Thirtysomething brings a different view to adulthood. For many of us, the 30s and 40s are the first decades where we reflect on our roots.
As my husband and I settle down and plan for a family we also want to know where we came from. Fortunately, we both have large families and both sides came from Poland (we live in Chicago), so we know where the family tree has roots. We’re using our Mac to go back in time.
Kissing Cousins In The Family Tree?
So far, I have about half a dozen ways to use my Mac to trace the family tree. Since Nathan and I both know our families came from Poland a few generations ago, we have one fear. Guess.
We’re nearing the end of a long search for Mac apps that collect family details.
To date, we found six ways to handle tracking the past via the Mac. Five are Mac apps, one is online. Prices range from $99 to free, except Ancestry.com’s subscription service. All the apps have one thing in common. Your family tree.
Ancestry.com – One of the easiest ways to dig into your family’s roots is through Ancestry.com. You’ve probably seen their TV commercials.
Of all the available ancestry apps, Ancestry.com provides the most assistance. Start up is easy. Fill in what you know of your family tree on both sides. Then, ask your family members for more details. Finally, dig into Ancestry.com’s historical records for more detail dating back to the 1930s (with some census data going back to the 1800s).
Our family came to Illinois back around the turn of the century but Ancestry.com provided some details in recent generations that spread the tree branches. Interesting, but no earth shattering kissing cousin news.
Ancestry.com’s basic service is free but you don’t get much. The deluxe membership can be as low as $13 a month. World Deluxe is nearly double that monthly rate.
Genealogy Pro 2 – Some things never change. I could download and try Genealogy Pro but the web site is completely blank.
The MacGenealogy.org site has more details, including links to other Mac genealogy and family tree apps. This isn’t a good sign so we scratched it from the list.
GEDitCOM II – This isn’t the easiest to use genealogy or family tree app for the Mac but it’s close, yet full featured. GEDitCOM II has a healthy feature set and is completely Mac-like.
You can add photos and movies and view both with the built-in media browser. It comes with ancestor and descendant family tree charts (with the ability to place portraits in the charts). Charts can be expanded and contracted and are scalable for printing and exports web site ancestry pages.
As the name would imply, GEDitCOM II providesd support for GEDCOM files, including import and validation. So far, we found GEDitCOM II to be strong on features, but a bit complex.
Family – The simplest of all the apps we found is Family. It’s free and remarkably easy to use. Start with your parents (or husband) and branch out the tree by adding names, photos, and details.
Pink and blue identify family member gender. For each person in the tree you can add photos, documents, and scrapbook-like information. The tree can get unwieldy in a few generations so Family can shrink the branches and export to PDFs using a customizable grid and guide.
Family is quite usable considering that it’s free, but if you’re serious about tracing the gene pool, you’ll want more.
MacFamilyTree – For now, Nathan and I are torn between two Mac apps of similar ilk. MacFamilyTree gets my nod for power and ease of use. It’s a delight to use.
MFT works like the others. Add names and relationships to the tree branches. Each entry can be edited and viewed. The View option also displays the whole tree, including dates. Every entry shows up in the Persons section. Related family members show up in Families.
No family history is complete without some recognition of where family members lived and what sources you used to track the details. MFT has both. Use the built-in Search function or the Web Search to find more information online.
The MFT Navigator makes it easier to navigate through large family trees. All the details you want can be dropped into each family member entry and there are multiple ways to view your tree and member relationships. MFT is GEDCOM compatible so whatever you collect can be shared with others, Mac or PC.
MFT also provides an online service to publish your family tree so only your family members can view the gory details. MacFamilyTree is my choice.
Reunion – Maybe it’s a left brain, right brain thing, but Nathan prefers Reunion, arguably the most comprehensive Mac app for tracing the family tree.
As with MFT, Reunion is a good choice to store and display family tree details. Details? Plenty. Names, dates, places, facts, pictures, videos. Unlike the others, you can enter names and events in the tree. Even the tree itself differs from the other apps—much more linear in nature (and up to 99 generations).
Any of the onscreen tree branches can be dragged and moved around and each box can be customized.
Reunion does a nice job helping you collect information with decidedly linear graphic forms to fill in for each entry. Entries can also be collected in narrative style which works well with the book-style reports.
Reunion comes with a number of nice extras, including a relationship calculator, birthday and anniversary lists and reminders, plus mailing lists (handy to elicit support from family members who live elsewhere).
And, if you like carrying your whole family tree with you on the go, Reunion has an iPhone version.
For now, we’re torn between MacFamilyTree and Reunion. I prefer ease of use and Nathan is into collecting every scrap of detail in a form for each family member. For the moment, we’re using both. Any family details we find go in both. I don’t know how long we can keep that up. But so far, no cousins who did more than kiss.