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iPad Apps for Genealogy

Tools for Mobile Genealogists


2 June 2011

Looking for new apps to boost genealogy productivity on your iPad? This list of apps includes everything from genealogy iPad apps which work with popular genealogy software, to apps for better searching and apps to boost your productivity as a mobile genealogist. Unless the genealogy app is indicated as Free, there is a cost involved ranging from $0.99 to $14.99.

In alphabetical order:

1. Ancestry

Woman's hands with a tablet computer
Carlina Teteris/Moment/Getty Images

Take Your Ancestry Family Tree on the Go
This free genealogy app offers Ancestry.com members the tools to create, maintain and share a multi-generation family tree – including the ability to organize photos and document scans, and add stories, journal entries and other info. You can view and edit your own Ancestry family tree, start a new tree directly from the app, or view other family trees that people have shared with you. Ancestry.com membership is not required to use this free app, but if you want to search their genealogy databases or attach digital documents from their Web site you will need to purchase a subscription. Free!


2. DropBox

Store, Sync and Share Documents
DropBox is a tool I couldn't live without. Whether it is getting a large folder of document images to a client, backing up my most important files and photos, or accessing my genealogy research notes on the road, DropBox makes it easy to store, sync and share photos, docs and videos. It's also a great way of getting files to and from your iPad. The free Dropbox account comes with 2GB of space that you can use for as long as you like. Pro plans for a monthly fee offer up to 100GB. Have DropBox and want to learn how to better use it? Legacy Family tree has an archived webinar by Thomas MacEntee available for purchase on CD; titled DropBox for Genealogists, it includes both the webinar and 18 pages of handouts.

3. EverNote

Save and store notes anywhere
Instead of scribbling notes on napkins, receipts or other scraps you have handy, this free online note service allows you to type and store a variety of material. This includes audio notes which are great for impromptu family history interviews, and even photos taken to jog your memory of something. Evernote will sync your notes to your laptop, desktop and iPhone or Android smartphone - keeping your genealogy notes in sync and handy no matter where you are. Notes are even geo-coded for mapping and search. Free!

4. Families

For users of Legacy Family Tree
Families for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch operates in conjunction with Legacy Family Tree genealogy software for Windows. Legacy family files can be easily transferred to your iPad enabling them to be viewed and edited wherever you are, and the app includes full-screen iPad support. Requires a free companion program on your computer, Families Sync, to get files to and from your iPad, along with a wifi connection or iTunes.

5. FamViewer

View and edit GEDCOM files
If your favorite genealogy software program doesn't yet offer an iPad app, then FamViewer may be the answer.This fairly full-featured genealogy app lets you read, view and edit GEDCOM files. FamViewer has more features than GedView (see below), especially in regarding to viewing and editing notes, sources and multimedia files, but it is also more than twice the price.

6. GedView

Another app for GEDCOM viewing
GedView reads any GEDCOM file and displays the information in easy to browse format. Data can be browsed via either a surname or family index. Available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, with automatic screen resolution adjustment for the appropriate device.

7. GoodReader

Read, organize and access documents
GoodReader is a true workhorse app, allowing you to open and read documents in a variety of formats, including pdf, word, excel, jpegs, even video files; annotate PDF files with typed text, underlines, highlights, comments and free-form drawings; and download and upload your documents, plus autosync to iDisk, Dropbox, SugarSync or any WebDAV or FTP server. Great for bookmarking favorite genealogy sites too. If you want just one app for reading, storing and marking up documents, then GoodReader does a little bit of everything well. It doesn't always play nice with other iPad apps, however.

8. iAnnotate

Annotate PDF files
I love GoodReader for viewing and organizing PDF files, but for annotating, highlighting, etc. I love using iAnnotate PDF. You can mark up text and add comments and notes to your hearts content including highlight, strikethrough, stamp, and underline by just dragging your finger. It even allows you to sketch diagrams, add in arrows, or other free-form drawing. iAnnotate PDF, which opens documents from email, your computer, the Web and DropBox, also allows you to fill-in forms and fully integrates its annotations directly into the PDF such that they will be available to any standard PDF readers like Adobe Reader or Preview, or you can save your annotated PDF in "flattened" format. Tabbed PDF reading allows you to switch easily between multiple open documents. PDF Expert is a similar application so you may want to check it out as well before purchase.

9. Popplet

Brainstorm Your Family Research
If you like creative brainstorming and mindmapping, then the new Popplet app for iPad may be right up your alley. Jot down notes, create diagrams, and brainstorm ideas via linked pop-up bubbles, adding text, sketches, photos, and colors to each bubble. This isn't for everyone, but some may find it a fun way to brainstorm their genealogy conundrums as they research. Popplet Lite is free, but the full app includes more features.

10. Puffin

View Flash-based digital images on FamilySearch
One of the things that bothered me most about traveling with my iPad was the difficulty I had searching and viewing digital images on sites that incorporate Flash such as FamilySearch.org. Puffin, an inexpensive app available for iPhone, iPod and iPad, not only runs most Flash-based Web sites, but most importantly (at least to me) handles the digital images on FamilySearch.org.

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