Whether you're choosing your first genealogy software program or looking to upgrade, there is probably an option available to meet your needs. Get the scoop on all the latest versions of favorite family tree software programs in this 2006 genealogy software roundup.
The selection of the best genealogy software is really a matter of personal choice, so the rankings here are subjective. They are also independent rankings, as I'm not affiliated with any of the companies, do not belong to their affiliate programs, and only deal with the editorial content on this site - not the advertising.
That being said, my favorite for best all-around program based on features, price and ease of use is RootsMagic 3.0, which slightly edges out The Master Genealogist 6.0 and Legacy 6.0 for its user-friendly navigation and interface and for having integrated wall charts without the need for a separate add-on program. TMG 6.0 is still the most powerful and customizable of the bunch, however, and Legacy 6.0 offers a very nice set of features and reports. To be honest, there really isn't a bad program in the entire bunch. These genealogy software titles all offer either a free trial demo or a money-back guarantee, so select a few and try them out for yourself. The best genealogy software program is the one that you find intuitive and which meets most of your individual requirements.
Editor's Choice Genealogy Software
1. RootsMagic 3.0 (4 1/2 stars) - If you're looking for genealogy software that's easy enough to use without the manual, yet full-featured enough to satisy a professional genealogist, then you should definitely check out RootsMagic. From beautiful charts and flexible book publishing, to easy data entry and advanced sourcing, RootsMagic offers something for everyone.
2. The Master Genealogist 6.0 (4 1/2 stars) - A choice of many genealogy professionals, The Master Genealogist (TMG) stands out for its ability to record every last detail of your family tree and its features for fully documenting and evaluating genealogical evidence. It has a bit of a steep learning curve, but if you live for details, like to customize, and don't mind spending a little more, you'll love TMG.
3. Legacy Family Tree 6.0 (4 1/2 stars) - An intutive interface, powerful collaboration features, and multiple views make Legacy Family Tree one of the best genealogy software programs on the market, not even considering the fact that it's free. The best features are only available in the $29.95 Deluxe Version, however, and fancy charts require an extra add-on program.
Other Good Genealogy Software Options
Genbox Family History 3.7.0 (4 stars) - Extensive data entry fields and customizable sources mean that Genbox will meet the needs of almost any genealogist. Helpful project management tools and a wealth of beautiful reports and charts round out this surprisingly complete package.
Family Tree Legends 5.0 (4 stars) - Family Tree Legends offers most of the features you would expect in a well-rounded genealogy software program, but where it really shines is in its tight Internet integration, making it easy to backup your database, look for and download matches from other family trees, and publish your family tree online with just a few clicks.
Family Tree Maker 2008 (2 1/2 stars) - Family Tree Maker 2008 offers a departure from past versions of the popular family history program, with a wonderful new interface and nice data entry and management options. Where Family Tree Maker really used to shine, however, was in its publishing, and this new version still lacks many popular charts/reports, stand-alone book publishing, and output to HTML. Updates are coming.
Ancestral Quest 11 (4 stars) - If you're a PAF user looking for extra features or someone who wants to be able to easily collaborate with other researchers online, then Ancestral Quest may just be the software for you. For everyone else, however, there are other family tree programs who do it slightly better or cost a little less.
PAF 5.2 (3 1/2 stars) - One of the oldest and most popular genealogy software programs available, this family tree software from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is available for free download. Powerful and full-featured, it is also very user-friendly, making it perfect for novice computer users and genealogists. It hasn't been updated in several years, however.
Genealogy Software for MacintoshI'm not a Mac user, so I haven't personally reviewed any Macintosh genealogy software programs. There is one program, however, applauded over and over by other reviewers - Reunion 9. Another excellent option for Mac users mentioned highly by many reviewers is Heredis Mac X.2, and MacFamilyTree 5 has been redesigned from the ground up and has a pre-release version available for public beta.
Macintosh Genealogy Software
Kimberly Powell, About.com's Genealogy Guide since 2000, is a professional genealogist and the author of "Everything Family Tree, 2nd Edition." Click here for more information on Kimberly Powell.