Monday, January 25, 2016

Dear Randy: Does RootsMagic Communicate with Ancestry?

A reader emailed me with this question and I thought some of my readers might be interested in my response:

From Carol:  "I have an iMac and use I also have Family Tree Maker 3. I see they are not going to update this.  I also saw where you recommended other programs.

"1. Do you think they too will go by the wayside and use a monthly fee like many apps and programs are being set up?

"2. What is the best program for the Apple product in your opinion.

"3. Does Roots Magic communicate with Ancestry or would I have to enter everything into that program?  I’m not that savvy and want to do the best I can for what equipment I have. I also have an iPad with the Ancestry app.

Here is my response:

1)  I'm not sure what you are referring to with "will they go by the wayside" - was it Ancestry, or FTMM 3?  Or some other program, like RootsMagic, Legacy or Family Tree Builder?  

I think Ancestry will continue as it is.  They already charge a fee for access to records and trees, but creating and maintaining an Ancestry Member Tree is free.

I think that the desktop software programs may change over time - and may become cloud-based and perhaps fee-based.  Several desktop software programs already enable syncing to an online tree.  For instance, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and Ancestral Quest can sync names, events, sources and notes with the FamilySearch Family Tree. FamilyTreeBuilder syncs complete trees with a MyHeritage tree (similar to what FTM and Ancestry do).  It may be that RootsMagic, or other desktop programs, will be able to sync names and events with Ancestry in the future.

2)  I don't know what the best Mac program is.  Several friends like Reunion.  There are others.  I don't have a Mac.

3)  To get your tree out of Ancestry and into RootsMagic (or other desktop program), you should go into Ancestry in Tree Settings and download a GEDCOM file.  You could then import that GEDCOM file into RootsMagic (or other desktop program) with all of the people, dates, places, sources, notes, etc.  But not the media.

An alternative is to sync your Ancestry Member Tree with your FTMM3, and then export a GEDCOM file from Family Tree Maker.  The media from Ancestry will download to your computer, and then when you import the GEDCOM file exported by FTMM3 tree into RootsMagic (or other desktop program), the media and everything else will be included.  

So you don't have to enter everything into a new program.  However, you won't be able to sync with your Ancestry Member Tree - you will have to enter information into both your Ancestry tree and your RootsMagic (or other desktop program) database.

4)  I hope that isn't too confusing.  It is complicated!


Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at


D. Taylor said...

I'm a Mac user and have tried several different programs. I found that Heredis works best for me and the way that I work. I've written several postings about my search for a replacement for FTM3forMac. The latest posting is at

CrankyToday said...

RootsMagic works fine on my MacBook. It runs in a virtual machine and seems to have full function despite a minor quirk or two. However, I'm not sure if an iMac will run a virtual machine. If you decide to try RootsMagic on the iMac, you might want to have a quick chat with their tech support first.

T said...

what is "sync your Ancestry Member Tree with your FTMM3"?
I have Family Tree Maker 2014 and I also have the FTM 2012 but I don't have a program called FTMM3. I didn't know you could download/sync to any other software other than the ancestry software and ancestry tree. I thought I had to down load an ancestry GEDcom to import into another brand of software.

Steve K said...

T, to answer your question, FTMM3 is the latest (last) version of Family Tree Maker for Mac. It is approximately the same as FTM 2014.