Question of the Week: Do you use a genealogy program?

+36 votes
Do you use family tree software, other than WikiTree? Which one? What are some features that you like?
in The Tree House by Deborah Collier G2G6 Mach 3 (38.0k points)
edited by Chris Whitten
Unless you count WikiTree, No.
I use Ancestry and Find My Past at the minute. Only joined FMP for the 1939 register
I have spent a lot of time and money on Ancestry and have gathered some interesting information.  Not enough to justify the money spent but as a beginner it helped me get started and I was able to grow my family tree on my mother's side quite a few generations back.

What it has never been able to do, which is why I turned to Wiki tree is answer the two questions that have been unanswereable. First and most important,  who was my grandmother,  Veronica Reilly? Why, was she given to Joseph and Ida Wiesner at birtthe though they had their own children, Otellie, Ruth, Walter  and Frederick?  Why did they raise her for her entire life?  Why can't I find info on her family?  And why can I find no info on the father of her son,  my father Frederick,  though she named him after the 2 Wiesner boys, Frederick  Walter?

Second,  why can't I find info for my daughter on her father, Albert Ray Jones except what I put in, his mother,  Lucille Smith and Albert Jones.
I was asking something similar about my grandmother, German descent in the Brisbane Valley. Turned out that her mother had passed and the many  children, especially young ones, were farmed out to different family members and when their father remarried and begat another large brood, they stayed with the families they were being raised by.   Another had to do with funds. When I family couldn't support a child sometimes they went to another family member. Wish you luck in solving your questions.
I use Ancestry and Im a Volunteer on Find A Grave . I have taken 900 Grave Stone Pics in the last 3 months.
Yes I use Family Tree maker since 1995 and have upgraded to FTM14 and still use it. I am also a member of Ancestry where I have uploaded all my family trees that I am currently working on also I use Family Search. I am new to WikiTree and do not have a firm grasp on what it can do for me at this time, only time will tell. The one thing that I see as a positive is the Collaboration and the source checking of information
I use MyHeritage currently but it expires soon and I will not be able to continue a paid subscription which has become quite expensive.  I am currently learning WikiTree and trying to get all information over to it but my GedCom file seems to be to big and I'm having to split it in order to get all information over to Wiki.  Wish me luck!
I built my tree on RootsMagic starting with version 3 and upgrading until I now have version 7. For $19.95 with each upgrade it has given me a lot for a small amount and best of all the main programmer Bruce Busbee stands behind the product.

When a problem arises that can be fixed at once he does it and t no extra cost. They have a setup where you can put your database online and I have 2 up, but I have some 30 years of research to put online for sharing and Wikitree is doing that for me.

I would never go back to FTM or PAF which I used at first and are now being replaced by RootsMagic. With both a free and paid version RM is tops in building your basic tree.
I used Myheritage through 23andMe. Same issues with cost. Am giving WikiTree a try. I have not figured out how to transfer all the work I've done so far from MyHeritage to here. In your post you mentioned GEDCOM. Is this a file created from the MyHeritage account? I'm curious and would like to keep my data.
Keep what you have on My Heritage. A Gedcom is a data transfer program.

It only transfers the basic data. Go to your file menu and see if there is a

tab called export or something like that.

I would go to Wikitree and do a search to see if some of your family is already on there. You can add sources and other data to them if they are. Get acquainted with Wikitree before uploading a Gedcom.

I have used since 2008.

I use Reunion software because it's really the only game in town for Mac users.

I like several things about it:

I like that when adding source citations, it has both ready-made templates to follow for typical sources one may use (website, periodical, newspaper, etc.) that can also be customized and free form for sources like a personal interview or family bible. Once you've used one reference it's saved and you can use it again, which is a fantastic time saver for those instances where one source can be used for multiple individuals (like a German Familienbuch entry).

I also like the Find feature which allows me to search under a number of things, including "any field".  I have several instances of pedigree collapse and being able to search within the family tree for identical surnames or villages has been helpful.  I find it also useful when I want to quickly navigate back to an ancestor or family whose profile(s) I want to work on more.

44 Answers

+5 votes
I started with Family Gathering years ago and upgraded to Ultimate Family Tree .  I switched to The Master Genealogist when UFT was bought by FTM.  I love it but sadly they closed shop too. TMG v9 works fine with Windows 10, but eventually I'll need something new.  Which is how I found WikiTree.
by Marcel Muise G2G4 (4.5k points)
+6 votes
I've used Genesreunited online since 2004 as primary tree-builder - export gedcoms from time to time to upload to Rootsweb. I tried Brothers Keeper free version but found I couldn't order siblings by age - maybe I didn't spend enough time learning how! But the tree isn't the primary problem anyway, especially now that Genesreunited supports more complex relationships like cousin marriages. Main problem is managing a huge volume of extra information - certificates, photos, newspaper entries, and snippets of information from cousins' emails and letters, plus a range of information from all sorts of websites - passenger lists, trade directories, etc. Not always relating to a single individual so quite hard to catalogue. Also I really want to preserve a lot of this on paper so have to organise loose-leaf files. Mammoth task. The tree is the simplest part of it!
by Stephen Henley G2G1 (1.1k points)
+6 votes
When I first started working on our family history, I started using iFamily for Mac.

I occasionally will download GEDCOMs for my different family branches just for backup, and I can use iFamily to search and create reports that I'm not able to get on WikiTree, but I'm doing that less and less.

Still, it's a great, inexpensive program. So, I'll keep it around and update it when necessary.
by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (377k points)
Does iFamily create charts?  It is difficult to find good gen software for the Mac
Hi, Emma!

Yes, you can do charts w/ iFamily. You can also get a demo version of it here:

Have fun!
+4 votes
I have family tree maker
by Michael Sackett G2G6 Mach 1 (16.6k points)
+5 votes
So far I have created free accounts on Ancestry and MyHeritage and have gotten as far as I can with the free weekends and such. I am still finding a few leads here and there for my mother's side, but not much luck with my father's paternal side (from Puerto Rico). I may have to try paid access for that. Any recommendations on good sources for Puerto Rican records?
by Candice Marshall G2G Crew (350 points)
+5 votes
I have used Ancestry since 2002. I like the hint system that suggests records. for a bit before that.

I also use MyHeritage a bit for international records.

Off-line computer records from 1978 to 1998, with a lot of library work.

I am slowly moving everything over to WikiTree and will eventually cancel the other two.
by David Blair G2G3 (3.9k points)
+5 votes
I currently use Family tree maker 2014 - to keep my information local and updated on the  Evaluating RootsMagic because not sure going to like the "new direction" that the desktop application will be moving.  Who knows, may motivate me to write my own program in C# and link it to WikiTree......maybe?
by Thom Davis G2G Crew (350 points)
+6 votes
Such a variety of answers.  I am amazed at how many old software programs people are still running.  I think that's great!

I use Legacy Family Tree.  I had used the predecessor to FamilyTree (from Ancestry) years ago.  I then used FamilyTreeMaker for a few years but the updates were too expensive.  When I got serious about checking into new genealogy databases, I found I could get a free version of Legacy (you still can).  I started with Legacy 6, knowing that Legacy 7 would be upcoming and have different sourcing.  The upgrade to 7 was pretty easy.  It took me a while to figure out how to properly build sources with Legacy 7, in part, because I changed my mind several times about how I wanted sources to appear, etc.  About two years into Legacy 7, I finally bought the Deluxe version.  The standard Free version just wouldn't allow me to do all I wanted, but it was sufficient for 4 years.  I upgraded to Legacy 8 Deluxe, when it came out.

Features I love: Charting, reports, the ease of creating a source: there are prompts and you can see the bibliographic source & footnote while creating it for tweaking.  The Legacy 8 now asks me about similar names so I don't (theoretically) create the same person twice.  The ability to have separate trees.  Searchable name list.  One of the coolest new features is that the software will tell you if you try to enter a county that didn't exist on the date you have entered.  That is amazingly helpful.

One feature I find annoying:  The location list.  I want to be able to search it but it is alphabetized with the first part of the location. So it has Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland -- while I might want to find everyone who was in Scotland or Renfrewshire.

I use Legacy and WikiTree.  I'm building my tree on WikiTree (and connecting -- ever so fun) but also using my database. I have a lot of living people in my Legacy tree that I would never enter on WikiTree.

Each has difficulties.  A new program, whether the newest version of FamilyTreeMaker, WikiTree, Rootsmagic, Legacy, will all have differences and annoyances.
by Kathy Zipperer G2G6 Pilot (313k points)
I wish Legacy had a Mac version.
+6 votes
I have been using Generations Liberty 8.5 for years now, it's pretty simple to understand, especially for beginners, does quite a bit, and allows for custom dating, etc, there are some things in it I'm still learning to use and some I've not even started using yet but will as I get closer and closer to finishing lines back to the 15 and 16 hundreds.  I also use My heritage, and I have multiple online free sites, including tribal pages.  had Ancestry..but not worth the costs.  Find more info thru paid subscript. to World Vital Records, so use this for most of my research for books, docs, records, etc.
by Arora Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (106k points)
+4 votes
Yes, MyHeritage (no subscription)
by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (203k points)
+5 votes
I have had Family Tree Maker for years, but am not really happy with it especially the latest versions. I switched to MAC and that may have some effect. I started using Wikitree as a way to share the work that I have done over 20 years.  I like the concept of a shared free tree. For the live people I still store cousin data on family tree maker, but am looking at other options. I took out the free Ancestry trial because I took the DNA test and wanted to get the options of comparing trees. Then I used Geni to created short trees to load onto Gedcom. It would be nice to be able to restrict the download from wikitree to a limited tree. Is there a way to show on wikitree that ancestry or gedcom have come up with dna/tree matches? Right now we show people who have submitted tests if they enter it. I would like to mark the ancestors that show up in the DNA circles as having multiple cousin matches.

I just saw the answer that listed Find A Grave. I add to that too. I found a cousin that way who added graves in a cemetery many of my ancestors are in.
by Sue Hall G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
+4 votes
For the past 4 weeks I've been using FamilySearch through my LDS connection. I have a tree set up at MyHeritage through 23andMe where I had my DNA testing done. I have also joined my family tree on where my half-sister is doing her research. All three services have there own advantages and limitations. I like the Family search profile merging feature. They to try to keep 1 Profile per person. They are free and they offer access to many resources I'm looking into right now for example DNA test revealed an Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry for me. The Mormons work with the Jewish record services to grant access to the migration and conversion of the Jewish during war times and such. Really Awesome.
by Lisa Mcbride G2G1 (1.1k points)
+2 votes
Yes,  My
by Larry Mummey G2G Crew (630 points)
+2 votes
I am only just new to wikitree. My genealogy bug started with Ancestry, which I still retain. I have also delved into My Heritage and Family Search. I have found the best country with regards keeping records to be Scotland and use Scotland's people for that part of my family search. I am also delving into the Green Room to see if I can track back some of the Irish connections which have been frustrating to find answers for.
by Shelley Heath G2G1 (1.0k points)
+3 votes
I use LifeLines on Linux—free, open source, text-based, quick to navigate, powerful scripting language for reports, all data is entered as snippets of GEDCOM.
by Stephen Reeves G2G5 (5.5k points)
+4 votes
For my computer I use RootsMagic. I love how I can color specific lines. Like I know if I see red it means they are an ancestor. Blue is Shockey, etc. Plus, I can set groups of people together. So when I am working on editing one specific line of my database I can view it from just the group view and not have all the many names in my database getting between.

Via the web I'm more up to date on Ancestry and WikiTree but have also done a tree on Rootsweb and Geni.
by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (944k points)
+2 votes
I started my ft search 35 yrs ago,  I had all the bmd's back to my great grandfather.  But could not find the family in Census returns for village grt grd had com from.  Professional researcher could not find either but suggested I joined the Somereset & Dorset Family History Society bassed in Sherborne Dorset.  Have been active member ever since.  They had transcribed all the Census returns and have a massive library on all things Somerset and Dorset.  Very Good Magazine 4 time a year.  Researchers at Societies library will carry out research or advise on the telephone or by e-mail.  Its like being member of a club being able to talk first hand.  If the member who picks up the phone does not know another will respond.  I have never belonged to a professional search facility.  My tree was based upon a free issue with a Sunday Newspaper.  600 entries lost with virus.  Now new struggle with Windows 10 and looking for new tree to re-enter.  When I left school in 1958 first job with lawyers a very junior clerk was to search for bmds, probates,wills, company searches and national archives so had a quick start.  Life as a litigation lawyer taught me to always look for the original document and never to rely on anything else.  Strongly recommend County Family History Societies in UK have also been in touch with Canadian and Newfoundland societies.   Or the Society of Geneolgists in UK.
by Barry Rideout G2G1 (1.5k points)
+5 votes
Online: Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage, Findmypast, and a bunch of other sites.  I use them differently for different purposes and bring the good stuff to WikiTree.

Desktop: I use RootsMagic but I have not been keeping up with it as much. However, because it syncs with FamilySearch and is working on an Ancestry sync, I am waiting to see what exactly that syncing does.  If I can actually move data from Ancestry to RootsMagic, just like FS, then we have a golden opportunity.  RootsMagic would be able to pull from both Ancestry and FamilySearch and then resync to both sites.  

This makes Family Search more valuable to WikiTree because we sync with them.

Because WikiTree now syncs with Family Search there is an incentive to keep FS updated but their One World Tree has issues and getting profiles corrected is get difficult.  

If WikiTree ever syncs to then I would likely abandon RootsMagic.  But you can't go wrong with RM.  And you should really have some kind of backup storage of your personal tree.
by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (397k points)
+5 votes

I currently use Legacy!! It is fabulous. I started our many years ago with Family Tree Maker when it was owned by Banner Blue and to this day can't imagine not having a program on my computer.

I also have research "Trees" at ancestry, and My Heritage. I will drop the My Heritage subscription when it is time to renew as I personally do not find it provides value to my research or as a repository  for my genealogy research.

I have added my direct lines to Wikitree and participate in cleaning and maintaining "The Tree" as I am able. 

Another program I really like is Clooz by Ancestral Systems. I use this as an electronic file cabinet for my documents.  It interfaces with Legacy which makes downloading easy. I use Clooz for difficult cases such as multiple people in the neighborhood with the same name and also with those difficult to track ancestors. It is fabulous for linking your friends, neighbors and associates for relationship analysis.

by Margaret Meredith G2G6 Mach 2 (20.9k points)
+1 vote
Yes, Family Tree, Ancestry, Geni, Find My Past, and My Heritage.
by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (465k points)

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