Sharing information is second nature to most genealogists, but trading database files is not always as easy as it sounds. Here's how to do it correctly.
Time Required: 15 minutes
- Ask the intended recipient what type of computer they have, what genealogy software program they use, and what version of the software they are running.
- If they are using the same software as you are, and their version is the same or later than yours, then send them your file in the same format it is stored on your computer (i.e. Family Tree Maker files have the extension .ftw).
- If they are using different software or an earlier version of your software program, then check your software manual to see what file formats you can save in.
- You can also usually access the available file formats by selecting "Save As" or "Export" from your software's file menu (this varies by program).
- If your recipient uses an earlier version of your software, and your program allows you to save in that version's format, then this is an easy option for you.
- Keep in mind that newer versions of a software program may contain extra information fields which are not available to an earlier version. Thus, when you save in the older format, some of the information may not be added to the new file.
- If they use a different brand of genealogy software then your best choice is to create output in the GEDCOM (*.ged) standard format, which allows one brand of genealogy software to successfully share information with another brand.
- After exporting your genealogy information into GEDCOM format, make sure to check the exported file to see if includes the information that you think it does. You can run a test by importing the GEDCOM into an "empty" database.
- Please keep in mind the privacy of living people. Use GEDCOM Cleaning Software to privatize the information on living individuals from the file you created before sending it.
- Copy the file you have created onto a disk or attach it to an email, and send it on its way!
- PC formatted disks work on most Macs, but that isn't the case the other way around.
- Give the file a short, but recognizable name - something that will help the recipient to remember where it came from.