Check your Google Security, Receive an Additional 2 Gigabytes of Storage Space on Google Drive for FREE

Google-logoIf you use Google Docs, Gmail, and/or Google Search (and who doesn’t?), Google wants you to check your security settings on the service. If you do, you will receive an additional 2 gigabytes of storage space on Google Drive free of charge.

You can check your Google security settings at

Introducing Family Tree Builder 8.0

Family Tree Builder is one of the more popular genealogy programs in the world. I am always surprised when those in the U.S. are not aware of it as it seems to be very popular in most other countries. (Disclaimer, Family Tree Builder is produced by MyHeritage, the same company that sponsors this newsletter.)  I am also giving a presentation at RootsTech in a few minutes about Family Tree Builder. The program is available FREE of charge for both Windows and Macintosh.

Today, MyHeritage announced a major update to the Windows version of the program is available today while an update to the Macintosh version will be available in a few weeks. Here is an excerpt from today’s announcement:

We’re excited to announce the release of a new version of our popular free software, Family Tree Builder (FTB). New version 8.0 has all of the features that you know and love, with a totally rewritten internal infrastructure that adds support for very large family trees (up to 500,000 individuals), and delivers faster performance.


Family Tree Maker to be Continued and With More Options Than Ever Before

The above headline should be published in a very large font. Ancestry, Inc., the publisher of Family Tree Maker genealogy software, today announced that the program will not be “retired” after all. Instead, Ancestry, Inc. has sold the program to another company that plans to maintain it and develop it further. In addition, Ancestry, Inc. also plans to connect Ancestry with the RootsMagic software by the end of 2016. This should be a delightful announcement for the many users of RootsMagic.

The following was written by Kendall Hulet of Ancestry, Inc.:

New Family Tree Maker Options

FamilyTreeMakerLogoSince our Family Tree Maker announcement last December, we have continued to actively explore ways to develop and support Family Tree Maker and ensure you have choices to preserve your work in ways that matter to you.

Today, I am pleased to announce two options for desktop software that will work with Ancestry.

Who is the Software MacKiev Company?’s announcement today that the company is selling the Family Tree Maker software business to Software MacKiev has created a few questions. For instance, who is Software MacKiev? A quick Google search produces several answers.

NOTE: The second part of today’s announcement states that RootsMagic will also be able to synchronize data with’s online family trees by the end of the year. However, that apparently does not affect the sale of Family Tree Maker, both Windows and Macintosh versions, to Software MacKiev.

Software MacKiev has its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. Specifically, it has offices at 30 Union Wharf on Boston’s waterfront in the historic North End. However, Wikipedia notes that Software MacKiev has its main workshop in Kiev, Ukraine. The company is best known for developing software for Macintosh systems which apparently explains the letters “Mac” in the company name: Software MacKiev.

MyHeritage Mobile App adds Audio Recordings to your Family Tree

MyHeritageAudioAppOral interviews are one of the most important things in a complete family history research project. Our relatives are a treasure trove of precious family information, and we want to make sure that their stories are preserved forever. With MyHeritage’s new Audio Recordings, you can interview your relatives directly from their profile in your family tree, and store the interview for future generations in your MyHeritage family site.

Audio files are uploaded to the family tree profile of the person you’re interviewing, where they can easily be listened to at anytime.

The new Audio Recordings app is free and available now on the latest version of the MyHeritage mobile app on the App Store and Google Play. You can learn more in the MyHeritage Blog at while the app itself can be downloaded by starting at

Announcing Branches FREE for iPad

Sherwood Electronics Laboratories Inc. has announced the release of a new “Viewer that has a Unique Google Earth™-like Graphical Interface for Viewing Genealogy and Family History Data from the FamilySearch™ Website.” Here is the announcement:

BranchesFREEforiPadSherwood Electronics Laboratories, Inc. announces the release of Branches FREE for iPad, an innovative new viewer specifically designed to view family trees and data downloaded from the FamilySearch™ website.

Branches FREE for iPad is an entry level app for downloading family trees from FamilySearch™ through the free FamilySearch™ service.

It allows you to download your own tree or that of any deceased person back as many generations as you like.

Twile Wins a Place in the Innovator Showdown Semi-Finals at RootsTech 2016

The following is an announcement from Twile:

  • UK-based tech startup will compete as one of twelve innovators from around the globe to win part of the $100,000 in total prizes.
  • First UK startup in the competition.
  • Twile will showcase their family history timeline tool to over 23,000 visitors at the world’s largest genealogy event.

Doncaster, UK, 10 January, 2016 – Following the launch of their family history timeline in April 2015, Twile have made it through to the semi-finals of the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech, which runs from 3rd-6th February 2016.

Announcement: rootstrust 1.0 to be launched February 2016

The following announcement was written by the folks at Atavus, Inc.:

rootstrust-logoAtavus, Inc. announces that it will be releasing version 1.0 of its advanced, multi-platform genealogy system rootstrust in early February 2016. “Taking on board valuable input from a team of international beta testers over the past twelve months, we have invested another 2000 highly targeted programing hours to refining and improving the program’s functionality. The result is very stable and the import of GEDCOM files from Family Tree Maker, The Master Genealogist, and other programs can be achieved with relative ease and speed,” explains Brooke Nelson, founder of Atavus, Inc. and developer of rootstrust. “Formal release is scheduled in Salt Lake City at Rootstech 2016. Please visit us at our booth.”

rootstrust is a software system designed to manage genealogy data. It is one of the few genealogy programs that can be operated on the Windows, MacOS, and Linux operating systems. It is written in Java and the same program runs on all three operating systems. The database is also independent of the operating system, enabling users to access and preserve genealogy data regardless of the computer they may be working on. The database can be synced with the Cloud.

rootstrust can be downloaded onto Windows, Mac, or Linux PCs or it can be run on a specially formatted USB device to enable full portability of the program and database across computers and operating environments.

Replacing Family Tree Maker, Part 1: How to Scrub Your Data

Following the recent announcement of the “retirement” of Family Tree Maker, many users of that program are planning to switch to a product made by a different producer. Of course, anytime you move data from one program to another, maintaining both the accuracy and the completeness of that data is critical. Keith Riggle has written the first of a multi-part article that addresses the problems and offers suggestions as to “how to do it right.” Keith writes:

“That’s the goal of this article: to help you identify areas where your FTM tree is non-GEDCOM compliant and start cleaning them up. Please note that this article is not about correcting factual errors in your tree.”

How Building Your Family Tree on Famberry Could Help You Claim an Inheritance

This may be a first for any genealogy software product: an automated method of looking for an inheritance. The following announcement was written by the folks at Famberry:

Famberry_press_releaseLondon, England (December 18th, 2015) – Famberry (, the private collaborative family tree builder, is pleased to announce the release of a new innovative Family Tree Buillder with technology to help you claim an unknown inheritance. Building your photo family tree on Famberry has never been easier with new innovative controls, artistic themes that allow you to customize the look of your family tree and a whole host of other features, including; timelines, personal photo albums and messaging. With Famberry, building your family tree and preserving your family history is truly a family activity.

The new family tree builder gives members the chance to claim a real inheritance that could be worth millions. Each day we check your Famberry family tree against the UK unclaimed estates list and notify the relevant family member if we find indications that they may be entitled to an inheritance. Each inheritance could be monetary, possessions or property and could be worth thousands or millions of pounds.

HuMo-gen: An Online, Web-Based Genealogy Program

HuMo-gen is an open source and free genealogy program that is installed on a web server. Unlike some other programs, HuMo-gen was not created by a corporation with an army of programmers. It was created by and is maintained by genealogy hobbyists who are also users of the program. The program can be used either as a web site in which you publish your genealogy information to the world or as your own personal genealogy program with all the information visible only to yourself or perhaps to a small number of relatives that you invite to participate. You decide who has access to the family tree.


HuMo-gen is classified as a GEDCOM to PHP program. This means it can accept a GEDCOM file (files that can be created and exported by all major genealogy programs) and convert that file to PHP files that display dynamic webpages on the Internet.

GedStar Pro for Android is now 100% Free

The following announcement was written by the folks who produce GedStar Pro:

GedStar-Pro-person-viewGedStar Pro, an app that supports detailed viewing of the data from your PC-based genealogy program on an Android smartphone or tablet, is now a completely free product (formerly cost $9.95). The app consists of a Windows program that converts data by directly extracting it from a Master Genealogist or Legacy Family Tree database, or by reading a GEDCOM file, and making it available for the Android app to display. Viewing options and other features are extensive, including a relationship calculator, graphic tree views, photos, and more.

The app will continue to be developed and updated for the foreseeable future, but with possibly a lower level of support. The main reason is simply age: both of the developer and the software packages used to develop it.

You can learn more at

Get 20% off: Family Book Creator helps Family Tree Maker users to Preserve Their Research

The following announcement was written by the folks who produce Family Book Creator:

As some of you may already know Family Book Creator is a plugin available for Family Tree Maker that allows FTM users to preserve their research for future generations. Family Book Creator creates book documents, which allow users to publish family books more or less on the fly in just a few steps.


The plugin is tightly integrated into Family Tree Maker and does directly access the information stored in your Family Tree Maker database. Which means that there is no GEDCOM export required.

Right now Family Book Creator is able to create the following type of books:

An Invitation from Heredis for Users of Family Tree Maker

Heredis is an excellent genealogy program for Windows and Macintosh in my opinion although I believe many others share that view as well. In light of the recent announcement about the “retirement” of Family Tree Maker, the folks that produce Heredis have issued an invitation to all Family Tree Maker users:

We invite Family Tree Maker software users to try the Heredis genealogy software. In addition, we offer – 50% on all Heredis 2015 software until January 3: a good opportunity to change the software. After, this date, there will be always this promotion (with presentation of proof of the FTM purchase).

Heredis accepts GEDCOM format to transfer data from Family Tree Maker software to Heredis.

To try the Heredis software for Windows:

To try Heredis for Mac:

To purchase Heredis visit or watch the video below or at:

Legacy Family Tree offer – upgrade from Family Tree Maker for $10 off through 12/31/15 announced last week that they will discontinue their Family Tree Maker software effective December 31, 2015. However, alternatives are available. In fact, Legacy Family Tree is one such alternative and is considered by many to be a better genealogy program than Family Tree Maker ever was. In fact, it is easy to export to export a Family Tree Maker database in GEDCOM format and then import it into Legacy Family Tree. The following is an extract from an article by Geoff Rasmussen in the Legacy Family Tree Blog:

We know this change is difficult (my very first genealogy software purchase was FTM…), yet know that you will enjoy Legacy Family Tree. Millions have already downloaded it.

A Special Offer for Family Tree Maker Users: MyHeritage is Offering the Family Tree Builder Genealogy Program for Windows and Macintosh PLUS an Unlimited Size Family Site for FREE

ftbThe recent announcement by Ancestry of the “retirement” of Family Tree Maker (see for details) has turned out to be a great gift for other genealogy software producers. Thousands of disappointed genealogists are now looking for alternative products. Several companies have announced “special offers” for Family Tree Maker users who wish to switch to a Windows or Macintosh program that will remain supported for some time. I will suggest that a new announcement this morning from MyHeritage should be seriously considered by any Family Tree Maker user.

Disclaimer: MyHeritage is the exclusive sponsor of this newsletter so I could be accused of bias. In fact, anyone who accuses me of bias is correct! To be blunt, I probably am biased. Even so, I do think this is an excellent offer and I will invite readers who do not share my biases to read the announcement and decide for themselves.

MyHeritage has announced a two-pronged offer: both Family Tree Builder software and an unlimited size Family Site for FREE. Of course, Family Tree Builder software for both Windows and Macintosh has always been free. (See my Free Genealogy Software article at for details.) The real gem in this announcement is the offer of a FREE family web site of unlimited size on

Free Genealogy Software

Everyone loves free, right? There’s good reasons for that, of course. The use of free genealogy programs can save a lot of money.

The free programs generally are not as powerful or full-featured as the programs that cost $25 to as much as $100; but, for many of us, the free programs are more than “good enough.” A free genealogy program also is very appealing to a genealogy newcomer who is not yet sure if he or she wants to invest money in what may turn out to be a passing interest. Of course, the newcomer can always later convert to a more expensive product with more features and use a GEDCOM file transfer to copy the information from the old program to a new program. See my GEDCOM Explained article at for details. One free genealogy program will also synchronize its data with a cloud-based genealogy service on the World Wide Web. (That is my preferred solution.)

Dozens of small genealogy programs and utilities are available free of charge. Many of them are not full featured programs that will record almost everything about an individual, provide all sort of printouts, and include multimedia libraries. The following is a list in alphabetical order of the better (in my opinion) and more full-featured free genealogy programs available today for Windows, Macintosh, and one program for Linux.

A side-by-side comparison chart of many of the available features in these programs is included at the end of this article.

Family Tree Builder for Windows and Macintosh

RootsMagic offers an Upgrade for Family Tree Maker Users, including a Free Book and Magic Guides

As mentioned earlier at, has announced the retirement of its Family Tree Maker genealogy software. Family Tree Maker support and online features will continue through the coming year. During this “sunset period”, many Family Tree Maker users will want to transfer their data into another desktop application that is actively being developed and updated such as RootsMagic. The folks at RootsMagic are offering a package that will make the transition as painless as possible.

The following is a quote from the RootsMagic Blog at

A New Home

More Information on the Decision to Retire Family Tree Maker Desktop Software

Ancestry VP Kendall Hulet has responded to some of the comments, questions, and criticisms that have been posted online following the company’s decision to “retire” Family Tree Maker. He writes:

Following the last Family Tree Maker desktop software announcement, we’ve seen your outpouring of comments, questions and the concerns you have raised. I’ve read through many of your comments personally, and I want you to know that we truly value you as customers and your feedback.

Here are three key things I’d like to re-assure you of after reading through your comments:

  1. We are fully committed to supporting Family Tree Maker through at least the end of 2016 with all available support from member services, including technical issues, product issues, updates and attention to the product. You will be able to use the software, exactly as you do now, including TreeSync, for at least the next year.
  2. We are exploring possible relationships with other desktop software solutions that would make it possible for their products to integrate with Ancestry.
  3. We are exploring options to bring more reports and related functionality from Family Tree Maker into the online service. Stay tuned for updates on this over the coming year.

Online Petition: Stop Ancestry from Retiring Family Tree Maker Software

David Smith started a petition to be sent to Kendall Hulet, Senior Vice President, Product at, to ask to keep Family Tree Maker as a viable product. The petition started with a single signature and, as of the time I am writing these words, now has 113 supporters. David is hoping that is there is enough outcry, Ancestry will reconsider. If you would like Ancestry to continue supporting and updating Family Tree Maker, you might want to add your name to the petition.

The online petition may be found at:


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