Last updated on July, 22
🏆 Best Genealogy Software for August 2021
Do you want to find out more about your family history? Genealogy software is the perfect tool for anyone who wants to explore their past and store all of your information in one place so you never lose it again! Get started now by clicking the link below!
What is genealogy software?
You could need a sort of online librarian to manage your family’s “book of life.” A genealogy software program can record everything about you and your family’s life by creating autobiography sheets that include pictures, videos, and other relevant hyperlinks.
Genealogy software is a data management program that traces familial ancestry and organizes details, names, charts, and other relevant information into multiple data fields. The records usually include date and place of birth, marriage, and death, and their connection to other family members.
Why do you genealogy software?
Genealogy software specifically aims to unravel your complex family relations and life stories. Here are three main reasons why you should start using a genealogy program now:
Store Information for Living Family Members
Aside from storing information about your deceased family members and ancestors, the best genealogy software can safely store current data on living family members. Compiling their data into this safekeeping software will make it easier, practicality-wise, to merge data into records once a living person passes away.
Genealogy software serves family reunions well since you can easily keep track of your extended family. Future gatherings can now be easier to organize since you can access a database where you can look up their contact details and location. Family tracing programs make it easier to reconnect with distant relatives and, if need be, reach out to your other hundreds of cousins.
Gain Autonomy Over Your Genealogy
People can only control the way they go down in history to a certain extent. Past politicians, artists, and other popular people usually have images that showcase a certain part of their lives. Genealogy software maintains your legacy the way you want it to be.
Compared to other public ancestry tracing software, the data that you place in your database remains that way you want it to be. You can control the details you find relevant to your and your family’s life stories.
Easily Access Family History on Genealogy Databases
Genealogy software is the best if you’re free to go back and forth from certain sheets. Since these are databases, you don’t necessarily need the internet to access information. Similar to your file explorer, all files (i.e., pedigree charts, records, pictures) are just stored altogether on your computer. Ultimately, a database is more reliable than a website since it has more stable and relevant features.
Core features of good genealogy software
As part of choosing the best genealogy software, you have to study the core features that define a good family tracing program. Below are the core features that genealogy software should have:
Aside from producing pretty charts and work panels, your software must have simple information visualization and a complete graphical pedigree tree presentation. This means that your family tree should be presented in an easily understandable manner where connections and details are crystal clear.
Basic User-Interface Features
A software’s user-interface is basically how you interact with the app and maneuver through its features. Your genealogy software must have these basic features to properly record all relevant family information.
This is a list of source repositories referenced in your data fields. This may feature hyperlinks, physical addresses, and contact information.
This is where you upload media files like photos, videos, and audio files.
Your genealogy software can produce tree charts arranged according to ancestry, descendancy, relationship calculations, or timeline.
Data fields are where you can input the data about a family member (e.g., first name, last name, sex, relationship, date, and place of birth).
This is where you can track and follow the progress of your family tree research. It shows you meaningful statistics.
Unicode is the ability of a program to support diverse symbols and letters from the alphabet (i.e., accent letters). This is an important feature seeing that names were pronounced differently before, and current names still use a plethora of accent letters. For instance, symbols such as “ñ” or “Æ” may not be available.
Your genealogy software must be able to compile online data coming from multiple sources. In addition, the genealogy database must be easy to convert or copy and paste to other programs like a word document or PowerPoint presentation. Your program should have a good Genealogy Data Communication (GEDCOM) formatting so that your family’s data can easily be read by other software and programs.
Genealogy software should be able to generate HTML reports with hyperlinks. This is so users can click certain hyperlinks so they can access clearer details about family members like a picture, video, or curriculum vitae.
More than just generating a report, your genealogy software should give you the ability to customize these HTML reports so you can constantly update them.
Custom Data Fields
In free genealogy software, you get basic features that usually that does not offer this option. But this is an essential feature for more detailed genealogy work. For instance, your family has a genetic disease passed down through the generation, custom data fields can store that specific type of information.
Statistics keep the data consistent and factually true. They serve as a way to spot mistakes in certain numbers like age and the date of birth and death. This can also be a useful feature in building more narratives about one of your family member’s life like the number of children they had, awards and degrees, and divorces.
This is also a good feature since this can create more complex social relationships that expounds someone's life. For instance, this can include feelings like the level of jealousy or distrust when it comes to inheritances and the like.
Your genealogy software should have a user-friendly interface where fields and buttons appear to be instinctual to use. For example, you are editing information about your aunt and you want to update some data about her son, can you easily click through the connections or do you still need to scroll down hundreds of names? Choose the one that is easier to navigate.
This feature is specifically for input fields, it is the ability to store past names and make it into a drop-down list. This is a good feature since you don’t have to repeatedly type the same last name or birth of place.
If your genealogy software program crashes or seems malfunctioning, your software developer should have solid online support to help you fix these bugs.
Although not exactly essential, genetic genealogy is still worth taking note of due to its science backing familial connections. This is considered as the future of genealogy software. If your genealogy software has this amazing feature then you can go through the DNA database and look for potential relatives as well. Some might be an estranged or war-separated ancestor.
Types of genealogy
Since genealogy software usually hosts the same set of purposes and features, they’re only categorized based on the user’s technical knowledge. Here are the two different types of the family tracing database:
Genealogy Software for Novices
Genealogy software can be used by people who are just generally interested in family affairs and wish to computerize familial connections. It consists of simple data fields and basic features. This kind of software usually works in a minimalistic way and does not require that much data-heavy information fields.
Easy way to keep track of all family members
Simple buttons and data fields
Tips in making research easier (e.g., suggested interview questions)
Easy to understand technical support page since catered for a wider audience
Clean and simple tree pedigree charts
Difficult to add additional data
Limited features (i.e., designing a pedigree tree, no online data collection)
Low GEDCOM conversion abilities to other data forms (e.g., PPT, dox)
Genealogy Software for Professionals
Genealogy software for professionals usually has more complex features. It has additional features like the Complex Relationships and Genetic Genealogy. This allows a more cohesive and immersive manner of entering data since you can build more detailed stories about a certain family member or a historical figure.
Open source feature allows modification of the software (i.e., additional data fields, options, and commands). However, there is a disclaimer wherein the open-source feature is usually done through the genealogy software developers’ preferred creator studio.
Easy conversion of data fields to other data formats
Fast collection of online data
Pedigree tree formation via DNA markers is also possible
Automatically format sources into formal citations
Charts are extremely detailed and can be categorized under certain conditions (e.g., females, diseases, etcetera)
Extensive storage space for media like photographs, videos, and audio files
More expensive than basic genealogy software programs due to extensive charts.
Major modification of coding might cause bugs and reboot prompts
Slow loading due to too much modified and complicated codes
Data privacy can be potentially threatened due to consistent online connection
Potential online syncing problems
Who needs genealogy software?
The users of genealogy software usually range from novices to professionals. Generally, anyone interested in maintaining family trees or autobiographies of notable people can make use of genealogy software. Here are the types of experts that can maximize the functions of genealogy software programs:
Historians can use free genealogy software programs to supplement their research on specific individuals and socio-historical contexts. Open source genealogy programs allow historians to create additional data fields to fully contextualize historical narratives.
Genealogists would use different methods to gather information about families such as going through historical records, conducting oral interviews, and using genetic analyses as well. Genealogy software programs have the capability to store all this data and make it easy for the genealogist to navigate through the information.
Researchers exploring topics that need historical or genealogical analyses can make use of genealogy software. This can make the whole research process easier for them as their data entry is automatically organized according to people and certain categories.
Medical professionals can also make use of genealogy software to track a family’s genetic disease and carefully study their impact on different generations. This is helpful in terms of narrowing down different physical and environmental factors that affect diseases and creating preventive measures to lessen the probability of developing the said disease.
Civil Records Officers
Since vital records like birth, marriage, and death are kept by the government, officers can maximize genealogy software programs to maintain records in an orderly manner. They can use this to easily access and modify the information at any time.
Step-by-step guide in choosing the best genealogy software
Step 1: Keep two principles in mind.
First, the program should effectively allow you to include all data that you have discovered during your research process. Regardless of whether the data seems to be conflicting with previously entered ones (e.g., inconsistencies in dates). Second, the genealogy software should have a panel dedicated to your sources or references.
Step 2: Go through the leaderboard of top genealogy software.
Narrow down your options and check genealogy software reviews while considering your computer’s operating system.
Step 3: Assess the features of the genealogy database software.
Look for the ones that you find more appealing like user-friendly interface, good pedigree charting, audiovisual file-saving ability, or operating system compatibility.
Step 4: Check the price and figure out if you find it reasonable.
There are free genealogy software and inexpensive ones as well. In free versions, you can only use basic features, and buying the premium version means full access to advanced and exclusive functions.
Step 5: Look for its compatibility with online genealogy websites.
Since genealogy is a family affair, making it accessible to cousins and other relatives is vital. You have to compare genealogy software with each other to check their levels of cloud-compatibility. There is also a version of open-source genealogy software where you can change certain parts of the code to fix bugs and synchronize with the software developers’ cloud.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Unless you’re a notable figure, getting an accurate family history online is near to impossible. There’s a chance of finding a bit of relevant information but it won’t be as detailed as you would want it to be.
This all depends on the historical context that your family has faced. There were some former colonies and countries that required people to change their names. So looking back at the socio-political history of your location can help you determine if your ancestor’s name was changed or not.
To know if you are related to someone famous, you need to have your comprehensive family tree ready and compare it with the famous person’s personal tree. Simply look for people common in both trees.
Definitely yes! Once acquiring your genealogy software, you can start by filling out your data sheets and going backward from there. Go through personal records (e.g., education, medical records, etc) of you and your family and organize the information into paper sheets and charts.
These kinds of records are usually found in civil (government) records. They view this as vital since these are vital moments in someone's life. Now, the government does not have all the files since some might have gotten lost. Each recording system varies from state, province, and city.
Genealogy software programs can usually store records on family connections but only you can identify and input the data. To determine the actual relationship between two people or two families, you have to trace it back to the ancestor they both have in common (i.e., a grandparent in common).
Most of the time, data is secured through the website’s personal encryption. But you need to check reviews and see if any security breaches have occurred with that genealogy software or website. In addition, go through the terms and conditions to check if the software company states any form of data collection, if it does, then they might be collecting your data for research or commercial purposes.
Yes, you can control who can view your family tree data. To exclude people from viewing your data, you can remove their names or email addresses when exporting the file. The best genealogy software programs would mostly focus on the person who availed the software and their relatives.
This depends on the genealogy software that you are using, but generally, people can access the family database offline especially if they converted it into a new file. Some internet-dependent software types need an online connection or minimal phone data use.
Numerous genealogy software programs have tutorial videos and blogs to develop your research and technical skills. Unless you hire a professional genealogist, software developers cannot personally collect your data or help you in researching information.
Yes. Genealogy is a modern science field that seeks to trace family history. Make sure to look for certified genealogists recognized by public and private entities.
It depends if you want to create basic or detailed family trees because online trees have simple features and genealogy software programs allow more complexity. Online trees have the advantage of storing inputted data forever and easily access such data. Although genealogy software programs can now synchronize data with online trees as well.
Most of the time, you do not need those. You merely need to download the file and install it. But there are cases where you need to download a file archiver to extract the zipped file of the free genealogy software.
Most genealogy software developers have a technical support page on the software itself or website. In the software, you can sift through the taskbar and look for the word “help.” It will offer a variation of questions that you can ask related to your problem and then show you a step-by-step process on how to fix it.
More complex problems like crashing or rebooting can be found on their websites answered with tutorial videos. If all else fails, the final option is to connect to their technical support and they will patch up your problem.
This depends on the genealogy software itself, but most programs do have this option. There are even cases where you input an unlimited number of alternate names and nicknames under one person’s datasheet. These can include title prefixes and suffixes.
You can add an unlimited number of events in each person’s family file. Each event can include more specific details like the names of people involved, the location of the event, and the description of what happened.
Genealogy software programs can usually handle a large number of generations, some can even handle an unlimited number for each family file.
The best genealogy software depends on what’s best for you. Since genealogy programs have varying features and interfaces, you need to find the one you are most comfortable with and interested in. You can try free versions of different genealogy programs first before you decide to make your big purchase.
Usually, genealogy software programs are inexpensive. Some might require to pay every month and some might require you to buy the whole thing and just pay for the upgraded versions.
Some genealogy software has browser extensions to make it easier for you to directly import it to your database. Just click the extension and this automatically saves it in your program. If it does not have a browser extension, you can convert the data into a source citation and import that into the resource project.
After skimming through dozens of articles stating genealogy software reviews from 2017 or best genealogy software of 2018 to 2019 and choosing the best one for you, here is how to use the software.
Compile all the family tree data that you have stored away. You can do this by painstakingly going through physical paper trails.
Create the genealogy sheet for yourself.
In storing the compiled data, the first step is to create your genealogy sheet to get the hang of the program software interface. Generally, genealogy software showcases a large “Add an Individual” or “New Entry” or any similar words for adding a new data entry option. After clicking this, a data field will pop up.
Check one of the data fields that enumerate certain events in one’s life like general information, birth, education, marriage, residence, death, and burial. Choose the General Option to start out with basic details like your name and sex.
Add notes and sources.
After that, slowly go through events that are applicable to you and fill out all the needed details. All design areas - where you input the data - would have an additional edit area where you can input personal notes and sources.
Upload relevant media to show who you are. This can be a video of your first birthday, graduation degree, and other life milestones.
Do the same for other family members.
After filling out your genealogy datasheet, add one of your family members and click the button - usually one that states mother, daughter, son - to state their connection with you.
After adding all your direct family members, you can check the dynamic family tree to check if the stated familial connections are correct.
View graphs, charts, or webs.
You also have the option to check your family tree in different mediums, like in a graph or chart or location webs.
Access public records and get notified of updates, if possible.
Some genealogy software has the feature of accessing public records online (i.e., someone posted job achievements on social media platforms) and emailing you for updated information. You have the choice to turn this feature on or off.
Update information and correct mistakes.
For mistakes, there are usually duplicate handling ribbons available and an edit button. So, don’t be afraid to make a mistake as you can still edit it anytime you want.
Open the genealogy software.
Import with the software.
Click the “File” option in the menu bar and click “Import GEDCOM.” If you click “Import GEDCOM”, a wizard pop-up will appear to help you correctly import your online family tree.
Browse through the files.
Choose your online tree’s current file format then click “Browse” to find your family tree file. Or click “scan” to automatically and quickly scan your computer for genealogy files. A list of files would be shown, and you can click the one you want to import.
Rename the file.
After finding your file, click “Next” to proceed and then choose the project name that you wish to name it.
Get the importation report.
Once successfully imported, the wizard would state its success and give you a detailed report on the importation (e.g., size of the GEDCOM file, the number of people in the family tree, etc.). Finally, click “Finish” and then you are done.
Open the genealogy software.
Export with the software.
Click the “File” option in the menu bar and click “Export GEDCOM.”
Choose what to export.
You are given the option to export what you want:
If you want to export certain generations or specific family units of the family tree, you can create your chart and just export that pedigree tree specifically.
If you want one name only, you can click “Export” and then highlight a name and click “Include.” You can click descendants if you want to include them.
Choose the output file format that you want.
You are usually given different options ranging from different versions of your genealogy software file extensions or third-party apps. You can simply choose the ”GEDCOM 5.5 file extension” since it is mostly compatible with all genealogy software programs.
Specify what data to include in the file.
After choosing the person or list of descendants you wish to export from step 3, you can choose what specific details about them you can export (e.g., photographs or document images).
Select where you want to save your file.
You can choose a folder from your file explorer and save the file under your desired name (e.g., “The Jones Family”) and click “OK.” Once the export is finished, you can click “OK” again.