Signing up for an account is easy. Free accounts limit the number of storytellers (interview subjects) you may have, story listeners you can share files with, and the number of stories you can listen to per day. They also require an extra charge for exporting outside of the app. Paid subscribers get unlimited storytellers, story listeners, story listens per day and no extra charge for exporting files. After you create an account, you can download the free smartphone app to record and upload audio files.
It takes only a couple of clicks to log in to the app, select a storyteller, hit record and upload a file. Recommended maximum interview time is 10 minutes on smartphones, so if you’re conducting a full-fledged family history interview, you’ll want to record each question and answer separately for quick uploading. An email notification is sent to you to confirm the file upload. Alternatively, you can record MP3 audio files using a handheld audio recorder or other device, then manually upload the files.
File management and organization
Saving Memories Forever provides predetermined questions for organizing files into specific categories. Before you add a file, add the storyteller name so the clip will be filed appropriately. To add a recording, select the storyteller, then select a category. Options include a mixture of age-related categories (Childhood, Teenage Years and four Adult options) and topics (Jokes, Philosophy, Religion, Other Stories and Songs).
After you choose a category, select an interview question. These questions are good prompts for genealogy beginners, but more advanced genealogists will find them limiting. For example, the only category that offers a question on dating/marrying is Adult 20-25. So if your grandmother married before age 20 or after age 25, you’d have to choose Other Memories in the appropriate age range category.
See all the files you’ve uploaded by clicking on the My Memories tab and then the storyteller. Add keyword tabs in Manager view; Listener view lets you play clips others have sent to you.
File organization is basic and inflexible. If you ask your interview subject a question on childhood and she talks about something else, there’s no way to change the category after the file has been recorded and uploaded.
Hover over the arrow to the left of a file name to see options for tagging, managing associated files, transcription and deleting the story.
Sharing and exporting
The sharing feature appears to work only when you share with someone else who already has a Saving Memories Forever account, and it seems to have some deficiencies.
In the Manager view, you can click on a storyteller name and Share These Stories, then type in a friend or relative’s email address and a brief message, and click Share. The shared storyteller name and files will appear when the recipient signs into her account and uses Listener view, but don’t count on her seeing your brief message: When tested, the recipient never received an email or alert after receiving the files.
A paid subscription or a one-time fee allows you to easily export all of the audio files and supporting documents so you can store original audio files on your computer or other device.
The most useful tool is the free smartphone app, and the question prompts are great for genealogy beginners. However, the available categories, questions and sharing features need improvement to make this a more powerful storage and sharing tool.
From the March/April 2013 issue of Family Tree Magazine