Friday, July 10, 2009

Exporting Family Trees

I had several good comments and an email from my post of Exporting a Family Tree from

1) Reader Genealogy TidBits said:

"Hi Randy important thing that wasn't mentioned download a family tree from online family trees, you must be the owner of that tree. If someone gives you access, even as an editor, only the owner can download it!"

That's correct - I should have mentioned it! Thanks!

However, the other two comments below apply to any GEDCOM file downloaded from a website, or attached as an email. For instance, the Rootsweb WorldConnect family tree system permits GEDCOM downloads if the database owner allows it.

2) Reader Katie O. said:

"This may be a stupid question. In fact, it probably is. Some time ago, when I first tried to export a GEDCOM, I didn't realize you needed specialized software to open it. I know better now, but my problem is that that first time, when I tried to open it with some program already on my computer, I accidentally clicked "Do this for files like this from now on." How do I undo that? I haven't been able to figure it out, but I also haven't tried to export a GEDCOM since, because I've assumed it wouldn't work. If I try while having the proper software, will it automatically download through that? I imagine not, but I have no idea how to fix it."

Not a stupid question. It happened to me yesterday! Somehow, and I didn't know why, I clicked on a link to open a downloaded GEDCOM from, and it opened in Family Tree Builder. I haven't used FTB for months...but somehow a .GED file is identified with FTB in my file preferences.

I went in and modified my file extension preferences in Windows by going to Start>Control Panel>Folder Options>File Types tab and scroll down to the GED file extension. Mine said MyHeritage Family Tree Builder. I clicked on the "Change" button and selected Family Tree Maker executable (you can pick the one you want). Click "Close" and close your Control Panel window. Done! These things are hidden well on Windows computers, unless you are an expert (I'm not!). If you are a Mac OS user, there's probably a similar function. Hmmm, I wonder what other File Extensions I have that don't open in my preferred program?

The easier way to avoid this is to choose to SAVE the GEDCOM file rather than RUN it when you export the file. Then you have to remember where the file is (or write it down) when you open your software program and click on File>Import.

3) Reader Don F. emailed that:

"I have been reading your 9 July Genea-Musings and the portion about downloading a GedCom from Ancestry. I thought I would pass on some thoughts regarding downloading Gedcoms.

"When I download a GedCom from anywhere I always save it into a folder on my computer labeled Gedcom’s. Then I review the contents of that Gedcom via a program called MudCreek GENViewer. There is a “free” version and allows me to take a look at the entries of that Gedcom without contaminating *any* of my precious family files in my genealogy program. If I feel then that I want to investigate it further with my genealogy program I then import it to that program under another name. Being as I use Legacy for my program I then can open with the split screen feature and view my file and the one I downloaded side by side.

"This is a great little program that can be gotten at –
I started with reviewing & using the Free version and quickly upgraded to the licensed one at only $19.95 because I felt it was so good and useful.

"Even if I get something from a relative I still open it with this program first so I can review the contents."

Thank you, Don, for a great tip! If you don't trust the source of any GEDCOM, this is one way of viewing it without getting it in your software program and inadvertently or accidentally click "Merge."

I hope that these comments by readers and myself help others with downloading and exporting GEDCOM files, and viewing them too!

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