November 29, 2015

How Can I Listen to the Genealogy Gems Podcasts Offline?

listen to Genealogy Gems podcasts offlineHere’s how you can listen to the Genealogy Gems podcasts when you’re not online.

Recently Lorraine sent us this question: “Can your podcasts be downloaded to listen to offline, i.e. on a cruise where internet access isn’t practical?”

Lucky Lorraine, if she’s headed on a cruise! The answer is YES, absolutely, Lorraine (and anyone else) can listen to our podcasts at sea, while out walking or running, on a camping trip, or anywhere else we find ourselves without internet access.

Here are 3 ways to listen to the Genealogy Gems podcasts offline:

1. Genealogy Gems App: If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can get the Genealogy Gems app and easily download episodes to your phone. In the app, go to Settings and turn on the feature to automatically download starred episodes. Then just tap the Star icon for any episode you wish to download to your phone.

2. iTunes: If you don’t have a mobile device, you can use iTunes (free) to download episodes to your laptop computer or iPod/mp3 player. (Click here for more specific instructions on our Frequently Asked Questions page/)

3. Website: If you don’t wish to use iTunes: On your computer or laptop, go to In the menu hover your mouse over Podcasts and choose which free podcast you want to listen to: the Genealogy Gems Podcast or the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast (a step-by-step show for beginners and back-to-basics). Premium Members of our Genealogy Gems website can sign in and then also hover over Premium and select Premium Podcast.

Follow the links to click the episode number you want which will take you to the show notes page.

direct downloadsOn the show notes page for the episode, you will find the option to download the episode.

For the Genealogy Gems podcast, scroll to the bottom of the page to see the “Direct Download” link.

For Family History: Genealogy Made Easy and Genealogy Gems Premium podcasts, it’s toward the top of the page and just says “Download.”

Click to download the mp3 audio files to your computer. Enjoy on demand–wherever you are!

More Tips for Enjoying the Genealogy Gems Podcasts

enjoy_the_music_1600_clr_90355 Occasions When You Really Do Have Time to Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcasts

Here’s Why You Should Use the Genealogy Gems App

NEW to the Genealogy Gems Podcast: The Genealogy Gems Book Club



Do You Have These 5 Free Family History Apps? You Should!

custom_app_icon_15153Looking for family history apps? Check out these recent recommendations.

Recently Diane Haddad over at Family Tree Magazine featured 5 fun family history apps on the Genealogy Insider blog. She kindly shared them with us. (Thanks, Diane!)

1. Today In History provides headlines, quotes and images of important historical events from today’s date in history. It’s available for iPad and Android (Diane had to keyword-search its creator, Downshift LLC, to find it in the Android App Store).

2. Streetmuseum from the Museum of London lets you see the streets of your London ancestors. Select a destination from a London map or use your GPS to locate an image near you. Hold your camera up to the present day street scene and see the same London location from years ago on your screen. Information buttons give you historical facts. It’s available for iPad and Android.

Battle app3. Civil War Battle Apps from the Civil War Trust are GPS-enabled guides to 17 well-known Civil War battles. Use them at the battlefield for a self-guided tour or remotely for a virtual tour. The battle maps show your location on the battlefield, and many have time-phased maps that show where Union and Confederate units were located at key moments. You also can see videos with experts and hear accounts from those who fought. These are available for iPad and Android.

4. Biblion: The Boundless Library from the New York Public Library draws on the library’s records, photos, ephemera and other archival collections to take you on a tour of the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. (A second edition of Biblion covers the writing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.)  Available for iPad.

5. History Here, a location-based app from the History Channel, lets you learn about thousands of historical places all over the United States. You can let your GPS set your location to learn about nearby historic sites, or choose any location in the app. Available for iPad and Android.

ipad for genealogy FTM kitWe love these family history app recommendations! Family Tree Magazine sells a great Maximize your iPad for Genealogy Kit on their website, which includes a webinar I did for them called “iPad: Your Ultimate Genealogy Tool” and an e-book version of my book Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse.

More Resources from Genealogy Gems on Mobile Genealogy:

Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy PowerhosueTurn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse (print book)

7 Great Ways to Use Your iPad for Genealogy and Family History

Video: Genealogy on the Go with the iPad (Premium website subscription required)

Genealogy Gems is Now Mobile-Friendly! Here are the Highlights

Genealogy Gems mobile friendly websiteThe Genealogy Gems website is now mobile-friendly. Your go-to family history resource just got a whole lot easier to read on-the-go!

Here at Genealogy Gems we are working hard every day to create a compelling resource for genealogy inspiration, tips, tech tools and news you can use RIGHT NOW. That’s why we are pleased as punch to let you know that our new mobile-friendly site design makes it easier to soak up all the ideas on our pages regardless of the size of your device’s screen.

Here are some of our website highlights that are especially mobile-friendly:

  • The free Genealogy Gems podcast (with over 1.75 million downloads) has been entertaining and educating family history lovers around the world for almost 10 years. Back in the “old” days (circa 2007) the only way to get your hands on a podcast (recorded “radio” show) was to download iTunes, subscribe to the podcast, and listen through your computer speakers. If you were lucky enough to have an iPod you could plug it in and figure out how to transfer the audio files so you could listen untethered from your computer. Today, smartphones make it oh-so-easy to take us with you when commuting, exercising, gardening and more. You can subscribe to the free show through the Podcasts app (iOS) or better yet download the Genealogy Gems app (in the iTunes Store and for Android) and you’ll also get access to great bonus content.
  • Our daily blog keeps readers up to date on new genealogy record collections, industry news, the genetic genealogy industry and technology tools. We boost your research skills, take you to must-see news articles and more. Mobile readers can get their daily dose of genealogy gems from our website or by following our Facebook page (See us First on Facebook to stay current on our posts). Our convenient category search (you’ll find it in the upper left corner of our home page) makes it easy to target posts on your favorite topics.
  • The free Family History Made Easy podcast teaches listeners step-by-step, episode by episode, how to start their genealogy research off right–and keep it going. Refresh your skills with the entire series or catch individual episodes for a targeted brush-up.
  • Premium Members-Only videos and podcast. Genealogy Gems Premium members can access over 2 dozen instructional videos on Lisa’s most popular topics (the same standing-room-only content Lisa delivers at top conferences). The premium podcast delivers more of Lisa’s signature brand of warm conversation, expert interviews, how-tos and more. Click here to learn more about Premium membership and take the best of Lisa Louise Cooke along wherever you go.

tablet mobile premium subscribeResources

Mobile-Friendly Search Results Come to Google

Compare Look-Alikes in Your Family with this Web App

Ancestry App for Apple Watch


Tools to Highlight Your Great Genealogy Finds

Snagit and Skitch can help you highlight screenshots and other digital images you capture for genealogy. Here’s how!

snagit skitch great genealogy finds

genealogy gems podcast mailboxRecently Diane from Alberta, CA sent in this question:

“I am trying to find how to highlight a portion of a document such as a birth certificate. The document has three people listed for the county and prior to adding it to my tree on Ancestry, I would like to highlight my ancestor so he will stand out. Can you offer any suggestions. I tried Evernote without success, also my family tree program.  What am I missing?”

I suggested Diane use Snagit 12 for Mac  software to highlight her documents. In fact, I use it constantly for a variety of genealogical projects, though I use Snagit 12 for Windows. The full-blown software has loads of cool features!

You can also download the free Snagit Chrome extension here. After you install Snagit, you’ll see it show up on your browser page. Here’s what it looks like on Google Chrome (the blue “s” button):
Snagit icon on browser page



Snagit Sample Thomas Hall census When you see something on your screen you want to capture, just click on the blue “S” icon. You’ll be asked at the outset to give Snagit access to various cloud storage options so it can store the image for you. Once you allow it access, then you’ll be able to name your file and add your own shapes, arrows and text. Use these to call attention to part of a record; annotate what you learned from it or even mark your ancestor’s face in a group photo.

As far as doing something similar in Evernote: Evernote only allows you to highlight typed text, not portions of an image. However, you can download Skitch and drag and drop the document from Evernote into Skitch. Then you can highlight an image to your hearts content. When you’re done you can Save to Evernote in the menu (SKITCH > SAVE TO EVERNOTE).

Share BoldThanks to Diane for a great question! I hope you’ll all share this post: Snagit is free and makes it so easy to take notes on your digital images, for your own use or to share with others!


How to Add Text to a Web Clipping in Evernote

Should Evernote Be My Digital Archive?

Annotating and Transcribing Documents in Evernote (What Evernote Can and Can’t Do for Family History)

Dropbox vs. Backblaze: Does Cloud Storage for Genealogy Replace Computer Backup?

cloud storage computer backup serviceDoes using cloud storage for genealogy (like Dropbox) replace having a computer backup service like Backblaze?

Recently I heard from Jim in Midland, Texas, USA, who is a little perplexed:

“Hi Lisa, I’ve heard all your podcasts, some more than once, and I appreciate your tutelege of five years.  I’m nearly 80 and some of the techie stuff is frustrating, but I’m still working at it.

You recommend Backblaze for cloud storage now. Does this mean that Backblaze is a replacement for Dropbox or do they serve different functions? I haven’t used either, but I am looking for a means of storing my information in a safe and retrievable place.”

Jim asks a great question! Dropbox and Backblaze are indeed different animals.

Dropbox quote boxDropbox is a temporary place to put active files you want to access from a variety of computing devices (such as a  smartphone, iPad, your spouse’s computer, etc.) I think of it as Grand Central station for the files I’m actively working with.

You can install Dropbox on multiple computers and download the app to your various mobile devices so that any file stored there is accessible and synchronized. Many apps and devices build connection to Dropbox right in to their own service or device, making it super easy to access files.

Cloud storage for genealogy research makes it easier to collaborate, research while traveling and access your files from different devices or locations. However, I don’t know anyone who only uses Dropbox for ALL of their files. Typically we also save files to our computer’s hard drive, particularly more archival types of files. So while you would be able to retrieve files stored on Dropbox if your computer crashed, and files that are on that computer would be lost. Dropbox also makes it easy to share folders and files with others. Again, think Grand Central Station for active files. Dropbox does have limitations regarding the amount of storage and sharing.

Backblaze quote boxBackblaze is a cloud-based backup service for your entire computer. Once you activate Backblaze, you can just forget about it. It constantly is backing up EVERY file on that computer. If that computer crashed all of your files would be retrievable from Backblaze. You have the added convenience of being able to also access your files from or the Backblaze app, and in that way it overlaps Dropbox. But that’s not usually how you would access your files. Usually, you would just turn on the backup, and forget about it. There is no limit to how many of your computer files you can back up with a cloud-based backup service like Backblaze.

My Bottom Line: Dropbox is short term storage for active projects, and Backblaze is long term, automatic, secure storage.

Files I’m currently working on (like projects, articles, etc.) I store in Dropbox, making it easy to work on the file from different computing devices and making it easy to share with others. While they are in Dropbox they are “on the Cloud” on the Dropbox servers. Once the project or item is done, I move the file(s) to my main computer. This keeps me from going over my Dropbox limits, and ensures the files are still accessible AND fully backed up and secure in case something happens to my computer. I can full restore my files to a new computer in one swoop if need be.

backblaze genealogy gems handshakeI have chosen Backblaze as the official cloud backup for Genealogy Gems. Backblaze is also a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast. For only $4.99 a month Backblaze can back up your computer files, too. Why not check them out and see if their service is right for you? Click here to learn more about Backblaze.


The New Ancestry Site: New Features, Mixed Reviews

Ancestry new site screenshotAncestry’s new site is now available to all U.S. users–across browsers, mobile devices, and the PC/Mac divide. It’s more than just a cosmetic or branding overhaul. The way Ancestry explains it, many changes boil down to helping users find family stories and improving their mobile experience. And while using the new site is still optional (see below), there are good reasons to start using it now. Mostly because the old site will be going away–possibly along with data you enter in it from this point forward. Many users adapt without much thought; for others, these changes are painful.

Ancestry logo new site“The new Ancestry experience was based on extensive research of problems our users are facing and their current needs,” states an FAQ on Ancestry. “We surveyed and interviewed thousands of users and found that new and long-time users wanted to be able to find and write their family stories. Based on this information we decided to provide more powerful storytelling features (LifeStory), coupled with tools to make research easier (updated Facts view) as well as organize media efficiently (Gallery)….Also, “the new experience was designed to work better across all mobile devices. You’ll be able to see the media gallery, Historical Insights, and LifeStory, too. More improvements for the mobile experience are planned.”

If you’ve been using Story View, the news is mixed. The new LifeStory feature is the next generation of Story View and “is better integrated into the overall profile page.” But Story View is going away–and as of June 1, “if you edit a Story View, the information will not be changed in the new LifeStory.” Also, the current FAQ says that Ancestry still hasn’t decided whether to transfer data from the Story View to the LifeStory.

Ancestry expert Crista Cowan explains the updated Facts view in the new Ancestry site: “Just like before, you will find the facts you’ve discovered and entered about the life of a person in your tree running down the page like a timeline. You will also find that the parents, spouse and children of the person are on the right-hand side of the page just where they have always been. The big change you will discover is that the sources that support those facts and relationships are now front and center.” Read more from her blog post here. The comments on that post and on the original announcement are great places to read the mixed opinions about the new site.

Below is Ancestry’s video about the new site:

Users can currently opt in or out of the new site (click Classic Site or New Ancestry on the username drop-down menu), but that option will go away soon. If you’re still on the fence about using the new site, read Ancestry’s FAQs about the changes, especially those that affect what changes you make from this point forward. Here’s a detailed list of the planned feature roll-outs, along with the estimated dates for them.

Ancestry for saleHave you backed up your Ancestry tree lately? It’s a good idea to do it regularly. We found ourselves reminding people how to do this recently in the wake of news that Ancestry may go up for auction. Read our how-to post here.


What’s New with Google? Glad You Asked

Group_Asus_Chromestick_V1 (1)_1000Google has recently made three announcements that I’m thinking of as “good, better, and best” news. Here they are:


Good: Bolded Answers in Search Results

google search results answers bold“Google is now bolding answers in the search results, not just the query or the synonym of your query in the search results,” reports Search Engine Land.

Maybe you’ve noticed this already. You Google the question, “What county is Chicago in?” Instead of the search results highlighting key search terms you used, the highlighted results actually answer the question. So helpful and fast!


Better: Free Roaming Abroad

Google’s wireless plan is looking at providing free roaming while abroad. reports that Google is exploring the ability to “offer wireless plans that will allow people in the U.S. to use their smartphones abroad without roaming charges….The plans would include voice calls, text messages and data, which would cost the same regardless of customers’ locations.”

Best: Chromebit computer plugs into HDMI port recently featured Google’s new Chromebit, “a Chrome OS computer the size of a candy bar that plugs into a TV’s HDMI port. This device, manufactured by Asus, is the latest in a line of ‘computers on a stick,’ a type of gadget we’re likely to see a lot more of.” How cool this is for on-the-go computing, or for sharing what’s on your computer on a big screen. At a reported retail price of less than $100, these technologies may be as wallet-friendly as they are portable. Keep an eye on this technology!

sign up newsletterLike keeping up on what’s new with Google from the standpoint of a genealogy lover? Sign up for our free email newsletter, and we’ll keep you posted with “gems” like these! From our home page, enter your name in the box. It’s that easy. We never sell your information, and you’ll get a free Google Research e-book as a thank-you.


Think Outside the Box at NGS and Jamboree

NGS Outside the box schedule

Click this image for a crisp downloadable version to print and keep

Major genealogy conferences like NGS and Jamboree can be both invigorating and overwhelming! It’s tough to catch all the classes I want by my favorite lecturers on the topics I need most. But at some point each day, I’m also done sitting in a boxy classroom for a little while.

We at Genealogy Gems suggest a proven “fix” for these problems: Outside the Box Sessions! We partner with favorite fellow exhibitors to schedule short live presentations on our hottest topics at our extra-large shared exhibit space. Those who attend any Outside the Box session can sign up to receive a free e-book of handouts from all the sessions.

From what you’re telling us, Outside the Box works for you! Bonnie wrote to us: “I attended several of your [Outside the Box] sessions, at least one from each of you and often more. They were terrific, at least as good and often better than conference  sessions. And the e-book of session notes, with the myriad of internet  links, is frosting on the cake. Thank you.”

Ad_RevisionA packed and lively schedule of Outside the Box sessions will run at the following upcoming events in the free exhibit hall:

National Genealogical Society conference (13-16 May)

Southern California’s Jamboree (5-7 June).

Click on the conference names above to see the full scoop on each, including classes on:

  • Google searching,
  • family reunion ideas,
  • DNA,
  • German research,
  • Google Earth for genealogy,
  • identifying and caring for old photos,
  • Evernote for genealogy,
  • using your iPad for family history
  • and more!

Since the exhibit hall is free, this is a wonderful opportunity to stop by and see what genealogy conference are all about, and pick up some excellent free training sessions while you’re there!

Ancestry App for Apple Watch

Ancestry app Apple WatchAncestry’s new app for the Apple Watch brings new meaning to the idea of giving our ancestors “the time of day!”

The Ancestry blog reports that while the Ancestry app for Apple Watch doesn’t offer full-service genealogy research capabilities on its small screen, you can do two major tasks:

“1. Get notified about important events in your family history. You can see important ‘on-this-day’ events in your family history including birthdays, anniversaries, and death dates of your direct ancestors and close relatives. Plus, we will let you know when we find records about a possible new parent or spouse, or birth, marriage, and death info missing from your tree.

2. Keep on top of new hints and comments. Take small steps to discover more about your family anytime, anywhere. A simple tap to review new hints or comment by voice dictation can enrich your family stories step by step. Within the watch app, you can scroll through a feed of meaningful hints, important dates from your tree, and comments about photos and stories. If there’s a hint that looks interesting, you can easily open right to it by pulling out your phone—if it’s a photo hint, you can save it to your tree directly from the watch.”

The latest version of the Ancestry iPhone app includes the watch app.

how to start a genealogy blogInterestingly, responses posted to this news announcement seemed most excited about the ability to have fingertip access to family birthdays and events. This feature is already available (without having to purchase the Apple watch!) from MyHeritage: you can opt to receive text alerts for living relatives’ birthdays and anniversaries, along with any other family events you put on your own private family calendar. We blogged about it recently: check it out!