Sunday, November 07, 2010

Choosing genealogy management software

Beginning Genealogy Lesson #2
(c) 1998, revised 2009, 2010
From: MeNiceGuy
I would like to know what the best software program is to track family histories.  I am just beginning, and want to start right. -- Thanks.

DearMeNiceGuy & my DearREADERS,
Ol' Myrt here hopes you've made a lot of progress obtaining your birth record, and perhaps a few for your parents and siblings from last week's lesson.  Now, let's tackle what to do with the information you collected as you climb your family tree.

ASSIGNMENT:  Make it your goal this week to find out about genealogy programs.  You've got to get a genealogy management program to keep track of everything. Then purchase and  install one, learning all you can about the program's options by working on a small test database. You will thank me later, if you begin by organizing your family history early on by using genealogy software.

I receive email from lots of people who have been working on their own for a few months who are spending hours creating custom family history Excel worksheets or Access databases. This simply won't do, since you cannot readily transfer info to genealogy websites or share with new-found cousins. I hope to save you DearREADERS similar heartache by telling you there are lots of good genealogy programs on the market today!

The first advantage of using a genealogy management program, is that you are able to type in the name, dates, localities on each ancestor once, then print out and view a variety of lists and reports such as family group sheets, pedigree charts, descendency charts, etc.

The second advantage of using one of the main stream genealogy programs is that they adhere (sometimes loosely) to a set of guidelines called GEDCOM which allows the transfer of data between different genealogy programs. In this manner you can receive (import) and share (export) genealogy data with others who are working the same lineages. You simply MUST use a genealogy program with this GEDCOM file transfer capability. Don't buy one that doesn't mention such compatibility. Without it, you'll just have to type in by hand all those names your cousin sent you on paper! (ugh!)

INTERNET READERS:  For those of  you who are reading this article from the internet, may I suggest that you consult Cyndi's List of Software for a comprehensive, up-to-date listing



PLEASE NOTE: If you plan to synchronize with what in November 2010 is called "new FamilySearch" (available currently to LDS in beta-testing mode) you will need either a bridging program (if you use PAF consider Family Insight) or a full-fledged genealogy program like those listed above that is certified to work with FamilySearch. For a complete listing of those in compliance, see FamilySearch's official listing at:

Which genealogy program do I think works best?  Which one would I recommend using? Quite simply they each have many fine points, and I do own copies of all the recent versions.  I think its best to use the genealogy program the majority of your friends at the local genealogy society are using.  This means you'll have a sizable group of "users" who can share their expertise.

We'll discuss setting up a free Dropbox account, creating folders for major surnames, and changing the settings within your genealogy program to keep your genealogy database in your Dropbox folder.

Class dismissed!

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)


  1. Dear Myrtle,
    Just wanted to let you know about Mac Family Tree Maker which has been available for MAC devotees for about 12 years. It's produced by Synium software and can be purchased on either the Apple site or the Synium site. The newest version 6.0.8 was released a few months ago, and there is also a mobile app available for iPad and iPhone users. I swear I'm not on their payroll; I just love all things Apple. Cheers! Jennifer

  2. Myrt,
    I started using Legacy 4 ages ago and it's now Legace 7.4. I love it! It's user friendly and every time I have problems or don't understand something, or don't know how to do something, I'll call and they call me back within several hours if they don't pick up right away. You can do various family charts and make it into a book form.

  3. All genealogy software provides the ability to gather, organize and share your work. Some software is better as also allowing you to analyze your data. The Master Genealogist is probably the best program for researchers as it will help you see when you have found new information about a person, or perhaps you have found a new person with the same name. It is a feature rich program, it has a beginner mode which makes it simple to use out of the package and grows with you.