November 20, 2017

Family Tree independence is here! TreeShare™ for Ancestry by RootsMagic

Big News: TreeShare™ for Ancestry has launched, and Ancestry Hints are now part of RootsMagic’s WebHints™. Both are now available as a free update to RootsMagic 7. No more missing data or trying to remember if you added a new ancestor to your database and your online tree at Ancestry. TreeShare™ for Ancestry makes it possible to synchronize your RootsMagic computer database with your online Ancestry family tree for the first time.

RootsMagic FamilyTree for Ancestry

 

TreeShare for Ancestry

From the RootsMagic blog:

“RootsMagic’s TreeShare for Ancestry will let you move data between your RootsMagic files on your computers and your personal Ancestry online trees. You can transfer people, events, notes, source citations, and even pictures between the two systems.

RootsMagic users also gain the ability to easily share and collaborate with others by giving family members access to their Ancestry online tree. Using the new TreeShare feature, family members can then synchronize the latest changes and additions to both the online tree and their desktop computers.”

This means that if you are an Ancestry subscriber and you have RootsMagic 7, you will finally be able to synchronize your tree between the two! According to Ancestry’s blog:

“You can transfer people, events, notes, source citations, and even pictures between the two systems.”

“Integrating with Ancestry’s trees and records has been one of our most requested features,” said Bruce Buzbee, president of RootsMagic. “It’s exciting to work together with Ancestry to make this happen. The feedback that we’ve received from those who have tested TreeShare has been phenomenal.”

Ancestry Hints Integration

Works-With-Ancestry

The new Ancestry Hints integration means that RootsMagic users now have the convenience of reviewing their Ancestry Hints from within the software. New information and media from matching records can be added into your own genealogy file.

Available Now

The update is free for users of RootsMagic 7 and RootsMagic Essentials 7 and is available via direct download or through the “Check for Updates” feature within RootsMagic.

Learn More

 

Free RootsMagic Essentials Software

From RootsMagic:

“For those that are just starting their journey into the world of genealogy, RootsMagic offers “RootsMagic Essentials”- a free version of their software with a limited set of features tailored towards beginners.

If you have an account with Ancestry, RootsMagic Essentials includes the ability to upload your file to Ancestry or download your existing online trees from Ancestry.  If you are a subscriber to Ancestry, RootsMagic Essentials also allows you to search and view all of the content in your subscription.  Those wishing to compare and transfer individual records between RootsMagic and Ancestry will want to use the full-featured RootsMagic software.”

You Still Need to Backup Your Data

Even though you can synchronize the tree in your database with your online Ancestry tree, you still need to set up an automatic Cloud backup system for you entire computer hard drive. In the end, your tree is your responsibility to preserve for future generations. I use Backblaze, and they are the official backup of my free Genealogy Gems Podcast. No matter what service you decide to go with in the end, the most important thing is that you do indeed set up automatic Cloud backup for your computer hard drive which of course, includes your RootsMagic family tree.
Our blog posts contain affiliate links and we will be compensated if you use them. Thank you for supporting the free Genealogy Gems Podcast and blog!

Inherited Genealogy Files: Adding Source Citations to an Inherited Family Tree

Adding Source Citations is our third post in the Inherited Genealogy Files series, and in this post, we answer a listener’s question.

 

We recently received this letter from a Genealogy Gems Podcast listener, Cristy. She says:

Thank you for your tip about starting from the present and working backwards. I was having a hard time knowing where to start. I had inherited a tree passed from my mom and my great-grandmother, that when combined with the information my husband’s aunt gave me [I had a] tree with almost 1200 names. But the information from my great-grandmother and my aunt does not have any sources and all of my mom’s sources got lost in our various moves over the years. She only had her old school database that just had the facts and no sources.

I determined that a genealogy book my mom used as a source for one of our lines [had been] copied [from] an older genealogy line that has been proven incorrect. So, my goal has been to re-find my mom’s sources and document everything. I didn’t know where to start. I have now made a second tree in my database keeping the original as a place to start and only putting what I have proved using actual sources and attaching the documentation as I go. Your episode on the Genealogical Proof Standard was really helpful. It will be a big help as I clean up my tree.

Finding Source Citations for Your Inherited Family Tree

Let’s first give a brief definition of source citation.

Source Citation: the information that tells your reader where you obtained a particular piece of genealogical data.

For example, a family tree should include a source citation for the birth date and place, the death date and place, and the marriage date and place…and that’s just the start.

Finding source citations is really easy if you are using FamilySearch. Let’s say I used a death record I found online at FamilySearch as the proof of my ancestors death date. What is so wonderful about using FamilySearch.org for finding records is that it includes a source citation for you to copy and paste. Take a look.

Adding source citations from FamilySearch

You can highlight the source citation text and copy it into your genealogy software. A bonus is knowing that FamilySearch is free and easy to use.

Adding Source Citations for Genealogy to RootsMagic Software

As I mentioned above, you can take the source citation you found on FamilySearch and copy and paste it into your genealogy software. RootsMagic is the genealogy software we here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast use (and we are proud that they sponsor our free Genealogy Gems Podcast.) It is an easy-to-use and effective software for both PC and Mac users. (To learn more about using RootsMagic, read here.)

Using RootsMagic, let’s add a source citation to an event in a family tree:

Adding source citations to RootsMagic

In this example above, we have double clicked on Clarence’s name and opened up the Edit Person window. We would like to add a source citation for Clarence Bowser’s death date and place. In the line for death, we click on the box in the source citation column. The source citation column is indicated by that little icon that looks like a record.

At the pop-up window, we click Add new source and from the options, choose Free Form and click OK.

Adding source citations to database

Now, let’s assume you copied the following source citation from a record you found at FamilySearch.org:

“Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VKBM-BKN : accessed 8 December 2014), Clarence W Bowser, 09 Nov 1958.

The first part of the citation is the title of the collection and the location you found it. “Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VKBM-BKN. That front half of the citation is going to go in the Footnote area of the next pop-up window. The remainder of the citation you copied is going to go in the Page field. Then click, OK.

correctly adding source citations

Notice, the entire footnote at the right of the screen looks like the one you copied from FamilySearch. You may wonder why on earth we separated the citation. Because, RootsMagic is going to remember you have a source citation from Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007. The next time you find an ancestor’s death record in this index, you will not need to click Add new source. Rather, you will click Cite existing source, and choose the Ohio Death Index, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007.

Adding source citation for death record

At the next screen, the Footnote field will already be filled out for you. All you need to do is fill in the Page field with the back-half of the new source.

Adding source citation for other record

More on Adding Source Citations for Genealogy

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideIn addition to keeping your source citations on a genealogy software program, you may wish to clip the citation and add it to Evernote. Lisa Louise Cooke explains just how to do this in her article titled, “Cite Your Sources from FamilySearch with the Evernote Web Clipper.”

You can get loads more tips and tricks in our helpful Evernote for Windows for Genealogists quick reference guide (also available for Mac users). Also, get a quick overview about this amazing product from this video clip on our YouTube Channel.

Tackling Your Inherited Genealogy Files: Merging Duplicates

Merging duplicate records in your family tree is important. Perhaps you have inherited a giant genealogy file (GEDCOM) from a relative. What now? Follow along in our series on Inherited Genealogy Files as we talk about how to merge the duplicates in your family tree.

merging duplicate in your tree

Have you cleaned up your family tree lately? Whether you have inherited a genealogy file from a relative or have been an avid researcher yourself, clean-up is necessary from time to time, especially as your database grows.

Merging Duplicates from an Inherited Genealogy File with RootsMagic

When you sit down to do your genealogy research, the last thing you want to worry about are duplicate names. Duplicates can be distracting and confusing.

You may have inherited a genealogy file or files in the form of GEDCOMs. (Read more on what and how to use a GEDCOM file here.) While inheriting this family history is great, it can also be a lot of work to clean-up, confirm the data, and add source citations where needed.

If you use RootsMagic or other similar software, it can be quick and easy to clean up duplicate names in your database. Start by running a duplicate search by clicking on Tools, selecting Merge, and then clicking Duplicate search merge.

You can search for duplicates by surname or given name. You might consider running a duplicate search for sounds alike, as well. This is particularly important if you have merged two databases in which you and the other contributor may have used different surname spellings.

When you are ready, click Search for duplicates at the bottom of the box. The system will tell you how many duplicates it finds and allow you to compare them one-by-one.

If you find a duplicate, the primary person will be on the left and the matching record on the right. Whichever record/person is most correct, use the Swap button to move that record to the primary position on the left.

If you feel these are a match, click Merge duplicate into primary at the bottom left corner. You have now merged these two individuals. It should be noted that you do not actually lose any of the data of the duplicate person. If I find Dean Howard Lockwood in my index and double click on his name, a pop-up window appears and I see he now has two birth and death entries, however. To fix this, click on the duplicate fact to highlight it, then click Delete fact at the top.

Cleaning Up Duplicate Places

You may not have considered cleaning up the duplicate places that exist in your file. For example, perhaps Great-aunt Susie liked to use the old format for place names. [i.e. , Ross County, Ohio] Notice the comma before the county name Ross. This was the way in which genealogists used to indicate Ross was the name of the county. Now, we use the more recent accepted format and change that to: Ross county, Ohio, United States. You can quickly merge these two places into one by clicking Lists at the top left, and choosing Place List.

Now, choose the place you would like to fix and double click it. In the pop-up window that appears, simply type in the place name as you desire it to appear in your database.

In the example above, we have changed , , Kentucky to Kentucky, United States and clicked OK. But wait, there’s one more step! You may notice your list now shows duplicates of Kentucky, United States or some variation. To fix that problem, click on the merge button at the top of the Place List pop-up window. A new window will pop-up and you can choose all the places you wish to merge together. Then, click Merge selected places.

More on RootsMagic Software

RootsMagic is the genealogy software used and recommended by Lisa Louise Cooke and The Genealogy Gems Podcast. You can purchase this amazing software from the Products We Love tab in our store or by clicking on the RootsMagic 7 image link. When you use our affiliate links, you are helping to support the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. Thank you!

GEDCOM File (What is It & How to Use This Genealogy File)

A GEDCOM file is a universal type of file that genealogists use to move data from one genealogy software program to another. Using these helpful tips below, you can open genealogy files your family members send to youor share your data with others.

When and Why You Would Need to Open a GEDCOM File

A Genealogy Gems reader recently wrote:

I recently signed up for [the Genealogy Gems] newsletter. I received a CD from a relative with family history information that was set up through Family Tree Maker. I am currently not subscribed to any of the genealogy sites. My question is, how can I retrieve this information [from the CD.] Can you help?

The answer to the question is: Use another program to open the GEDCOM file from the CD. Let me show you how easy it is to open and create GEDCOM files.

GEDCOM Basics

GEDCOM is an acronym standing for Genealogical Data Communication. It is a universal genealogy file that allows you to exchange genealogical data between different genealogy software programs.

Because it is “universal” in nature, a GEDCOM file can be read by many different types of genealogy software. That means, if you are using RootsMagic, you can still share all the data you have collected with your cousin who uses Family Tree Maker, and she will not have to type in all the names, dates, and places manually.

Occasionally, not all the information included in a GEDCOM file will transfer perfectly. There are differences in how that information is interpreted and some things, like notes and sources, may be affected. However, for the most part, much of it will transfer correctly.

How to Open a GEDCOM File

Our reader needs to open a GEDCOM file contained on the CD he was sent. To do this, he must have a program on his computer that will read a GEDCOM file. There is an option I would like to share with you.

RootsMagic is a downloadable software for both Mac and PC users. (And, it is the one we here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast use! That’s why we accepted them as a sponsor of the podcast.)

Once you have downloaded  RootsMagic to your computer, open it. At the top left corner, click on File and from the pull-down menu, choose Import.

import GEDCOM file

Now, a new pop-up window will open and ask from what source you would like to import from. You will notice several options, but for our reader’s question, he will choose the GEDCOM option.

GEDCOM transfer

Then, choose I know where the file is, and the file explorer window will appear. In this case, our reader would click on the CD that he has loaded into his computer’s disk drive, and follow the prompts to open the GEDCOM file. All that information his relative sent him will be slurped into RootsMagic and he can easily look through the pedigree of his family.

Family tree using GEDCOM

Creating a GEDCOM to Share with Others

RootsMagic also allows you to create a GEDCOM file. This is what you would send to your relatives when they would like to have a copy of the family tree.

To do this, open RootsMagic. Click on File, as we did before, and this time choose Export from the pull-down options.

The export box will pop-up. You can choose what you wish to have included in this export. I typically choose Everyone, but you can do yours by family names by clicking on the down arrow next to Everyone and choosing Select from list.

GEDCOM export

Once you have clicked OK, the GEDCOM file is ready to be saved to your computer. Save the file on your desktop or somewhere you will be able to locate it again. Remember to name the file and pay attention to where you are saving it!

Creating a GEDCOM from Ancestry.com

If you have stored your genealogy data at Ancestry.com, you may be interested to know that you can create a GEDCOM file for your family tree there as well. It’s just a matter of signing into your Ancestry account, locating the Tree Settings, and then clicking Export. I found a nice article outlining the steps on how to do that here.

Protecting Your GEDCOM Files

Creating a GEDCOM is also a great way to save or backup your hours and hours of family history research. One of the saddest tales of genealogists everywhere is losing their computer or printed family files with all that work!

GEDCOM files can be saved to a hard drive, saved to an external unit, emailed, put on a thumb drive, or uploaded to the Cloud. You can also invest in a company like Backblaze, the official backup of The Genealogy Gems Podcast,  that will automatically backup all your files. (Read more about Backblaze, here.) All of these methods protect you and your genealogy.

More on Protecting Your Genealogical Data

Learn more about Backblaze, The Genealogy Gems Podcast’s first choice when it comes to backing up precious genealogy research and personal files. Read the article’s below and determine if Backblaze is the answer you’ve been looking for. Get total backup protection for $5 a month or less – save more when you buy a 1 or 2 year subscription. Click here to get started today!

How to Download Backblaze in 4 Easy Steps

Backing Up Your Genealogy with Backblaze – Q & A

Write Your Family History Book with RootsMagic

Writing a family history book is a daunting task. Check out this quick tip that will help you write your family history book with RootsMagic with just a few clicks!

rootsmagic_famhisbook_feature

Credit: Freepik.com

I love the many reports that can be generated from RootsMagic. RootsMagic is a genealogy software program that allows you to organize all your family history in one place. The software offers many types of printable reports like pedigree charts and family group sheets, but my favorite is the narrative report.

Write Your Family History Book with RootsMagic Using the Narrative Report

The purpose of a genealogy software program is to organize and analyze all of your genealogical data. The good news is that while you are popping in names, dates, and places in your RootsMagic database, behind-the-scenes, your book is actually being written.

Take a look at what I mean. Open your RootsMagic database and look at your family pedigree. Highlight yourself and then click Reports at the top.

Write Your Family History Book Using Narrative Reports

Choose Narrative Reports from the pull-down menu. A pop-up window will appear asking you to choose whether your report will include all the children or just spouses, how many generations to include, and some other format options.

I typically prefer to include as many generations as I can and I like to include the children. When you add the children of each couple to your report, it may be significantly longer so be aware of that.

When you have finished, click Generate Report.

family history with RootsMagic settings

RootsMagic slurps all your raw data into sentence form. Where you once recorded “Georgia Ann Smith, born 11 Nov 1913, Allen County, Ohio,” now reads, “Georgia Ann Smith was born on 11 Nov 1913 in Allen County, Ohio.” A sentence was created using your data.

RootsMagic_FamilyHistoryBook_5

Additionally, the narrative report allows you to:

  • Change the settings to influence how the sentences are structured,
  • Add notes to the appropriate section allowing a story to develop in chronological order,
  • Add pictures to enhance your story,
  • Alter the appearance and formatting of your printed report, and
  • Save in Rich Text format and work with it in a familiar program like Word.

Adding Enriching Details to Your Family History Book

Most people would agree, the best family history books are the ones that have fun, memorable stories and pictures. You can easily do this with RootsMagic.

I have a fun story about when Grandma was born. I want to add it to my family history book. If I double click on her name from my pedigree chart, her “edit person” window will pop-up. Then, I can click the Notes column (see the green notebook icon) in the birth line, and add a note specifically about when she was born.

Write Your Family History Book with Stories

After I have finished writing the story about her birth, I simply click Save note.

Now, when I generate my narrative report, the story about her only weighing about 1 1/2 pounds at birth appears right after her name, birth date, and location.

Add special stories to family history book

Adding Pictures to Your Narrative Report

Along with the stories, adding pictures offers another level of depth to your family history story.

RootsMagic’s narrative report will currently only print one image for each person. For example, if I wanted a picture of Grandma to appear in the narrative report, I would need to add the image to her “person.”

Let me show you how simple it is to link an image. In the example below, I have double clicked on Grandma and opened her “edit person” window. Then, I clicked on the media column where the little camera icon is. Notice that the camera icon I choose was in the “person” line. This is the only place you can add an image that will then appear in the narrative report. If you were to add a photo anywhere else, the image would appear in the scrapbook report, but not in the narrative report. When you have clicked the camera icon, follow the prompts to add the image you have already scanned onto your hard drive or disk.

newimage

Now, when you run the narrative report, Grandma’s picture shows up next to her name.

Write Your Family History Book with Images

One Last Quick Tip to Write Your Family History Book with RootsMagic

If you don’t like the way your narrative report is formatted or if you want to enlarge a picture or even add additional images, here’s one last tip! Saving your narrative report in a rich-text file format will allow you to edit the report from Word or another word processing program you are more familiar with.

To save in a rich-text file format, first create your narrative report as written above. When you reach the view screen, click Save at the top left. Then, choose Rich-Text File from the pop-up window options. The program will open your narrative report in your word processor for easy editing.

rootsmagic_famhisbook_1

rootsmagic_famhisbook_2

If you have already been using the software for your family history, you have already started writing your family history book with RootsMagic without even knowing it! Why not print your report today and make it a special gift to yourself. It’s always a good thing to have your family history in written words! What are your favorite reports to create in RootsMagic? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

More Gems on Using RootsMagic

RootsMagic, FTM and the Holy Grail of Family History SoftwareRootsMagic bundle

Free RootsMagic Guides to Download and Share

RootsMagic Review: Why I Use It

Free RootsMagic Guides to Download and Share

Free RootsMagic Guides to Download and ShareFree RootsMagic guides, called Magic Guides, are easy to download and share. This is just another reason why we love and recommend RootsMagic as the go-to genealogy software.

RootsMagic is downloadable genealogy database software that keeps all your family tree data nice and organized. It allows you to source your information, and create charts and reports. You can link to FamilySearch Family Tree and even access automated record hints at MyHeritage.com and Findmypast. Ancestry.com integration is coming soon; you can already import Family Tree Maker files easily.)

RootsMagic 7.0 can be downloaded for $29.95 by clicking here or you can try out the free version called RootsMagic Essentials.

Free Magic Guides

RootsMagic has many wonderful features you will want to try. Don’t learn by trial and error which can be frustrating. Download these free RootsMagic guides which make it easy to utilize the program to its fullest. These free guides are called Magic Guides. Each Magic Guide covers a single RootsMagic topic and includes step-by-step instructions with illustrations and tips. The guides can also be copied and distributed (but not sold) as handouts in groups when you teach others in RootsMagic classes, making them a perfect resource for genealogy societies.

You can find a list of all the Magic Guides available by going to the RootsMagic website and clicking on Learn at the top of the screen. Then, choose Magic Guides (handouts).

RootsMagic downloadable guides

From installing to importing and everything in between, Magic Guides are a helpful addition to your using RootsMagic.

How to Get Your Free RootsMagic Guides

To download a guide to your computer, click the Download button under the title you want. Some devices are already set up to open the guide in PDF format. Other devices may require you to click Save Link As. If you are required to save the link, remember to save it somewhere you will remember. I suggest saving it to your desktop where it is easily accessible.

RootsMagic downloadable guides

As an example, I downloaded the Magic Guide to Create a Shareable CD. I always enjoy sharing my new findings with the family and RootsMagic makes it so easy to do. The guide to creating a shareable CD is four pages long. It offers instructions on how to burn it now or burn it later, which is really nice in case I get distracted!

Here’s What I Learned from Free RootsMagic Guides

One thing I really love about these guides are the tips. In this guide, I learned that when creating a CD, you are making an exact copy of your database. That means all your private facts and notes that you may not want to share with the entire family, will be visible. With a few quick steps, the guide walks you through how to exclude these private facts and only share what you want to. Isn’t that great!

Share this Free Resource

If you have a friend who is new to using RootsMagic, be sure to share with them how they can use the free RootsMagic guides to enhance their experience. Share this article on Facebook or tweet about it! After all, everyone loves good news!

More Gems on RootsMagicBe_A_Dear_Please_Share

RootsMagic Review: Why I Use It

RootsMagic for Mac Users and More RootsMagic News

RootsMagic Update for FamilySearch Compatibility

 

Keeping up with Online and Master Family Trees: Family Tree Maker Questions Answered

sync treesWant tips to keep your online trees current with the master version in your family tree software? I’ve fielded several questions recently from Family Tree Maker users that might be useful to everyone.

In the wake of the announced retirement of Family Tree Maker software, questions continue to pour in about how to use family history software along with online trees. I’ve also taken a couple of questions from people wondering whether to continue their subscriptions at Ancestry.com if they’re not using Family Tree Maker. Find my answers below–and thanks to Gladys, Charles, Lisa and others for sending in these great questions!

Q: “Why switch from Family Tree Maker if it still “works” even after it’s retired? Ancestry.com and its tree system can be continually updated via GEDCOMs (click here to learn more about GEDCOMs) from one’s current Family Tree Maker for as long as one desires. The key problem is that support for FTM will soon disappear.”

A: Yes, you’re right, the key probably is that support will be gone. Into the future, as operating systems and hardware change, FTM users will likely eventually experience problems and ultimately be unable to continue reinstalling it onto new computers. (As I mentioned in this article, this happened to me with my first database.) While it isn’t an emergency, there is an advantage to migrating now. Other companies are offering great specials, and are currently knowledgeable and focused on assisting FTM users in making the move and ensuring that all of their data migrates successfully. Click here to learn about some of these specials.

RootsMagic is a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, and the software that I use personally. The following question came from a listener who wanted to know more about it and how to move their data:

Q: “Can you explain more about RootsMagic and what it can do? Will it allow a transfer of data from the old Family Tree Maker files where I have already stored significant amounts of information?”

A: You can download your content from Ancestry and then load that into RootstMagic. This article on the RootsMagic blog will guide you.  And they have an entire “Help” page here devoted specifically to assisting Family Tree Maker users. (Click here to learn why I recommend RootsMagic, which is a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.)

Q: “Should I just resign myself to having to upload a new GEDCOM to RootsMagic every month to add any new people/content I’ve found on Ancestry.com?”

A: Rather than adding info to my Ancestry tree and then duplicating it in RootsMagic, I look at it the other way around. I enter new found data directly into RootsMagic as I work. I may go ahead and add it to my Ancestry tree as well, but it really depends on what it is. You see, I view my Ancestry.com tree as a drafting table or a work space, not the final resting place for my family tree. For me, a little extra effort is worth keeping control of my data.

I really don’t foresee Ancestry.com resurrecting Family Tree Maker or selling it to another company. This article explains some of the business reasons why.

Q: “If I continue to use Ancestry.com and add content to my online tree, what is the best way to get that content into my RootsMagic tree?”

A: You can download your content from Ancestry and then load that into RootsMagic. This article on the RootsMagic blog will guide you. I think after reading all my answers here you will see that I use Ancestry and MyHeritage as research tools, and RootsMagic as my master complete genealogy database. So I leave RootsMagic open on my computer in the background, and pop over to that window to enter confirmed data as I am working on the various websites.

BONUS QUESTIONS! Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com Subscriptions

Here are my responses to Family Tree Maker user questions about where to invest their subscription dollars and efforts.

Q: “Do you recommend not using Ancestry.com for research anymore?”

A: I think Ancestry is a treasure trove of genealogical data and documents, and I absolutely will continue to use it. However, as I mentioned in my article, I’m a believer in housing my master family tree on my own computer, and backing up that computer to the cloud (I use BackBlaze. I like the service so much they have become a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems Podcast.) That way I control the data and know it is protected. I don’t use Ancestry trees for my master tree. Rather, I upload a GEDCOM of the branches I want to generate leads for (shaky leaves). When I find new information I may or may not add it to my Ancestry tree (based on my research needs) but I always add it to RootsMagic master database.

Q: “Should I switch to MyHeritage?”

A: MyHeritage is a great website as well. I use it in much the same way I use Ancestry (above). It has been invaluable for my international research. (Click here to learn why I recommend MyHeritage.com, which is also a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.)

Final thoughts: In the end, it’s your data and your decision. I hope you’ve found these conversations helpful as you do your own homework on what is right for your family tree.

More Gems on Family History Software and Online Trees

FTMaker expiration dateFamily Tree Maker Alternatives and What I Do With My Online Tree

How to Download and Backup Your Ancestry Data

Is that Software Expired? Why I Wouldn’t Use Obsolete Family Tree Maker Software

 

Family Tree Maker Alternatives: Great Offers, and What I Do With My Tree

FTMaker options transplant tree family tree maker alternativesAre you a Family Tree Maker user looking for place to transplant your master family tree? Here are some great offers and my personal strategy.

With the imminent demise of Family Tree Maker software, many users find themselves preparing to transplant their trees elsewhere. But many are still trying to decide upon the ideal spot. RootsMagic and MyHeritage.com have both responded with attractive Family Tree Maker alternatives. Both companies are sponsors of the free Genealogy Gems podcast and both offer excellent products. It just depends on what works best for you. While you’re doing your homework, consider these offers:

RootsMagic Family History Software: Discount on Software, with Special Add-Ons and Training

RootsMagic 7 family tree maker alternatives“If you’re a Family Tree Maker user, we understand that change isn’t easy,” states a recent RootsMagic press release. “But with a little of your time and a little help from us, you’ll be just as comfortable with RootsMagic as you were with Family Tree Maker.”

“For a limited time, we are offering Family Tree Maker users the full-version of RootsMagic for the amazing low price of only $20We will also include the printed book, “Getting the Most out of RootsMagic” absolutely free (a $14.95 value).  To make the transition as painless as possible, we’ve set-up a special website at www.FTMUpgrade.com that includes training videos, testimonials, and more. You must visit www.FTMUpgrade.com to receive the discount.”

I am a RootsMagic user myself, as I’ve stated in the past (click here to read why). I particularly love the wide range of support for learning to use RootsMagic. RootsMagic  offers a recently-updated Mac version of its software, too. If you’re still not sure, you could try RootsMagic Essentials first for free, then easily upgrade in the future.

MyHeritage.com Family History Website: Free Unlimited Tree Hosting

myheritage logo new family tree maker alternatives“At MyHeritage, we believe there is still a place in the world for genealogy software,” says an email I received from MyHeritage’s Chief Genealogical Officer, Daniel Horowitz. “There is value in the ability to work offline, and enjoy more powerful functionality that many websites cannot offer. We also believe that people should be able to discover and preserve their family history on whatever platform they are comfortable with. That’s why we are constantly innovating new technologies and enhancing our website, mobile apps and our Family Tree Builder genealogy software.

We are delighted to offer FTM users who move to MyHeritage, and who choose to sync their family tree with their MyHeritage family site, unlimited tree size capacity on their online family site, which is normally limited to 250 individuals on a free account.”

MyHeritage.com started as a family tree and family networking website, so its roots for tree-hosting are deep. The site hosts the most geographically diverse trees in the world, which is a great reason for anyone searching for international relatives to have a family tree there. Their Family Tree Builder software is free, so there is no financial risk for downloading and using it. Having a tree on the site that syncs to your home tree will provide you with a degree of convenient, free security: your tree will be backed up in two physical locations at all times (one on the software on your computer and one on the site).

backblaze online cloud backup for genealogyFor me, the bottom line continues to be control over my master family tree–and all the other files on my computer. So for me, the answer is to

1) Use RootsMagic as my master database on my desktop computer and download the app to my mobile devices;

2) Upload sections of my trees periodically to genealogy websites as I’m researching those lines in order to generate new leads and connections. (Doing this on MyHeritage led to my first ever connection with a distant German cousin!);

3) Use a cloud-based computer backup system that automatically backs up my entire computer (including RootsMagic files) on an ongoing basis. This protects me from losing files due to theft, disaster at my home, computer crashes, and anything else that threatens my data. I use Backblaze as the official backup service for Genealogy Gems, and I love it. It’s super easy, reliable and affordable (about $5 a month!). Click here to read more posts on cloud-based computer backup services.

More Gems About Caring for Your Family Tree

Online tree out of controlDon’t Lose Control When You Post Your Family Tree Online

Best Genealogy Software: Which Should You Choose and Why

How to Approach an Error on Someone Else’s Tree

 

What Ancestry’s Retirement of Family Tree Maker Software Means for You

I think this is a long post, but this is an extremely important topic. I hope you will invest the time to read it through to the end.

Family Tree Maker Discontinued

I travel the world presenting sessions on a wide range of genealogy topics. One of the presentations that is most near and dear to my heart is called  Future Technology and Genealogy – 5 Strategies You Need. In it I not only outline 5 strategies that genealogists can use to cope and thrive in an ever-changing technological world, but I share 3 major areas that I believe genealogists should be aware of as we move into the future. One of those is the desktop moving to the Cloud.

Certainly Adobe and Microsoft have already moved that direction by discontinuing physical software sales and moving to a Cloud based subscription service. But the desktop moving to the Cloud has been a more subtle transition in the genealogy space. Today, however, our industry was hit between the eyes with this new reality.

retirement pocket watchAncestry has announced the “retirement” of one of the cornerstone products in genealogy, the Family Tree Maker desktop software. 

I couldn’t help but think that Ancestry was striving to paint a picture of Family Tree Maker as Charles Coburn (in black and white of course) in his classic double-breasted suit, gold watch in hand, walking off into the sunset in a Jean Arthur movie. Perhaps it would be more accurate to visualize him being pushed out. Let’s start with the announcment that Ancestry released on their blog late Tuesday December 8, 2015, and then we’ll probe deeper:

Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software
By Kendall Hulet

Ancestry is proud to have made a significant investment this year to bring valuable new content and records to the Ancestry site. In 2015, we’ve made 220 million searchable historical records from Mexico available, more than 170 million pages from the largest collection of U.S. will and probate records, among others. We’ve also introduced new features such as Ancestry Academy and major advancements for AncestryDNA.

We remain dedicated to helping people gain new levels of understanding about their lives, and who and what led to them, harnessing the information found in family trees, historical records and genetics. As a company, we’re also continually evaluating ways to focus our efforts to provide the most impact and best product experience for our users through our core offerings.

True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.

Our subscription business and website, on the other hand, continue to grow and we are doubling down our efforts to make that experience even better for our Ancestry community.

Ancestry will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™, will continue to work, and Member Services will be available to assist with user questions. We will also address major software bugs that may occur, as well as compatibility updates.

These changes are never easy, but by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on continuing to build great products for our loyal Ancestry community.

If you have inquiries regarding Family Tree Maker, please reach out to our Member Services team. We’ll also provide updates on our blog as needed leading up to January 1, 2017.”

What this Means for Genealogists

In reality, I would wager to guess that this move is a cold, calculated business strategy, not a warm and sentimental retirement. And that’s OK. Business is good. If Ancestry didn’t do well in business, we wouldn’t have such easy and convenient access to all those records.

Discontinuing Family Tree Maker is a strategic move. The goal is it to get everyone from family history “dabblers” to seasoned genealogists to enter their family tree data directly onto a family tree housed on the Ancestry website. This puts them in the drivers seat.

It is keenly important to understand what is really happening so that you can make the wisest decisions possible for the life of your genealogical research. Our family trees are not Ancestry’s responsibility, or anyone elses for that matter. They are our responsibilities, and we need to be as calculated and ruthless in protecting them as any savvy CEO.

We must understand that it is more profitable for Ancestry to quit producing software CDs, and all that packaging to put the CDs in. It’s more profitable to stop employing and paying employees to ship all those CDs. Digital content is more profitable and easier for a company to control. But is that the whole story?

Absolutely not. Information is King, and it is valuable. Your genealogical information is financially valuable to genealogy companies. (Read Ancestry’s Terms of Service to refresh yourself on what they can do with your information.) Think AncestryDNA is only about your ancestry? You must understand that it is not. Aggregated data is sold in the marketplace to other companies. (Read this article at Wired.com about one partnership Ancestry has with the Google-owned biotech company Calico.)

Not to say it is not a worthwhile effort on your part to get your DNA tested – it certainly may be. But that DNA data has dollar signs written all over it. It is valuable. But today isn’t about DNA, so let’s get back to Family Tree Maker and your tree. How do you, the genealogist, retain control in this environment? Take on a “genealogist-protected approach” to your data.

The Genealogist-Protected Approach

Step 1: Purchase a new genealogy software database program and load it on your computer. I recommend and use RootstMagic software. RootsMagic is excellent, reliable and extremely well supported. Click here to read how they are ready to help you in our transition.

Step 2: Back up your entire computer with a Cloud-based backup service. This is critical to protecting and retaining control of your data. I recommend and use Backblaze. (Here’s an article I wrote that will give you a compelling reason not to skip this step.)

Full disclosure: RootsMagic and Backblaze are sponsors  of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. This is primarily because I use the products myself and have been impressed and satisfied with their products. Regardless of which products you choose, just be sure you put the Genealogist-Protected Approach into action.

I have stated numerous times in presentations, on the podcast, and here on the blog that I view family trees on Ancestry and other websites as “cousin bait” not primary family tree storage. Rather than upload my entire tree, I upload that for which I want to generate “genealogical leads.” My master tree and master database file is on my computer in RootsMagic, backed up by Backblaze.

You might be one of the many genealogists who has thoroughly enjoyed having your entire tree on Ancestry, and wonder now how you can get a software program that fully synchronizes with Ancestry. To address this issue, first go back and read the section above under “What this means for genealogists.” Remember, data is BIG business. The truth is that it is not financially beneficial to Ancestry to allow that to happen. They want to be where you house your master family tree. I don’t blame them. But, in my opinion, that’s not in my family tree’s best interest. Therefore, I follow the steps outlined above, and upload a gedcom of what I want circulating publicly in order to generate “leads”: hints and cousin connections.

whining genealogist protected approach paperI believe it is generally going to get harder and harder to retain control over our privacy and our data. We don’t know what the future holds for computer software. But no matter what happens, we as genealogists will still be 100% responsible for what happens to our family trees and our data. There’s no whining in papergenealogy. And last I heard they still produce paper and pencils.

 

FREE RootsMagic for Mac Options and More Great RootsMagic News

RootsMagic for MacRootsMagic family history software users now have better Mac options (including a FREE version) AND access to two new RootsMagic guides.

Recently I heard two great pieces of news from the folks at RootsMagic family history software. Here they are:

1. A better RootsMagic for Mac experience is here.

Their new product for the Mac last year (which was a great step forward) carried an additional fee and required extra steps to download and use. Now, says RootsMagic, “when you buy RootsMagic 7, you can now install it on both Windows and Mac computers in your household….Your single purchase includes licenses for both.” If you already own RootsMagic 7 for Windows, you can download RootsMagic 7 for Mac any time and use the same registration key. Click here for more on RootsMagic 7 for Mac.

Better yet, RootsMagic Essentials for Mac software is now available for FREE! Click here to download it from the website.

RootsMagic MagicGuide w logo2. Two new free RootsMagic user guides are now available.

These are Creating a Shareable CD, and Downloading and Installing RootsMagic for Mac.

Magic Guides are free PDF how-tos that cover a single RootsMagic topic step by step, along with both illustrations and tips. You can copy and distribute them for free (just don’t sell them). Click here to get these guides, as well as previously-released Magic Guides.

I use and recommend RootsMagic family history software for keeping your master family tree on your home computer. Click below to learn why. RootsMagic is also a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.

More RootsMagic Gems

RootsMagic Review: Why I Use It

RootsMagic Family History Software Now Available on Amazon Prime

Free RootsMagic Magic Guides

sharingThank you for sharing this post with those who will be interested, like RootsMagic users, Mac users and your genealogy buddies and society members.