Find My Ancestor Blog

Jamboree – Day 1 – Part 1

Friday morning at Jamboree I hosted a roundtable discussion on using Mac computers to do your genealogy. Since it was a roundtable discussion I didn't really plan anything specific as to what I was going to talk about. I wanted the people involved to ask me questions so they would get the most out of the discussion. After all, I could probably talk all day about different applications, tools, tips and tricks, and so many other things about how you can use your Mac computer to do your genealogy. I figured most questions people had were going to be something like "What programs are there on a Mac and which one should I use?" That question is the one I get asked most by people who have Macs and who are also thinking about switching to a Mac but aren't sure what applications there are out there. For those of you who were not able to attend, I will briefly go over the applications I talked about and why I recommend them. I have had my Mac for over two years and ever since day one I used Reunion. At the time Reunion the most well-known and popular application for the Mac. However, for a number of reasons I have now switched to using Family Tree Maker for Mac.

Family Tree Maker for Mac

This is a fairly new application, released last fall by It is built based on the popular Windows version that has been around for many years. There are many features I like about FTM for Mac but one of the most enticing things about it for me is the layout of the application. It is very simple and straight-forward, but also with many great features. When I work on my genealogy I like to see a lot of information all at once without having to click on a bunch of buttons to navigate through different information. This helps me see the big picture to be able to see where people and events fit in together. Below is a screenshot of what I am talking about.


Like I said earlier, Reunion is a great software and has been the leading Mac genealogy database software for years. I have used it for over two years and have really enjoyed it. One of the features I have really enjoyed is how much you can customize the application to what works best for you. You can customize anything from event fields, source citation templates and even the colors that appear in the application. I have also enjoyed the ability to create reports and charts and open them in other applications such as Pages and Microsoft Word. One of my biggest complaints about Reunion is the fact that their software is quite outdated compared to other genealogy database programs, both on Windows and Mac. Many of the other programs have web-search integration, access to the, maps and a few more features I find to very helpful while doing my research.

Mac Family Tree

I talked briefly about Mac Family Tree. The main features I like about Mac Family Tree is how the charts and reports look. When I create charts and reports I like them to be fun and interesting looking. I really enjoy graphic design and I think these charts add a fun flare to the research.


Mobile Monday – Reunion App

Do you have a Mac? Do you use Reunion for Mac for your genealogy database? If so you should really try the mobile app. With the Reunion App you can sync your genealogy data back and forth between your computer and your mobile device. This of course makes doing your genealogy while you are not at your house very easy and simple to do. You don't need to take your laptop with you now when you go to the Family History Center or to the State Archives. With the mobile app you are able to view, edit and add data to your whole family tree and then go back home and sync that information back to your computer. I personally use Reunion for my genealogy database and I also use the Reunion App on my iPhone and iPad when I do my genealogy research. Because of apps like this I don't need to always take my laptop with my when I go downtown to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  It also makes if very convenient when I go to my grandparents house and talk with them about genealogy. The user interface is so easy and simple to use. The screen is very clean without a lot of clutter to get confused with - very similar to the desktop application on my computer. The app is available in the Apple App Store. You can also download it by scanning your iPhone with the QR code below. Reunion - Leister Productions, Inc To learn more about the Reunion App and to see more screenshots, visit the Reunion App page on Find My Ancestor.


Mac Genealogists are Sprouting

There has been quite the talk this week as far as Mac Genealogy goes. I have read numerous emails, lists and blogs talking about doing your genealogy on a Macintosh computer.

Earlier this week there was a conversation started on the APG Members list about genealogy software for the Mac and which ones people were using and recommendations. Of course the main application mentioned was Reunion for Mac. From what I can tell, it seems like this is the genealogy software program of choice for those who use Macs. Over the past two years that I have had my Mac I have noticed that whenever the topic comes up about which software program people use, it tends to be Reunion for Mac.

There are not as many genealogy database applications for Mac as there are for PC, but the number seems to be growing. The latest program that I know about is Family Tree Maker for Mac. I have used this new application and find it to be very good. Of course one of the best things about it is that it connects directly to allowing you to easily find records, add them to your tree and any other resources available at The software also works quite well transferring data back and forth between the Mac version and the Windows version.

One other great program available for Mac users is Mac Family Tree. The thing I like most about Mac Family Tree is the various charts and reports you are able to create. In my opinions, they are more aesthetically pleasing compared to Reunion and Family Tree Maker. I am more of a graphical person though, so that may be why I like all the different colors Mac Family Tree uses. Below is a comparison of pedigree charts in the three applications mentioned.
Click on the image to enlarge

If I could take features from these three applications and add a few of my own I think I could have an amazing genealogy software! Throughout this past week when people have asked which application they use or prefer I have answered with the following responses. 

*Note: The following are my opinions. If you feel different about any of these, please leave your comments below, but please do not leave rude or inappropriate comments.
  •  I think Reunion for Mac is the best out of the three as far as database entry goes. Reunion has many customization features the others do not. For instance, the sourcing capabilities in Reunion allow you to create your own source citation templates. This is great because the default templates do not follow Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidence Explained.
  • Reunion also allows you to customize your reports to include and exclude very specific information. You can also create report templates depending on what information you want on various reports.
  • Mac Family Tree however has better looking charts and reports. Like shown above, I think their reports and charts look better and are more graphical and modern than both Reunion and Family Tree Maker.
  • On that note, I do want to mention the feature I really like about Reunion and that is that you can export your Family Group Records, Narrative Reports, Person Reports, etc. to 3rd party applications such as Apple Pages, Microsoft Word and others. This allows you to add graphics, text, etc. to your reports if you want to make them look better.
  • Like I also mentioned above, I think one of the best features about Family Tree Maker is the direct connection with and how easy it is to add a document or record to the person in your family tree.
  • I also really like the maps feature that Family Tree Maker includes.
Disclaimer: This post includes some websites and software references. Find My Ancestor is not an affiliate with any of these products. I just find them to be great products and use them on a regular basis. The opinions in this post are mine and are in no way influenced by any of these products.