Directory of Family History Software


Genealogy software can become one of your most valuable and indispensable tools for tracing your family roots and stories.

Family History SoftwareSoftware helps you discover your ancestors, organize and store your information (such as family photos, scrapbooks, health and personal data, reunions, etc.), measure the progress of your research, share your information with family andfriends, provide tons of tools to make it easier, and much more. Software programs today are fun and interesting for the whole family, and no longer just about names, charts, and graphs.

In this Directory, you'll learn where to find comprehensive reviews that will help you make an informed decision about which software is right for you. Selecting the right software program can make all the difference in how much satisfaction and information you will derive from your family history quest. And the right software will help make your journey fun and much easier.

Which Software is the Best?

Software Features

Here are some things to keep in mind as you decide which features you may want or need
  • What do you want to do with your family history information? Are you just looking for a basic program to organize names, dates and events? Some program basics may include: planning tools, data recording, analytical tools (search features, custom lists, flags, custom data fields, multiple note options, etc.), source documentation, reports, charts, publishing, multimedia, internet, portability, additional tools and convenience items.
  • What about charts and reports? Do you want to create beautiful family trees to decorate your home; do you want to include photos, audio and video with your data? What kind of charts and reports would you like your software to be able to print?
  • Do you plan to create a family Web site to share your information with family and friends? The popular software programs offer you the ability to upload your family tree data online right from your computer program, and help you create a simple family Web site.
  • Will you want to write a family history book using your information? Some software programs offer more features for printing a family history book than others.
  • If you’re a member of the LDS Church, do you want to take your ancestors with you to the temple? If so, you will want to use software that helps track the special ordinance information.
The most often asked question today by people interested in family history software is “which one is the best?” This question is difficult to answer because what is right for me may not work as well for you. Everyone has different needs and preferences. There may be features in a particular family history program that I may not use, i.e. web-site creation or multi-media scrapbooking, but may be very important to you.

Some people even use more than one program to meet their needs. For example, you may prefer a primary, heavy duty program for your everyday use, and a different program to generate well-designed charts. Each program has its own strengths and weaknesses; each program does certain things well and other things not-so-well.

And they are always changing and upgrading. New features and options are constantly being introduced. They offer a wide variety of options including the way they format data, the types of charts they print, their ability to help you organize your research, and their capacity to store photographs and documents. They can even assist you in your research by letting you keep a research log or to-do list right with your family data. With dozens of software programs, and hundreds of features available, which program(s) should I choose?

First of all – whether you’re just starting out, or upgrading your existing software program – take some time and effort to make your decision; it’s well worth it. You may want to consider making a list of features that you want or need, then prioritize that list to decide which are most important to you. As you gain more understanding and knowledge your list may change and grow.

Consider downloading one or more of the free family history programs, or trying the demo or trial versions of several programs to see how each one works for you; download and use several different ones to find the one that feels right. Many software vendors have free trial or demo versions available to try out. Some software companies offer their basic software for free, and then charge for the more advanced features. It won’t take long for you to learn which ones offer the features you need and are the most intuitive for the way you work.

You may want to read reviews by experts and users’ comments. You can do a Google search to find articles about a particular software program and read users’ comments. Also, look at the publisher's Web sites for details and other web sites for users’ message boards and e-mails.

There are many excellent family history programs available to meet your needs. Get the scoop on all the latest versions of the most popular family tree software programs in this software roundup.

Reviews by Experts

You may want to read reviews by the experts on the dozens of software programs available before you purchase

Top Ten Reviews.com
Provides detailed product reviews, ranking, and side-by-side comparisons of ten family history PC software programs. They did not review or compare any free programs, web-based programs, or Macintosh programs, but they provide helpful buying guides, articles explaining how to get the most out of a product, and an easy way to buy them.

GenSoftReviews.com
A new site that allows people to review and rate all the software packages.

About.com Review
Kimberly Powell, a professional genealogist, Web developer, and author of Everything Family Tree, did an excellent genealogy software review and ratings of popular software in 2007.

 

Popular PC Family History Software Programs

PAF assigns each person in your database a unique serial number

A unique record serial number identifies each individual, and is unique worldwide which means that each individual in each of your database files has a number that is different from all other individuals in all other computer files in the world. The number does not change if you export a GEDCOM file and send it to another person. Therefore, you can send a GEDCOM file to another individual; he or she can import it into PAF, make changes to it, create another GEDCOM file, and send it back you. You can then use the Match/Merge feature to identify the records that you originally created, identify what changes the other person made, decide which information to keep, and merge the records. You cannot see a unique serial number on the Individual screen, and you cannot edit it.

Personal Ancestral File

PAF is one of the most widely used and popular family history software programs today. It hasn’t been updated for several years, but it’s a powerful, full-featured, user-friendly, quality product making it perfect for novice users. And it’s free! It is produced by FamilySearch that pioneered the use of family history software. You can use it to record, organize, print, and share your family history information. It provides excellent reliable service. It has a nice selection of reports and charts and allows you to attach a person’s picture with their information. It’s easy to use, and has good support, including GEDCOM import and export.

It can also create a web page of your information. PAF allows you to create a computerized family tree, beginning with yourself and continuing with your parents, grandparents, and so forth. You can add, delete, or edit the information in your file; link families together, store the source of the information, add notes about people, print forms and lists, search for people in your database, and share your information with others. There is a User’s Guide which provides seven lessons on how to use the program, plus navigation tips.

However, PAF does not synchronize data with the “new” FamilySearch (nFS) and will not be upgraded.
PAF users will need to purchase another software program or use a PAF add-on product if you want to work offline in a desktop application and update your records online in the FamilySearch Family Tree. All major family history computer software programs need to make some enhancements or adaptations in order to work correctly (or synchronize) with nFS. Therefore, FamilySearch is certifying minimum requirements for other vendor’s software to make it easier for you to understand what a vendor may or may not be offering you to synchronize your records with nFS.

You can download PAF for free at familysearch.org > click on Download PAF.

PAF Support Software
These are add-on software programs to enhance the various functions of PAF.

Family Insight
FamilyInsightAn essential tool for file management and a FamilySearch Certified PAF add-on. It synchronizes your PAF file and all GEDCOM files with the new FamilySearch FamilyTree, plus it compares or synchronizes with an online database or another file. Its the only program currently both Windows and MAC compatible which makes it easy to collaborate with others. It is a full-featured program that works directly with GEDCOMs from other genealogy programs. And it is superior in finding and combining duplicate records, making corrections to FamilySearch FamilyTree, cleaning up multiple pedigrees, and separating incorrectly combined individuals. It was awarded the FamilySearch 2009 Software Award for “Best Person Separator” and “Best Standardizer” (finding multiple instances of a place name in your file and correcting all of them at once). For LDS Church members, it also allows you to submit records for temple ordinances directly and reserve them. Free 60-day trial. Certified by FamilySearch. Buy now at ohanasoftware.com for $25.00.

Ancestral Quest
AncestralQuest-softwareBecause PAF was derived from AQ, if you’re a PAF user looking for extra features, you’ll find AQ will feel like PAF plus more. Certified by FamilySearch. See more info below.

PAF Pal
PAF-Pal-softwareAdds additional features that are not available in the PAF software. Expand or abbreviate states, provinces, and/or British counties, search and replace LDS temple codes, display statistics and reports. Buy now at ohanasoftware.com for $18.00.

PAF Companion
A utility program for Personal Ancestral File, it is designed to print a variety of high-quality genealogy charts and reports from PAF files. Basic version is Free; full version $6.75. Buy now at familysearch.org


RootsMagic.com - www.rootsmagic.com $$$
RootsMagic-softwareRootsMagic is an exciting full featured genealogy program produced by a developer of quality genealogy software for many years. It’s one of the easiest to use family tree software available, yet is also one of the most powerful and offers something for everyone. It can generate professional looking web sites automatically from your data, in narrative format, pedigree chart format, family group sheet format, or a combination pedigree / family group sheet format. There are two main views: Tree View and Family View. You can add an unlimited number of facts for every person, and even create your own category if desired. You can add unlimited source citations and notes for every fact. You can print pedigree charts, family group sheets, four types of box charts, six styles of books, 27 different lists, mailing labels, calendars, photo charts, letter-writing templates, and seven different blank charts. It’s fun to be able to output your information into a pedigree chart with links between the people. Certified by FamilySearch. $29.95

Ancestral Quest.com - ww.ancquest.com $$$
AncestralQuest-softwareThis software is easy-to-learn, fun to use and packed with powerful features, including a unique ‘collaboration’ capability and award winning name listing feature. The data entry process, layout, and navigation are easy and clean. It creates and uploads multimedia web pages, and you can upload family files to their servers and work on them simultaneously with family and friends. You can attach photos, and audio and video clips to individuals that allow you to create a memorable multi-media scrapbook. Because PAF was derived from AQ, if you’re a PAF user looking for extra features, you’ll find AQ will feel like PAF plus more. Received 2009 awards for “Most Comprehensive Syncing” (the ability to sync families, selected groups, and import ancestral lines directly from FamilySearch), and for “Best Listing Tool” (which allows users to find information in ways not possible in other software products). Certified by FamilySearch. $29.95

Legacy Family Tree.com - www.legacyfamilytree.com Free/$$$
Legacy7-FamilyTree-softwareAn easy-to-use, user-friendly, full-featured software program. Super-intuitive and includes all of the standard features you could want: GEDCOM import/export, a wide variety of reports, global search and replace, auto-complete, even an alarm clock to help keep you focused. Powerful merge features and split-screen views. It automates the process of creating a family Web page, offers a fairly good Family History Book feature and even helps you print out custom Address Labels and Name Tags (complete with pictures or three-generation pedigree charts) for your next family reunion.

Includes sourcing, reports, merging, To Do list, slide shows, multimedia, Web pages, spell checking, import and export, etc. Lots of additional new features have been added to the new version, including Geo Location Database (about 3 million locations worldwide), U. S.County Verifier, Descendant View tab, Multiple Lines of Descent Report, Master Location List Mapping, privacy options, and international language reports. There is also a Calendar Creator that lets you create your own calendars, complete with pictures, birthdays, anniversaries and pictures. Standard is Free, Deluxe $29.95 (download). Beautiful charts require an extra add-on program.

Family Tree Maker.com - www.familytreemaker.com $$$
FamilyTreeMaker-software2A popular family history program for building, customizing, searching and sharing your family history because it’s easy to use, has wide distribution by Generations Network, and it’s loaded with features. This new version is a major improvement over the previous 2008 release and includes improved operating performance and a number of the new search and sourcing features. However, for those who are familiar with earlier versions, this new version has not yet realized its full potential.

It has improved synchronization with and access to Ancestry.com, i.e. when you add a person to your family tree, it automatically searches Ancestry.com for possible matches using its special matching technology. It also includes a powerful new global find and replace feature that searches text in facts, notes, media, sources, and tasks; updated charts and reports including new book layouts for charts, and new relationship, and data error reports; and ability to save and reuse publication templates, charts, and reports. The Web Search report will allow you to compare the search results side-by-side with the information in your data base, so you can quickly determine whether the information is relevant to you. If you find a match that you want to add to your family tree, you can use the Merge feature to bring that person into your family tree.

Browsing people and family groups is now much easier with a people list located on the left-hand side of the screen that you can also filter by family. The program also displays and prints a variety of family trees. When you print a family tree, you have an easy way to see and display a select portion of the information in your database. The Family View allows you to see three generations instead of two and up to eight children at once. Another update is the streamlined toolbar with more intuitive buttons. The Pedigree View allows you to quickly and easily navigate. You can view up to seven generations or as few as three. When navigating to other generations in your tree, animation will help you see how the tree is changing, so you won’t get lost. $39.95

The Master Genealogist - www.whollygenes.com $$$
Master-Genealogist-softwareKnown by experts as “the one that does it all.” Although it is written with professional genealogical standards in mind, it comes with a tutorial and has more flexibility than its easy-to-use competitors. The learning curve is somewhat difficult, but it comes with everything you need to: manage volumes of research data, photos, and sources; organize a research trip, including “To Do” lists, reference material, charts, and forms; track your correspondence and expenses; be the hit of a family reunion; or publish a book, complete with table of contents, footnotes, multiple indexes, and bibliography. Silver $34.00, Gold $59.00

Genbox.com - www.genbox.com $$$
genbox-softwareA complete, powerful and flexible genealogy software program that helps you organize your family genealogy research, store your family history data, enter proper source citations, and produce professional-quality family tree charts and genealogy research reports that you can preview and modify, then print or publish on the web on your own genealogy website. Offers you all the tools that you have been wishing for in your genealogy software with ability to link multimedia files to your family tree. Extensive data entry fields, customizable sources, helpful management tools, and beautiful reports and charts. The program seems to have essentially everything a genealogist needs, although due to its complexity beginners may find themselves somewhat overwhelmed. Someone with only basic skills may find it difficult to use. You can work with several databases at once, and the tools for helping you cope with different spellings of the same surname are excellent. Free trial. $29.95

DynasTree.com - www.dynastree.com - Free
DynasTreeA new, fast-growing family network from the UK that offers free family tree software to create your family tree and stay in contact with your relatives. Their Home Edition is a genealogy and family tree program that offers secure, state-of-the-art usability and technology in multiple languages.

 

Family Tree Legends.com - www.familytreelegends.com - Free
FamilyTreeLegendsOffers most of the features you would expect, but also offers an Internet-intelligent genealogy application. Their SmartMatching technology allows you to collaborate with other genealogists through a sophisticated, simple interface, and intelligently matches the ancestors in your file to all the ancestors in the Gencircles global tree. It also includes: GEDCOM merge and find duplicates, lots of reports which can be exported to Adobe PDF format, Spell Check which quickly and easily checks your spelling in your notes and can add custom words to the dictionary, search and replace places, sources, repositories, and addresses in convenient list windows.

The Next Generation (TNG) - http://lythgoes.net/genealogy/software.php $$$
NextGenerationA genealogy program that runs on web servers. It has most all the features one expects in any modern genealogy program, including a powerful database, easy methods of adding new data, relationship charts, timelines, and more. The major difference is that TNG is installed on a Windows, Apple or Linux web server; to use this software you must have a Web server that supports PHP and MySQL and so should not be considered by most people. It also is multi-user: multiple people can access the database and even add new data simultaneously. $29.99

Brothers Keeper - www.bkwin.org $$$
brotherskeeperA shareware program that will help you organize your family history information and let you print a large variety of charts and reports. It’s available in 15 languages or so. You can download it for free and then decide if you want to keep it. It’s one of the most respected and successful shareware genealogical programs, and has been around a long time and has many dedicated users. $45.

Web-Based Family History Software

When you want to work together with other family members or researchers to collectively research a family tree, free Web-based family history software may be a good option. Check out the following considerations.

Ancestry.com Online Family Tree - ww.ancestry.com/oft - Free
ancestry.comA free service from Ancestry.com that allows you to create and share your own, password-protected family tree on the Internet without any additional software in a matter of minutes. You must register as a guest or be a paid subscriber.

 

Find My Past.com - www.findmypast.com
find-my-pastFamily Tree Explorer is a new version of the original Family Tree Builder program. You can create a tree from scratch or upload a GEDCOM file. $14.95/month.

 

 

SharedTree.com - ww.sharedtree.com - Free
shared-treeAn online family history and genealogy application that allows multiple people to collaborate on a family tree.

 

 

We Relate.org - www.werelate.org - Free
WeRelateorgThis free public-service Web site, created in partnership with the Allen County Public Library, allows you to create Wiki pages for your ancestors, collaborate online with relatives, and upload photos, scanned images and GEDCOM files.

 

Family Pursuit.com - www.familypursuit.com - Free
FamilyPursuitA new collaborative online management tool that allows people to work together in their efforts and to easily share their ideas and research.

Mac Software for Family History

MyHeredis.com - www.myheredis.com $$$
MyHeredisA full-featured, snazzy-looking family tree software program developed for Mac which benefits from all the latest technology of Mac OS X. It’s a multi-file, multi-window application, with no limits to the number of individuals, or generations, or data entry. One its greatest strengths is its ability to create an assortment of attractive, fully customizable charts. Free demo version available. System requirement: Mac OS X version 10.1.3 or later. $69.

Reunion - www.leisterpro.com $$$
Reunion-softwareReunion is one of the easiest-to-use programs with superb charting capabilities and many features. It helps you to document, store, and display information about your family. It records names, dates, places, facts, plenty of notes, sources of information, pictures, sounds, and videos. It shows family relationships in an elegant, graphic form – people and families are linked in an easy-to-understand fashion. Reunion makes it easy to publish your family tree information. You can automatically create common genealogy reports, charts, and forms, as well as birthday calendars, mailing lists, questionnaires, indexes, and other lists. Reunion even calculates relationships, ages, life expectancies, and statistics. It also creates large, high-resolution, graphic charts allowing complete on-screen editing of boxes, lines, fonts, and colors. Wall charts are one of its specialties. $99.

MacFamilyTree - www.synium.de/products/macfamilytree $$$
MacFamilyTreeA popular genealogy application that sports a stunning, configurable user interface, animated charts, editable reports, powerful print and export options, visualize migration of your ancestors over centuries and continents, and built-in support for Google Earth. Data can be viewed and compared in a number of useful ways. You get ancestor and descendant charts, timelines and family charts, as well as the more typical family tree. There’s a powerful 3D view that maps family members with flags pinned to a rotating globe. Its main claim to greatness is its editing tools. The Family Assistant is the software’s hub where you can access an animated family tree that zooms and scrolls as you navigate through its branches, adding new ancestors as you go. $49.

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