Ultimate Review of The Best Genealogy Software in 2021

Best Genealogy Software

DNA testing kits are all the rage right now, but plain old genealogy is still an extremely popular hobby.

These days it’s so easy to create your family tree using the latest technology.

Hand-drawn family trees covered with sticky notes are so last century. For the modern genealogist, tech is where it’s at.

Today several companies offer genealogy software to help organize information about ancestors, create reports and ancestry books, and share finding online.

Whether online or with a CD-ROM, the best family tree software is handy at publishing, navigating, and organizing facts and data about a family’s ancestry.

But with so many genealogy programs to choose from, how does a family historian find the right software?

Well, choosing genealogy software feels like looking for a new car. There’re so many choices and so many things to consider that it can feel overwhelming,

Though you’re not spending as much on the software as you would on a car, you’re still investing your research time and effort. This is not to mention the software is going to “carry” your ancestors around.

The good news is you don’t need to beat yourself much about the selection. We’ve scoured through the internet to come up with a list of the top 5 genealogy software.

Table of Contents

Quick Comparison Table!

Family Tree Maker

4.8

4.8/5
Legacy 9

4.6

4.6/5
Family Historian 6

4.5

4.5/5
RootsMagic 7

4.3

4.3/5
Family Tree Heritage 9

4.0

4/5

The Best Genealogy Software For The Money

The Best Genealogy Software For The Money

#1 Family Tree Maker - EDITOR'S CHOICE

4.7/5
4.2/5
4.8/5

Family Tree, popularly known as FTM, has been around for several years, and it’s the most widely used genealogy software.

It packs a lot of power and is the perfect all-rounder option, ideal for just about any genealogy task, including casual family research and advanced genealogy.

We chose the FTM as our editor’s pick because it provides all the basic features you would expect from a genealogy program and does most of them quite well.

But is it the right software for you?

Features and Benefits

FamilySync

FTM has numerous features, but one that stands out is the FamilySync.

FamilySync allows you to synchronize up to three family trees and is useful, especially if you’ve relatives working on the same tree as you.

Any data you enter on your tree will get added to theirs and vice versa, thus simplifying the overall process.

Color Code

Even with genealogy programs helping you organize data, it is still overwhelming to keep track of everything.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about any of that with FTM.

Its built-in color-coding helps you identify similar sets of information.

For instance, you can use the same color to identify members born in a specific location, those enrolled in the military, or even kids by the first or second wife.

Color coding is also handy at identifying specific lineages in your family line, such as a maternal line.

Image Editor

Many genealogy software don’t include an image editor, but the FTM includes a lightweight built-in editor.

It allows you to make simple changes to enhance any photos connected to your family tree.

Plus, it’s also easy to touch up old and faded photos without leaving the program.

Compatibility and Integration

FTM is a versatile software compatible with both Windows and Mac.

And that’s not all!

For long, FTM has allowed users to connect with Ancestry to upload their family tree and directly download records from Ancestry to their family tree.

With the latest release, however, FTM now supports FamilySearch.com.

This means that users can now connect and share on two of the largest genealogy sites and access a database with billions of records.

Online Support

Because FTM has been around for so long and used by many people, it has a wealth of online support in the form of tips, guides, tutorials, and how-to videos.

Plus, their website also includes a free digital companion guide to get you started on the software.

While the support is great, keep in mind that FTM has changed a lot over the years, including ownership.

Currently, the software is owned by Mackiev, who took the management reins in 2016.  The new owner made a few changes and improvements to the software, but don’t count on them to provide much support for older versions.

Pros

Cons

#2 Legacy 9 - Full Featured Option

4.6/5
4.3/5
4.6/5

Legacy 9, also known as Legacy Family Tree 9, has been around since 1997.

It’s one of the full-featured genealogy programs and considered among the best in the market.

The software has plenty going for it, but it’s is best known for its comprehensive and helpful charts that can generate cause of death and help track the cause of death of your family members.

Features and Benefits

Chronology Comparison

Chronology comparison is the compare two people tool, which lets you examine two people side by side.

It’s a useful feature, especially if you’ve two records with the same name, but you’re unsure whether they’re the same person.

Instead of manually using a spreadsheet or pen and paper, the software creates an automatic side-by-side comparison report.

Just select the two names you need to compare, and the program will do the rest.

Charts

This is one area Legacy 9 does well, better than any other genealogy software.

It gives you a variety of options for printing your results and sharing them with your family,

Some of the best charts include:

  • X-DNA, Y-DAN, and mtDNA charts- handy for tracking your lineage
  • Cause of death chart- it pulls causes of death from individual records.

Others include ancestor charts, descendant charts, and bowtie charts.

The program also lets you generate different reports based on the information you want to see.

Color Coding

As with the Family Tree, Legacy 9 also includes color coding for easy organization of your ancestors.

It helps with easy tracking of relatives with similar traits, such as children from multiple marriages.

The program keeps every data safe as it includes a secure online backup for your family tree. So, you never have to worry about losing your database.

Compatibility and Integration

Legacy 9 is compatible with Windows only, though their website has instructions on running the program on Mac using an emulator.

Fortunately, the program also has a built-in web browser, so it is easy to check out online sites without switching back and between Windows.

When it comes to compatibility with websites, Legacy 9 supports a bunch of useful websites, including Findmypast, GenealogyBank, MyHeritage, FamilySearch, and Find a Grave.

Online support

Beginner Genealogists will delight in using Legacy because of the simple and intuitive interface.

Plus, the Legacy Website provides various training videos and programs to guide you in using the program.

In case you get stuck, you can seek help from their help center that includes user forums and troubleshooting advice.

Pros

Cons

#3 Family Historian 6 - Easiest to Use

4.4/5
4.5/5
4.5/5

Family Historian 6 might not be as popular as the previous two items, but it doesn’t mean it’s less useful for genealogy tasks.

Its greatest strength is the ease of use. Historian 6 is a straightforward program to create a family tree with.

Yet, it doesn’t compromise its performance because it has the most powerful features of programs such as FTM and Legacy 6.

Features and Benefits

Ease of Use

Genealogy software can be challenging to use, especially for beginners. Often, you’ve to go through a thick buyer guide or watch several tutorials before getting started.

Fortunately, this isn’t the case with the Historian 6, as it’s the most straightforward program to create a family tree with.

Everything on the program is laid intuitively, and navigating through the different menus, settings, and windows is easy.

It’s easy to get started right away, even without the need to watch manuals or go through many tutorials.

One thing we like most about the software is you can configure it to different sizes, font, and position to your liking.

You can also choose the records to display on the property box or even create custom records such as occupation, cause of death, and so on.

Web Clippings and Citations

Web Clipping is yet another feature promoting the ease of use on the Family Historian 6.

The new feature makes it easy and quick for users to copy and paste data, including texts and websites from websites.

Simply drag the drop any feature into the property box, and the program creates an automatic citation to help you keep track of the data sources.

Customization

If there’s one area Family Historian 6 excels in is the customization front.

It allows you to play with the different settings to create a system that works best for you.

Dynamic Mapping Tool

Family Historian 6 comes with an in-built mapping tool that helps you trace your ancestors.

Additionally, it lets you color code them for easier identification, zoom in and out and view all the events that took place at a particular location and time.

And that’s not the only useful tool on the program.

Historian 6 also has a powerful tool for sharing your family tree with other relatives, either in the form of print or electronic.

Compatibility and Integration

Historian 6 runs on Windows only, but it can also link with other websites, including MyHeritage and Findmypast.

Unfortunately, unlike our previously reviewed programs, it doesn’t support Ancestry or FamilySearch, limiting the information database you need to locate your ancestors.

Online support

As with most of the programs we’ve reviewed, History 6 comes with a quick start guide and tutorials for easy learning.

The program, however, targets a limited online community compared to other products. This is because a British Company produces it, so it might be particularly helpful to those researching family roots in the UK.

Pros

Cons

#4 RootsMagic 7 - Best for Research on the Go

4.3/5
4.5/5
4.3/5

If you need a genealogy software that you can use on the go, you can’t go wrong with the RootsMagic 7.

It’s a perfect pick for those who need to work away from the comfort of their home.

In addition to portability, there’re numerous other reasons why you would want to choose this option.

The program is easy to use, integrates with Ancestry.com, and lets you create a wide range of charts and reports.

Features and Benefits

To-Go

One of the strengths of RootsMagic is portability.

It has a unique feature known as the RootsMagic To-Go, which allows you to load a portable copy of the software and data onto a USB flash drive, which you can then plug into any computer and pick up where you left off.

It’s a useful feature that lets you work on your family tree on any computer, even during a break or when on vacation.

This makes researching the rods at work, courthouses, or wherever easier.

Share Option

Sharing your genealogy data is made easier on the RootsMagic using a CD.

You can also create a website right from the program, with no coding required.

Plus, the program makes it easier to customize the information by adding texts, images, descriptions, and contacts.

Charts

RootsMagic lacks many comprehensive charts, as we saw on the Legacy.

However, it has extensive options for creating different types of reports you would ever think of.

This includes pedigree charts, relationship charts, and so much more.

Also, keep in mind that the program is among the few that support the same-sex-marriage, so it will even allow you to create a report for complex relationships.

And that’s not all!

The software lets you customize the data’s outlay, including the color, font, size, and individual boxes placement.

Compatibility and Integration

RootsMagic works on a variety of OS, including every version of Windows and Mac.

It can also connect to several different websites such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage.

Considering Ancestry is such a massive genealogical database, this integration proves invaluable for your research.

Support

RootsMagic’s support is underwhelming, especially considering what other options have to offer.

While it does include video tutorials and how-to guide, there’s not much other support. It also has a smaller user community.

Pros

Cons

#5 Family Tree Heritage 9 - Budget Friendly

4.2/5
4.6/5
4/5

Our last pick on the best genealogy software, the Family Tree Heritage 9, lacks the bells and whistles that other programs come with.

It’s a modest and budget-friendly option that won’t set you back much on your pocket.

Still, it covers all the genealogy basics and even has a few great features of its own.

Features and Benefits

Organization

Family Tree Heritage 9 excels organization, thanks to a research timeline that helps organize what to do and know your ancestors chronologically.

The color coding and tags are handy at identifying ancestors from different family lines. The codes also help with organizing family branches both on your computer and in print.

Once you assign a specific color to an ancestry line, say your father’s line, all members of that line are displayed in that color on the screens and charts.

Another way to organize your ancestors is by the use of tags. The program allows you to assign up to three tags per person and then use them for grouping people according to the occupation, location, dates, and so on.

Hints

As with all our previously reviewed options, this program offers web hints for getting the most out of your online connections.

The program also allows the merging of two-family trees, saving you the inconvenience of cross checking or removing duplicates on each tree individually.

Easy to Use

Another awesome feature of the Family Tree Heritage is the ease of processing bulk changes at once.

For instance, if you notice a mistake, like a misspelled name, you only need to fix the error in a single spot, and changes will be reflected everywhere else, instantly.

Chart and Reports

The program is a mixed bag when it comes to generating charts and reports.

While it’s awesome for generating quick, easy to read reports, it has a limited inventory of charts with generally uninteresting backgrounds.

Compatibility and Integration

Family 9 is only available for Windows.

That’s not its greatest flaw, though.

It doesn’t support in-app browsing, so you’ve to switch back and forth when looking for information online.

Secondly, it doesn’t support a mapping feature, so you can never identify your ancestors visually.

But the good thing is it supports direct searching on some of the largest databases such as Ancestry and FamilySearch. Both of these sites give you instant access to billions of online records.

Even better, the program can help you add other sites, something that most software don’t allow.

This is a useful feature, especially when searching for information from less-known countries.

Online Support

While Heritage 9 has some pretty amazing online tutorials, it offers a lot less than most of the programs we’ve listed.

It also has a limited online community.

Pros

Cons

Best Genealogy Software Buying Guide

Best Genealogy Software Buying Guide

There’re plenty of genealogy software in the market, and choosing the best one for your needs can feel a bit intimidating.

But it doesn’t need to be so because we’ve compiled a thorough guide that explains everything you need to know when selecting your next genealogy software.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Genealogy Software

Ease of Use

The first crucial element with any genealogy software is the ease of use.

Beginners will find the web-based option better as they’ve a more intuitive interface.

On the flip side, experts do better with downloadable software.

While most downloadable software is rather stark and available in outdated designs, most of them excel at capturing and organizing data.

Research

Obviously, research is a big part of genealogy tracing, and so, the best software should also offer integrated sources for better research.

The software should let you match your family trees members and automatically add information to confirm to your tree.

Most of them also offer direct access to public census records, but currently, you can only search records up to 1904.

Sharing

Once you’ve made some progress in building your family tree, you may want to print a chart out to display at home or even create a book to share with your extended family.

This is an element where downloadable software shines, though some web-based options are generous in this regard.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I Build My Family Tree For Free?

A: Yes, there’re numerous free genealogy software that will allow you to start your genealogy journey with no upfront costs.

However, don’t expect a lot of features as you would on a paid version.

Q: Is it Worth Subscribing to a Genealogy Website?

A: It all depends on what you’ve and what you need.

For instance, if you already have a wealth of information that delves deeper into your family history and plenty of knowledgeable relatives, you may not need a subscription, at least at first.

If you also have plenty of information to work from, such as census records or military records, you may not need a subscription right away.

On the other hand, if your knowledge of your family history is limited and you’re dedicated to creating an in-depth family tree, a subscription to a genealogy website can be a huge help.

Subscribing to a genealogy website will provide you with hints on your family tree, and this can be a huge time saver and an exciting experience, too.

Q: Do you have to submit a DNA sample to use a family tree builder?

A: It’s not necessary, but if you take a DNA test, there’s a potential to find DNA matches in the software’s database, unlocking hidden relative

Based on your shared DNA, it’s easy to know who you’re related to, and with permission, you can contact them an expand your family tree,

Q: Can you upload raw data from a DNA kit to start building a family tree?

A: Companies supporting both family tree builders and DNA testing will sometimes let you upload raw data from other companies.

It’s a good thing since it saves you the time and expense of having to do your DNA test all over again.

However, not all companies support this service, so check out what a company’s options are.

Q: Can genealogy software prove you are related to someone?

A: Many tree builders will offer automatic hints to matches of your relative in genealogy databases. This can help you find individuals that seem related to you.

The process isn’t infallible, though. Finding a database that matches your name and family dates doesn’t necessarily guarantee they’re your relative. It could simply mean they’re a stranger with the same name.

Q: Why are many genealogy software premium?

A: Subscription helps in maintaining the huge database of genealogy records for you to access.

Q: Is a large genealogy database important when choosing a family tree builder?

A: Definitely, yes. The more historical records at your disposal, the more likely you’re to find a potential match to a relative.

Also, keep in mind, some geographical populations have better representation in genealogy databases than others.

For instance, FindMy past is a fantastic source for British and Irish records. MyHeritage is the ideal software for US historical databases. TheGenealogist is best for those with Australian ancestry.

Wrap Up: Our Choice

Best Genealogy Software wrap up

Family Tree Maker is our editor’s choice, and for a good reason.

This genealogy software has a lot to offer for both the casual and serious genealogist.

For starters, it’s compatible with both Mac and Windows, so you don’t have to be limited by any particular OS.

This program can also connect to both FamilySearch and Ancestry, two of the largest databases worldwide, upping your chances of finding your ancestors.

Finally, we love that the program can sync with three at a go, making it easier and convenient to task-share the process with relatives interested in finding their roots.

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