Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Retrosift Scans Your Emails for Every (Cringeworthy) Photo You’ve Ever Sent

Some photos are better left buried. Retrosift is a good reminder of that.

The new online app sifts through all the photos you’ve ever sent via email — and if your habits were like mine before sharing through mobile apps became the norm, you attached a lot of photos to email — and organizes them in an album. Photos can be filtered by year or by the name of a person you exchanged photos with.

The app is pretty simple to use: You go to, type in your email address and are asked to allow access to the app. Retrosift then begins sifting through your photos, and several minutes later presents them in a timeline. Fond memories and embarrassment ensue. If you’d like to save or share the pictures, you can send them to Dropbox or Facebook from the app. Retrosift works with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL mail accounts.

And since giving third-party apps access to email is cringeworthy in itself to some people, users can then disallow access to the app once their photos have been dug up. (For example, in Gmail, you can go to Authorizing Applications & Sites under the My Account area in Gmail, and revoke access.)

Retrosift does come at a small cost: The company is charging a one-time fee of five dollars for three months of access to the photo timeline. It’s not an auto-subscription, so once the three months are up, you lose access to the Retrosift timeline. Of course, the photos are all still there in your email inbox; you’ll just have to dig to find them yourself, assuming you actually want to do that.

Retrosift was created by three former Yelp employees, Bryan Byrne, Rhett Garber and Neil Kumar, who came up with the idea when Byrne’s mother was trying to find an email containing a photo of one of her granddaughters, born three years earlier. Byrne says the trio doesn’t know yet how they plan to build out their company — or if that’s even related to the Retrosift app — and for now, they’re just looking to build a fun app.

“Rather than just talk about vaporware and bigger visions, we said, let’s just build a utility that’s good, and then focus on the big picture,” Bryne says.

Photo-sharing site Flickr also has a tool that allows people to upload images from their email accounts. Pixable is a mobile and Web app that sorts through your Facebook photos for you, presenting them on a Pinterest-like board and emailing you the top photos of the day from your Facebook network. And lots of other mobile apps now aim to search and sort through the many apps on your mobile phone, including PhotoCal, Photo-Sort and Sortshots. Other apps aim to zap your duplicate photo files.

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First the NSA came for, well, jeez pretty much everybody’s data at this point, and I said nothing because wait how does this joke work

— Parker Higgins via Twitter