Genealogy Wise

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Okay, so I must admit that I do not use any genealogy software right now. I once had Family Tree Maker around 2004 but when my computer crashed and I lost all of the data (thankfully I had backed up everything with paper due to me being very paranoid) I just couldn't find the time to retype everything. It just sounded like such a pain in the butt.

So, because of this, genealogy software is one of those areas of genealogy I am quite uninformed about. Many of you are experts and some are novices or somewhere in between. If you have used genealogy software I want to hear from you. What are your experiences? What is the best software to use for genealogy and why? What is the easiest software to use? Prices compared to quality? Etc. I am thinking about purchasing some genealogy software to be able to print out reports again, etc., but want to be a well informed consumer before doing so.

Thank you all in advance. I look forward to reading your responses.

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Hello all.

I use RootsMagic. I used to use FTM, but hated how it deals with sources. I am a historian as well as a genealogist, and am quite picky about how I cite things correctly. RM4 (the latest) has everything I can want in a program: forms, reports, organization, citation, etc.
Hi, Jennifer. I use the genealogy software that is provided, free of charge, by the Latter Day Saints [LDS]. I started out about 12 years ago, and the first program I used was called Roots. About 10 years ago, I learned about Personal Ancestral File [PAF], and have used it every since. I have tried, over the course of ten years, other programs such as Family Tree Maker [FTM], but always went back to PAF. PAF allows me to correctly record relationships, something FTM does not do. For example, the recognition of common-law marriages varies by state []: in Georgia common-law marriage will be recognized if the marriage was entered into before January 1, 1997; in New York State, common law marriages are not recognized if the marriage was entered into between 1902 and 1908, or anytime after 1933]. PAF allows me to record 'common law' in the date field, something the other programs I have used don't. As well, I have had difficulty with other programs recording more than one marriage, and there have been other issues with several of the other programs I have tried out. So, I would recommend PAF, since it is free, and if it doesn't work for you, there will be no problem in trying to cancel a sale.

I use to use FTM, TMG7, Legacy 7 deluxe and am now using Rootsmagic 4. IMHO RootsMagic 4 is the best one of all of them. You can download a trial version at
Hi Jennifer, I started out using PAF when I began computerizing my genealogy database. It's a good program but I hated how my localities where not consistent in their spelling. Trying to do search and replace was a joke. I then found Legacy and loved their geo-database. Once I got used to all it's bells and whistles I never thought of going back to PAF.

Then one day I was challenged to try RootsMagic and the rest is history. I found that the program was intuitive to the way I work and think. It has made me an organizing machine. I love the ability to view all my info on the individuals edit screen. Just like a built in chronological time line.

What I recommend is that you listen to others comments and before you make a choice download each programs trial software. Play with it and add records to it and then see which one feels the most comfortable to you. Everyone works a little different so there can never be a consensus of which program is the best. All the developers work hard to respond to their users requests. In the long run I have found that your choice of genealogy software does not determine what type of genealogist you are. Here's a run down of the various programs I have tried.

- Free but no longer being developed. Add on software gets to costly to try to get it going.
Legacy - Great Geo-database, also has built in Research Guidance, very clicky to find all your information
RootsMagic - Has RootsMagic to-go to run the program on a flash drive and do research anywhere. You can create share-able CDs that include your multi-media, great extra backup tool. Plus my other comments on it above.
Ancestral Quest - Next generation of PAF (paid version) not very pretty but very powerful to use. Lots of screens so it get a little overwhelming to me.
Master Genealogists - Uses a totally different mind set than the other programs. Professionals love it but its got a steep learning curve. I like a more intuitive to me program but it is an option.
Family Tree Maker - lots of people use it and love it. I don't like that fact that it stores you multimedia in the program instead of links, makes it difficult to share it with other programs in my opinion.

The choice is yours but going forward always backup using various media so you never have to start over again!
I have used PAF for about 10 years or more. It is free to download from and I have successfully created various GED files for family and friends. I have started a file for someone, downloaded the program on their computer and transfered the files to their computer within minutes.
It is easy to get around in and very handy to have on my lap top computer so I can open up the program and share info with someone who might be calling to ask about our family line.
You may want to download the free software you can find on the LDS church genealogy site ( which is a good basic program. The program I use is Legacy 7.0 which I like and has a lot of good features.
Also you may want to check out the genealogy software reviews at Top Ten's the address for the review:
I use legacy -7 free edition , still a novice at family tracing but my sister has taught me heaps as she has done our family back about 15-20 generations but i am doing partners tree so am coming up against new challenges all the time. Have a good look at everything offered. Good luck.
I started out with Legacy and thought it to be a fine program. After a while I wanted something more in-depth so I bought The Master Genealogist. It did have a bit of a steeper learning curve, but now that I am used to it I wouldn't have anything else. The best software for you is one that you can get comfortable with and use consistently. Try out as many trial versions as you can and see what you find most appealing.
Hi Jennifer,

I have been doing genealogy for about 33 years. I used the original PAF when it came out and have tried many different programs over the years. I have taught classes on using a variety of them too.

All genealogy programs do basically the same things. Record the relationships between individuals and specific information about the individual. The differences between the different programs tend to be either cosmetic or in the bells and whistles that each program has featured.

The critical thing for you to figure out is what are you wanting to do with the information that you are adding to the program. Are you wanting to put together a book for your family? Do you want to be able to put together family charts for you research? Are you wanting to use a program to help you sort through conflicting information? Are you wanting to combine mutlple types of media together to generate a multimedia presentation for a family reunion? Then pick a program that supports that best.

I have used FTM, PAF, Legacy and The Master Genealogist. I currently use The Master Genealogist (TMG). I love the program but I don't recommend it to beginners unless they have a background that would make them comfortable with computers and software. It is highly customizable and adaptive. I can record every piece of information I gather even when it conflicts. It all shows up on the details screen. Some other programs will record conflicting data but it doesn't always show up on the main screen for an individual. The program does operate in either a beginners mode or an advanced mode. There is a trial version available if you want to try it.

Programs like FTM, PAF and Legacy have a very user friendly interface for beginners to use to enter data. If you are entering a lot of information then that can be very helpful. I used to be able to fast enter data into FTM using the tab and enter keys on that data entry screen. (At that time entering sources into a program was not supported really well.)

One of the others suggested downloading trial versions of the various programs and using them. I whole heartedly concur!

Try various ones until you find one that you are comfortable with then enter away.

Most if not all genealogy programs use GEDCOM which is simply a genealogy data communication software which takes the basic information you would enter into your program and allows it to be transfered to another program. It is no longer being updated from my understanding. If you enter data in one program and then find that you want to change programs it will allow you to transfer that information from one program to another using the GEDCOM format. Some data can be lost because one program doesn't recognize how another program recorded data even with GEDCOM. A number of programs are now using an additional software to transfer files without converting them first to GEDCOM. It allows a user of say FTM to import a FTM file to Legacy without first converting it to a GEDCOM.

Remember the important thing is to be comfortable with whatever program you chose and make sure it can do what you are wanting your genealogy program to do for you. If you wants change later you can always change programs and transfer your data.

There is no one program out there that is going to work for everyone. We all think differently, approach things with different mindsets and with different levels of comfort with computer software. I tend to suggest Legacy for most people because it's free version can do a lot more than enter data. But I personally don't think it comes any where near TMG for what I want in a program.

I hope this helps you or anyone else looking for a genealogy program. If you have a specific question let me know and I would be happy to answer.

Hi Jennifer,

I had the same thing happen to me. I had been using family tree maker and my computer kicked the bucket. I downloaded two free versions of software to try them out. One from Rootsmagic and the other Legacy. I read quite a few reviews and the comparisons also. I must say I really liked Legacy and continued using the free download until I came across a price I couldn't pass up, $30.00 for the deluxe version during a special. I got the access code to unlock what I had already downloaded by email and then received a book and instuctional videos in the mail. I have to admit I haven't viewed the dvd's or read the book I received in the mail yet. It's a very easy software program to get around in.

Good luck,
Lots of replies already and everyone has their preference. I use TNG and have my tree totally online. Its updated online and i can easily upload/download GEDCOMS, images etc. I've used legacy before and one other that i cannot recall but happy with the move over to an online tree.
Do you want your database online or offline? or both?

If you want to put it online, do you want to own your own data, or are you happy for it to be with another organisation?

If it is online, do you want it easily searchable? Or are you happy just to have a list of names?

I use Legacy as my workspace, and upload to TNG online. (The links are to groups on the network).

I can vouch for TNG, as it does just what I want it to do; here is how I use it: The Douglas Archives. I have not experimented with alternatives to Legacy, other than the free version of PAF, so cannot compare databases, but my complaint about Leagacy is that charting is not incuded in the package.

Yours aye,




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