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RootsMagic 8 (NEW!) and RootsMagic 7 Software Reviews

By Rick Crume Premium

In this article:

RootsMagic 8 Review

RootsMagic 7 Review

BONUS: 4 Quick Tips for Mastering RootsMagic

BONUS: 3 Useful Lists in RootsMagic

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RootsMagic 8

Price: $39.95 ($29.95 upgrade). The free RootsMagic Essentials includes the full version’s core features.

Manufacturer: RootsMagic, (800) 766-8762

System requirements: Windows 7 SP1 and above or Mac OS 10.12 and above

Biggest draws: Ease of use, data entry, reports, publishing your tree online

Drawbacks: As with most other genealogy software, you can’t view an album with large thumbnails of all of a person’s pictures.

Example of a family tree in RootsMagic 8

Ease of use

RootsMagic has undergone a major overhaul with the latest release, introducing a modern look and a streamlined user interface. Users of previous versions will face a slight learning curve with this upgrade, but the new screen designs make it easier to navigate around your family tree and work more efficiently.

The old menu across the top of the screen has been moved to the left side. Select People to view a 5- or 6-generation pedigree. Just click on an icon to switch to a different view, such as family, people list or the new couple list. Descendants view is now expandable. Instead of digging down through a series of menus, they’re now context-sensitive, so you only see options relevant to where you are in the program. In People view, for example, icons on the upper right give you easy access to various tools and editing options, such as adding a spouse, calculating a relationship or doing a search and replace.

Now you can have more than one person’s edit screen open at a time. Work elsewhere within the program, perhaps adding an item to your task list or browsing through your media files, and you can easily jump back to a person’s edit screen that you already opened.

The Place List now shows all the events where a place is used and you can easily edit those events

File management

If you opened up more than one family file in previous versions of RootsMagic, they all opened in the same window. Now each family file opens in its own window, so you can have different family files open on different monitors.

If you want to synchronize your family with online family trees, RootsMagic works well as a master database. The program’s TreeShare feature lets you sync the RootsMagic file on your computer with your Ancestry Member Tree online. The program simplifies working with the FamilySearch Family Tree, too. RootsMagic can import the ancestors or descendants of a person in the Family Tree. Once you match a person in your RootsMagic file with someone in the Family Tree, you can copy information back and forth between those profiles.

The RootsMagic App for iOS and Android lets you view (but not edit) your RootsMagic files, so you can carry your family tree on your cellphone or tablet.

Charts and multimedia

RootsMagic 8 can create ancestor and descendant charts with customizable borders, fonts and colors. The hourglass chart shows both a person’s ancestors and descendants. Now you can create a fan chart in one of five styles (fan, ¼ circle, 1/3 circle, ½ circle or full circle) displaying multiple generations of a person’s ancestors.

Documentation and publication

RootsMagic 8 has an extensive variety of source templates for everything from family bibles and grave markers to DNA tests and online passenger lists, so you can create proper source citations for just about every type of source imaginable.

Report options include family group sheets, pedigree charts and narrative reports. In addition to the usual name index, reports can include a place index.

You can publish your family tree and pictures on your own private website with the free My RootsMagic hosting service.

At the time this review was written, a few features in RootsMagic 7 had not yet been updated for RootsMagic 8. They include book publishing and RootsMagic to Go (which lets you install the program on a flash drive). Those features are expected to be added soon in free updates.

Searching

All the tools for searching your file for people, places, sources and media have been grouped together on one screen. In RootsMagic 7, you had to go through matches one by one. Now you can view the whole list of matches at once. That’s a huge improvement.

The verdict

RootsMagic 8 wraps a multitude of tools to research, record and share your family history in a slick new interface. Now with native support for MacOS, it’s an excellent choice for both Windows and Mac users.

RootsMagic 7

Price: $29.95 ($19.95 upgrade)

Manufacturer: RootsMagic, (800) 766-8762

System requirements: Windows XP or newer; runs on Mac OS X with MacBridge for RootsMagic 7, $14.95

Demo/trial version: a free version, RootsMagic 7 Essentials, has many of the full program’s core features

Biggest draws: ease of use, data entry, documenting sources, reports, publishing your tree online

Drawbacks: nothing major 

Ease of use

Exceptionally easy to use, RootsMagic 7 provides extensive help throughout the program. You also can purchase a printed manual for $14.95. 

Pedigree, Family, Descendants and People tabs make it easy to navigate around your family tree. Most functions are arranged logically in the main menu and toolbar, but don’t overlook the media gallery in the Lists menu.

As you enter place names, CountyCheck alerts you to counties, provinces and states that didn’t exist on the date of the event in question.

The new NameClean tool finds and corrects problems and inconsistencies in people’s names. Another new tool, PlaceClean, finds and corrects similar problems with place names.

File management

RootsMagic 7 directly opens Family Origins, Family Tree Maker (2006 and earlier), Legacy, Personal Ancestral File and The Master Genealogist files.
 
The handy RootsMagic-to-Go is a separate utility program that lets you copy the program and your family files to a flash drive so you can run RootsMagic on a computer away from home without having to lug a laptop. You also can create a shareable CD with a read-only version of RootsMagic to show off your work to family and friends. A free app even lets you view your RootsMagic files when you’re on the go. Now, you also can include media files when you back up or restore a family file.

Charts and multimedia

You can create highly customizable wall, timeline and box charts, as well as photo trees. While RootsMagic doesn’t offer the fanciest charts of any genealogy software (Family Tree Maker is better), they’re fine enough for a family reunion or gift.
 
When you have a photo that shows several people, it’s easy to add the picture to each person’s media album. You can also select a picture and see every person it is linked to. A handy new feature lets you drag and drop pictures onto a person’s media screen.

Documentation and publication

For documentation, select the template for a source type and fill in the boxes. You can keep research logs for people, families, events or places.

Report options include family group sheets, pedigree charts and narrative reports. In addition to the usual name index, reports can include a place index.

RootsMagic 7 expands and improves Publish Online, a feature introduced in version 6 that makes it easy to post your family tree online for free with photos, sources and notes. Now sites are created in a format that Google and other search engines can index. That’s a major improvement and means that people can find your site when they Google your ancestors’ names.

Searching

Using the powerful RootsMagic Explorer, you can search your file by multiple criteria, such as a name and any fact’s date.  Find Everywhere searches not only people, but also notes, sources, research logs and more.

New in this version, RootsMagic automatically searches record databases on FamilySearch and MyHeritage for people in your family file. A light bulb next to a person’s name in your file indicates a possible match.

The verdict

Still my choice for the best all-around genealogy program, RootsMagic 7’s automatic online searching and improved online tree publishing make it a worthwhile upgrade.

A version of this article appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

BONUS: 4 Quick Tips for Mastering RootsMagic

There might not be any witches or wizards in your family tree, but finding a software program that has all the features you need to organize your family tree can feel pretty magical. RootsMagic lives up to its name, but as all genealogists know, organizing and sourcing your research is not done with the wave of a wand. If you’re looking for a tool to preserve and manage your family tree, RootsMagic genealogy software has a lot of features that make tracking your research a breeze.

1. Various Points of View

RootsMagic allows unlimited people, events and facts, families, places and sources to be added to your family history, which means there’s a lot of data to keep track of. There are six view tabs for sorting through all that info: The Pedigree view, Family view, Descendants, People, WebSearch and Timeline. The pedigree chart is the default when you start, but each of the views provides different insights into your family history.

2. Adding Sources to Multiple People

Many times, a source will apply to more than one ancestor – especially true in the cases of census records. When adding a source to a timeline for one person, you can use the Memorize button, which functions as a kind of “copy” to then add it easily to another person’s timeline using the Paste button – without having to plug in all the source citation details again.

3. Make a List

It’s easy to create a To-Do list in RootsMagic. You can get to it from the Lists drop-down menu at the top of your main screen or through an individual’s timeline. The “ToDo” button gives you options for the type, priority and status. You can also sort your tasks based on individual, family or a combination of both.

4. Import Carefully

You can import GEDCOMs to RootsMagic from any online tree or other software. However, be careful of importing someone else’s data, since it can often contain errors. A good habit to get into is to verify anything you add from another person’s tree to ensure you’re not importing their mistakes.

BONUS: 3 Useful Lists in RootsMagic

Lists are the staple of just about every organizational system. In RootsMagic, there are several handy lists that get populated from the data you enter about your ancestors. Using the lists in can help you succeed at finding your ancestors and discovering every available resource.

1. To-Do Lists

The most common and quite possibly the most useful, RootsMagic has a great take on the traditional to-do list. Going through the lists, you can manage all tasks for your database. You can add tasks, edit tasks, delete tasks, or print. This list is most helpful in keeping your research on track.

2. Address List

Addresses may be attached to people in your database. You can edit through this function by using add addresses (although they will not be attached to a person), edit, delete, or print. When adding an address here or through the person, don’t forget to put a name on the record—if not, when you go to this list, there may be addresses with no person.

3. Correspondence List

Being organized involves a lot of pieces. One thing that is a challenge to many people is keeping track of correspondence sent and received. In these days of email, it’s often even harder. The correspondence list allows you to enter mail, email, phone, fax, and other communications either sent or received.

The best genealogy software program meets the largest genealogy website. Learn how to sync RootsMagic with your Ancestry.com family tree.
Get an overview of the features of the RootsMagic app from our genealogy software expert.

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