Which genealogy software should I use?


20 December 2019
Family history software
Discover which family history software is best for your purposes, with our expert guide to what software is available and what it can be used for.

What genealogy software is available?

The various genealogy programmes available are all suitable for people new to family history but in addition, most are complex software capable of advanced research projects too.

Most programs allow you to create a digital family tree and reports as well as adding notes, digitised photos, documents and often, audio and video clips too. Most have the facility to set yourself reminders and create to-do lists. There are programs for PC, Mac, Linux, and for use from the cloud too.

Some of the programs will allow you to search the major databases (often via a subscription) for further information to add to your research. Some will allow you to sync your research so that you can have it on your computer and also added to the cloud or an associated app. This can be useful, enabling you to access your research on your smartphone whilst you’re out and about.

Current major family history software programs include:

Family Historian

Family Tree Maker

Legacy Family Tree


Tree View

Reunion (Mac)

Questions to ask before making your choice

It’s very hard to decide what software is best for someone else, so it’s worthwhile exploring the various options, using the list below to help you narrow things down. If you find the software that works for you it could be an essential part of your research for years to come, so take the time to think about what you need.

Content continues after advertisements

Ask yourself:

What sort of family tree chart displays and range of reports can the programme create?

Does it allow you to add notes, documents, photos, multimedia and sources?

Does it have GEDcom import and export? This is important, as it means that you can share your research with fellow members and can more readily transfer your research to another programme or website

Does it allow you to search your preferred subscription website from the software? 

Are there any free or cost-effective family history programs?

Certainly! A number of them offer cut-down versions; while they don’t offer access to all the tools in the program, they can be used on a permanent basis effectively.

Other programs offer a time-limited trial so it’s worth looking around and having a play around with the various options out there before deciding which one to buy.

For cut-down free versions, see Lecacy Family Tree Standard, RootsMagic Essentials and TreeView Lite.

In addition, many of the major data websites (Ancestry, FamilySearch, FindMyPast and MyHeritage) provide online family tree builders to which you can add your information. Plus, there are additional stand alone online family tree builders, such as Famberry and TribalPages.

QUICK LINK: Five family history hacks that will save you time 


Content continues after advertisement