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Genealogy GEDCOM 101

How Can I Create and Share a GEDCOM File?


Do you want to share your family tree file with friends, family, or fellow researchers? Unless they use the same genealogy software program as you they will not be able to open and read your family file unless you send it to them in GEDCOM format. The same goes for most online pedigree databases which only accept family tree submissions in GEDCOM format. Learning to save your family tree as a GEDCOM file will make it much easier to share your family tree and connect with fellow researchers.

How To Save Your Family Tree as a GEDCOM File

All major family tree software programs support the creation of GEDCOM files. Creating a GEDCOM file does not overwrite you existing data or change your existing file in any way. Instead, a new file is generated by a process known as "exporting." Exporting a GEDCOM file is easy to do with any family tree software by following the basic instructions below. You can also find more detailed instructions in your genealogy software's manual or help system. You should also be sure to remove private information such as birth dates and social security numbers for people in your family tree who are still living in order to protect their privacy. See How to Create a GEDCOM File for help with this.

How to Share My GEDCOM File

Once you have created a GEDCOM file you can now easily share it with others via email, flash drive/CD or the Internet.
  • To share your GEDCOM file via email you will need to send it as an attachment to your email. Be sure to include a short note in your email telling the recipient what to expect in the attachment so that they won't delete it as a potential virus-laden attachment. You may also want to attach brief instructions on how to open the file or point them to my instructions on How to Open a GEDCOM File. If you need help with how to send attachments via email, then try How to Send an Email Attachment.

  • To share your GEDCOM file via snail mail you will need to save it to a flash drive or burn it onto a CD.

  • You can also share your GEDCOM file with others online by uploading to one of the many pedigree databases which exist on the Web. The best of these promise not to sell your information for profit and allow for easy searching for matches against the names in your family tree.

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