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Mac Family Tree 4.5 Software Review

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Mac users who’ve chafed at the dominance of Windows in genealogy software — which exceeds even the Windows-ization of corporate America — will cheer the release of MacFamilyTree 4.5. It’s the most Maclike genealogy program yet, not only in execution but in style. Indeed, it may be better-suited to Mac enthusiasts who happen to do genealogy than to genealogists who happen to own a Mac.


As you’d expect on a Mac, getting started is a snap. To start a new tree, click the Add Person button in the Family Card view. In MacFamilyTree’s button-centric approach, that’s the one with the plus sign (+); other options, whose graphics aren’t always as intuitive as you might like, let you delete a person, pop to the Additional Information window, display the wildly colorful Quick Navigation window, or jump to the parents’ card.

Importing a GEDCOM file is painless, wicked fast and seemingly free of import glitches. On the flip side, GEDCOM is MacFamilyTree’s native format, making it easy to share your file with others. The Publish button lets you export as HTML, save to your iMac disk or burn to a CD.

Adding events to your tree involves still more buttons and windows; you can’t simply type onto the Family Card, though you can edit existing data there. Click the Add button to enter a new event or fact — for which the default on an existing person seems to be, weirdly, Occupation. You can pick a different event from a scrolling list. Just don’t make a mistake on this screen: In very un-Maclike fashion, there’s no Cancel button, and Undo is grayed out.

Associating sources with facts involves picking from another scrolling drop-down menu. If you have a lot of sources, getting to one beginning with Z can take awhile, and there’s no easy way to use the same source over and over (as with Windows program RootsMagic’s “memorize” and “paste” functions).

MacFamilyTree lets you easily add pictures (drag and drop or pick from iPhoto) video and sound files. The Media window then lets you manage these files.


Navigating around a family tree is visually spiffy, once you figure out the little buttons in die Quick Navigation window. There’s no way to navigate beyond the four generations shown, however, nor can you zoom in on the eye-straining type and icons.

The Reports button brings up plain-vanilla Summary, Events, Distinctive Persons, Kinship, Person List and Birthdays reports. Veteran genealogists will long for a standard family group sheet and a quick way to see how person A is related to person B without listing everybody in the file.

It all adds up to a package Mac lovers new to family history will love for its buttons, windows and colorful views. More experienced genealogists may conclude that MacFamily Tree is trying too hard and needs better basics, with less pizzazz.

Vital Statistics

MacFamilyTree 4.5


Price: $49, or $20 upgrade

Biggest draws: easy setup, attractive interface, fast GEDCOM imports

Drawbacks: no family group sheet, more flashy than functional for serious genealogists

From the January 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine.