A Report on “Which Computer(s) Do You Use?”

About a week ago, I published a 2-question poll asking newsletter readers Which Computer(s) Do You Use? 2,548 people responded and told which system(s) they use for genealogy tasks. I found the results to be interesting and decided to publish them here.

Question #1: What is your PRIMARY computer, the one you use the most for genealogy purposes, such as recording your own family tree? (Please check only one)


  • Windows 69.86% (1,780 votes)
  • Macintosh 19.15% (488 votes)
  • Genealogy services in the cloud (MyHeritage, FamilySearch, WikiTree, Ancestry.com, WeRelate, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding© (“TNG”), WebTrees, or a similar service) 6.63% (169 votes)
  • iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch (any system using Apple’s iOS operating system) 1.57% (40 votes)
  • Linux 1.18% (30 votes)
  • Other: View 0.86% (22 votes)
  • Android (either an Android tablet or smartphone) 0.75% (19 votes)

Question #2: What other computers do you use for genealogy purposes, in ADDITION to the one listed above? (Please check all that apply.) 


  • Genealogy services in the cloud (MyHeritage, FamilySearch, WikiTree, Ancestry.com, WeRelate, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding© (“TNG”), WebTrees, or a similar service 28.03% (806 votes)
  • iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch (any system using Apple’s iOS operating system) 26.22% (754 votes)
  • Windows 18.12% (521 votes)
  • Android (either an Android tablet or smartphone) 16.62% (478 votes)
  • Other: View 6.47% (186 votes)
  • Macintosh 3.55% (102 votes)
  • Linux 0.99% (29 votes)

I want to thank everyone who took the time to tell which system(s) they were using. That feedback will help me decide where to focus future articles in this newsletter about the various operating systems in use.

I didn’t see any major surprises in the above list although there was one minor deviation I would not have predicted: the number of Windows users versus Macintosh users. Various industry reports normally claim that Windows is installed on 85% to perhaps 92% of all desktop and laptop computers sold. That’s a lot higher than what the newsletter readers reported: about 70% reported using Windows and about 19% use a Macintosh.

I assume the difference is that the industry reports normally report on ALL computers sold for both in-home and corporate use while the report from EOGN newsletter readers is strictly for in-home use. I don’t doubt the industry reports that include corporate use but I strongly suspect that the number of computers sold for in-home use are higher for Macintosh and lower for Windows than the totals for both commercial and in-home use.

All in all, it is an interesting report and it will help me focus on which operating systems I should focus on in new articles. Of course, I won’t ignore any operating system, especially if some new product or service appears that is especially useful for genealogy applications. However, I probably will continue to feature more articles about Windows than I will for Macintosh. After all, that’s where the interest seems to be.



Chrome OS didn’t tickle the meter?


Thanks Dick. Next, I would like to see a survey of which genealogy programs/applications your readers are currently using; e.g., FTM 2017 (Mac, and Windows), Ancestry.com, MacFamilyTree, and many, many others. I visualize one simple, but long, list of choices that readers could simply check off the primary one(s) they use. Your thoughts?


I tried the Chrome iPad app because it was strongly suggested by one of the sites I use a lot as the optimal browser for use with their site, but found it to be a resource hog that seriously degraded the iPad’s performance. As a result of this experience, I will never allow it to be installed on any of my computers ever again.

Liked by 1 person

I’m really not surprised at the results. In my experience, most people doing genealogy are older, probably retired or close to it; somewhat traditionalists; aren’t particularly technology literate and don’t spend a lot of money on technology, so they’re not going to be ‘early adopters’. By ‘most people’, I’m referring to the large number of ‘amateur genealogists’ not the much smaller number of ‘professional genealogists’. Professionals probably embrace new technology quicker because it offers improved productivity and lowers costs but amateurs are more likely to be on a limited budget and more suspicious of new tech. My background was over 40 years in I/T and I’ve been a member of a UK family history society for about 18 years. I’ve just started writing articles for their society journal with a technology bent to try to get them to embrace new ideas so am facing the same issues as you of trying to be relevant. My first article pointed them to your newsletter because of your excellent suggestions on genealogy-related technology topics.
Keep up the good work.


    Can’t help but reply but not all of us “seniors” are computer illiterate, I have had Windows 95,98, XP and now Windows 7 pro…I can take a computer apart and put it together again and in the past added memory to my computers. Plus I fixed my granddaughter Windows 10 Laptop. My computer works fine, I have more gigs than I will probably use. I love the wireless. Unless my computer dies or I do I will continue to use it.

    I am a professional genealogist and belong to several Genealogy Societies. I only communicate through e-mails and by Land Line. I love direct communication with others.


    Good for you, Nan. Too many Millennials tends to forget that today’s senior citizens entered the workplace hand in hand with the Desktop PC and have spent their entire adult lives working with computers and software programs. In fact, today’s retirees including many of the people who invented those products. They are truly the original early adopters.


I currently use the cloud through windows 10. But, if Microsoft switches to a monthly fee (instead of buying the program outright), then you can move me to the Linus/Unix category.


I think your survey’s wording needed more thought. You asked about “computer” usage for genealogy but the choices were, mostly, for operating systems. So really, you should have asked six questions, perhaps with wording like this:
1a) What is the operating system of the computational device that you use most for doing genealogy? [possible answers being Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Chrome, Android, Linux, other]
1b) What type of computational device is that operating system hosted on? [possible answers being desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, other]
1c) What percentage of the time are you doing genealogy with that device via cloud-hosted sites/apps? [vs. using software loading from the device’s local storage?]
2a) What is the operating system of the computational device you use second-most for doing genealogy?
2b) What type of computational device is that operating system hosted on?
2c) What percentage of the time are you doing genealogy with that device via cloud-hosted sites/apps?


    The purpose of the poll was simple: to determine which software tools the readers of this newsletter are using. I think it succeeded well in determining that.

    I certainly could have asked a number of more sophisticated questions, asking which tools are being used for which purposes or for your suggestion of “What percentage of the time are you doing genealogy with that device via cloud-hosted sites/apps?” However, that wasn’t the goal. Even if that question had been asked and answered, I am not sure what I would have done with the results. Would I write different articles based on the percentage of the time that newsletter readers used a specific device on cloud-hosted sites/apps? I doubt it.


What exactly do you mean when you ask which computer or operating system we use for genealogy? Unless I’ve misunderstood you, Windows itself can’t be a tool for genealogy.
I agree with what Chad was saying – the poll answers need to be in the same category, and cloud genealogy is not an OS. I would have asked 3 questions – “what device do you use?,” “what operating system does your device run?,” and then “what software do you use for genealogy?”


    —> What exactly do you mean when you ask which computer or operating system we use for genealogy?

    If you have a genealogy program installed in a computer and use it as your primary record keeping tool, is it Windows or Macintosh or Linux? Or do you instead use an online genealogy program, such as MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation of Genealogical Sitebuilding (abbreviated as “TNG”), Webtrees, or something else.

    Again, the purpose of the poll was to tell me which operating systems and services newsletter readers are using. I think it did that well. However, I didn’t need to know “what software do you use for genealogy?” as I typically write about ALL new or updated genealogy products anyway.

    If I (or someone else) ever wants to create a more detailed poll for some reason that “drills down” and asks for more detailed information, your suggestions would be excellent. However, that was not the purpose of this poll.


    I agree, the wording really is ambiguous. You are essentially asking two (or three) questions in #1: I may primarily use a Windows computer, I may primarily do my genealogy research with that computer, and I may primarily record my research with a cloud service (accessed via that Windows computer).


I will be interested to see what happens as the Microsoft fees and automatic updates to computers set in. There are techies out there who have to keep tweeking (whether it is needed or not) to justify their employment. Personally, when I heard that a number of school systems are now using Chromebooks, it made purchasing one easier and I don’t have to deal with the Microsoft nagging and popups. As an oldster, I still don’t understand how “The Cloud” works but I do like the idea that if something happens to the computer all is not lost.


Several Mac/Firefox users commented that they couldn’t get to the voting link. I was one, and didn’t vote. I suspect that problem may have skewed the number of Mac users.


“I probably will continue to feature more articles about Windows than I will for Macintosh. After all, that’s where the interest seems to be.”

While your statement is absolutely true, I wish to encourage you to continue giving information equally to us Mac users. Although we are fewer in number, our needs are just as great. It’s hard being the underdog but we love our Macs and I for one am a die-hard Mac user, as I had so many difficulties with Windows for the many years I was a user.
Switching to Mac, I have had few if any problems – except for lack of information on how to use them, because so much literature is written for Windows.
Case in point: I took a class last semester at my university on using Excel, which was touted as “also for Mac users.” However, when I began the class, I was told that everything was for Windows users but we who had Macs could “go to YouTube” to get the instructions when they differed (names of keys, procedures, mechanics, etc.). I dropped the class in disgust.
This is typical. Because we are in the minority, we are marginalized. Please don’t do that. You have so much knowledge and are a Mac user yourself (which is what caught my attention when I was recently introduced to your blog), so I doubt you would. But I just wanted to add my encouragement and let you know that your information is greatly appreciated by this small segment of your readership, maybe even more than by the majority.


    True. I am using a Macintosh system at this moment to write this comment. When I have work to do, I almost always use the Mac. However, I also want to be aware of the needs and interests of the readers of this newsletter.

    I plan to continue to write about Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iPads, Android devices, Chromebooks, and more as they relate to genealogy or to low-cost computing. However, I wanted to know the PERCENTAGES of newsletter readers using each so that I could place extra emphasis on the one or two systems or services most used by newsletter readers.


I missed the poll. I use Reunion on my Mac. Love them both!


Perhaps the lean toward a higher percentage of MAC users is that they will answer surveys more than we WIN users would? 🙂 I was planning to answer – just didn’t get there before your post of response data came.


Kay Gregory-Clark August 7, 2018 at 9:04 am

I’m with Sharon—using a Mac and Reunion, which I think (after trying several) is the best genealogy software, and I wholeheartedly agree with Karen. I’ve used a Mac since it was first introduced, with smatterings of Windows usage whenever forced to by jobs. I have watched my husband and friends curse their PCs. I am a died-in-the-wool Mac user and I, too, was drawn to your column partly because of your Mac use. I’ve stuck with it because you cover so much I would never find elsewhere. I know you to be fair in your coverage, so in spite of the “percentages” (which we Mac users are well aware of), I hope to continue seeing articles about our OS and accompanying apps. Thanks, Dick.


I’ve been away from home a lot lately and although I had my Macbook Pro with me, didn’t have time to do anything that wasn’t urgent, so missed your poll.
I started years ago with a TRS 80 model 3, but graduated to an Apple 2C and from that to Mac, and have been on a Mac ever since. My system is OS X Yosemite version 10.10.5. On it I have Reunion for Macintosh version 9.0c which I love and need to upgrade. I have an iPad 2, version 9.3.5, on which I do very little in regard to genealogy. I use in with an app called Penultimate, for taking notes at genealogy conferences, and for making copies of documents held by distant cousins, when I go to visit them. I use Ancestry.com and Family Search among many others for research, but don’t like Family Search’s tree because other people can change it with unverified information. The same with My Heritage, which I think I’m going to drop. Other people verify a link and dozens of people get added to your tree who shouldn’t be there.because of poor work and lack of citations. I’m not a professional, but have been doing genealogy for 69 years, and have taken classes under Arlene Eakle, FASG in the 1970s, so do careful work, and resent having to waste my time trying to delete people or “facts” which have been added to my tree erroneously. I use Dropbox for sharing with a limited group of genealogists who do careful work. At my age, I don’t want all my work to be lost when I die, so I share with those who have been working with me for many years, but are much younger than I.


I also missed your poll. If you do another, it may help to include a reminder and link in several newsletters.
I use Reunion, Family Search and Ancestry on my MacBook Air and iMac. I also use their apps on my iPhone and iPad.


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