July 23, 2014

New or Improved Genealogy Apps! Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage

custom_smart_phone_categories_12848Have you downloaded the apps that go with your favorite genealogy websites? You should! And if it’s been awhile, you should do it again. Why? They just keep getting better!

Here’s a rundown of new or improved apps from

  • Ancestry.com,
  • FamilySearch.org, and
  • MyHeritage.com:

Updated Ancestry App: Now A Continuously Swiping Tree

The old version of  the Ancestry app was a great start, but didn’t actually have a tree interface on it. You could see lists of family members in your tree, but not in pedigree format. The new version (still FREE)  has a redesigned look that, at least for iOS users, includes what Ancestry calls a “continuously swiping tree.” (The way Ancestry programmers made this happen was unique enough they got a patent for the process–read about it on the Ancestry blog.)

Here’s a summary of what the iPhone and iPad apps can do (taken from the Ancestry site):

Ancestry app

  • New: Redesigned look for sleeker, more intuitive use
  • New: Build your tree faster by connecting to Facebook and your contact list
  • New: Read about the lives of your ancestors through story-like narrative
  • Preserve memories by scanning and adding photos to your tree
  • Explore high-res images of historical documents and records
  • Access the world’s largest online family resource with more than 12 billion records
  • Receive Hints to help reveal new family connections by finding records and photos for you
  • Fully redesigned for iOS7

Click here to download the Ancestry app for iPad, iPhone and Android.

New FamilySearch Apps: Tree and Memories

FS Mobile AppTwo new FREE mobile apps, FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories, help users add information to their FamilySearch.org trees. The folks at FamilySearch describe the apps this way:

FamilySearch Tree makes it easy to add photos, stories, and audio recordings to ancestors in FamilySearch trees.

  • Browse your family branches and see portraits of relatives you’ve never seen.
  • Discover facts, documents, stories, photos, and recordings about your ancestors.
  • Easily add memories and records about your relatives.
  • Preserve and share those old photos and documents that are hidden away in storage.
  • Adding or updating ancestor details like names, dates, and relationships will be available coming soon.
  • Available for iOS 7+ and Android 2.3+

Click here to download the FamilySearch Tree App from the Apple App Store (iOS)

Click here to download the FamilySearch Tree App from the Google Play App Store (Android)

FamilySearch Memories makes collecting, preserving, and sharing your favorite family memories (photos, stories, and spoken words) easy and convenient wherever you are.

  • Snap photos of any family event, or take photos of old photos and documents.
  • Record audio interviews with family members and capture details of their life stories and favorite memories.
  • Write family stories, jokes, and sayings with the keyboard, or use the mic key to capture what you say.
  • Enrich written stories by adding descriptive photos.
  • Identify and tag relatives within a memory to automatically add it to their collection in Family Tree.
  • Available for iOS 7+

Click here to download the FamilySearch Memories App from the Apple App Store (iOS)

Everything you add with either of these apps syncs with FamilySearch.org.

Updated MyHeritage App: Now Access Your Family Photos

MyHeritage appNow your MyHeritage family website can always be at your fingertips–along with all your family photos. Features of the newly-updated version of the MyHeritage app:

  • NEW: View all your photo albums and family tree photos;
  • Easily view and update your family tree anywhere you go;
  • Search 5.3 billion historical records;
  • Fully sync with your family site and Family Tree Builder software;
  • Supports 32 languages.

Click here to download or upgrade Family Tree Builder 7.0 so you’ll be ready to view and edit your tree with the free mobile app.

Click here to download the MyHeritage app from the App store.

Click here to download the MyHeritage app from Google Play.

So…doublecheck your mobile devices! How long since you’ve updated YOUR genealogy apps?

FREE Microsoft Office 2013 Guides

MS Office Quick StartDo you have Microsoft Office 2013?

Microsoft Office has published a series of new FREE Quick Start Guides to help users better navigate the 2013 editions of Microsoft Word, Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Visio and Project Standard.

Don’t have the 2013 version? Many of the tools and features mentioned in the Microsoft Office 2013 Guides may be relevant to older versions, though the design or some functionality may have changed. So these can still be helpful to those who aren’t totally up-to-date in their Microsoft Office software.

Click on this link to find and download these pdf guides. (If you don’t have Windows 8, you’ll need free Adobe Reader.)

How This Site Blew the Lid Off the Silver Surfer Myth: Internet Use by Older Adults

stick_figure_ride_mouse_400_wht_9283You’ve heard of the Silver Surfer, right? I’m not talking about the comic book hero. This title is also given to older people who surf the ‘net. Are “silver surfers” a myth? Uncommon? Not at all!

Genealogy Gems reader David Sawers recently sent me this fantastic infographic about internet use by older adults (read the accompanying article here). He helped with the research behind the infographic and wants to share it with the genealogical community.

Yay for all the older people who are keeping up with the world online! It’s no small transition for someone who remembers when everyone communicated at a much slower pace and in different ways.

I don’t keep track of the ages of those who follow Genealogy Gems, but now I’m curious. You don’t have to reveal your age outright–but if you’re a “silver surfer,” will you surf over to my Facebook page? Post your memory of how communication happened when you were young: by letter, wire, party line, over the back fence?

older-generations

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 110: New FREE Apps and More

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipLisa found a few minutes before heading out to play “mother of the bride” to publish Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 110

There’s lots of fun stuff on there for you lucky Premium members, like:

  • Lisa talks about great FREE new apps she loves, including Magnifying Glass with Light, which we posted here about;
  • Advice to a listener on finding a home for some orphaned family memorabilia in the Mailbox section of the show notes;
  • An inspiring family history use for Twitter.

Haven’t become a Premium member yet? Did you know you’re missing out on not just podcast episodes like this one (and 109 archived episodes) but a growing online collection of Lisa’s video classes on her most popular topics. She adds a new video class every month! Check out the benefits of Premium membership here.

Solve Your Genealogy Brick Walls: 3 Tips for Breaking Through!

genealogy cold caseWe’ve all got genealogy brick walls in our research: family mysteries we have so far found unsolvable. In the new issue of Family Tree Magazine (May/June 2014), Lisa’s got a great article packed with 14 strategies for SOLVING those perplexing questions.

The article is “Warming Up a Cold Case,” and it’s got a fun criminal investigator theme. I won’t give all 14 of her tips away, but some of my favorites include re-examining old evidence, finding new witnesses and going on a genealogical stakeout. And one that made me laugh out loud: “Post wanted posters.” And then I just had to put my ancestor’s face on a wanted poster (right).

How do you really create a wanted poster for your ancestor? Lisa shares these ideas in the article:

1. Post their names on genealogy online message boards (like at Ancestry.com). But fill in those “wanted” details. Instead of height, weight and hair color, add what you know about their births, marriages, deaths, family relationships and residences.

2. Post your family tree online at any number of sites for free. Sites organize their trees in one of two ways. Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and others offer the individual tree model. You upload (or build on the site) and maintain your own tree. FamilySearch.org, WikiTree, Geni.com and WeRelate.org are community tree sites. You may work from a view of your own tree, but the site is merging your tree with others behind the scenes to create a single world family tree (each does this a slightly different way).

3. Start your own family history blog. Write keyword-rich blog posts that make it easy for Google searchers to find your ancestors there. Check out Lisa’s free four-part series on how to create a genealogy blog at the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel. This link will take you to the 4 part video playlist.

FTM Cover June 2014Find the entire article in the May/June issue Family Tree Magazine. Even better: Genealogy Gems Premium Members can also watch Lisa’s one hour video class Brick Walls: Cold Case Investigative Techniques. Not a Premium Member yet? You’re missing out on 24/7 access for a year to some of her most popular classes on Google, Google Earth, organization, Evernote, newspaper research and more. Learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Membership here.

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

use your ipad for genealogyYour iPad can be one of your best genealogy buddies. Its light weight design makes it a dream to tote (no more sore shoulders hauling a laptop bag around the library!) And it offers a gorgeous, vivid display, making it a true pleasure to review and share your findings.

If your tablet time has been limited to playing Angry Birds and checking your email, then it’s time to check out these 7 great family history uses for your iPad or other mobile device:

Family Trees

1. Access your online family tree (and even make changes) with apps like those from Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com.

Images

2. Take pictures of old family documents, photos, memorabilia and artifacts. From the iPad, you can upload and share them via Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, email, or access them from your other computing devices via cloud based storage such as Dropbox or iCloud.

Share

3. Put old family pictures on your iPad to share with your relatives. Click here to see how.

Capture

4. When you research your genealogy in libraries, use your iPad to take digital images instead of wasting time and money on photocopies. Image pages from a county or local history or take a snapshot (and a closeup) of a historical map. You can even take digital shots of microfilmed materials! Learn more here, and always get permission at each library before you start taking pictures.

Organize

5. Keep track of all your genealogy sources with Evernote–and keep all your sources at your fingertips by using the Evernote app. My new Evernote for Genealogists Quick Research Guides, available both for Windows and Mac users, are cheat sheets that will help you start using Evernote immediately across multiple platforms.

Read

6. Save genealogy and history e-books and pdfs to your iPad so you can read them anytime, anywhere. Click here to learn more.

Magazines & Podcasts

7. Use convenient apps to access great family history magazines and podcasts like these:

Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy PowerhosueAngry-Birds-is-a-perfect-videogameYou see, an iPad–or a tablet PC–isn’t just for Angry Birds and other games! You can use it for many of the same purposes, but iPads/tablets work differently and in very specific ways. You can learn more about using your tablet or iPad for genealogy from my book Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse:

  • an in-depth look at over 65 apps;
  • 32 fabulous tricks and tips to make you a power user (and not just for genealogy!);
  • “see it for yourself” demos in recommended online videos.

Keep up to date with iPad/tablet developments other tech topics for genealogists by subscribing to my FREE e-newsletter.

Up next, read:

MyHeritage: A Genealogy App That Can Build and Edit Your Family Tree

5 Reasons You Need the New YouTube App for Family History

The 5th Generation iPad is on the Way and Will Possibly Include…

Tips for Collaborative Genealogy: Research with a Partner

Tips for Collaborative Genealogy: Dropbox for Genealogists

Tips for Collaborative Genealogy: Evernote for Genealogists

Tips for Collaborative Genealogy: Sharing Genealogy Files Online for Free

 

 

Best Genealogy Software: Which Should You Choose and Why

custom_software_box_12041Just about every major genealogy website these days lets you build your family tree from scratch right on their website. But you may wonder what will happen to millions of carefully-constructed trees if the company goes out of business or the site goes down.

Before the days of internet genealogy, researchers organized family history findings on their home computers in specially-designed software. These programs generated .GED files (called GEDCOMs), a universal file type that allowed researchers using different software to share their findings. Software like this still exists. These days it can communicate your research to any genealogy sites you care to share with–by using those same GEDCOM files.

If you do choose to build your family tree online, make sure you can download your tree anytime as a GED file. Keep this file as a backup both on your computer and in a second location (like cloud storage). But my recommendation is to build your tree at home, in your own software. Then you can upload or synch your data to your favorite genealogy websites whenever you want–and you never lose control of your research.

Choosing the Right Software

There are lots of family history programs out there, and all of them will serve your basic needs. But you only need ONE. What’s the best genealogy software? It depends on how much you want to spend and how sophisticated you want your database to be. In many cases, you can order the product or purchase a digital download. I really don’t think you need the physical boxed product. All the help you need is online. All of these products offer a free demo that you can download to try it out before you buy.

FREE AND EASY: Family Tree Builder by MyHeritage helps you stay organized with streamlined screens to work in and doesn’t require a lot of startup time. Family Tree Builder offers lots of family history charts; custom reports; helps you share your data and pictures on a CD or DVD; allows you to back up your files to CD or DVD; and includes genealogy apps for mobile devices. Download the software FREE at the above link.

TOP SELLER-PC: Family Tree Maker is from the folks at Ancestry.com, so you should always be able to easily synch your results online at that site.

PC OPTION WITH GREAT REPORTS: If you’re looking for great printed reports that you can share, and loads of free online help videos, then RootsMagic is a great choice. (and we are honored to have RootsMagic as a sponsor of The Genealogy Gems Podcast.) And they now have an iOS app.

Some of the differences you’ll find between these products is the types of reports and charts they produce. So if that’s important to you, you can try the demos and see which you like. But again, I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of these products. They are all well established and supported.

AFFORDABLE MAC OPTION: iFamily for Leopard is the most affordable at $29.95.  There’s a free demo you can try before you buy.

TOP-SHELF MAC OPTION: Reunion 10 is fairly pricey at $99.00. If you’re interested in Reunion, I highly recommend that you listen to Episode 51 of The Genealogy Gems Podcast. In that episode you can listen to a review of Reunion 9 by Ben Sayer, the MacGenealogist. And if you want to compare iFamily against Reunion to see what you’re getting for your money, you can also listen to Ben’s review of iFamily in Genealogy Gems Episode 53.

NGS 2014 App Available for Conference Attendees

NGS 2014 logoAre you attending the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference in May in Virginia, USA? You’ll want the new 2014 conference app, now available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and web-enabled devices. (Need a 5-minute video tutorial on using the app? Click the link above, then click on the App Video Tutorial.)

With the NGS 2014 app you’ll be able to receive breaking news, synch your schedule across multiple devices, connect with other attendees, plan which vendors to visit and more. Speaking of the vendor hall, stop by my booth (#618) early, say hello, and pick up my exclusive schedule of quick classes I’ll be offering free at the booth!

I’ll  also be teaching these classes:

  • Google Search Strategies for Common Surnames
  • Tech Tools that Catapult the Newspaper Research Process into the 20th Century
  • Find Living Relatives Like a Private Eye

Looking for more info? Here are some helpful URLS:

Conference blog

Guide for 1st-time NGS attendees  

Up-to-date hotel info

Genealogy Gift Ideas: Family History On-the-Go

Lisa Santa Hat 2These days, genealogists can take all their research “to-go” on their iPad or tablet. Here are some of my favorite genealogy gift ideas that harness the power of portable computing and a Black Friday / Cyber Monday Special you won’t want to miss!

If you aren’t already using an iPad or tablet for genealogy, consider what it can do for you:

  • keep your family tree and all your sources at your fingertips with tools like the Ancestry and RootsMagic apps;
  • all kinds of imaging: document and photo scanning, microfilm imaging (right from the reader!) and a built-in regular and video camera for shots of relatives, tombstones, family artifacts and heritage sites;
  • share cool finds on the spot–when great-grandpa comes up in conversation you can pull up his picture on the gorgeous tablet display;
  • collaborate with other researchers with great free tools like online file sharing services such as Dropbox.com, and free video calls with Skype; etc.
  • keep track of travel details, to-do lists and other needs (genealogy or not!) and MORE.

Now here are my gift picks, starting with the obvious: the iPad itself. To shop these items, please click on the links below so your purchases will help support the Genealogy Gems podcast. Thank you!

iPad

iPad 4 (with retina display, MD510LL/A, 16GB with Wifi, black). 5 MP forward- and rear-facing camera, a just-right-sized screen with gorgeous resolution, an HD video camera, plenty of storage for a portable device (with cloud storage, too, of course) and more. All this weighs in at less than 1.5 pounds, so it tucks easily in your messenger bag, backpack, purse, briefcase or even your laptop case. Click to get:Apple iPad with Retina Display MD510LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi,) at a special discounted price.

 

Sound benderThe speaker on the iPad is fairly small and sometimes you just need to pump up the volume. Here’s the perfect, simple solution:
SoundBender 2.0 Easy-Fit Magnetic Sound Enhancer (for iPad 2, 3 and 4). This wireless sound amplifier is really cool and works great! I originally saw it on the TV show Shark Tank and bought one immediately. It magnetically secures to the side of your iPad and bends sound toward you for your music, videos, games, Facetime and of course your Genealogy Gems podcast episodes! Click to get: SoundBender 2.0 Easy-Fit Magnetic Sound Enhancer for iPad 2 & iPad 3 & iPad 4

 

iPad car headrest

iPad Car Headrest/Mount/Holder (for iPad 1, 2, 3 and 4). My Grandsons LOVE this!  Extra-long cable included. Turns your iPad into a backseat entertainment system. Perfect for watching movies, looking at pictures, playing games and more. Makes it more fun for non-researchers (adults and children!)  to be along for the ride on those genealogy road trips and solves the problem of “who gets to play with the iPad.” Straps onto the headrest of the seat in front; extra-long cable extends 6.5 feet. Doesn’t require tools. Click to get: Ipad Car Headrest Mount Holder for Apple Ipads 1-4 Including Extra Long Cable
mount

iPad Dashboard Car Mount.  Use the vacuum base to safely secure your tablet onto the windshield. No messy adhesives! Makes it easier to consult online maps, recipes, weather apps and of course all those genealogy apps when you need to be hands-free. Use it to listen to the Genealogy Gems podcast while you work out, clean, sort files, cook and more! (Just don’t watch it while you’re driving!) Rotatable stand moves 180-degrees for comfortable positioning, Rotating ball joint ensures a perfectly angled display Click to get: SQdeal Universal Dashboard Car Mount Holder Cradle For Apple iPads 1 – 4 /iPad Mini

Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhosue
Learn how to get the most out of your iPad with my book, Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse. Learn how to think like an iPad/tablet user (it’s different than desktop computing). Discover everyday apps to help you with household, travel, business and other tasks. And of course, learn the myriad of ways you can harness the power of mobile computing for your genealogy. (Like all those ways mentioned above – imaging and document scanning and MORE.)

Between Black Friday (11/29/2013) and Cyber Monday (12/2/2013), you can purchase this book along with ALL my other books in special 40% 0ff bundles:

$29.95 for the e-book bundle
$49.95 for the print bundle

How to Find U.S. Digital Libraries and Archives

download_books_online_library_400_clr_9076 (1)Ever wish there was a really easy directory for U.S. digital libraries and archives, organized by state with great commentary about the content? There is. But it’s not in a place most genealogists would look.

Open Education Database.org has a blog post called “250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives.”  The post is a LONG annotated list of digital libraries and archives that don’t require library memberships, subscriptions, etc. to access. (In other words, open access.) It’s organized by U.S. state, so you can scroll down to the states of most interest to your research.

Digital archives and libraries give us remote, fingertip access to original and published materials we might never otherwise know about or be able to access. Look here for books, government documents, photographs, manuscript items, memorabilia, audio recordings and more. This is a great resource for genealogists. Click the link above to get all the info.