Remember having to create a family tree in elementary school? Speaking to living grandparents and relatives was about as far back as we were able to glean information from, but not anymore. Genealogical software programs and family tree building is growing in popularity these days, and advancements in official data gathering and organization put our school projects to shame. DNA testing is easy-to-use, affordable, painless, and precise.
When choosing a family tree software to use, it’s important to choose one that’s reliable, as well as one that has positive reviews and a good reputation. Looking to find the best one but aren’t sure where to start? Read our breakdown of the top family tree maker sites to choose the right one for your needs.
What is Family Tree Software?
Genealogy software is a platform that helps users record, organize, and publish family trees, and connect with other relatives online.
These programs allow you to take a person’s basic details - date and place of birth, spouses, childrens names, place and date of death - and allow you to incorporate photographs, documents (ship manifests, birth certificates, obituaries), and other sources, in order to help you nail down the details that form the roots of your family tree.
One of the things that has made family tree programs so popular in recent years is the ability to share them. As you assemble your family tree online, it is searchable, meaning that possible connections can find you, and you can search and find them.
How to Choose Family Tree Software
When shopping around for genealogy software, you’re going to want to find one that comes with the tools that will best help you assemble your family tree - and easily.
- User experience: Ideally, you’re going to want to spend a lot of time on the genealogy software chasing down leads and building the mosaic of your family history. Look for a program that is easy to use, easy on the eyes, and doesn’t require any sort of special know-how to use effectively.
- The price: There are some free services available online but typically these don’t give you much. Look for a paid service that includes a wide-range of options, and if possible, includes access to historical records and databases as well.
- Make it shareable: Unless you want to keep your research confidential, sharing it online can really take it to the next level. Once you’re information is searchable, other people - including long-lost relatives - can find it through search engines. You can then share details with one another, and work together to build your trees at a much faster, more detailed rate.
- Mobile capability: While many amateur genealogy sleuths do their searching from home, if you want to be able to do genealogy work on the go, make sure the program is mobile-optimized.
- Printable charts: A printable family tree you can hang on your wall can be an interesting and thoughtful present or just something nice to hang up to show the fruits of your labor. With some programs you can also make your own family history book that you can print out, including photos, footnotes, and more. Not all programs will allow you to do this.
- Multimedia options: You may want to attach photos, audio, even video to your family tree. If so, look for a program that can support theerse uploads.
- Genealogy from other programs: Chances are, doing your research you will find other genealogy hobbyists who have already pieced together some of the puzzle. Look for a program that will allow you to upload information from other sites without losing a beat.
- GEDCOM: Genealogical Data Communication files allow you to share genealogical data between different genealogy software. It’s a very handy way to transfer and sync large amounts of data without having to re enter it manually. Make sure the genealogy program you use is GEDCOM enabled.
Why Use a Family Tree Builder?
When running through the tapestry of your family history, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the details. The further you back and the more you grow the canopy of your family tree, the more you could use a program that can keep it all together.
Family tree software can help you keep things organized and also keep you from duplicating content from one place to the next.
Genealogy software gives you a one-stop location to upload the photos, documents, videos, and other traces of your past, which back in the day would have probably been piled up in boxes of family heirlooms in the attic.
Genealogy software also allows you to upload your research to the internet, where you can find other possible relatives, and then work together sharing research.
A number of genealogy programs have also digitized archival documents - such as ship manifests and birth certificates - making the hand-written forms much easier to read and compile.
Put simply, genealogy software helps you organize your research, find and analyze historical documents, and gives you the ability to connect quickly and exponentially with researchers and relatives who can work as force-multipliers of sorts for your family history hunt.
Who Needs Genealogy Software?
Amateurs genealogy research is entering something of a golden age these days. Shows like “Who Do You Think You Are” have sparked widespread interest in genealogy and home DNA testing kits have given people easy to activate scientific tools to get an overview of their family history over the ages. In addition, social media has helped people track down long-lost relatives, classmates, and former colleagues with the greatest of ease.
If you’re one of the countless people who has gotten the genealogy bug, this software can really make your research and open up new horizons you didn’t know about.
The software is best for amateurs who don’t have a rolodex full of contacts or years of experience navigating state archives and the like. Genealogy software can help novices organize, search, and share their research, making it easier than ever to turn a hobby into a truly illuminating experience.
So, Which Family Tree Builder Should You Choose and Why?
- One of the largest and oldest in the industry
- Various pricing options
- Vital records from over 45 countries
- 24/7 customer phone support
- Largest international network of family trees
- Free trial
With 2.9 billion profiles, over 90 million users worldwide, and 40 million family trees, MyHeritage is a leader in the DNA mapping and family tree space.
It offers family tree software programs for genealogy and DNA testing kits whose unique results give you in-depth information about where you come from and who you are. Not only are its tests comprehensive, but they’re easy-to-use, well-designed, and intuitive. Additionally, its tests are made to help you build out your family tree by combining DNA results and family tree analysis.
The site can also help you find long-lost relatives around the world. After gathering your information, you can build a complete family tree. Everything can be done on MyHeritage’s site, which is built specifically for family mapping and analysis. MyHeritage offers competitive pricing, good customer support, and detailed ancestral insights.
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- Easy-to-use platform that can be accessed by web or mobile
- Over 6 billion historical records
- BBB accredited business
- Discover unknown relatives with the Smart Matches feature
- Free to download and use
Family Tree Builder is a free and powerful genealogy software for researching and building ancestry trees.
To get started you just add relatives to your profile. From there you can create beautiful charts and visualizations, and then share your history on your own secure family site. If you’re looking for relatives or are curious if you have any that are unknown, you can use the company's Smart Matches feature that lets you discover unknown relatives and contact them if they too have a family tree on the site.
You can also use the search function to look through billions of historical records and family tree profiles. One of the best parts of Family Tree Builder is that everything can be done from your mobile device, including adding photos to family trees, and running a relative search. The site was featured on Fox News, as well as in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
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- Customize your Ancestry homepage with your most used features
- Build and continuously grow your family tree
- Find long lost relatives with the “New Ancestor Discoveries” feature
- View, manage, and add to your family tree using the mobile app
- 14-day free trial
Ancestry offers a software that lets you uncover your ethnic mix, find distant relatives, and build a comprehensive family tree. To get started you just add a few family members to your tree, and the site will search for them in its record collections. If the site finds interesting information, you’ll see an icon of a leaf on the family member's picture. You can then look up that person, and if it’s accurate, add them to your family tree.
But the best part about Ancestry’s family trees is that the more family members you add, the more the site can tell you about your family and the more clear your history becomes. The company has over 6 million subscribers, has been featured in Fortune, and ABC News, and offers a 14-day free trial period.
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- Over 200,000 subscribers
- Database contains 5.6 billion names
- Free search
Newspaper Archive contains the largest historical newspaper database online. It has tens of millions of newspaper pages dating back to 1607, over 100 million obituaries, and millions of family history records. On the site you can research your ancestors and family’s history, or explore gripping news headlines and articles. You can also perform a free name search to learn about yourself or relatives. The information found on the site is really useful for creating in-depth and researched family trees.
Visit Newspaper Archive
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- Large genealogy learning and resource center
- Free 7-day trial
OneGreatFamily is an online genealogical service with the aim of connecting the world through a single database. The service uses your family tree to build one, central family tree that connects people from around the world. Anyone can use the service to learn more about their family and their roots. Experts and genealogists can also benefit from the site’s database of over 200 million names.
Read Full OneGreatFamily Review
Find Your Roots
With so many choices out there, with varying pricing plans and security features, choosing the right company is critical to a positive and successful family mapping experience. Use our recommendations of the top family tree builder sites to ensure the best and most accurate results possible.