Category Archives: Genealogy Software Programs

Ancestral Quest 16 Software Released

I received an email from Gaylon Findlay about the release of Ancestral Quest 16 genealogy software while we were on our recent Hawaiian cruise and promised to share the information with my readers when I returned home.

Here is the 12 December press release, in case you haven’t seen it.

Ancestral Quest is an excellent genealogy software program and is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

If you would like more information about AQ 16, visit Incline Software.


Gaylon Findlay
President, Incline Software LC


Incline Software Releases Ancestral Quest 16

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.

Users can also select any image (or other scrapbook item), which is a part of the Scrapbook of one person in their file, and share (copy) that media item with the scrapbook of other people in the file.

Background Images on many Charts For many charts, users can now include a background image to personalize and add interest. Background images can be placed on these charts: Pedigree, Fan, Ancestry (Standard and Wall chart), Descendant (Standard, Wall chart and Dropline chart), Line of Descent, Calendar and Timeline.

The background image can be displayed with various levels of transparency. Background images can even be moved around on the chart. As an example, you can create a birthday calendar for a month, where you set the page margins to .5 inches for left, bottom and right, but to 5.8 inches for top margin (this will put the calendar on the bottom half of an 8.5 x 11 paper), then put a picture on the top half of the page.

Improved Syncing with FamilySearch Family Tree

Ancestral Quest 16 makes some improvements in its syncing with FamilySearch Family Tree, intended to make syncing more natural and to better fit into the flow of data exchange between two systems.

Improved Handling of FamilySearch Sources For nearly a decade, Ancestral Quest has allowed users to download sources from FamilySearch Family Tree directly into the user’s personal family tree. FamilySearch sources are formatted as freeform citations in a way that works well for some users but doesn’t fit well into the sourcing scheme used by many other users of Ancestral Quest. To overcome this, AQ 16 provides a new option to convert FamilySearch sources into traditional AQ sources during the import process, as well as converting previously imported sources later. For example, if there are 10 members of a family, and all are listed on the 1920 census, then FamilySearch creates 10 different source citations, and if you import them without this new feature, you will end up with 10 source records of the same census record in your list of Sources. If you take advantage of this new optional feature, you can create just one source for the 1920 census, and attach all FamilySearch citations to this single source. This feature is explained in more detail and demonstrated in this video: Advanced Handling of FamilySearch Sources.

Advanced Syncing When exchanging events/facts between a personal family database and FamilySearch, there is a new “Advanced Options” button, which allows users to transfer just the date or just the place for an event. Users also have the option of editing the name of the place before transferring it.

Other Enhancements

Add/Remove Country Names If you are regularly downloading data from, or uploading data to, other genealogy systems (like FamilySearch), this tool will help you keep your data the way you want it. For example, you can add “United States” to all states, or remove “United States” or “Canada” from all states or provinces.

Tags Enhancements Tags allow users to spot records with special attributes at a glance. Version 16 makes it easier to assign and remove tags from records of individuals.

MapIt From within several of AQ’s screens, you have been able to request a map of any of the places shown. In the past, these requests have been filled by the MapQuest Internet service. With version 16, you can choose which of several Internet mapping services should be used to display the desired map.

Enhancements to Couple Relationships In version 16, Ancestral Quest separates the type of relationship from the status of the relationship. Relationship types now are: Married, Not Married, Common Law, and de facto. The status of a relationship can be ‘blank’, indicating an ongoing relationship, or it could have terminated as Divorced, Separated or Annulled. Version 16 also allows you to record non-traditional couple relationships.

More And there are many more new features and improvements to Ancestral Quest 16. Read a more complete discussion.

You can also watch a video which demonstrates the most important new and improved features of Ancestral Quest 16.

Incline Software™ developed Ancestral Quest 25 years ago, in 1994, and has been enhancing it ever since. AQ is a powerful yet easy to use, full-featured genealogy records manager, used both by beginners and professionals. Its reporting capabilities are excellent, and it uses unique, advanced technologies to enable accurate source documentation. AQ has advanced scrapbooking capabilities that allow users to preserve their precious photos, video clips, and audio clips for posterity, keeping the memory of ancestors alive for generations to come.

Ancestral Quest was the first family tree desktop product to be certified by FamilySearch to sync with with the FamilySearch databases, and was given the “Most Comprehensive Syncing” award by FamilySearch in 2009.

Genealogy enthusiasts can acquire Ancestral Quest for Windows or Mac by visiting A free “Basics” version is available, which contains all of the essential features of recording a family tree, at no charge. For a modest fee, new users can purchase a key to unlock the advanced features ($34.95 for Windows or $44.95 for Mac). Existing users can upgrade for $24.95 for Windows or $29.95 for Mac. (Note that the Mac version of AQ currently runs on recent versions of Mac OS X, but AQ does not yet run on Catalina. Incline Software relies on a product called, “CrossOver”, to run on Mac OS X. The new version of CrossOver, which will allow Ancestral Quest to run on Apple’s new Catalina OS, was just released on December 10. A special version of CrossOver, that is bundled with Ancestral Quest for Mac, should be available in a few weeks, at which time AQ will be available for Mac users who have upgraded to the Catalina version of Mac OS X.)

In addition to English, Ancestral Quest is also available in several other languages including complete translations in German, French, Spanish, Danish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Turkish and Norwegian, and with ample translations in Swedish, Polish, Finnish, Portuguese and Hungarian. Learn more about Incline Software, Ancestral Quest or Ancestral Quest Basics by visiting or by calling Incline Software at 801-280-4434.

Ancestral Quest, Ancestral Quest Basics and Incline Software are trademarks of Incline Software, LC. Other marks are trademarks of their respective owners.

Too Many Genea-Software Programs! How to Choose? Part 2

Yesterday, I began pondering which of four potential genealogy programs I might choose to be my primary software program – Family Historian 6, Family Tree Maker 2017, Legacy 9 or RootsMagic 7.

Today, I’ll share a bit of my limited trials with each program. I decided I needed to be consistent and set up each practice tree in the same way, adding the same records and images.

First up is Family Historian 6. I really like several things about this program. It is very easy to add data and images:

Adding Info

There is a relationship calculator between the root person (home person) and a selected individual:

I was also able to tag my great grandfather’s face in a group photo of him, my great grandmother and my grandfather. I can’t capture an image of the process, but all I had to do was open the individual’s work box, click on LINK TO FACE and then draw a box around his face using the cursor. Very simple and quick!

It also asks how I want to back up the program whenever I exit – gedcom, partial file or full file.

The main drawback, and only real negative to this program, is that it doesn’t have source citation templates set up using Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained formats.

Source Template Box in Yellow

Although the directions state that source citations can be created using a format of our choice, the information needs to fit into these data boxes; the final product won’t be in EE format.

I am the first to admit that, in general, those templates frustrate me no end, but if I really want to make an honest attempt at using them, I need a program that has them formatted to the EE style.

My other option, which might be my tried and true method anyway, is to type bibliography-style citations in my research notes, but typing them in EE format. Although in the long run, it is a lot more typing, I won’t be pulling my hair out because I can’t find clear directions as to what some of the terms in those boxes mean.

Obviously, I have barely touched on all the features in this program, but trying to create a source citation was a bit unwieldy. One other negative is that there is no local users group.

As much as I really like Family Historian 6, the source citation templates might be the deal breaker, at least until an update that includes EE templates is released. It’s a fabulous program with this one (big) exception.

Family Tree Maker 2017 – Before I begin with FTM, I will admit that I am somewhat biased against it, due to all the issues I’ve had with it over the years.

Besides the freezing (it’s already happened once with the new 2017 release) and lengthy time it took to open the program, I just discovered a huge issue. I don’t know whether it was on the FTM end of the equation or an Ancestry issue.

I rarely look at any of the media in my Ancestry tree, which I uploaded from FTM years ago. I last synced my tree in June 2014. When I opened FTM 2017 and downloaded my Ancestry tree into FTM, it completed the task very, very quickly. That was because when I looked at the tree in FTM, there were six images attached to my grandmother and many – probably 100 – were missing!

Then I went back to Ancestry and found the same few images. However, when I hit the search button in Ancestry, it brought up all the hits for my grandmother, including all the images I had originally attached to her.

I have no idea how this happened, but both my FTM tree and Ancestry tree were stripped of almost all the images.

I called Ancestry, the girl helping me replicated every thing I told her on her end and created a report to send to the programmers. Who knows when I will ever hear back from them! Yes, I do have a full backup AND I imported my tree into RootsMagic and the images are attached there.

The point is – and I’ve heard others say that their trees have had items and people disappear – there is always a chance something can happen.

It was not an easy process importing a backup file into FTM 2014 or 2017. I tried and couldn’t find the file. My husband even had to play around with the options before realizing that an ftmB file couldn’t be found by the program until the little box asking for the file format had the option changed to include it. It could only find ftm files.

On the plus side, there is a local users group. Also, Family Tree Maker looks very much the same as when it was owned by Ancestry. Creating a new tree was very easy:

Adding a source citation was another pain. It isn’t intuitive for me and I had to open the PDF Companion Guide. It also appears that, like Family Historian 6, it doesn’t have source templates set up in EE format.

I think is deal breaker #2. It didn’t take much, given my other biases against FTM.

Onward I go:

Legacy 9 – Remember that Legacy 9 is the program with which I have the least experience and, from what I can see, may well have the most bells and whistles. There used to be, but is no longer, a local users group.

It was very easy to begin a sample tree:

Legacy Home Screen in the Tree

Legacy Family Tree has a LOT of free webinars demonstrating how to use this program. Scroll down to What Do You Want to Learn? and choose Legacy Family Tree.

Many, although not all, of the software webinars are free to view at any time. Geoff Rasmussen created most of them and he does an excellent job demonstrating features.

Legacy 9 includes Source Writer, which allows the user to input information in a source citation that is turned into the Evidence Explained format.

Legacy SourceWriter

Watching Geoff’s webinar on using SourceWriter made it extremely easy to use.

As I first mentioned, though, I believe that Legacy offers way more bells and whistles than the other programs and it takes practice to master usage so that steps become automatic and quick.

I really like many of the features found in Legacy 9, but realize that I need to spend more hours hands-on to be able to navigate the program at the speed I need to if it is to be my primary software program. It’s not off the table, but for now remains in a holding pattern.

RootsMagic 7 – Last, but not least of my four, is RootsMagic 7. RM is the program I turned to when I had had enough of the FTM issues in 2014. RM 7 is also quite easy to use. Here is the work screen:

RootsMagic 7 Work Screen

I have the manual for this program, but remained confused after looking up information on the source citation templates. Happily, friend and fellow blogger Randy Seaver wrote a series of posts in January 2016 about setting up Master Source Templates and then adding citation details to them. Those became my bible!

For the most part, RootsMagic 7 allows for easy navigation, data entry and searches. It helps that I’ve attended a local SIG (Special Interest Group), which is part of the Pima County Genealogy Society here in Tucson.

Where does that leave me in terms of making a final choice? I have to say I think Family Tree Maker 2017 is my least favorite of the four programs. It also froze on me when I had only opened it a handful of times and that is one of the issues that made me decide to drop it in 2014. I was also a bit surprised that the source citations aren’t really in Evidence Explained format.

Next, I really, really like a lot of the Family Historian 6 features and workability. However, for now, it’s also going to take a back seat, mainly because of the lack of Evidence Explained source citation templates. Not having a local users group or even a Facebook users group is also a bit of an issue because of the time difference between England and Arizona.

Legacy 9 and RootsMagic 7 are both fabulous programs. Legacy 9 is the only other program that remains in the mix, but getting a handle on all of its features will take some time. I am going to continue to devote some time to learning more about Legacy and, in the long run I might come to prefer it, but at this time RootsMagic 7 will remain my primary software program.

There aren’t any real negatives for me in this program, not any that would be close to deal breakers anyway. I do miss the relationship display to the home person and I still struggle a bit with the source citation templates, but they are created in EE style and format, which is a huge plus.

I guess I’ve finally made a firm commitment!

Congratulations! You made it all the way through to the end of my ramblings!




Too Many Genea-Software Programs! How to Choose? Part 1

NOTE: This two part series is in no way meant to be a cohesive overview or review of software programs. It is much more like stream-of-consciousness rambling thoughts that passed through my mind when I decided I needed to get going with my genealogy software program, whichever one I decided to use. 

Back at the end of 2015, when Ancestry announced the end of Family Tree Maker, I began looking at all the genealogy software programs on the market. I had already pretty much migrated to RootsMagic, but wanted to look at all the choices out there.

That led me to Ancestral Quest, Family Historian, Family Tree Maker (Software MacKiev version), Heredis, Legacy and RootsMagic. From there, I was able to narrow down the list a bit more to Family Historian, Family Tree Maker, Legacy and RootsMagic.

In the intervening months, I started to play with the programs, but decided I needed to wait at least until the new syncs were released for FTM and RM before even trying to narrow down my choices anymore.

I am back to playing with all four programs again, which currently exist as Family Historian 6, Family Tree Maker 2017, Legacy 9 and RootsMagic 7.

I still am not sure I will be able to make a final choice or whether I will remain mired among these four, but I thought if I blogged about it, it might be easier to reach a conclusion.

For those who might not be familiar with one or more of these programs, here are the basics:

Family Historian 6 – based in England. It currently costs $46.50 (U.S.) as a download. There is no Facebook users group, but there is a very active users group online. The few times I’ve needed questions answered, replies have been quick. There is a free 30-day trial of the full program available. A 240+ page users guide is available for purchase – $23.95 on Amazon.

Family Tree Maker 2017 – If you’ve never owned FTM, it now costs $79.95. If there is still a discounted price for an upgrade of a previous version, I didn’t find the link online. There is a very active Facebook users group. No free version. A 350+ page users guide is located in the Help menu in the program and there doesn’t seem to be any option to purchase a printed edition. Hints appear from Ancestry and FamilySearch.

Legacy 9 – This program costs $39.95, but there is a standard free version available. I have the paid version and don’t know what bells and whistles are missing from the free program. The website does give a list of ten deluxe features. There is a very active Facebook users group. A 300+ page users guide is available for purchase – $14.95.

RootsMagic 7 – The cost is $29.95, but also has a free basic version. I also have the paid version of RM and don’t know which features are excluded from the free version. There is a very active Facebook users group. A 380+ page users guide is available for purchase – $14.95. Hints appear from Ancestry, FamilySearch

Next, here are features which are/aren’t important to me:

  1. Easy to use – By easy, I mean that I can do basic navigation and data entry without having to look at the users’ manual every few minutes.
  2. If I need to read the user guide, I prefer a printed version. I have the manuals for FH, Legacy and RM. I’ll have to print out the 350 pages for FTM if I want that one, too.
  3. If I can’t find the answer to my question in the manual, I visit the online user group.
  4. I like a clean looking interface and am not a fan of color coding.
  5. Report formats aren’t important because I rarely use them. A family group sheet is about the only one I use and, even then, I only use it to print out data on a family for which I’m writing a blog post. Then I toss the paper!
  6. I do like the display that tells how the highlighted person is related to me.
  7. Syncing my trees has become less and less important to me. My only trees are on Ancestry and I haven’t synced them since the June 2014 DDOS attack. Instead of syncing, I will upload new gedcoms without images if I decide I want a new tree online. The DDOS attack pretty much put me off syncing at all.
  8. I prefer searching hints and ancestors directly in databases on Ancestry and FamilySearch or anywhere else, so the hints now available in these software programs aren’t much of a draw for me. I might occasionally use them.
  9. For many years, I have put my source citations in my notes box, much like old-fashioned bibliographies at the end of term papers. I am beginning to play with source citation templates and would love to learn to use them without getting to the point of wanting to throw my computer out the window.
  10. If I end up using more than one of these programs to access certain features, will the second program do a good job importing a gedcom and link to the images on my computer?
  11. A local users group is very beneficial because if I get stuck and can’t even find a quick answer in the manual or online, I have a local friend who perhaps can help.

As you can see, my needs/preferences are rather simple, which makes it much more difficult to make the commitment to one main program.

My experience level with each program:

Family Historian 6 – I have basic experience with Family Historian. I’ve played with it a bit and found it user friendly after adjusting to British English descriptions like “Focus Window,” which is basically the home screen for an individual or family.

Hints appear from Find My Past and MyHeritage. FH 6 has new features described on the website as: a Map Window, new Media Window, new Automatic Source Citation pane (but doesn’t use Evidence Explained format, which is reportedly coming in the future), extended family Timeline facts and Support for Witnesses (allows you to add witnesses to family events). Also, as far as I know, Family Historian 6 is the only program which allows for tagging individual faces in photos, as we can do in social media. This is a unique feature that I love!

Here is a screen shot from my practice Molin tree in Family Historian 6:

Family Historian 6

Individuals in a tree can be viewed by clicking on the icon at the top left of the above screen:

Individuals in a tree

Yes, that is the complete list – I created a very small practice tree!

Family Tree Maker 2017 – I have a lot of experience with Family Tree Maker, as it was my program of choice for many years. I did not participate in beta testing or later test drives. I migrated away from it after the Ancestry dot com DDOS attack because I had problems using it from that time onwards, even when I unlinked it. It got to the point where it took about five minutes to open and it froze fairly often.

FTM 2017 thankfully opens in just a few seconds, although I had quite a bit of trouble getting it open once. It also has frozen on me once and I’ve only had it for three days.

The new touted features are FamilySync (replaces the old TreeSynce), Sync Weather Report (which lets you know if there are syncing issues currently going on), Color Coding (apply color codes to various ancestors and lines), Photo Darkroom (simple editing tools to reduce fading in old images) and a FamilySearch link to search, match and merge

Legacy 9 – I have, by far, the least experience with Legacy 9. I have watched a few tutorials and asked how to get rid of the red and blue color coding, which I hated. (It was an easy fix, just by changing to Classic mode.)

This new version of Legacy was released in April and has quite a few new features. Hints come from Find My Past, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank and MyHeritage, but not Ancestry. There is also access to FindAGrave, new Cause of Death charts, Hash Tags can be added for easier searching, Media Sorting by date, Online Backup with Legacy Cloud, and a unique offering – Chronology Comparison – (If you are trying to sort out two men of the same name, they can be viewed and compared side by side.) Chronology Comparison is a feature I love!

I think Legacy 9 might offer more bells and whistles than any of the other programs, as the description has a list of 98 deluxe features! No one would ever use all of them, but the options are a bit mind boggling.

Here is the home screen:

Family Screen

Here is the screen for an individual:

Notice the DNA Icon!

The DNA icon to add notes about DNA test results is also, I think, unique to Legacy 9. With the growing popularity of DNA testing, having a niche to separate out DNA notes from other notes, is great.

Legacy doesn’t offer the full list name list at the side, but like Family Historian 6, it does have an easy tab to view everyone:

RootsMagic 7 – I’d say I have the second most experience with RM, as I have been using it as my main program since abandoning the old Family Tree Maker. The updated RootsMagic 7 was released in early July.

This new version also offers syncing with Ancestry, although TreeSync allows syncing a person or facts with Ancestry, rather than syncing tons of changes in an entire tree at once. The plus side here is that if you have notes or data of some type that you don’t want added online, you have the ability to say NO!

WebHints come in not just from Ancestry, but also from FamilySearch and MyHeritage. RM 7 previously had added Data Clean to clean up bad files and Compare Files, along with Publish Online. Import Lists, Backup and Restore with Media, Quick Groups and Drag and Drop Media were other new features.

RootsMagic Screen

Here is the individual work box:

RootsMagic Work Screen

See why I am having such a hard time deciding about a genealogy software program. Tomorrow, I will share my experiences as I try to do the same few tasks in each of these programs.

In the meantime, if you are a regular user of any of my group of four choices and there is a feature you love that I haven’t mentioned today, please leave a comment and let me know what it is!