A newsletter reader who is moving from Windows to Macintosh OS X sent an email asking if there are any good genealogy software programs for the Mac. He thought he would need to use VirtualBox or Parallels or VMware Fusion and then install a Windows genealogy program on his new Mac. I suggested he not do that. Doing so strikes me as being similar to playing tennis with one hand tied behind your back. Yes, it can be done but it is difficult, boring, and doesn’t really accomplish anything worthwhile.
Indeed, there are several excellent genealogy programs available for the Macintosh. My correspondent expressed some surprise when I stated that. These are all excellent genealogy programs for the Mac, along with links to some of my previous articles about each program:
Mac Family Tree: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+Mac+Family+Tree
Family Tree Maker for Macintosh is in a state of flux right now with new owners but should continue to be a leading product. See my article at: https://blog.eogn.com/2016/02/02/who-is-the-software-mackiev-company/
All of the above are as good as most Windows genealogy programs and all of them are native Macintosh programs. None of them need VirtualPC or Parallels or VMware Fusion.
In addition, a program called Personal Ancestry Writer II, or “PAWriter II,” deserves some special attention. It is a simpler program and does not have all the “bells and whistles” of the above four. However, Personal Ancestry Writer II does have one great feature: it’s price tag. It is available FREE of charge.
You can learn more about Personal Ancestry Writer II by starting at http://www.lanopalera.net/Genealogy/AboutPAWriter.html.
Finally, GRAMPS is a powerful genealogy program that is available for Macintosh, Linux, and Windows. It is also available FREE of charge. Many people use GRAMPS and never see any reason to upgrade to a more expensive program. The one downside is that GRAMPS is a bit more complicated to install than the others.
GRAMPS (an abbreviation for “Genealogy Research and Analysis Management Programming System”) was originally developed as a Linux program and then ported to Macintosh, Windows, BSD UNIX and Solaris. As such, the Macintosh version does have some prerequisites left over from its Linux implementation and requires some technical expertise to install it properly. I would suggest a Mac user read the page at https://gramps-project.org/wiki/index.php?title=Mac_OS_X:Application_package before starting installation. If you are familiar with the terminology used on that page, then go ahead and get started. However, if you are not familiar with “Intel 4.2.2,” “Power PC 4.0.1,” or use of the command line as detailed under “Advanced setup,” I would suggest you select a different genealogy program for your Mac.
For more information about GRAMPS, look at https://gramps-project.org.
None of these programs will be exactly the same as your favorite Windows genealogy program. There may be some features omitted but possibly new features are available in the Mac products that were not in your old Windows product. The “look and feel” undoubtedly will be different as well. However, whichever program you select, you will find a number of excellent genealogy programs available for the Macintosh. No VirtualPC or Parallels or VMware Fusion needed!
In addition, several Windows genealogy programs have been ported to Macintosh by using WINE, CrossOver, or some similar Microsoft Windows compatibility layer. Examples include RootsMagic, Family Tree Builder, AncestralQuest, and maybe some others I do not recall right now. In all cases, these are not native Macintosh programs. Instead, they are Windows programs that will operate on a Macintosh system because of the compatibility layer software that has been added.
Windows genealogy programs have been ported to Macintosh by using WINE or CrossOver will still look, feel, and operate like a Windows program. They will use the Windows keyboard shortcuts and icons, not that of Macintosh. They normally will add “drive letters” in the same manner as a Windows system, not using names like a normal Mac computer. They may or may not be able to use all features of the program while operating on a Mac.
If you are an experienced Windows user who has recently converted to a Macintosh, you probably will be comfortable with the mixed-mode characteristics of having to use both Windows and Macintosh user interfaces simultaneously. However, if you are not experienced with Windows, you probably will not want to use one of these Windows programs that uses a Microsoft Windows compatibility layer.