We used to dig through drawers and shoeboxes to find old photos. But now we dig through digital archives, like email accounts. Lost Photos (free for Windows, $3 for Mac) is a handy application that makes dusting off your snapshots a breeze. See all software downloads.
To use it, you simply install it, enter your email address and password, and let it go to work. Lost Photos can scan AOL, Gmail, Google Apps, iCloud/MobileMe, and Yahoo email accounts for--you guessed it--lost photos.
It sifts through all of the messages in your account, looking for any images. You can set it to ignore images received before a certain date, or images that are smaller than 8k in size (which are more likely to be logos and icons than actual photographs). You also can have it ignore GIFs, which may be animations rather than photos.
That's all you have to do: Lost Photos does the rest, locating the images and saving them to your hard drive.
Unfortunately, it saves them to a folder it creates on your C: drive, rather than letting you select the location or create a new folder for this purpose. And the application is subject to the bandwidth limits of your email provider: After locating almost 2,000 folders in my Gmail account in just a few hours, Lost Photos suggested that I pause it for 24 hours, so as not to cause any problems with my email provider's own limitations. This is only a suggestion, though, and you can choose to dismiss it if you're throwing caution to the wind.
Once your photos are located, you can browse them within Lost Photo's excellent interface. The application is streamlined and attractive, making it easy to use. You can browse through thumbnails, and can click on one to see a larger version of the photo. From here, you can post it to Facebook or Twitter, or share it via email. And once the photos are downloaded to your hard drive, you're free to do with them as you please.