Declutter Your Inbox. Subscribe to Email Newsletters Straight Into Inoreader

This article is off-topic. That is, it is not about genealogy, family history,DNA, or any related topic. However, I suspect many readers of this newsletter will find it interesting. It describes a better way of subscribing to all sorts of email newsletters by posting them to an RSS newsreader instead of cluttering up your email in-box.

Comment: I have been using RSS newsreaders for years to cut down on my workload and I would hate to read dozens of web sites without a newsreader. For details, read my earlier article, Is It Time to Try a Newsreader? at

Here is a quote from the Inoreader web site:

“Inoreader now allows you to subscribe to Email Newsletters just as regular RSS feeds. By creating a new Newsletter feed, you have the opportunity to create a unique email address where you can direct emails and read them just as regular articles.

The Best Photo Editors for Chromebooks

I have described the advantages of low-cost Chromebook laptop and Chromebox desktop computers in past newsletters many times. For a list of those articles, see

If you own a Chromebook, you probably will be interested in this article. If you do not own a Chromebook, you might want to skip this article.

In the June 18, 2019 newsletter at, I recommended Polarr Photo Editor as the best FREE photo editing program for Chromebooks. (A “Pro version” is also available for a modest price.) I was pleased to see other writers agree with me.

Family History Hosting Announces GEDCOM Assessment v1.03

This strikes me as a major new software tool. If every software developer would use the GEDCOM Assessment tool announced today, the end result should be more accurate future transfers of genealogy data via GEDCOM.

The following announcement was written by Family History Hosting:

Narragansett, RI – February 7, 2019 – Family History Hosting, LLC is pleased to announce version 1.03 of free GEDCOM Assessment resources including assess.ged.

assess.ged is a special GEDCOM file you may use to test the GEDCOM import
capability of any program that reads a GEDCOM file and imports the contents.
By reviewing the results you can determine whether and how the target
application handles various GEDCOM records and record combinations.

SnipTag – a Helper Macintosh App for Genealogists

SnipTag is a photo scanning and metadata (adding captions and other information) program. It is useful for anyone who us scanning or manipulating digital photographs on a Macintosh but it strikes me as being especially useful for genealogists. I think it would be excellent for digitizing an old photo album that hasn’t been opened by family members in years as well as for other uses.

Of course, once the photos have been digitized, it is easy to share an entire photo album with family members by email personal web sites, or in any of several other methods.

Here are some statements from the SnipTag web site at (Keep in mind this is advertising written by the company, not an unbiased review written by me):

Announcing a New Update of Heredis, the Genealogy Software Available for both Windows and Macintosh: the 2020 Version

Heredis is a genealogy program that is very popular around the world. The program is one of the easier-to-use genealogy programs available today. It is also available in several different languages.

Now the Heredis producers in France have announced a major update for 2020 that includes:

Gramps 5.1.2 Released

Gramps (an abbreviation for Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System) is a very popular, powerful, and FREE genealogy program that was first developed for Linux and UNIX systems. It has since been ported to Windows and Macintosh systems.

As stated on the Gramps web site:

“Gramps is a free software project and community. We strive to produce a genealogy program that is both intuitive for hobbyists and feature-complete for professional genealogists. It is a community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists.”

Now Gramps 5.1.2 has been released.

You can learn a lot about Gramps at,, and at

The new version 5.1.2 changes are listed at:

It is strongly recommended that present Gramps users make a backup before upgrading to the new version. Instructions may be found at:

GEDCOM 5.5.1 Specification: GEDCOM-L Addendum

The GEDCOM standard was unchanged for many years. In the past few months, that status has changed dramatically. FamilySearch released the GEDCOM Version 5.5.1 (although it appears to be a rather minor update to the earlier proposal for changes). Other people and organizations have recently published PROPOSED changes to the GEDCOM standard. You can find the recent articles in this newsletter about GEDCOM by starting at:

Now the GEDCOM-L group in Germany has added a proposed addendum to the present GEDCOM standard. Here is the announcement written by that group:

The addendum is prepared by the GEDCOM-L group, a working group initiated by the Computer Genealogy Society of Germany (CompGen). More than 20 developers of genealogical programs have been working since 2009 with the following goals:

FamilySearch Releases GEDCOM Version 5.5.1

GEDCOM is an abbreviation that stands for GEnealogy Data COMmunications. In short, GEDCOM is the language by which different genealogy software programs talk to one another.

GEDCOM was developed by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (LDS Church) to provide a flexible, uniform format for exchanging computerized genealogical data.

(See my 2014 article, GEDCOM Explained, at for a more detailed explanation of GEDCOM.)

GEDCOM is not a program. Instead, it is a specification of the method that different genealogy programs should use to exchange data. The purpose is to exchange data between dissimilar programs without having to manually re-enter all the data on a keyboard. A GEDCOM file is a plain text file (usually either UTF-8, ANSEL or ASCII) containing genealogical information about individuals, and meta data linking these records together.

How to Convert PDF Files to Printable Booklets Using BookletCreator

Genealogists seem to read and/or collect books… lots of books. Books come from many sources but the places to always check first are, Google Books, Project Gutenberg , and several other sources of FREE digital books. You might want to read my earlier article, Where to Download Thousands of Free eBooks, available at:

I try to never print anything on paper. Instead, I normally read anything downloaded on a Kindle or on most any computer that can run Kindle software, including laptop computers, desktop computers, tablet computers, iPads, Android tablets, and anything else with a good sized screen. However, I also recognize that many people prefer to read from good, old-fashioned paper. If you also prefer paper, you might want to download and install a simple software tool that lets you instantly turn any PDF document into a printable booklet.

Yes, you can print a PDF file directly without any additional softare but the available options are limited. However, BookletCreator allows you to perform several actions not available in most PDF viewers.

Quoting from an article by Shianne Edelmayer in the MakeUseOf web site:

Incline Software Releases Ancestral Quest 16

The following announcement was written by Incline Software:

Salt Lake City, Utah (December 12, 2019) – Incline Software, LC, producer of Ancestral Quest™, premier family tree software for Windows and Mac, announced today the release of Ancestral Quest version 16. This new silver anniversary release provides exciting, easy to use new features, including a new Descendants View, printing of background images on many charts, improvements to AQ’s ability to sync with FamilySearch™ Family Tree, and more efficient ways to enter important genealogical data.

Major New Features

Descendants View A much-requested new feature, the Descendants view joins the Pedigree, Family, Name List, Individual, and Timeline views of the program. This provides users with yet another way to view and navigate the records within their database as they see descendants of any ancestor at a glance.

Share Data Elements When users add or edit events and facts for individuals, they can now share (copy) an event with other individuals in the database. For example, after finding a family of 10 on a census record, users can go to one member of the family, add a “Residence” event to indicate that the person lived in that location on the date of the census, and attach a census source to the Residence event. They can then Share that event and source quickly with the other 9 members of the family, without having to individually add the Residence event to each person.

Family History Hosting Announces a GEDCOM Assessment Tool

An ongoing discussion of GEDCOM versions and compatibility has been in the news lately. See and to find two recent articles about GEDCOM capabilities that were published in this newsletter. Now John Cardinal of Family History Hosting, LLC has issued a new tool for use by anyone interested in GEDCOM data transfers.

The new tool consists of a specially-constructed GEDCOM file and accompanying help pages designed to assess the GEDCOM import process of a genealogy application. Genealogists who use GEDCOM-aware applications may find it useful. Here is the announcement:

Narragansett, RI – December 2, 2019Family History Hosting, LLC is pleased to announce free GEDCOM Assessment resources including assess.ged at .

assess.ged is a special GEDCOM file you may use to test the GEDCOM import capability of any program that reads a GEDCOM file and imports the contents. By reviewing the results you can determine whether and how the target application handles various GEDCOM records and record combinations.

Many genealogists have evaluated a GEDCOM transfer by exporting from program “A” and importing into program “B”. That is useful for the specific combination of program “A” and “B” but introduces uncertainty into the process because missing information or unexpected results could be the fault of either program. Using a hand-crafted GEDCOM file focuses the evaluation on the import capabilities of the importing program. The results help end-users understand what will and will not transfer properly into the target application and the results help software authors understand how to tailor results for the target application.

Have you tried AncestorSearch on Google Search for Searching for Ancestors (or Living People) Lately?

Randy Majors is well-known to readers of this genealogy newsletter. He has created several mapping utilities that add functionality to Google Maps, primarily for use by genealogists. See for a list of past newsletter articles about Randy and his many Google Maps enhancements.

Now for something completely different. Randy has written a new and somewhat different bit of software to use Google Search (not Google maps) to find ancestors and even for finding living people.

Legacy Family Tree Black Friday Legacy and Webinar sale – 50% off

The following announcement was written by the entire Legacy team:

The Free Scanner App You Probably Already Have Installed

Genealogists often save digital images of old records. They might embed the images into genealogy program(s) or as separate files in a folder someplace on their hard drive(s) or in the cloud.

Today’s flatbed scanners generally cost $50 or so for basic scanners or as much as $600 or $700 (US) for the fancier models with lots of features. In the past few years, many genealogists have also learned to use their cell phones with high-resolution cameras as substitute scanners.

NOTE: For my earlier articles about using cameras as scanners, start at:

However, a bigger and often more expensive challenge is to convert the words printed in a digital image into computer text that can be imported into genealogy programs, word processors, or other applications. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software can accomplish that but the higher-quality OCR applications tend to be expensive and require a considerable amount of computing power to produce accurate results.

Indeed, there is a better and inexpensive solution: use Google’s high-powered servers in dozens of data centers around the world to convert digital images into text for you.

Help Wanted: Looking for Former TMG Users to Help Test a Future Version of Family Historian

The Master Genealogist, usually referred to as “TMG,” was a very powerful genealogy program for Windows. I have to use the word “was” because the company that produced TMG folded up and went out of business. TMG is no longer available for purchase, is no longer being upgraded, and no longer has a Customer Service department to answer customers’ questions and to help with using the program.

Despite all that, many TMG users remain loyal to the program as they have not yet found any replacement program that includes all the power and advanced features offered in TMG. Actually, I believe that at least one program is as powerful as TMG and has been available for years but many TMG users have not been aware of its existence. However, Simon Orde, the owner of Calico Pie Limited and the creator of Family Historian genealogy software, is looking for experienced TMG users who are also Family Historian 6 users, to test a new upcoming version of Family Historian. The new version (7) includes features added specifically for TMG users, such as an improved TMG import routine which automatically converts sophisticated TMG narrative sentences containing ‘variables’ (TMG users will know what I’m talking about) to Family Historian equivalents. I would refer to these volunteers as “beta testers” although that is my terminology, not Simon’s.

Family Historian is a very powerful and very flexible genealogy program for Windows. In my opinion, Family Historian has always been one of the leading Windows genealogy programs available. It always has been a very strong competitor to TMG and Simon Orde plans for the next release to be even stronger.

It is Now Official: Say Goodbye To Your Windows PC As You Know It

NOTE: This article is not about genealogy, but I suspect many Windows users will be interested in it. If you are looking for true genealogy-related articles, I suggest you skip this one.

In the July 30, 2018, edition of this newsletter, I predicted:

“Huge changes are coming from Microsoft. A new rumor is going around that claims Microsoft is switching from SELLING Windows to RENTING it instead. Some users think it will be an improvement while others believe it will be a major step backwards to computing in the way it was done in the 1970s when very expensive mainframes did all the computing and all data input and output by humans was done by using remote ‘dumb terminals.’

“Microsoft is getting ready to replace Windows 10 with the Microsoft Managed Desktop. This will be a “desktop-as-a-service” (DaaS) offering. Instead of owning your own copy of Windows, you’ll “rent” Windows by the month.”

Microsoft made my prediction come true this week. Microsoft has now rolled out Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). If you have a fast internet connection, you can run your desktop off WVD today.

Starting now, you no longer need to own a PC with Microsoft Windows installed. Instead, you can “run” Windows 10 on a Macintosh, Chromebook, Linux, iPad, or Android tablet.

calibre 4.0 is Released with New E-Book Viewer and New Server Capabilities

I have written a number of times about calibre (start at to find the past articles). calibre (always spelled with a lower-case “c”) is a popular and FREE app for reading and even editing ebooks. It does for electronic books just what iTunes does for music, allowing you to manage your digital book collection while offering excellent support for converting books to different formats and editing their metadata.

With calibre you can take an e-book in one file format and convert it to another that is supported by your e-book reading device and, if you’re not happy with the result, you can tweak the conversion settings and even manually edit the book’s contents and formatting. For instance, you can convert a PDF file to ePub format or to any of a number of other file formats. The result can be read on a Kindle, an iPad, on Windows or Macintosh or on most any other computer that has a screen large enough for reading ebooks. The calibre software is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

As described on the calibre web site at

TMG to GEDCOM Version 1.00 Released

If you are a user of The Master Genealogist (TMG), you will want to read about John Cardinal’s program, called TMG to GEDCOM. It exports a TMG dataset to a GEDCOM file. It is designed to maximize the transfer of data from your TMG project to any program that reads a GEDCOM file.

You can read more at:

The Proposed GEDCOM 5.5.5 Standard is a Better GEDCOM

I frequently mention the acronym “GEDCOM” in this newsletter. In short, GEDCOM (GEnealogy Data COMmunications) is the language by which different genealogy software programs exchange data between dissimilar programs without having to manually re-enter all the data on a keyboard.

For background information, see my earlier “GEDCOM Explained” article at For a more technical explanation, go to the GEDCOM 5.5.5 web site at:

GEDCOM has been available since the mid 1980s but the GEDCOM specifications have not been able to handle all data transfer requirements. The last widely accepted update to the GEDCOM specifications was released in 1999.

Later GEDCOM alternatives have been announced but have largely been ignored by the genealogy software developers. The genealogy program you use today probably adheres to the 20-year-old GEDCOM version 5.5.1 specifications. A lot has changed in genealogy data storage requirements in the past 20 years! We certainly need an update that everyone can agree upon.

Proposed Solution:

Announcing Genea – Your Personal Genealogy Notebook For Apple’s iOS and iPadOS Devices

Vertical Horizon has just announced the release of Genea, a genealogy notebook app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch systems. Quoting from the announcement:

Genea is your personal genealogy notebook, specifically written for genealogist.

Genea allows you to keep your notes organised and separated from your own family tree. When you find a family connection, you can easily export the note to import the information in your family tree.