Ancestral Quest 15The following is a summary of five of the “best genealogy software reviews” on the internet.  Before getting into the summary I would like to make a couple of comments that may help you make a decision on which software option is best for your situation.


Many companies offer the options of obtaining your software via disc or download. Companies go out of business, are bought up by other companies, change their business strategies, etc. This means that what you download now may not be available a week from now.

What happens if your downloaded version becomes corrupted or another glitch makes it unusable and you need to reinstall it to make it work?  Now you are without working software if the downloaded version is no longer available.  I would prefer the disc version even if it costs a few dollars more.  That way I maintain control over my family research.


Collaborative, or as I consider them, “public” trees allow anyone to enter or delete data.  They would be great IF “anyone” was as concerned about accuracy as they should be.

Twice I have had to “prune” out branches of my “private” tree because I entered data that I thought was from a responsible source only to find out after much work that it wasn’t accurate.  Then I had to go back and “graft” the correct branch onto the tree resulting in a lot of wasted time and work.  That is the reason I prefer “private” over “collaborative” trees.


     I will break down the summaries into three groups :

  • Beginner – For those who have been bitten by the genealogy “bug” and want to find out more about it before committing an appreciable amount of time and money into something that they may find is actually not for them.
  • Experienced – For those who have already invested some time and money into their research and want to upgrade to better software for any of a myriad of reasons.
  • Professional – For those experienced genealogists who feel qualified and have the desire to do genealogical and family history research for others.


The “experts” have identified five brands of software that I would consider “Beginner” software and of use if  I wanted to get a taste of what Genealogy was about without investing a lot of time and money.  Those five are listed in alphabetical order with notes from the “experts” and my personal notes:

1.  Branches

Experts’ positive notes: Most affordable ancestry program; does all the basic things and does them easily; not overly complex; great and unique views of tree

Experts’ negative notes: Not agile and comprehensive data management; not for serious genealogists; not the easiest program to learn, lacks chart quality and scrapbooking capabilities; poor GEDCOM function; mediocre navigation and data entry tools; cannot create reports or books; have to email manufacturer to determine version number; no continuous backup; problems with installation; not as full featured as other software

My notes: Number of negatives outweighs the advantage of the low price.  Not recommended.

2,  Family Historian 6      Amazon    eBay

Experts’ positive notes:  Best choice for overall ease of use; compatible with Windows 7+ & Vista; download; FindMyPast & MyHeritage integration; superior GEDCOM accuracy; highest grades for ease of use and data management; most intuitive user experience; no support for DNA results

Experts’ negative notes: Not compatible with Mac; fewer charts than Legacy 9 and not as artistic; lack of backgrounds leaves charts looking dull; more limited online community; no integration with Ancestry or FamilySearch; price; basic chart designs; mapping tool difficult to find

My notes: The exceptional GEDCOM capability could make this well worth the money if you ever decide to move your tree to some other software or website.

Getting The Most From Family Historian 6 (Paperback Book)

3.  Family Tree Builder Download

Experts’ positive notes:  Good for starter; compatible with Windows 7+ & Mac 10.6+; MyHeritage integration; download; GEDCOM import; free mobile apps; may be the ideal program for beginners because it is free and quite simple; DNA support; can add media; Family History map; free mobile apps

Experts’ negative notes: No Ancestry or FamilySearch integration

4.  Gramps Download

Experts’ positive notes: More features than many other free genealogy search options; search for name by location and/or date; supports listing of adoptions and same-sex marriages;

Experts’ negative notes: Can have problems importing files from older versions; has a “rather steep learning curve”; no comprehensive manual; wiki system for documentation and help support can require “some time” looking for appropriate information; method of entering Census data confusing and difficult to follow; updates for Windows very slow in coming; etc., etc.

My notes: Negatives outweigh the positives.  Not recommended

5.  RootsMajic 7 Essentials Download

Experts’ positive notes: free RootsMagic Essentials 7 version; free versions with no time limit but will miss best features

Experts’ negative notes: free RootsMagic Essentials 7 does not include a lot of the best features; customer problems with running Essentials 7 on Mac program


The “experts” reviewed six brands of software that I would consider to be for the “Experienced” genealogist.  These would be useful for someone going from beginner to experienced or for an experienced genealogist to upgrade from a brand that he or she is not satisfied with.  I have also included one brand, Family Tree Heritage Platinum, that I recently came across which was not reviewed by the “experts”.  Listed in alphabetical order with notes from the “experts” and my personal notes.

1.  Ancestral Quest 15     Amazon

Experts’ positive notes: Integrated with FamilySearch (free) and Ancestry (paid) and FindMyPast; view tree 4 ways; create To Do lists; GEDCOM export with media; NetFam collaboration feature eliminates need for GEDCOM file; Family View indicates if child has a record or spouse; can Pedigree view 7 generations (with large monitor) or 3 generations (with small monitor); straight forward and easy to use; online video tutorials; DNA support; can add media

Experts’ negative notes: Interface is basic; creating reports and charts somewhat difficult; NetFam requires placing tree on central server; $29.95 per year for collaboration service; no Family History map

2.  Family Tree Heritage Platinum 9     Amazon/Windows   Amazon/Mac    eBay                        

Experts’ positive notes: Covers all the basics with flying colors; available by disc or download; Ancestry, FamilySearch & Rootsweb integration and can help add additional sites; easy to merge two trees; can process bulk changes in spelling of names; great for producing easy to read reports; can link to more online sites than others; GEDCOM export, best software for printing

Experts’ negative notes: lacks some of the bells and whistles of others; more limited choice of charts with uninteresting backgrounds; no in-app browser; only available for Windows; very little online support; visual graphics somewhat lackluster

3.  Family Tree Heritage Platinum 15     Amazon/Windows&Mac    eBay

Not reviewed.  Can also be used for Family Tree Maker users to transfer database to FTH; disc or download; Research Timeline and Color Coding features; toolbar access to FamilySearch with registration and Ancestry with subscription; See website for additional details

4.  Family Tree Maker 2017

Note: Only available from  Expect FTM 2019 to be released summer 2019.

Older versions of FTM and FTM support products available at eBay

Experts’ positive notes: Best all-around, download or disc, compatible with Windows 7+ and Mac 10.9+; Ancestry and FamilySearch integration, wealth of online support; great all-around program for most users; best for working with other family members on same tree; GEDCOM export; A+ for data entry efficiency, scrapbooking tools and ease of use; well designed and easy to navigate; color coding to keep things organized; best bet if you’re out there working with other relatives or if you want to upload your final results to Ancestry; most popular;

Experts’ negative notes: Charts not as extensive as Legacy 9; may not support older versions; most expensive; no warnings for potentially wrong information

My notes: I have been using earlier versions of Family Tree Maker exclusively for many years and have been very satisfied.  I have not, and probably never will, make use of all the features available in those versions.  Reportedly later versions have not been of the same quality as the earlier versions since being produced by the current manufacturer, mackiev.

5.  Heredis 2018

Note: Heredis 2018 & 2019 only available from

Experts’ positive notes: Most stylish and largest variety of charts and reports of all software; quality of charts is unmatched; best charting capabilities; unmatched chart number, quality, variety and style; best for printing out family trees, genealogy reports and books; modern interface and customizable tools; highest quality charts with most options; excellent media file integration

Experts’ negative notes: Difficult to use, subpar GEDCOM accuracy; doesn’t automatically backup data; no undo/redo tool

My notes:  Appears to be designed mainly for producing reports, charts and books.  I would only consider this as secondary software to be used specifically for those purposes and in addition to primary software to be used for entering research data.

6.  Legacy 9

Note: Legacy 9 only available from

Older versions and support products for Legacy available at eBay

Experts’ positive notes: Disc or download; compatible with Windows 7+ and Mac with Windows emulator; best and most extensive reports and charts; FamilySearch, Find A Grave, FindMyPast, GenealogyBank and MyHeritage integration; X-DNA chart; secure online backup; online support; great all-around program; greatest number of charts; best for creating web pages; best for creating charts; free versions with no time limit but will miss best features; superior GEDCOM accuracy; very easy to use; excellent research and scrapbooking tools; excellent data management and research tools; “A” grades for navigation and data entry; interface is dated but pleasantly simple; automatic warnings when incorrect information is entered; best charts in the industry; great option if you really want fancy graphics and well-organized charts; best all-around; can add DNA; can add media; Family History map; place to attach parentage citations directly

Experts’ negative notes: Slightly harder to navigate than most; no undo/redo tool; no hints to help with research; average chart quality

My notes: Exceptional GEDCOM accuracy makes it worth the money.  Clearly a favorite of the “experts”.

7.  Reunion 12     Amazon/Versions 7, 8, & 9

Experts’ positive notes: One of best options for Apple laptop, iPad or iPhone mobile research; family tree easy to print out; easily attach photos, video and other media to family member; incredibly efficient data entry; “A” grade for ease of use and data entry efficiency; exceptionally designed; one of the best interfaces; some of best charting capabilities available; 100% satisfied; has ReunionTouch for carrying and updating files on mobile devices; excellent support

Experts’ negative notes: Limited to Mac; not compatible with Windows; some GEDCOM compatibility problems; cost; lost all multimedia jpegs upon upgrade from Version 11 to 12; lack of a place to attach a source citation to the relationship between parent and child; does not make use of common shortcut features

My notes: Not recommended due to price, not being Windows compatible and GEDCOM accuracy problems.


The “experts” reviewed one brand of software, RootsMagic 7, which I would consider professional quality software, and I have included one additional brand, Behold Genealogy, that appears to be of professional quality.  I have included some comments of my own and some comments of users and the manufacturer of the other brand.

1.  Behold Genealogy

My notes: Developed by a professional genealogist/computer programmer; view and use all data at once; organize and include what you want; reads all GEDCOM files and does error checking; Everything Report shows all individual data; Windows 7, 8, 10, Vista, XP, NT, ME and 2000 compatible; Mac compatible with Windows emulator.  See additional information and features at Behold Genealogy

2.  RootsMagic 7     Amazon

Getting the Most Out of RootsMajic 7 (Paperback Book)

Experts’ positive notes: Most popular with genealogists; available by disc or download, Windows (all) & Mac 10.8+; Ancestry, FamilySearch, FindMyPast & MyHeritage integration; offers all the basics; ability to have more than one data base open at the same time; RootsMagic ToGo allows loading portable copy of the program onto a USB drive and using it on any computer to make doing on-the-road research easier; extensive options for reports; free RootsMagic Essentials 7 version; top choice for road research without a laptop; more popular among professional genealogists largely due to portability; best for creating webpages; free versions with no time limit but will miss best features; GEDCOM export

Experts’ negative notes: Not many charts available; interface not as nice looking or as easy to use making it more frustrating for beginners; website more limited than others; does include some video tutorials and how-to guides and smaller user community; free RootsMagic Essentials 7 does not include a lot of the best features; customer problem with running Essentials 7 on Mac program; charting capabilities, relatively few graphics and charts


Ancestral Quest 15     Amazon

Behold Genealogy


Family Historian 6      Amazon     eBay                                                                                               Getting The Most From Family Historian 6 (Paperback book)

Family Tree Builder Download

Family Tree Heritage Platinum 9     Amazon/Windows      Amazon/Mac     eBay

Family Tree Heritage Platinum 15     Amazon/Windows & Mac    eBay

Family Tree Maker 2017

Older versions of FTM and FTM support products available at eBay

Gramps Download

Heredis 2018

Legacy 9

Older versions and support products for Legacy available at eBay

Reunion 12     Amazon/Versions 7,8 & 9

RootsMagic 7     Amazon

Getting the Most Out of RootsMajic 7 (Paperback Book)

RootsMajic 7 Essentials Download


Whether a beginner, experienced or professional genealogist I hope this summary assists you in making your decision regarding obtaining genealogy software.  If it does then I can say “mission accomplished”.  If you become aware of software that I have not listed I would appreciate it if you would let me know so that I can review the experts opinions for the benefit of all.  I have tried to keep my opinions to a minimum and have tried to defer to the opinions of the “experts”.


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