Being in charge of putting the family tree together is a huge undertaking. But there’s no reason to get overwhelmed. Below is a list of the best family tree software with all the information you need to make a wise choice.
|Family Tree Maker||Offline program with a photo editor||$79.95|
|Legacy Family Tree||Microsoft Office users (similar interface)||Free standard version, $34.95 for deluxe version|
|Family Historian||Fast data entry||$64.95|
|My Heritage Family Tree Builder||All the bells and whistles of a family tree builder||From $129/year|
|RootsMagic||Those who need an offline solution with their online software||$39.95|
|Ancestry.com||US-based users who want a complete family tree building program||From $24.95/month|
|WikiTree||Free option with DNA uploading||Free|
|Family Tree Heritage||Offline program with solid online connectivity||$39.99|
|TheGenealogist||UK users||From £139.95/year|
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All the genealogy programs above are excellent options to create a record of your family’s history. To go along with your ancestry software, you’ll probably need to sort and edit a massive amount of photos. With Movavi Picverse Photo Editor, you can colorize and touch up your family photos to make them look professional-grade. And thanks to its easy-to-use and intuitive interface, it’s perfect for users with any level of experience.
Best genealogy software
Best for: Users who want to work offline with additional features like a photo editor
OS: Mac and Windows
Price: Download only – $79.95, Download plus DVD – $89.95, Program on 16 GB branded USB drive – $99.95; expand license to three total computers – $20.00
TopTenReviews rating: 3 out of 5
If you’re comparing top family tree software programs, Family Tree Maker is an excellent offline option. Creator Software MacKiev has been around for decades and always provides solid support.
The company released the latest version in 2019 that offers an interface that’s easy to use and works for both professionals and amateurs. Plus, you can export GEDCOM files and merge data sets, and it has a comprehensive selection of tools and features.
- Comes with tons of features, including a photo editor
- GEDCOM files export
- Ability to add on additional programs
- Offers a comprehensive 325-page step-by-step companion guide with screenshots and helpful images
- Higher-price than the offline competition
- Offers no free trial
Best for: Users who work in Microsoft Office
Price: Offers free version (not a trial); Deluxe version download – $34.95
PCMag rating: 3.5 out of 5
As one of the top family tree programs for Windows, it’s no wonder MyHeritage acquired the desktop software in 2017. The program is popular for both experienced and amateur genealogists and has been around for decades.
The interface is a lot like Microsoft Office. So if you’re familiar with the program, you shouldn’t have difficulty picking it up with ease. And there are a lot of excellent features like records comparisons, X-DNA inheritance charting, and database suggestions.
- Records comparisons
- X-DNA inheritance charting
- Runs offline
- Standard (free) version is comprehensive
- Connects to a wide range of records databases
- Archaic interface that’s difficult to navigate
- Has a learning curve
Best for: Rapidly entering family data
Price: Version 7 – $64.95; offers 30-day trial of Version 6
TopTenReviews rating: 4.5 out of 5
Family Historian is popular among the genealogy crowds. It’s a great tool for both casual researchers and those who are serious about researching their origins. The program offers a superb, easy-to-use family tree maker along with a wide range of features.
With all the customization options, you’ll be able to set up everything just the way you want and find everything with ease. It has a lot of connectivity with records databases, and the developer offers a free trial.
- Connectivity with records databases
- Lots of support options
- Easy-to-use interface albeit dated
- Fast data entry
- Only runs on Windows
- Has a learning curve, but again, there’s support available
Best for: Users who want a complete family tree building package
OS: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Online
Price: Premium – $129/year; 1st year: $89, PremiumPlus – $209/year; 1st year: $149, Access to all historical records data – $189/year; 1st year: $129, Complete – $299/year; 1st year: $199
TechRadar rating: 4 out of 5
With millions of users worldwide in over forty languages, MyHeritage is one of the most popular genealogy programs in the world. It has excellent charts, reports, and mapping features. And it offers online, offline, and mobile platforms.
The company has a DNA testing service that allows you to dig even deep into your family roots. The only catch is that most of the records on the platform source from European databases. Therefore, many Americans opt for Ancestry.com instead.
- Offers DNA kit service
- Has excellent charts, reports, and mapping features
- Has a free version
- Mobile app available
- Free version has limited functionality
- High price point
Best for: Online users who also need an offline solution
OS: Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
Price: RootsMagic 8 download version $39.95; USB available for an extra $10 plus shipping; offers free version with limited functionality
TopTenReviews rating: 3.5 out of 5
RootsMagic has been around since the early 2000s and offers one of the most coveted interfaces in the family tree software industry. The program is easy to navigate and comes with lots of organizational tools.
The program syncs with a lot of popular online platforms, so it’s easy to upload and download information as needed. And RootsMagic also offers a mobile version of the platform so you can work on the go.
- Offers a utility program that lets you run things offline and on other systems
- Syncs with a lot of popular online platforms
- Offers mobile apps for iOS and Android
- Interface is seamless and easy-to-use
- Small thumbnails on albums
- Charts aren’t as good as competitors
Best for: Users based in America who want a complete family tree package
OS: Online platform with apps on iOS and Android
Price: Offers two-week trial – US Discovery – $24.95/month for one month or $16.50/month for six months; can be paid up front, World Explorer – $39.99/month for one month or $24.83/month for six months; can be paid up front, All Access – $49.99/month for one month or $33.16/month for six months; can be paid up front
PCMag rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ancestry.com is the most well-known genealogy platform in the US – especially with all the ads over the years. That being said, there’s a reason it’s so wildly popular. The program connects to tons of databases and has automatic hinting features that allow you to build out your tree quickly.
The company has DNA testing services to match you up with people further down your family line. And it allows you to both download and upload GEDCOM files to work with other family tree programs.
- Offers DNA testing service
- Has automatic hinting features
- Intuitive interface that’s easy to use
- Family trees are easily shareable
- Price is on the higher side and it’s monthly only
- Lots of complaints regarding post free trial charges
- Auto-renew feature is not refundable once processed
Best for: Users looking for a free option
OS: Online platform
TopTenReviews rating: 4 out of 5
Funded and run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this family tree builder is completely free to use. And it’s probably a big reason for its popularity. But the online program still offers a comprehensive set of tools to help you build your family tree.
The company has over five billion records to source from. And your tree is collaborative, so others on their site can help you update your own tree. Granted, this can also be a negative if the information they provide is incorrect.
Regardless, if you’re looking for a free option to get started in genealogy, this is an excellent place to start.
- Offers collaborative trees
- Has over five billion records
- Totally free
- Partnered with more than 10K archives
- Anyone with an account can edit your tree
- No offline editing
Best for: Users looking for a free option that allows you to upload DNA records
OS: Online platform
AlternativeTo rating: 3 out of 5
Since 2008, WikiTree has added millions of users and hundreds of thousands of genealogists all under one tree. The platform is more of a big experiment that allows you to contribute as an individual user.
It has a lot of the features you expect from family tree software like GEDCOM uploading and records searching. However, the biggest positive of the platform is the forums where you can connect with more experienced genealogists.
- Allows you to upload GEDCOM files
- Unlimited photo uploads
- Can add DNA test info to profiles
- Offers forums to connect with experienced genealogists
- All users can edit your tree
- Interface is difficult to use
Best for: Users who want to work offline, but still want online connectivity
Price: Gold Version download – $39.99, disc version available plus shipping
PCMag rating: 3.5 out of 5
With 16 versions as of this writing, Family Tree Heritage is one of the most seasoned family tree building programs on this list. It’s a solid offline platform that allows you to connect with online family tree programs and records databases easily.
The program offers lots of support to help you learn how to get everything set up and develop an excellent family tree. The interface is a little old, but with a little training, you’ll be able to work a lot faster than many other programs available.
- Solid links to online databases
- Data is easy to read
- Lots of support for learning and using the platform
- Interface looks archaic
- Lots of clutter on the platform
Best for: Users based in the United Kingdom or with family based there
OS: Online platform
Price: Diamond – £139.95/year or £64.9/quarterly, Gold – £98.95/year, £58.95/6 months, £39.95/quarterly, Starter – £54.95/year, £28.95/6months, £14.95/quarterly; DNA test fees are separate
Trustpilot rating: 2.9 out of 5
If you live in the UK or have deep roots there, then TheGenealogist could be the perfect family tree building software. The company keeps all of its records in one place, so you won’t have to jump to other databases for searches. And it offers accurate DNA testing to help you build your tree out even more.
The interface itself is easy to use. And there’s a high-quality mapping feature that integrates historical maps to provide a clearer visual picture of your ancestry.
- High-quality mapping feature
- Accurate DNA testing
- Mapping feature integrates historical maps
- Effective search tools
- Focuses on British records
- DNA tests and records access have separate fee structures
Family tree makers: offline and online tools
The list of programs above offers both online and offline options, along with a wide range of tools. Let’s inspect the different tool sets that can help you find the best free family tree software for your needs.
Online family tree tools offer a variety of benefits. It’s easy to edit family trees, run records searches, and attach records and photos to people within your tree with ease. And you can do this all within the same window.
Working online potentially gives you access to mobile applications where you can work on the go – bus, train, subway, etc. Plus, you gain extra connectivity with the networks within the platforms. People have found distant relatives simply by attaching their DNA results to a family tree.
But not everything tied to working online falls in the advantages column.
You always need a network connection to access a web-based family tree program. Though network connectivity is getting better on a global scale, it’s still something to think about.
Also, you don’t own your family tree data. Online platforms give you access to their servers to create your tree. But you don’t actually have ownership rights to the data you save, which is an important factor for many genealogists.
Lastly, you must download a copy of your family tree records to a hard drive if you want to cancel your subscription. Without a copy of the file downloaded, you completely lose access until you re-up.
There are plenty of family tree builder software programs available directly from your desktop. They have excellent tree-building tools along with other additional tools, including:
- Organizational tools for family tree files
- You can download your tree to a USB drive - lots of records facilities don’t have internet access in the records rooms.
- Some have built-in photo editing and mapping features
But most important is the ability to export or import GEDCOM files – Genealogical Data Communication. It’s the file type used by the best genealogy software programs that has become a standard in the field. And not all online family tree programs use this standard.
Regardless of the offline tools for a desktop family tree program, you’ll still need to go online. Desktop programs offer key updates to their programs for download. And many of the best family tree makers offer direct connectivity to records databases where you can sync data.
Creating a family tree online or offline
There isn’t a definitive answer to whether it’s better to use offline or online software to create your family tree. Which is why many seasoned genealogists use both an online and offline program.
This system gives you both an online and offline backup of your family tree. And many online programs also offer GEDCOM downloads, so you’ll be able to sync up your data easily while staying connected to essential records networks. This is especially important for DNA research and is the reason many choose an online platform.
However, offline platforms often provide more customization options that adapt to your style of research and organization. And they include a wide range of additional features you may not find on an online platform.
Whichever route you choose, be sure to keep a record of all of your data – including data beyond your GEDCOM file.
How to choose a family tree program
- Find out if the platform works with GEDCOM files. You’ll want a program that allows you to both import and export.
- Look into the program’s reporting features and layout and make sure they’re to your liking – customization features too!
- Investigate the amount of support the platform offers. See if it has walkthroughs, tutorials, and learning databases.
- Check the last time the software offered an update. This will give you an idea of the investment the developer has in the program.
- See if the platform offers a free trial. That’s the only way you’ll be able to dig into the software and test its features.
- Find out if the company regularly attends genealogy conferences and events and has associations with top records agencies. It’s a way to see if the developer is invested in the product.
With this list of the best family tree maker software platforms, you have everything you need to make an informed decision. Be sure to check the table with genealogy software reviews at the top of the page for a quick overview. From there, you can better pinpoint which programs to revisit and investigate further.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best family tree software?
Check out some of the best options:
- Family Tree Maker
- Legacy Family Tree
- Family Historian
- My Heritage Family Tree Builder
What is the most accurate family tree?
With genealogy, accuracy can be relative because family tree research often depends on the type of information you seek. There are a lot of top family tree programs genealogists consider to be the most accurate – Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage. But it’s up to you to investigate the records databases they use and see how they apply to your family tree.
Is there a family tree template on Word?
Yes, there is a way to build a family tree in Word using SmartArt Graphics. Follow these steps:
- Open Word.
- Click Insert and then click the SmartArt Graphics icon above Illustrations.
- Click Hierarchy from the list on the left.
- Select a template you like and insert your family members.
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