Why I love Family Tree Maker 2017

Thankfully there are many genealogy database programs to choose from, given one “size” (or application) does not fit all.  Additionally, there is no “right” program to use.  Software itself will not make you a better genealogist.  It’s the consistent use of the software – and being consistent in how you enter data – that WILL make a huge difference as you work on your genealogy.

Finding the right fit can take some time.  And even when you have a program you like, you may decide to play around with something new.  Such was the case when I decided to find a native Mac application after having used RootsMagic for many years.  I made a brief switch to Reunion 11 in 2015, but found that the software was too limited for what I wanted.  Instead, about 18 months ago I decided to climb on board with Family Tree Maker, and couldn’t be happier.  Now that FTM 2017 is out, I decided to highlight the features I love the most.

Facts, Sources and Media

The feature that I loved most about RootsMagic was being able to see if a fact was sourced or not, and if it had associated media. However, even better than that is Family Tree Maker’s ability to show how many source citations are associated with a fact, in addition to the number of linked media items.


The number of sources, attached media and notes are visible for each fact in the Person view.

A HUGE advantage offered by FTM is that the media can be attached directly to the source citation itself, leaving no question about which source citation the media item belongs to when multiple source citations are linked to the fact.  A thumbnail of the media item is also visible on the source citation as well.

source media

A thumbnail of the attached media is visible in the source tab

Below is the full Person view.

Person View

Person view allows visualization of facts, sources, media and notes.


Family Tree Maker allows the user to view all of a source’s citations and links in one screen.  This is an incredible way of managing sources, and provides a means for easy clean up.  FTM also provides a place to copy the hyperlink to web pages, so you can access the original entry in Ancestry, FamilySearch or any other database or web page that provided the original details.

Source View

Source view shows the individual citations and links

Notes visible

It is possible to see all notes attached to various facts in a single screen.  This is wonderful to get an overview or more details at a glance.


The notes tab allows the user to scroll through notes for each individual fact.

Media opens in Preview

In my opinion, FTM’s native image viewer is superior to the built-in viewer in RootsMagic.  However, FTM also provides the ability of opening the media in Preview as well.  This is a huge time saver, as I don’t have to exit FTM to navigate my way to the media item in Finder to view outside of FTM.

image viewer

Clicking the button identified by the arrow launches the Mac Preview application for viewing outside of FTM.


FTM makes it easy to stay focused with a task manager.  When I discover something I need to do, I don’t have to interrupt what I’m working on; instead, I can easily enter a task to do at a future date, and link it to the associated individual in the database.


Tasks may be linked to individuals, assigned a priority, and viewed in the Planning screen.

Ancestry.com synchronization

While syncing with Ancestry.com is nice, it wasn’t one of the primary features I was seeking.  However, I have to say it is awesome. My tree consists of 2,600 individuals and 2,200 images, and syncs to Ancestry lightning quick.  While occasional users may report issues with syncing, I have had none.  However, I do have a new Mac with a strong home network and internet connection, which probably makes a difference.


Family Tree Maker just looks good.  No, it’s not usually a primary consideration when selecting a genealogy database, but it sure helps when we spend so much time entering data into our software programs.

main screen

My beautiful FTM screen!

If you are considering a software switch (or are a beginner looking to select an application), I hope this brief overview helps you in your selection process.  (For exhaustive information on Family Tree Maker with helpful videos, be sure to visit Cousin Russ’ Family Tree Maker User blog.)  And remember, there is no “right” application – just the one that’s right for you!

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