Genealogy Software Programs

SoftwareGenealogy software programs can be very confusing for many people. It’s hard to know why you need one when you start doing your family history. But after a while of accumulating information, it becomes quite clear and it becomes a burdensome task. For people that have been doing their family history for a while, it can be good to check out what is out there on an every changing technology front. One of the biggest changes on the horizon is Family Tree Maker won’t be developed or sold at the end of this year. Many people are angry and are now on the search for other genealogy software with support to rely on.

What is genealogy software?

Most people that are using a computer use software already. Software includes such things as Microsoft Office. Every day you may be using Word, Excel or Powerpoint. Software comes on a disc that you put onto your computer. Genealogy software is a way to save your information and be able to see it displayed in an organised way. The software is on your computer and only with programs such as Family Tree Maker can you put it onto the internet what you have in your program. But generally you don’t ever have to put it on the internet if you choose not to. To buy software, you can either go to a store like Harvey Norman or you can go on the internet and buy the software and have it sent to you. For example, if you want to use Legacy software, you type in Legacy and then go to their website, to download a free trial.

What to look for in genealogy software programs

Ability to record sources –  if you can’t record where you got your information from then the program is no good.  It is a general rule in genealogy to have three good sources to verify family members. Also looking over resources that you have already gone through is one of the biggest time wasters. So if you have your sources recorded, you will know what you have already searched.

Appearance – find a program that presents the material in a way that you are comfortable working with. If you cringe every time that you look at the screen and can’t read the writing, it may be helpful to look if there are settings to change the colours and the size of the writing.

GEDCOM output available –  GEDCOM is a standard format that has text-only files for sharing. Without this format then you may be missing many opportunities to share and use your family history. If you can put your files into GEDCOM you will be able to email or take your USB to share your files. Also many websites can let you upload your GEDCOM file to start your family tree.

Software support – It’s good to ask around for other people’s experiences in using and getting support for a software program. If you are stuck and can’t work out how to put pictures with your family members, then having a phone number handy to talk you through it, is well worth it.  Look at how often the software is updated and how much it will cost. You don’t want to be paying out money every year because the software is terrible and needs updating.

Cost – sometimes a software program may have standard and premium versions that are priced differently. It’s well worth checking out the cheaper version first before committing to a higher price.  Many of the programs allow you to have a version that you can trial from their websites.

Software can be a highly personal choice. It really is up to you what you want to get out of the program. If having a roll of the family tree that goes for six metres is important, then get a program that can do that. If appearance is important then get the program that you enjoy using. Just make sure that the software ticks all of the above boxes, so you don’t waste your time and money.

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