lost Photos does not collect or store your login information and does not communicate information from your e-mail to any outside server."
The Lost Photo app provides a simple to use and intuitive interface for finding photos and for immediately sharing any of them with friends. It finds photos relatively quickly and archives them in a folder on the user's hard drive for later access.
The Basic Process
After downloading the Windows app from www.lostphotosapp.com to my PC, I started it and entered my Gmail address and password in the screen that appeared. The app immediately started scanning e-mails in my Sent and Received folders and found dozens of JPEGs in a few minutes. Since I send thousands of images by e-mail, the process consumed a full hour. The app examined 27,000 Emails (I really should delete some of those) and found 2,452 images, saving them in a folder in date order.
Clicking on Show Photos in Explorer caused Windows Explorer to launch, displaying a newly-created folder containing all of the archived images. Since I had some difficulty finding that folder with Breeze Browser Pro and Photoshop software, I decided to save a copy of it to C: My Photos for convenient access at a later time.
Sharing a photo via Facebook or Twitter was also simple and intuitive. Clicking on the relevant button in the app led to a screen that allowed me to enter text (comments or a tweet) and then to another screen for inputting my account name and password. Immediately afterwards the photos and text were uploaded.
After selecting a favourite photo in the app, clicking on E-Mail Photo activated Windows Live Mail 2011, a feature that I had never used until today. That led to a screen asking for my Sympatico e-mail address and password (accessed via Hotmail); after entering that data I as able to add other photos from the archive folder as well as text before sending the e-mail. (Segall indicates that on a Mac it would pull up Mail.App.)
The Bottom Line
As Andy Ross, lead developer of Lost Photos, commented, "Even in the digital world you can lose stuff. You used to lose stuff in your attic or your parents' closet. Now you lose it in your e-mail archives." I suspect that's true for everyone, and Lost Photos is a cool and effective way of finding them, whether a dozen or thousands. If Space Inch would also develop an app for finding a full size RAW and TIFF image in the numerous folders in my three external hard drives I would become their biggest fan.