Tip: Keep Your File in Shape with Database Tools

Database Tools

Occasionally things break.  And when they do, we break out the tools to fix them.  Sometimes we even use tools preemptively to keep things from breaking later.  Databases are no different, and RootsMagic provides database tools to check the integrity of your database, or even fix issues like “phantom children” in your database.  To open the Database Tools, select File > Database tools from the menu.


The Database Tools screen is very simple, with 4 commands to choose from.


Each of the 4 commands simply performs the command and then pops up a status message (which may be no more than a simple “OK”).

Test Database Integrity

This command analyzes your RootsMagic file to check if there are any problems with the database structure itself.  These are not problems with data (like a person being born before their father), but are corruption within the data structure itself.  This type of corruption is rare, but it is important to check for it occasionally.

When this command finishes running it will either just display “OK” (which is what you want), or it may display a list of any corruption in the file.  Sometimes this corruption can be fixed by running one of the other database tools (like Rebuild Indexes), but sometimes the only recourse is to restore a backup.

You can run this command when you open your database to make sure there is no corruption before you start entering new information, or you can run it before creating a backup to make sure your database is good to go before backing it up.

Rebuild Indexes

Your RootsMagic file contains two things… data and indexes.  The data is what you actually type in (names, dates, places, notes, etc), while the indexes are what the RootsMagic database engine creates so that it can search for and find that data faster.  This command rebuilds those indexes.  Like any of the database tools, you can run this command anytime without worry, but it can be most useful if the Test Integrity check comes up with index errors.

Clean Phantom Records

This is probably the most useful of the database tools, or at least the one that you can see its effects.  Occasionally your database can pick up what we call “phantom records”.  These are unwanted pieces of information (sometimes blank) that appear in your database, but you are unable to remove them using the normal RootsMagic features.

For example, you may find a family with a “phantom child”… a blank row in the child list on the family view which you can’t unlink or delete using the regular Edit > Unlink or Edit > Delete commands.

This command will search your file for all kinds of phantom records and will remove them for you.  Again, it doesn’t hurt to run this feature even if you haven’t run across any phantom records yet.

Compact Database

When you delete a person or other item in RootsMagic, the program simply marks the record as deleted, but doesn’t free up the space the record was using.  Normally this isn’t a real problem, but if you are deleting a lot of records in RootsMagic, this command will reclaim that space and reduce the size of your RootsMagic file.

Database Tools in Action

Here is a short video we created showing the database tools in action.

Tip: Keep Private Notes Private

Private Notes

You just discovered some information about an ancestor that you want to document, but you know there are some family members that are going to throw a fit about it.  How do you document that information, yet be able to publish your family tree without sharing that information?  The answer is with private notes.

Private notes are available anywhere you need to enter a note: a person note, a family note, or an event note.  Go ahead and enter your note just as you normally would, even if it contained something you weren’t quite ready to share.


When you print the note in a report (like the narrative report here), the note will print exactly as you entered it, including the information you’d like to keep private (you can click on the image below to see it better).


So here’s how to privatize that information.  Just surround the text you’d like to keep private with curly brackets {these things}.  Notice below we put them around the text about the cousin being too drunk to deliver the baby.  You can see that it isn’t all or nothing… you can put the braces around any text buried inside the note, or around the total note.  You can even put braces around more than one thing in a single note if you have multiple items you want to keep private.


Once you have added braces around the private text, you can choose in any report that prints notes, or when creating a GEDCOM file, to have that private text included or removed.  For example, when printing a narrative report, click the Options button…


then on the Options screen you will see two items for you to choose how to handle the text between braces.  The first “Include private notes” lets you choose whether or not to print or export that text.  The second option “Strip { } brackets” is used when you DO include the notes.  If you check that option when printing the private notes, RootsMagic will remove the braces so they don’t stand out around the private text.


Here is that same report as above with the private notes excluded.  RootsMagic has completely removed any text (including spaces) surrounded by the curly braces.


So the next time you stumble across information you aren’t ready to share yet, use this tip to keep track of the information while keeping it private at the same time.

Tip: Finding Anything Anywhere in RootsMagic

Find Everywhere

One of your ancestors fought alongside Davy Crockett at the Alamo, and you’ve entered that information into your RootsMagic database.  Unfortunately you don’t remember which ancestor it was, or how to easily find him.  Luckily, RootsMagic makes it easy to find anything, anywhere in your database with Find Everywhere.

Find Everywhere does exactly what it sounds like.  You enter some text, and RootsMagic will display a list of everywhere in your database that text is found: people, names, places, notes, sources, citations, media, to-do items, research logs, and more.  Just do Search > Find Everywhere from the RootsMagic menu and the following form will open.


You can search for a single word or phrase by just typing it into the first field.  Or you can search for a combination of words / phrases by entering them into separate fields and using the And/Or options.  You can also choose whether you want the results to match by case also.  For example, if you mark “Match case”, then “Smith” and “smith” will not match.

Click OK and RootsMagic will return a list of every place your desired text is found (in our example, the word “smith”).  Here we can see that it found a number of people with the name smith, whether 1) as a given name, or 2) as a surname.  It will also show you if any person notes have the word “smith” in them also.


 As we scroll down the list we can see that Find Everywhere returned sources with the word “smith” in them as well.  It doesn’t matter if the desired text is in the name, footnote, bibliography, research notes, etc., RootsMagic will find it.


 Scroll down even more and we see 4) places, 5) place details, 6) to-do items, 7) research logs, and 8) media items with the desired text.


 And best of all, notice how every result has a blue title.  That title is a link you can click on to directly edit that piece of information directly from the Find Everywhere results.  And of course you can also print or save the results using those buttons on the results page.

So the next time you can’t remember where you put that little tidbit about an ancestor, let Find Everywhere do the dirty work for you.

Tip: Finding a Person by Nickname or Married Name

Name Find

 “Why can’t I find that person?  I know I entered them into my database!”  Maybe it is because you know them by a different name than the one you entered for them.

We are taught to enter the full birth name for a person, but that person may have changed their surname when they got married, or may have gone by a nickname.  If you do a simple search for that married nickname, you probably aren’t going to find them.

This is where a great feature called NameFind comes to the rescue.  Let’s say you are looking for Mary Smith.  You open the RootsMagic search list (Search > Person List or click the magnifying glass on the toolbar) but you don’t find Mary Smith in the list.  Here’s how you do it.

Just click the NameFind button on that list screen.


That will open a form where you can enter the name of the person you are looking for.  Just type in the name of the person you are looking for and RootsMagic will begin its magic.   This screen looks quite simple, but is the gateway to a very powerful search which looks not only for a person entered with that name, but people who have that given name as their nickname, or that surname as a married name.  It even has an option to allow close matches, which will let it (for example) find Maria even if you looked for Mary.


Once you’ve entered the name you are looking for (and clicked OK), RootsMagic will jump to the first person who matches.  Notice in this case we were searching for Mary Smith, but RootsMagic found Marianne Davis.  That’s because 1) Marianne’s nickname is Mary, and 2) she was married to George Smith.


So there you have it- with RootsMagic’s NameFind, you can easily find anyone in your file, no matter what their maiden, married, or nicknames may be!