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Because it has been around for so long and is used by so many people, Family Tree Maker has a wealth of online support in the form of tips, step by step instructions and tutorials, and even how-to videos. Their website includes a free digital companion guide to get you started on using all of the program's features. While all this support is great in most cases, be aware that Family Tree Maker has changed a lot over the years, so some of that support might be out of date. Still, there are so many users out there that you can always find a forum to ask questions and get expert answers quickly.

For years, Family Tree Maker has allowed you to connect with Ancestry to upload your family tree and to directly download records from Ancestry into your tree. That means you can easily connect and share with the two largest genealogy sites out there with billions of online records available. There is no free trial available. Legacy 9, also known as Legacy Family Tree 9, is a fully featured genealogy program that is considered by many to be the best on the market today.

Legacy 9 provides everything you would expect, plus a lot of neat extras that are new in the latest edition. One powerful tool is the compare two people tool, which lets you examine two people side by side. This is especially useful if you have two records with the same name, but you're not sure if they're the same person. The side by side display lets you check them out easily rather than having to keep flipping back and forth.

Legacy 9 has the most extensive and in most cases best looking set of charts out of any genealogy program.

In addition to printed reports, Legacy 9 has built-in support to turn your family tree into a webpage automatically. It also has a built-in web browser so you can check out online sites without having to switch back and forth between windows. The program includes color coding for easy organization of your ancestors, such as tracking children from multiple marriages, and up to nine tags that can be used however you want. Legacy 9 even includes a secure online backup for your family trees, so you never have to worry about losing your database.


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On the down side, Legacy 9 does not support same-sex marriages yet, though that is supposed to be coming. The Legacy website is less flashy than most and a little harder to navigate at times, but still includes a help center, forums, and more. Legacy 9 is only designed for Windows, though their website includes instructions for how to make it work on a Mac using an emulator.

The Legacy website provides a variety of training videos and programs, and an extensive help center that includes user forums, troubleshooting advice, and even a suggestion box for you to tell them what features you'd like to see added. It can search these sites for your ancestors automatically and give you hints on where to find more information. Legacy 9 is available from their website here , and is available in two versions. The Standard version is completely free, allowing you to sample most of the features of Legacy with no time limit. Family Historian 6 is not nearly as well-known as Family Tree Maker or Legacy, but that doesn't mean it is any less useful when it comes to recording your findings.

You can get started right away without having to read a lot of manuals or watch a bunch of tutorials. The main screen includes both an ancestry chart and a separate details box for a selected individual, letting you enter information without losing sight of the big picture. Family Historian includes a "smart trees" option that lets you expand or collapse different parts of your tree as needed.

That means you can concentrate on just a small section at a time without your other branches filling up the screen. The program also offers tools to view two family trees side by side so you can compare them before deciding if you want to merge them. Family Historian includes a dynamic mapping tool that not only lets you see where your ancestors were, but lets you color code them, zoom in and out, view all the events that happened at a particular location, and more.


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Family Historian 6 also offers powerful tools for sharing your family tree with others in print or electronically. It includes about twice as many charts as Family Tree Maker, though not as many as Legacy 9, and they are not as artistic. The lack of backgrounds leaves Family Historian charts looking a little dull compared to other programs. The Family Historian website includes quick start guides and tutorials, but has a more limited online community compared to other products, especially Family Tree Maker.

On the other hand, because it is produced by a British company, the Family Historian community might be particularly helpful for those researching family roots in the United Kingdom.

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The program links directly with the MyHeritage and Findmypast websites, letting you easily locate information on your ancestors and download it directly into your family tree. However, unlike the other programs on our list, it does not include direct linking with Ancestry or FamilySearch. Family Historian 6 is available from Amazon here. There is also a day free trial if you want to test it out before you buy. RootsMagic is not as well-known as some of the other genealogy software, but that doesn't mean it isn't just as good.

It offers all of the basics you need, plus some useful bonus features. RootsMagic has some powerful features that you won't find in many programs, including the ability to have more than one database open at the same time. This can make doing research on the road, at libraries, courthouses, or wherever, much easier, and lets you enter search results right away. RootsMagic makes it simple to share your findings.

Built-in tools help you create custom webpages, CDs, and DVDs, and offers plenty of print options as well. This program is one of the few that currently allows you to include same-sex marriages in your family tree, and can manage other complex relationships as well. Compared to other programs, RootsMagic does not have as many charts available, but it has extensive options for creating every sort of report you're ever likely to want.

On the negative side, RootsMagic's interface is not as nice looking or easy to use as other programs.

My Family Tree

That can make it more frustrating for folks just starting out in genealogy. RootsMagic 7 works on the greatest range of operating systems of any of our picks, including every version of Windows since Windows and XP, and on Macs The RootsMagic website is more limited than most of the others. It does include some video tutorials and how-to guides, but not as much other support, and has a smaller user community. RootsMagic 7 is able to connect and download directly from such sites as Ancestry, MyHeritage and FamilySearch, giving you access to a ton of online records and databases.

RootsMagic 7 is available from Amazon here. RootsMagic Essentials 7 is a free version of the software which includes all of the basics you need to get started, and can be used as long as you want.


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Rounding out our top five picks, Family Tree Heritage 9 lacks a lot of the bells and whistles that the other programs have. Still, it covers all of the basics with flying colors, and has a few great features of its own. Family Tree Heritage lets you connect to Ancestry, FamilySearch, and RootsWeb, giving you instant access to billions of online records.

Like our other top five choices, Family Tree Heritage provides web hints for getting the most out of your online connections. Family Tree Heritage has powerful tools to make it easy to merge two family trees together, saving you hours of crosschecking and identifying duplicate records. The program makes it easy to add news sources, and a ditto tool that lets you quickly connect one source to many individuals. This can be a great time saver. One of the best features of Family Tree Heritage is the way you process bulk changes in your family tree all at once.

If you find a mistake, like a misspelled town name, you only need to fix it in one spot, and the program can update it everywhere else for you instantly. Other features include a research timeline that organizes what you do and don't know about an ancestor chronologically, color coding to help organize family branches both on your computer and in print, and the ability to add up to three custom tags to each ancestor so you can group them however you want. It is great for producing quick, easy to read reports, but it has a more limited choice of charts with generally uninteresting backgrounds.

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RootsMagic Essentials' friendly screens and menus allow even the most inexperienced computer novice to get up-and running quickly. Navigation is a breeze with both pedigree and family views, and RootsMagic Essentials lets you view and edit every piece of information about a person from a single, easy-to-use screen. Enter an unlimited number of facts, notes, sources, and multimedia items to each person and family. RootsMagic Essentials makes it easy to track multiple relationships such as adoptions, foster parents, and more.

Easily find and edit anyone in your file. The RootsMagic Explorer lets you type a person's name to quickly jump to the person, or find people with an easy-to-use criteria search screen. Add photographs, sound bites, and video clips to bring your family history to life. Then have RootsMagic Essentials include your photographs in your printed reports.

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Plus, keep all your apps updated. My Family Tree simplifies family tree creation to its basics. Add people and link them together to map out your family tree. With its focus on simplicity and ease of use, My Family Tree makes adding and linking people fun.

Create a quick and simple family tree and export to a pdf document for sharing with friends or family members. My Family Tree currently accepts only a few basic details of a person, such as name, years of birth and death and some notes, and is not intended for detailed record keeping. Instead it focuses on simplicity and its lightweight approach to tree building makes the process easy and fun. My Family More Note: The downloadable demo is version 1. My Family Tree computes the layout every time the tree is loaded, which in the case of certain complex trees, may result in the layout of the tree to change every time it is opened.

In such cases you may need to open the tree multiple times to get back the layout with which the tree was saved. If you face any issues in using the app, please let us know at myfamilytree miavy. Discover New Mac Apps.