Genealogy Software

When I give talks or teach classes, I am often asked for recommendations about genealogy software. People are looking for the “best” program to record and organize their findings.

The answer I give is that the “best” program is the one that fits the user–provides the desired functionality, works in a way compatible with the user’s workstyle, and costs what the user is willing to pay. Many vendors have free versions of their software or offer free trials, so it’s easy to try a piece of software before you lay out any money. My recommendation is to ask other genealogists which software they use, how easy it is to use, and what they like or dislike about it. It’s also smart to consult online reviews.

An excellent resource for this is GenSoftReviews–a free website where users rate the genealogy software (Windows, Macintosh, and Unix) they use. Each year GenSoftReviews announces Users Choice Awards for programs achieving at least 4.00 stars based on ten or more user reviews, with at least one review in the qualifying year. GenSoftReviews has just announced its 2017 reviews, which you can view here.

Which program do I use? As a Mac user, I’m limited to programs that run in the cloud or on my Mac. When I started out, I used Reunion for Macintosh, from LeisterPro. Now my principal personal family tree is a private tree on Ancestry. Linked to my Ancestry DNA kit is a public Ancestry tree. For cousin bait, I also have trees on MyHeritage (linked to my 23andMe DNA results and the kit uploaded to MyHeritage) and WikiTree (linked to my GEDmatch kit). I also contribute to the FamilySearch family tree. On my desktop and laptop I have several programs, which I use for different purposes. I still have Reunion. I also have MacFamilyTree from Synium Software, which I use for its beautiful charts. In the past I tried Heredis and Family Tree Maker. The principal applications I use, though, are Word (for creating timelines and analysis, and for writing reports and articles) and Excel (for creating tables, including timelines, and charts).