3 Best Family Tree Maker Sites (Genealogy Software)
If you are a family historian, you are probably in need of a family tree builder. Luckily, there are many programs available on various web pages, in addition to powerful DNA test kits on Amazon and directly from genealogy websites. DNA test kits are a great way to begin exploring your family tree, but to actually record and document all the different connections you will need a family tree maker!
But, the search for a great family tree maker can be frustrating. With so many features, prices, and competitors - it may seem like the search for family tree software is more intensive than the actual ancestral quest!
In this article, we look at the most popular family tree maker software programs on the market, what they provide, and how to get them! Check it out!
What is in a Good Family Tree Maker?
Regardless of what family tree maker software you choose, all good programs will contain several of the following components:
- The ability to create and add to a family tree
- Areas that allow you to document specific ancestors with dates, historical information, and records
- Store photos and other media pertaining to individual family members
- Protect your information through online backup
- Provide resources for you to expand your search
- Export your family tree as a GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communications) file
- Has a good FAQ to find answers to the most common questions
However, some of the more advanced programs can provide a large number of extra useful features. Some have enormous databases of historical records you can search through. Others give you the ability to compare your family tree to other users, which allows you to expand your tree even further. And, some family tree maker platforms even allow you to connect your family tree to the Global Family Tree!
To help you with your search for great genealogy software, we have compiled the 3 best sites where you can get started!
3 Best Genealogy Software Programs - Be Your Family Historian!
Luckily, all of these programs are available online, work with Windows or Mac, and have all of the most important features of a great family tree maker. If you are just getting started, consider using the free versions. However, we have also included paid versions - which can offer much more powerful features and insights into your family history.
Family Tree by FamilySearch - FREE!
Family Tree, by FamilySearch, is one of the world’s leading resources for building and maintaining family trees. The platform connects with millions of other users to quickly and accurately fill out your family tree information! In fact, Family Tree currently boasts the largest continuous family tree in the entire world.
However, for those looking for a more private family tree software, be aware that FamilySearch is a large community that contributes to everyone’s family tree. Your contributions - in adding family members, resources, and historical data - are instantly uploaded and added to all family trees that those members appear in. This makes Family Tree one of the best sites for expansive family trees, but can leave some people feeling a bit exposed.
FamilySearch is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What started as a way for church members to trace and analyze their family lines has expanded into one of the most accessible resources to research and expand your family tree. The site has access to billions of historical records - all of which are FREE!
But, there are several other options you may want to consider before starting with Family Tree. For instance, the site does not allow you to upload a GEDCOM file. So, if you have already started a family tree on another software program, there will be no way to import the information into Family Tree. So, get ready for a large amount of manual entry.
WikiTree - a free site operated by Interesting.com and WikiTree Community Members - is another great resource for developing and connecting your family tree. The entire premise behind WikiTree is that through a combined effort, we can eventually connect every human on Earth into a single, global family tree.
Unlike FamilySearch, WikiTree allows you to keep certain parts of your family tree private. For instance, your immediate and living family members are kept private - only you can make edits to these members. As the tree goes back further in time, the privacy controls open up. This allows community members to build on common ancestors in a very constructive way that still protects the privacy of your closest family members.
The “Wiki” aspect of this site comes from the many useful, “Wikipedia-like” pages that discuss various families, historical events, and other important historical resources needed to fully research your family history. Plus, with the highly-involved WikiTree Community Members, you can get updates and new information from professional genealogists contributing to the project from all over the world!
One benefit of using WikiTree over FamilySearch is that the WikiTree community is more developed. On FamilySearch, because anyone can edit any record, users often find that their family members have been incorrectly altered or changed. In WikiTree, you have a “veto” power over the profiles you create. This allows you to reject incorrect changes before they make their way to the public site. This is one powerful advantage over FamilySearch.
Plus, WikiTree operates under a strict “Honor Code” that all users must sign and accept before they are allowed to build trees and make changes to other profiles. While this simple measure may not seem like much, it actually creates a much more collaborative and engaged community that may ultimately surpass FamilySearch in popularity.
If you think both of these sites are cool, but not quite extensive enough for your needs, look no further than Ancestry.com.
Ancestry is one of the oldest and biggest companies focusing on genealogical records. Starting with an Ancestry Magazine several decades ago, Ancestry has morphed into an internet-based family tree search that allows you to build and maintain a private family tree. Plus, with modern DNA test kits, AncestryDNA allows you to connect directly to living relatives using your DNA results. This feature is not available on any of the free genealogy programs.
While it is technically free to build a family tree on Ancestry.com, you will get much more information and more powerful features if you opt into the subscription packages. Packages range from $25/month to $50/month. The lowest tier allows you to get access to all U.S. records on Ancestry, while the more comprehensive subscriptions give you access to worldwide historical records, access to Newspapers.com, and Fold3.com - a military records site.
With or without a subscription, Ancestry will give you powerful hints - called “leaves” - which you can connect to your tree and explore further with a subscription plan. These leaves lead to all sorts of historical records that Ancestry has digitized. Once you have found a certain record, you can save it directly to your family tree to ensure that the lives of your ancestors are clearly documented.
Ancestry also provides interactive maps based on your DNA, family tree charts, and a number of other powerful tools for expanding your family tree maker file. Plus, with family tree templates and free updates and syncing capabilities you can get the latest modifications to your tree in real-time. Since Ancestry is one of the biggest and oldest genealogy companies, you can feel assured that giving them your credit card is not going to lead to trouble - unlike some smaller companies that are not located in the United States.
It should be noted that Ancestry is very similar to MyHeritage (MyHeritage.com), and that the two companies are really only different in the regions that they serve. Both have powerful software, which can even be used on an Android phone to do your genealogy research. From an ease of use standpoint, these companies are by far the best option - which is part of the reason they are two of the best genealogy sites!