Family Tree Builder for Macintosh, a FREE Program, is Now Available

MyHeritage has just announced the release of Family Tree Builder, a powerful genealogy program for Macintosh owners. I have been a beta tester of this program for the past few weeks and must say that I am impressed with it. Best of all, it is available free of charge. It is obviously the most powerful free genealogy program available today for Macintosh owners.

Disclaimer: MyHeritage is the sponsor of this newsletter. However, I believe I would write the same or similar words even if the company was not the sponsor of this newsletter.

The Macintosh product is based on Family Tree Builder for Windows, a free and very powerful genealogy program that has been downloaded more than 40 million times by genealogists all over the world. The program is easy to use. Entering names and other information about individuals is easy to do. Of course, if the user already has another genealogy program and is taking Family Tree Builder for a trial run, it is simple to export a GEDCOM files from the other program and then import it into either the Windows or the Macintosh version of Family Tree Builder.

There is a third option for entering data as well: synchronizing your online data on with Family Tree Builder in your computer. I will explain that a bit more later in this article.

The best part of Family Tree Builder, in my opinion, is how it smoothly integrates with the billions of records and global family trees available online on The software in your computer can (optionally) communicate with MyHeritage’s databases and search for matching records and additional individuals in your family tree that you may not yet know about. Best of all is the accuracy of those searches. In my experience, the individuals identified as possible relatives have been correct more than 95% of the time. I cannot say the same for some of the other “name matching” web sites.

Family Tree Builder for Macintosh is essentially a port of the Windows version to Macintosh. In fact, it appears to be identical to the Windows version although I suspect there may be a few differences hidden within the software. It actually has a “look and feel” that is identical to the Windows version of the same program. The menus for FILE, EDIT, and more appear in the top of the window in the same manner as any Windows program, not at the top of the screen as is normal with Mac programs. The program also appears to save its data files on the “C: drive” which is terminology familiar to Windows users but normally not used on Macs. The Family Tree Builder software creates “virtual disk drives” in the Mac that look and operate like disk drives on a Windows computer.

The Windows version of Family Tree Builder has been available for several years and has become very popular with more than 40 million downloads. However, Macintosh users (including myself) have been asking for a Mac version. In fact, a native Mac version is still under development. However, to meet customer requests, the company created a version of Family Tree Builder for Mac called Family Tree Builder Mac Extension. By using a system for porting Windows software to Mac called CrossOver by CodeWeavers, MyHeritage has created a Mac product that looks the same as the Windows version and does not require Windows or any additional setup or configuration when downloaded. That is the version that is available now. Once the native Mac version becomes available sometime in the future, it will directly read all data directly from the present version. There is no reason to wait for the newer version.

Downloading and installing Family Tree Builder for Macintosh is simple. First, download the file from the MyHeritage web site at Once downloaded, click on the new file, and it will expand and create an installer program. Follow the prompts, answer a few questions, and all the required software will be installed and ready for operation within a few seconds. Even though it contains two different programs, Family Tree Builder and Family Tree Builder Mac Extension, there is only one file to download, and there is no “special configuration” for Family Tree Builder Mac Extension. Everything is ready for use as soon as you install the software.

Family Tree Builder for Macintosh will run on any Macintosh running OS X. Any Mac running any version of OS X should be able to run Family Tree Builder for Macintosh without difficulty.

The new Macintosh version of Family Tree Builder includes almost all the powerful features of the tried and proven Windows version, including synchronization with MyHeritage, Smart Matches™, Record Matches, the consistency checker, charts, etc. However, there are several minor features not compatible with the Mac OS X that will be unavailable for Mac users. These are: maps, formatting in notes (e.g. bold, italics, etc.), book reports (though they can be created online), and display of right-to-left languages. Everything else works the same as on Windows, and the file formats are the same; therefore, you can copy Family Tree Builder projects from a Windows computer to a Macintosh and back again without difficulty.

When I first installed Family Tree Builder for Macintosh, it asked for my existing username and password for (If you do not have a user name or password, you can create a free account for However, an  online account is not required.) The software then connected to MyHeritage and asked if I wanted to synchronize with the data I had previously entered on MyHeritage. I clicked on SYNCHRONIZE and a couple of minutes later I was looking at information about 3,000+ of my relatives. The process was seamless. The data in my Mac included all the data, notes, source citations, pictures, and other multimedia items. It also preserved all the é used in many of the names of my French-Canadian ancestors. I assume it will do the same for acute, grave, umlauts, circumflex, reverse question mark, and the other unique letters used in other languages.

Again, an account on is not required. Both the Windows version and the Macintosh version of Family Tree Builder are very competent genealogy programs on their own. In fact, the Mac version is the most powerful FREE genealogy program I have seen for the Macintosh, even if you never use it with the web site. I suspect many people will download and use Family Tree Builder for Macintosh without ever connecting online. Yes, the program is that good. Not bad for a FREE program! offers several levels of membership. Details may be found at Family Tree Builder works with all versions, including the free version. However, there are advantages to upgrading to one of the paid versions and, if you do so, Family Tree Builder will take advantage of the larger databases and of the enhanced Smart Matching. Any new data added to Family Tree Builder will be copied to the online database any time you click on SYNCHRONIZE. Any data you contribute to will always be visible to you, including information about living people. However, others who look at your data will only be able to see information that you make visible to others. Typically, others do not see information about living people in your family tree.

If you are new to MyHeritage, I suggest you start first with a free account. If you like the service and wish to add more features, you may upgrade to one of the paid versions at any time.

Because of this newsletter, I experiment with all sorts of genealogy programs for Macintosh, Windows, Linux, Android, iPad, and iPhone. As I mentioned earlier, I have been one of the beta testers for Family Tree Builder for Macintosh for a few weeks. It has now become my primary genealogy program for my own use. I have now installed Family Tree Builder for Macintosh on both my desktop and laptop computers. I already had the MyHeritage app installed on both my cell phone and tablet computer so I can keep all my genealogy data with me wherever I am and all versions are kept in sync all the time. I may continue to experiment with other programs in order to write articles; but when I want to work on my own family tree, I will probably use Family Tree Builder for Macintosh or the app on my cell phone or tablet computer. At least, I will do that until something even better comes along. I suspect that I may switch to the native version of Family Tree Builder for Macintosh once it becomes available.

You can learn more about Family Tree Builder for Macintosh in the MyHeritage Blog You can also download this powerful, FREE Macintosh program at

You also may want to watch a video at



What about FTB for Linux? Are there any plans in MyHeritage as to this?


    I have not heard of any plans from any commercial software provider to provide genealogy software for Linux. Most Linux software for consumer use, such as genealogy applications, is written by individuals or groups of individuals working without corporate sponsorship.


I think I will wait for the native Mac version


I went ahead and downloaded and installed on my MacBook Pro. It is FREE but with a limit of only 250 individuals in the database unless you purchase a Premium (up to 2,500 people and with no tree search capability) or Premium Plus (unlimited people and unlimited searches) MyHeritage subscription. I’ll play with the FREE version then decide if I need MyHeritage in addition to my current Ancestry subscription. See


    Technically, the Family Tree Builder software for either Windows or Macintosh will hold information on unlimited individuals. You can enter information about hundreds of thousands of people, if you wish. HOWEVER, if you wish to use the option to sync data with, you need an account on the online service. Those accounts are free of charge for up to 250 individuals, $6.25 per month for up to 2,500 individuals, and $9.95 per month for unlimited number of individuals.

    If you never sync with, you can keep information about an unlimited number of individuals in your Family Tree Builder software. I suspect many people do that as it is an excellent FREE genealogy program. Syncing is an option.

    If you want to sync with the online service and you have more than 2,500 people in the database (as I do), you will need to have the PremiumPlus subscription that costs $9.95 a month or roughly $7.50 a month if you prepay a year in advance.


As a long time Mac user (since the 1984 128K Mac) and a former Mac software developer, it always distresses me to see developers who “port” their application to the Mac, and yet leave the interface 100% Windows in style. It shows they are trying to enter a market that is getting more and more popular as the Mac base expands, but is not important enough for them to go through the effort it takes to rewrite their interface to be consistent with the standards set down years ago for this platform. I suppose they could argue that they aren’t charging for the app, so just recompile it under the Mac OS X system architecture and that’s “good enough, as long as we get them to sign up for our data bases.” Well, I doubt that they will convince too many true Mac users out there to go this route with that kind of attitude. Good luck with that…


    This isn’t a port – it’s just the Windows executable running under a bundled version of WINE ( It’s a clunky, lousy way to run an application on non-Windows platform but at least they aren’t charging for it. I tried it out, it crashed at some point and would not fire up properly afterwards.

    That being said, this looks like a decent piece of genealogy software for Windows users and it does seem to produce a wide array of reports and charts. The app didn’t seem to choke on my 110K individual file either.

    Liked by 1 person

Thanks Dick. When you do your next genealogy software comparison article, I suggest you compare the two titans of the industry – FTM and FTB. Comments?


I’m curious to know how this stacks up with Reunion, the Mac’s tried and true program.


Why is this software recording data in ways that are not considered the “Genealogical Standards”? For example, recording dates as: Month, Date, Year instead of Date, Month, Year. Also why is it using married surnames for women instead of the maiden name as we have been told to do when recording women’s names?

I also was not able to use the “save and close” feature on my Mac.

I’m not impressed. Reunion for Mac has some deficiencies but it is better than Family Tree Builder in my opinion.


    I think you missed all the options that are available to you in Family Tree Builder, both the Windows and Macintosh versions. for in stance:

    —> For example, recording dates as: Month, Date, Year instead of Date, Month, Year.

    You can change that to Date, Month, Year or to Month, Date, Year. You also can select from Gregorian Calendar (used by most people in the English-speaking world and throughout Europe), Hebrew Calendar, or the French Revolution Calendar.

    —> Also why is it using married surnames for women instead of the maiden name as we have been told to do when recording women’s names?

    You can change that to whatever you wish. In the program, click on TOOLS, then on NAMES, and the change “Last name for married women.” That will open a list of four different options. Select the one you want.

    There are other options for names as well, such as to use the Spanish traditional manner of showing last names of children (which is different from the English speaking world).

    Family Tree Builder provides many, many options to configure the program to operate in the manner you prefer.


I’m curious whether you seeded your database via gedcom from anywhere?
My efforts at doing so were sub optimal.
Many tags/facts/events simply dropped off the planet, and source citations were no longer attached to the tag/fact/event they started out with.
Re the former, FTB support, prompt and courteous as ever, informed me was because the gedcom used was “non standard”.
As I achieved the same sub optimal results with geds from TMG, FTM and RootsMagic I contended that FTB should be able to cope with such geds, they are hardly obscure programs.
The source citation linking I’ve not yet raised with support (or possibly I did so several years ago as I have a memory of noticing this issue well in the past)
But that gripe aside, yes, as a completely free bit of software that does run on the Mac, without needing a virtual machine, it is impressive, but not enough for me to make it my primary program.


    —> I’m curious whether you seeded your database via gedcom from anywhere?

    My GEDCOM files are a collection of many bits and pieces of information I collected and manually recorded in a variety of genealogy programs over the past 30 years or so. As it was transferred from one program to another, then new information was added, and then the information was transferred to still another program and to another, all sorts of abnormalities probably have crept in.

    I fix the errors as I discover them. Someday, I am going to take six months off from writing newsletter articles and focus solely on maintaining my own records. Someday…


Elisabeth Osborne Curtis December 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm

My brother in England uses My Heritage on Windows and I have a Mac. What’s the best way to ensure that our computers can “talk” to each other, that we can share information, etc.?


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