The Bottom Line
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. If you want fancy charts, you'll have to spring for the add-on program, PAF Companion ($13.50). And if your primary goal is publishing a family Web site or book, there are better options.
- Very intuitive and easy to use
- Customizable data entry templates
- Available for free download
- Widely used and supported
- Full range of charts and reports only available with add-on, PAF Companion
- Only basic multimedia capabilities
- Publishing options are limited
- Not updated very frequently
- Available for free download or $6 on CD-ROM.
- View screens and print reports in either English, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean or Swedish.
- Type names and places using characters from any language.
- Create personalized templates to customize data entry.
- Five generation pedigree view offers easy navigation through large family trees
- Single name field rather than separate fields for given names, surname and suffix titles.
- Prints basic reports and charts. Fancy charts and book publishing options available through add-on.
- Attach images, sound clips and video files, or easily create basic scrapbooks and slide shows.
- Easily prepares information for TempleReady.
- Select individuals and families for export to your Palm handheld and view your data on the go.
Guide Review - Personal Ancestral File 5.2
Personal Ancestral File 5.2 is surprisingly powerful and feature-packed given that it is a free program. Multiple views, including a five-generation pedigree view, make the program easy to navigate and the data entry screen is simple to use. Customizable data entry templates mean that you can create your own fields to match the information you wish to record. Source documentation options are adequate, though not as customizable as I would like. Multimedia options include attaching unlimited images, sound clips and video files to individuals, and creating basic scrapbooks and slideshows. Only a single image can be attached to each source, however, and none can be attached to families, events or places. Despite its wealth of data recording features, PAF lacks fancier charts (e.g. hourglass chart, everything chart, etc.) and many customized reports, unless you spring for the add-on program, PAF Companion ($13.50 US). Of all the genealogy software programs, Personal Ancestral File offers the best support for users with free support through LDS Family History Centers, PAF User Groups, and online. And since PAF is from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it's likely that the software will continue to be developed and supported. If you want something that's easy to use and uncomplicated, and aren't focused on publishing your family information in a book or online, then add PAF to your short list.