Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Ancestry Ditching Family Tree Maker? - Don't Panic!

I know a lot of people, including me, are upset with the news that Ancestry is ditching Family Tree Maker. There doesn't seem to be another program with the exact same great features. Reading the thoughts of users around the web , some are searching for alternatives and others are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

I urge you to not do anything rash, there is lots of time before you have to decide. Read blogs by other genealogists on the subject if you're not sure what to do, or familiar with what is out there. If you decide you want to get other software, read specs and reviews to see if it is right for you and meets your needs.

Diane at Genealogy Insider offers some insight, and a few links that you can check out. Lorine at Olivetree Genealogy also offers good advice.

I recommend you read the blog of Lisa Louise Cook on the subject at Genealogy Gems. Lisa explains the rationale behind the move by Ancestry.

I am at a standstill in my research right now, so I will take this time to update, update, update. At Ancestry I will check all my hints, sort out and empty my shoebox, download records and images, and any other chores needing to be done. Then I will sync and save the GEDCOM. After that..... I don't know, but I will be ready for whatever I decide.

A couple of people have asked, so here is how to make a GEDCOM file and save it to your computer. GEDCOM (.ged) is the universal type of file for genealogy programs, and can be exported from Ancestry or Family Tree Maker and imported to pretty much any other genealogy software program.

From Ancestry online:
At your family tree, click Tree Pages to open the menu, choose Tree Settings. On the right side, you will see Manage your tree. Click on Export Tree, save the file on your computer. (I include the date when naming the file so I know I always have the latest one).

From Family Tree Maker:
From menu choose File, Export
New window appears, check entire file and include everything.
For Output Format, choose GEDCOM 5.5 from the drop down menu. Save the file on your computer as above.

So, like I said, don't panic. There is lots of time to figure it all out.
Oh, and keep this old saying in mind.... "Don't cut off your nose to spite your face!"

Update:  You can read Ancestry's next day reply to comments and concerns here.


  1. Thanks for the advice Dianne because right now I am in a pickle with a version of FTM that will not work with Windows 10. Am thinking of downloading FTM 2014 so I can do exactly what you are going to do but do not was the extra expense if it is only good for a year or so. Another choice is the renew my membership and save files etc to my computer. Don't care for the new set up at Ancestry either and now that they have millions of us hooked it seems they also have us over a barrel...Ancestry might just crush with millions trying to save what they can.
    However, before I do anything will go read some of the remarks at the links you gave in your article... because I will be a very very old woman because Ancestry answers what I asked with half the world posting to them...

  2. Family Tree Maker will still work but with no synchronize or search options.
    You will have to make a secondary entry in then download the image from Ancestry and add the file.jpg to FTM. Hope this assessment is correct.


  3. That's right Mike. Sync will work for 1 year until Jan 2017. Then will have to download the images, as you said.

  4. Many genealogy software companies are now trying to get your business. There is no need if you like your FTM program. Besides the sync not working in 2017, it will last many years until YOU do a windows update that renders it unusable, which may be the next or the one after that! I have a photoshop essentials program I got YEARS ago and I migrate it to my next computer and next windows version and it always works.
    So I will not shop for another program until it becomes absolutely necessary!
    Just make sure to download a gedcom and do backups of all your work (not just genealogy) before upgrading any windows software.


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