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 MyHeritage.com 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 MyHeritage.com. 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 http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder. 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 MyHeritage.com. (If you do not have a user name or password, you can create a free account for MyHeritage.com. 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 MyHeritage.com 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 MyHeritage.com 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!
MyHeritage.com offers several levels of membership. Details may be found at http://www.myheritage.com/subscription-plans. 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 MyHeritage.com 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 http://blog.myheritage.com/2015/01/family-tree-builder-now-available-for-mac/. You can also download this powerful, FREE Macintosh program at http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder.
You also may want to watch a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyPFCaWKIzw.