Researching your family history is a fascinating experience. Even if you find out that your ancestors led very normal lives. Just being able to see the name and life milestones of your great-great-great-great-great (etc) grandmother is exciting.
It’s amazing to be able to track your ancestry. But it can also be a confusing process. This is especially true if you have a common surname. Even with a unique name, family trees can be complicated.
Even if you have a mass of documents, it can be difficult to work out exactly what they mean. Even more so if the writing is difficult to read.
So if you have tried every avenue by yourself and have come to a dead-end, using genealogy software is a great way to open up more options. As researching family history is so popular, there are quite a few around.
But don’t worry. We’ve put together this guide to the best genealogy software available. Read on for a rundown of what each software can do.
Benefits of Genealogy Software
Producing a family tree is generally pretty easy. You probably made one in kindergarten. But when you start to go back further than just your grandparents, things get a little more complicated. If you are able to track your ancestors back multiple centuries, then you will end up with a lot of information. Not all of which can be drawn on a piece of paper.
This information is data that needs to be kept somewhere. Genealogy software can help you with storing this data.
This is one of the most basic advantages of using genealogy software. But it is by no means the only one. Depending on the software, you will likely be able to search through official documents and find even more information.
Most of us probably don’t know where exactly our own birth certificates are. Let alone our great aunt’s cousin’s husband’s birth certificate. So access to records will make a massive difference to your research.
Some software will also connect you with other family trees. Chances are, you have some distant relatives who are also using the software for their family trees. This will allow you to connect your trees, find out more information, and maybe even meet some new family members.
Now, let’s have a look at the basics. The table below gives an overview of which software can be used on which devices. This might not be your first consideration but it is very important. You don’t want to invest in software, only to not be able to use it.
|Software||Price||Windows||Mac||Android App||IOS App|
|Family Historian 6||$$$||Yes||No||No||No|
|MyHeritage Family Tree Builder||Free||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Family Tree Heritage Platinum 9||$/$$||Yes||No||No||No|
Family Historian 6
This software might seem a little expensive, especially when there are free websites available, but the features available do make it worth the investment.
First published in 2014, this software comes loaded onto a disk that you install onto your computer. This allows you more control over the software as you’re not reliant on an internet connection.
This software has some great software but first, let’s focus on the basics. The main feature you expect from genealogy software is the ability to easily produce a family tree. This software allows you to put together a beautiful family tree. It is easy to navigate and to edit.
Some genealogy software will only allow you to create a family tree with a few names and birth and death dates. But with this software, you can produce what is essentially an ID card for each family member. You can upload photos, add birth and death dates, as well as birth and death addresses.
This will make navigation even easier. Especially if your family follows the common tradition of naming children after parents. It will make finding people much easier when you aren’t looking through 30 Mary Smiths.
Another great feature is the ability to connect to other genealogy software. As mentioned before, features such as these are incredibly useful. If you’re looking for help after you have reached a dead-end, then this is the kind of software you need. This software can automatically match your family tree to others using family tree profiles on MyHeritage and FindMyPast.
This genealogy software is essentially a sophisticated database. This means that it has great storage facilities. You can easily sort and filter through all of the data. This is the kind of software for someone who has found a great deal of information and needs somewhere to store it.
This database means that you can also easily find lots of people, dead or alive. So, when you’re looking for information on someone in particular, you can easily search for them.
Another sophisticated yet easy to use aspect is the ability to create books, booklets, reports, maps, and websites. These are easy to produce and to share. Once the rest of your family find out that you’re researching the family history, they will likely want to know what you have found. So you can easily produce an exhaustive book or a simple report of your family history. This is a great feature and would make a lovely present.
Overall, this is an excellent piece of software. It works well as a simple database but also has some great features that are much more sophisticated. This is best for someone who has some experience researching family history. It is easy to use but the price and the wide range of features will be best for someone looking for a more complicated software than can be found online for free.
First published in 2008, WikiTree is a social-networking genealogy website. Just because this software is easily accessible through a website, doesn’t make it any less impressive. WikiTree still provides access to impressive genealogy software.
One of the best features of this software is that it is free. Although some other sites allow for free trials, they usually only last around 14 days.
As this website is free, it’s not surprising that the software that can be accessed is pretty basic. This is great if you’re just starting out with your research. You might find that there aren’t very many documents that identify your family. So it’s a great option if you don’t want to invest a lot of money in sophisticated software that you end up not needing.
So, what are the features that are available with this software? This software allows you to set up an account which will then take your information and add it to your database. This will allow you to find other people and other people to also find you. So, if someone has come across you as a potential relative, they will be able to find you and your information on the database. Then, they can add you to their family tree. And you can add them to yours.
The site also holds a good number of documents and records of births, marriages, and deaths. If they are available, they will even suggest potential documents that match your name as soon as you sign up.
This software is relatively simple to navigate. It does require some basic understanding of genealogy. And you will need to have a jumping-off point.
You can, of course, begin with yourself and build your family tree from there. But you will need a fair bit of family history to begin with. This is pretty much true of most genealogy software. It’s difficult to begin with very limited information. This isn’t the most sophisticated software and you likely won’t find many professional historians and genealogists using this software.
But, not all genealogy software needs to be of professional quality. If you’re only now looking into genealogy software, chances are you’re a hobbyist. Most people researching their family history do so just for the fun and general interest of it.
If, however, you have more serious goals, you may need something more complicated. For example, if you’re adopted and attempting to find bloody family members, then you can use this site. But the results might be limited.
This basic nature does make it simple to use. But it will take some time to understand exactly what you’re looking at in terms of research. But this is fine for a hobbyist as that’s all part of the fun.
Overall, this software is pretty basic. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re new to genealogy, complex software may be overwhelming. This might discourage you or make it unnecessarily complicated for you to achieve your goals.
This software is ideal if you have reached a point in your research where you have a good amount of data and need somewhere to store it. Then, there is the potential to find more information and potentially other relatives.
MyHeritage Family Tree Builder
The MyHeritage Family Tree Builder has some impressive features for a software that is free to download. It will be installed onto your desktop and is easy to use. You simply create an account, input some of your information, and get started.
As is to be expected with any genealogy software, the MyHeritage Family Tree Builder allows you to (unsurprisingly) build your family tree. But, the features don’t stop there.
The Smart Matches™ Technology will also match your tree to those of other users. This is a standard feature of most genealogy software. But the specific technology of this matching software is quite impressive.
But this software doesn’t just stop at matching you with potential relatives. It can also match your records. When you input data about your ancestors, the software searches through its database to produce historical records that might match. This means that you can potentially find the birth certificates of family members many generations back. This is a great feature and will take out some of the more arduous research.
This software allows you to add photos to the family tree. The tree itself is very beautiful. There is the option for a basic and modern layout. But you can also have your family tree laid out in a very classic style. The photos appear in oval frames as old-fashioned portraits would have. The background has the hue of old paper that has discolored and looks as though it has been taken from the shelves of an old library. There is even the image of a tree in the background. This, of course, is an unnecessary feature but it is charming. It’s a lovely feature and adds some beauty to what is essentially a basic research process.
Another great unique feature of this software is there are MyHeritage Family Tree Builder apps available for Android and iOS. This is a feature that isn’t available with many (and potentially any) other software.
The apps will allow you to access your family tree from anywhere. You can edit and update the family tree easily from your phone. So, if you suddenly find out some new information during a visit with a family member, you can add it straight away without forgetting it. It will also allow you to quickly access the family tree and check information whenever you need to.
It will also allow you to easily show other people your family tree, no matter where you are. Family trees are fascinating, especially if it’s your own family. So, the next holiday when you’re all gathered together and you’re not quite sure whether the person next to you is your second cousin twice removed or someone else entirely. You can have a quick look.
This software is pretty sophisticated so will take some getting used to.
One of the most commonly referenced features in the advertising for this software is privacy. According to MyHeritage, your information will be protected both online and offline. And you can share your family history only when you want to. This is a reassuring aspect as it can be concerning when software is able to match you with other people.
There is the risk that your information will be shared. If your family tree and overall record database are substantial, then there is the risk of a lot of information being shared. But MyHeritage promises to keep everything you discover as safe as possible. It will only share it at your say so.
Overall, this is a great genealogy software. Especially for a free software that is so easy to download. You can easily use this software. Whether you simply need to keep your family history in a digital format or if you’re looking to find other family members. This is a great software for both beginners and experienced family historians.
Family Tree Heritage Platinum 9
This is another software that costs a fair bit of money but it definitely isn’t the most expensive available. There are also two prices available, one is a little pricey and is a physical CD. The other is a much cheaper option that allows you to simply download the software onto your computer.
Spending money on genealogy software might seem a little unnecessary. Especially when we’ve included some great free options. So what makes this software so great?
The features of this software are modern but pretty basic. So this is a great option if you want to simply upload your data onto a secure software.
Basic isn’t a bad thing. Researching your family history is fun and fascinating but it involves a lot of paperwork. It also involves a lot of work that just involves collating names and dates. Keeping track of this is complicated, so the last thing you need is complicated software.
This software allows you to input and transfer data over. It can then be displayed in a range of different ways. The standard family tree style is available. But you can also display the data in a fan chart. This is a chart that displays information about family members in either a semi-circle or full circle format.
This makes seeing your whole family much easier. If you are looking for a genealogy software, chances are you have a large and sprawling family tree. So it’s probably becoming difficult to look through and keep track of everyone in the standard format with lineage lines. So, a fan chart might be ideal. It’s also great if you’re only looking for some specific people. A fan chart begins with one person in the middle and the rest of the family fanning outward. So, if you’re trying to track down the family members that stem from one specific person or family, this is exactly what you need to keep track of your data.
This software also allows you to produce exhaustive reports on families and specific family members. You can produce historical records and present your data and more general information in an easy to read format. This is great for your own records but also for sharing. Your whole family will benefit and appreciate the work you’re doing on your family history. So having information well-presented will be really useful.
You can also add photos and color coordinate the data you include. This will make tracking family members much easier.
You will also have access to billions of records to help you with your research. This software isn’t simply for inputting your own data. (Although it can easily be used for that if you like). You will be able to find a huge range of records, documents, and other people using the software.
This software is very easy to use as it is so basic. It is easy from the start. You can either purchase the software on a CD that you use to install it onto your computer. Or you can download it straight onto your desktop. Then you can get started straight away!
From then on, you can easily navigate the software. The database is very simple to navigate. You just type in your own name and you’re away! The software is connected to MyHeritage and FindMyPast and works seamlessly with them. You won’t be stuck trying to search through a mass of documents from someone with only a vague semblance of a relationship to you. Some sites will reduce you down to your name and first surname initial. This produces a huge range of people and potential connections. This might seem great at first but definitely won’t once you begin searching through them.
The charts, reports, and family trees will be easy to produce and display. The only difficulty might be in transferring data. If you already have information on Ancestry.com’s database, you can transfer your data over to the software. This process is relatively simple but will definitely require some concentration.
Overall, this is a great product for someone who wants to take their family research to the next level. It’s very user-friendly and easy to use. The displays are basic which makes navigating them easier. But they don’t look very appealing in an aesthetic sense. But, if you’re more interested in the information than how it looks, this isn’t an issue.
The ability to display information in a range of different charts and trees is a really great feature. This isn’t found on much other software. The database that is available for research is very impressive. Especially compared to a lot of other software available.
In comparison to other software, especially those available for free, this does have some good additional features. But they aren’t really enough to justify the large price. But that’s why it’s such a great thing that there is a much cheaper version of the software. This can be easily downloaded straight onto your desktop. Not only is this a more affordable option but it also means you can get started straight away.