Tip: Easily Follow the Fathers (and Sons)


Many of our user’s around the world will be celebrating Father’s Day this weekend. In commemoration, I’m going to show you a unique feature in RootsMagic that makes working with lines of fathers (and even sons) a snap. Isolating lines of fathers and sons can be useful in genetic genealogy when you need to find just those men in your file that should share the same Y-Chromosome. Others have used this feature for surname studies, tracking legal records, and more.

The magic happens in the “Select People” screen. You’ll see this screen when you go to export a GEDCOM file, select people to color code, print a report for a group of people, publish a website online, and more. Any time you need to select a group of people to work with.


Type the name (surname, given name) of the starting person of the line you wish to select. Once the person is selected, click on the Mark group button then select Genetic lines of highlighted person.


Here you have several options. To select the line of fathers for the highlighted person, choose Y-Chromosome Line (Y-STR). If you select Ancestors of highlighted person, you’ll follow the line of fathers up the tree. If you select Descendants of highlighted person, you’ll follow the line of sons down the tree. Click OK twice to complete the selection.


Ta-da! You’ve now isolated a line of fathers and sons! Happy Father’s Day  to all those important men in our lives.

P.S. – We don’t want mothers to feel left out of the excitement. Astute readers will have noticed the option to select a genetic line based on Mitochondrial DNA Line (mitDNA).  Since Mitocondrial DNA is passed directly from mother to child so this option will similarly allow you to isolate a line of mothers and daughters.

Tip: Never Get Lost in Your Tree with Color Coding

Color Coding

Have you ever started exploring around your family tree and found yourself lost, unsure which line to follow to get back down to your more recent ancestors? The Color Coding feature in RootsMagic makes it easy to leave yourself “breadcrumbs” so that you always know which people are your direct-line ancestors.

The first thing to do is to find yourself on the RootsMagic main screen. Once you’re selected yourself, choose Tools > Color Code People from the main menu. You’ll see this screen:


Choose whichever color you like from the Set color box (I prefer something that really stands out). Select Ancestors of current person and then click OK. You’ll now see that all the ancestors of the selected person will appear in the selected color, whether on the main screen or in various reports and charts.


Now if you ever get lost in the upper-branches of your tree, just click on the Family view and look at the list of children:


Whichever child is marked in your selected color is a direct-line ancestor. Just click on the arrow to the left of the name to climb down the tree until you reach familiar territory.

Of course, this is just one possible use for Color Coding. Not only can you color lines of ancestors and descendants, but you can also color people based on endless criteria such as where they were born, if they are missing information, if they are the end-of-the-line, etc. You can use up to 14 different colors, each with a different meaning of your own choosing.

To learn more about Color Coding, be sure to watch our short video demonstrating it:

Tip: Get Research Help with RootsMagic and GenSmarts

GenSmarts Tip

Have you ever stared at your RootsMagic screen wondering where to look next (or maybe even where to start)? There are so many record types and websites to search that you aren’t even sure where to begin.  Or maybe you are a seasoned genealogist who just wants to make sure you don’t overlook anything.  Did you know there is a program called GenSmarts which can help you choose which records to search for any person in your file?

And best of all, we have the chance to offer a special discount on GenSmarts for a limited time.

Research Suggestions from GenSmarts

GenSmarts is a program that makes research recommendations for people in your RootsMagic file.  If you have GenSmarts installed, you can highlight any person in your file, then select Tools > GenSmarts Suggestions from the RootsMagic menu, and RootsMagic will display a list of research suggestions for that person.


So how does GenSmarts come up with these suggestions?  It creates a profile of your ancestor based on where and when they lived, and then matches that profile with its inventory of known records to make predictions about the record trail your ancestors may have left behind.  Each suggestion will include the logic behind the suggestion, and where that type of record can be found.  Keep in mind that these are suggestions… GenSmarts doesn’t know if your ancestor is in a particular record, just that it is the type of record your ancestor is likely to show up in.

If a record type is available online, you can just click the “Look online” button and GenSmarts will attempt to find your ancestor in those records.  GenSmarts knows which online sites have which records, so it knows whether to search FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindAGrave, or whatever other site has that particular record type.  If more than one site has the records, it will default to the free site.

What if a suggestion is only available from a pay site (like Ancestry), but you don’t have a subscription?  GenSmarts will take you to the “teaser page” of the site so you can get an idea whether a record exists for your ancestor.  You can then add the suggestion to the RootsMagic person’s to-do list, and later print out a list of all the suggestions you need to pursue for a particular website.  You can then take that list to the local library or Family History Center where you can do the actual search.  This little trick (as well as other GenSmarts features) is shown in the video below.

Note: GenSmarts is primarily focused on US, Canadian, and UK records, but there is a little support for records in some other countries.  If you have other questions about GenSmarts, here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Special Discount on GenSmarts

The folks at GenSmarts have allowed us to offer a limited time discount on GenSmarts.

GenSmarts is available either as a download or on CD (not both).  The discounted price is $19.95 for the download, or $24.95 (plus s/h) for the CD.  You must use the link below in order to get this discounted price.


This special offer is only available until June 15th, 2014. So get your copy of GenSmarts today!

Tip: Planning Cemetery Trips with RootsMagic


It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States which means that many of you will be visiting gravesites of friends and family to honor and remember them. Did you know that RootsMagic can help you plan your visits and make sure that you don’t miss any ancestral resting spots?

Listing Everyone Buried in a Location

Would you like to have a list of everyone who was buried in a given location? The Individual List in RootsMagic does just what you need.  To create the report:

1. Choose Reports > Print a Report from the Main Menu.

Memorial Day 1

2. Select Individual List from the report types and click Create Report. The Report Settings screen will appear.

Memorial Day 2

3. In the People to print option, choose Selected people

4. In the People to include box, choose Select from list. The Select People screen will appear.

Memorial Day 3

 5. Click on the Mark group button, then choose Select people by data fields. The Search for information screen will appear.

Memorial Day 4

6. In the first row, set the options to Burial, place, contains, and the name of the location you wish to search.

7. Click OK three times until you return to the Report Settings screen.

8. Check/Uncheck any options from the Information to include section to you wish to show or hide.

9. Click Generate Report to see the list.

Memorial Day 5

Voila! You now have a list of all individuals in your file that are buried in a given location. You can also experiment with different options to include precisely the people and information you need for your trip.

And while you’re there, don’t forget to take pictures of the gravesites and record GPS coordinates to record in RootsMagic for later. But that’s the subject of another tip for another day.

Happy Memorial Day!

RootsMagic App for Android Now Available!

RootsMagic for Android

With more and more devices and operating systems becoming popular, we are always asked, “When will RootsMagic be available for _______?” We are working hard to make RootsMagic available on whatever device you use, wherever you go. RootsMagic is already available for Windows and iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) and even the Mac (with help). Today, we are pleased to add Android to that list!

So now all you Android-gadget-groupies can easily take and show off your family history with you wherever you go.  RootsMagic lets you carry your genealogy on your Android device!  It’s fast, easy, and free!


The app provides many useful features including:

  • Access your actual RootsMagic files via iTunes or Dropbox – RootsMagic for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch uses your actual RootsMagic files- no conversion needed. You can copy as many files as you want right on your device via iTunes or Dropbox. Users of other genealogy software such as PAF, Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, and others can convert their files into viewable RootsMagic files using our free desktop software.
  • Easily search and explore your family tree – Familiar Pedigree, Family, Descendant, and Individual Views help you quickly explore your family tree. You can also search for specific people by name or record number.
  • View pictures, notes, and sources – All of your RootsMagic data is available inside the app. Touch any name to see more information about that person as well as family members. All of a person’s information is there including notes, sources, and pictures.
  • Lists – Browse lists of your information and view more information about sources, to-do items, research logs, media, addresses, repositories, correspondences, and places.
  • Tools and Calculators – useful tools to assist you in your research including a perpetual calendar, date calculator, relationship calculator, and soundex calculator

The app is available right now on Google Play and the Amazon appstore. More information is available at www.rootsmagic.com/app.

Frequently Asked Questions
Will the Android app run on my Kindle

Our Best Holiday Offer Ever


With the holidays coming up, we often get requests from our users about buying copies of RootsMagic to give as gifts to their family or friends.  In what has become an annual tradition, RootsMagic owners can buy discounted copies of our software to give as gifts.

Ten Years of Holiday Specials!

It’s hard to believe this is our 10th year offering holiday pricing for gifts, and to celebrate we are going to do our best holiday offer ever!

During this special holiday sale, you can order gift copies of RootsMagic 6 *AND* the book “Getting the Most Out of RootsMagic” for just $20 (plus shipping).  That’s right, both the program and book together for $20.

Even better, you can order our other products for just $19.95 each, or you can order our 3 best sellers (RootsMagic, Personal Historian, Family Atlas, and the RootsMagic book) together for just $49.95.

There is no limit on the number of discounted gift copies you can buy during this limited time offer which will expire December 20, 2013. You will receive the full program and 360 page book for each copy you order.

To take advantage of this offer, just visit:


or order by phone at 1-800-ROOTSMAGIC (1-800-766-8762).  You’ll need to mention the code HOLIDAY2013 when you call.

Working with FamilySearch Family Tree

As the only software certified to add and share data with FamilySearch Family Tree, we have received a lot of questions about “what is FamilySearch Family Tree”, “who can access FamilySearch Family Tree”, etc.

FamilySearch Family Tree

What Do the Different Certifications Mean?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what the different levels of FamilySearch certification mean.  When a program is designed to work with FamilySearch, it must receive “certification” in order to have permission to perform various functions.

There are 3 different levels of certification, as listed on this “Partner Products” page at FamilySearch:

  1. Tree Access Tree Access means that the program can only read data from the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Tree Access does not allow writing to the Family Tree.
  2. icon-TreeConnectGray Tree Connect means that the program can read data from the Family Tree, and can also read artifacts like media or sources.  Tree Connect does not allow writing to the Family Tree.
  3. Tree Share+ Tree Share+ means that the program can read and write data to the Family Tree.  For a program to be Tree Share+ certified, it must protect the integrity of the FamilySearch Family Tree by also implementing all the collaborative features (sources, change history, reasons, discussions).  This is important, because a program should not allow a user to make changes to the Family Tree without showing them the full consequences of the change.

RootsMagic is currently the only software with the Tree Share+ certification, so you can easily share your data back and forth with Family Tree (if you want).

Who Can Use FamilySearch Family Tree?

FamilySearch Family Tree is a free website, available to anyone who wants to set up a free account.  If you don’t already have a FamilySearch account, you can go here to sign up:


You can use FamilySearch Family Tree directly from their website, or you can use the Tree Share+ integration built into RootsMagic to view your own data side by side with the data available on FamilySearch.

If you use the FamilySearch integration built into RootsMagic, you don’t have to copy any data from RootsMagic to FamilySearch (or vice versa) unless you want to.  You can still look for matches without transferring your data back and forth.

Where Can I Learn More About Using RootsMagic with FamilySearch Family Tree?

We have created a number of short videos showing how to access FamilySearch Family Tree from inside RootsMagic.  To view these short videos, click here.

Sharing Sources Between RootsMagic and FamilySearch Family Tree

As the only TreeShare+ certified program, RootsMagic is the only software certified to share sources with FamilySearch Family Tree.  We’ve gotten a lot of questions about this great feature, so we’ve created a short (12 min) video that shows exactly how to do this.  But let’s start with a quick overview first.

Sharing Sources with FamilySearch

Once a RootsMagic person has been matched to a person on FamilySearch, you may wish to compare and exchange sources between RootsMagic and FamilySearch. The source tab will display the sources attached to the RootsMagic person on the left and the sources attached to the FamilySearch person on the right.  You can view more details about a particular source by clicking the blue information icon to the right of the source name.

Click to embiggen the image

Clicking the checkbox in front of a source will bring up a screen with one or more options available for the source. You can copy a source from RootsMagic to FamilySearch, or from FamilySearch into RootsMagic, and you can also detach, tag or untag a source on FamilySearch. Choose what you want to do with the source and then select the options for that comand. Some options (like copying a source from RootsMagic to FamilySearch) will also ask you to enter a reason why you are making that change.

Click to embiggen the image

If your RootsMagic source has a WebTag, the URL for that WebTag will be included when you copy the source to FamilySearch. When moving a source from FamilySearch to RootsMagic, the URL (if any) will be added as a WebTag attached to the source when it is brought over.

A Short Video

And here is that short video I promised, which goes into more detail about how to share sources between RootsMagic and FamilySearch Family Tree.

Remember, to use RootsMagic with FamilySearch Family Tree, you’ll need to be using the latest version of RootsMagic 6 (  If you already own version 6, select Help > Check for Updates from the main menu.  If you are using an older version, you’ll need to upgrade to v6.

In our next blog article, we’ll show you another FamilySearch feature unique to RootsMagic, the Change History List with the ability to restore incorrect changes to Family Tree.

RootsMagic Introduces Problem Alerts

As I teach RootsMagic classes or webinars, I’m surprised how often somebody will say “I didn’t know that feature was in there”.  One such “unknown” feature is RootsMagic’s problem list.  The existing problem list (found at Tools > Problem Search > Problem List) scans everyone in your file to try and find any potential data entry errors (people born before their parents, etc) for everyone in your file.

Since the problem checking is such an important feature, we are introducing Problem Alerts in our latest update (version  With Problem Alerts, you no longer have to manually run the problem list to see possible data entry issues.

RootsMagic will problem check in the background and display an alert next to the name of any person with a potential problem.  This alert will show on the pedigree, family, and descendant views.

Click to embiggen the image

Just click on the problem alert and RootsMagic will display a list of the potential problems for the person.

Click to embiggen the image

You can highlight any of the potential problems and edit the person or family, mark the potential problem as “not a problem”, add the problem to your To-Do list so you can work on it later, or print the list of potential problems for the person.

You can enable or disable Problem Alerts from the Tools > File Options screen. You can also select which types of problems you want the Problem Alerts to look for.

Here is a short video showing how this cool new feature works.

Remember, to use Problem Alerts, you’ll need to be using the latest version of RootsMagic 6 (  If you already own version 6, select Help > Check for Updates from the main menu.  If you are using an older version, you’ll need to upgrade to v6.

In our secret underground labs, we’ve already found the Problem Alerts to be very useful in helping us clean and maintain our genealogy data. We’re confident it will be just as useful for you too.


PAF users have a new home at RootsMagic; Upgrade offer and Free Quick Start guide

PAF users have a new home

In a blog posting today, FamilySearch announced the retirement of it’s Personal Ancestral File (PAF) genealogy software.

“Beginning July 15, 2013, PAF will be retired and will no longer be available for download or support. For full details and for information on alternative products, please visit http://familysearch.org/PAF.”

The linked page recommends that PAF users upgrade to family history software from one of the FamilySearch parters.  Of the three options listed, RootsMagic is the only software certified to utilize the full capabilities of FamilySearch Family Tree, including sharing data, ordinances, discussions, sources, and change history.

We understand that change isn’t easy, so we’ve worked hard at putting together some new tools and supports to make the transition as painless as possible for PAF users.

A New Home

Over the past few years, tens-of-thousands of PAF users have made the switch to RootsMagic.  They’ve enjoyed its amazing new features such as book publishingcolor codingwallchartsShareable CD’srunning straight off of a flash driveinteractive problem listsonline publishing, a mobile app, and more!

But don’t take our word for it.  Here’s what some of our satisfied-switches have had to say:

“I have used PAF for all my years in Family History research. I now enjoy working with RootsMagic, it is by far the best program. Thank you.” — Joyce

“I want to thank everyone at RootsMagic for all their hard work! I purchased RootsMagic 4 after attending a genealogy seminar this past September. I was still using PAF at that time. When Bruce explained how easy it was to convert my data I was extatic, so I purchased the software. When I received it, it loaded quickly converted all my old PAF data (just as Bruce said it would) and I was up and running. . . Love is a very strong word, and I Love RootsMagic!! Thanks everyone, great job!!” — Kathy

“I have been working on the family history for many years using PAF, and converted to RootsMagic, which is a great program, very user friendly. I have recommended the program to beginners that are interested in finding and recording their own family genealogy.” — Shirley

“A great improvement from PAF. This will help with the work. Thanks!” — Garth

Update Discount for PAF Users

To make the transition as painless as possible, we’ve set-up a special website at www.PAFUpgrade.com that includes training videos, testimonials, and more.  And for a limited time, we are offering PAF users the full-version of RootsMagic at the upgrade price of only $19.95.  You must visit www.PAFUpgrade.com to receive the discount.

Of course, we also offer a free version of RootsMagic named RootsMagic Essentials that offers the basic abilities of PAF plus the certified FamilySearch Family Tree features.

Free Quick Start Guide

RootsMagic for PAF Users: A Quick-Start Guide

We’ve also put together a special guide titled, “RootsMagic for PAF Users: A Quick Start Guide”.  This 16-page, full-color booklet guides you step-by-step in making the switch and answers the biggest and most common questions.  This guide is available in printed format and as a free PDF that can be viewed on your computer or mobile device and even printed at home.  We encourage our users to download this guide and freely share it with any PAF users who may benefit from it.

As a bonus, any PAF user who upgrades to RootsMagic at www.PAFUpgrade.com will receive a copy of this Quick Start guide.

We’re Here to Help

If you’re a PAF user, we understand that change isn’t easy. But with a little of your time and a little help from us, you’ll be just as comfortable with RootsMagic as you were with PAF.