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Do I need software?
If you are just getting started with family history research, or are only involved on a limited basis, you may not need software. Many genealogy web sites offer free web tools for creating and maintaining your family history research. 
FamilySearch.org's Family Tree is a great place to start. Creating an account is easy and it's free. There may already be records for many of your ancestors in the FamilySearch Family Tree. Simply "connect" yourself to any existing research, and begin contributing your own records and sources to what others have already added. For more information about the FamilySearch Family Tree, watch a quick Family Tree Training video.
Use the Family Tree as your software until you find that the Tree does not adequately address all your needs. Then decide what you need your genealogy software to do, and evaluate the products available for your computer. The FamilySearch Family Tree works with a variety of Family Tree Partner Products, allowing you to share information between your personal software and the Family Tree.
Choosing computer software
Some genealogists start out with a paper based system. The advantages of recording your genealogy on a computer are many. Here a just a few:
- The ease of searching for a particular person to add information is far easier than leafing through a large number of pedigree charts or family group sheets.
- Can easily install photographs of ancestors on the pedigree and family group charts so as to give faces to the names on the forms.
- Making changes to spellings or dates, etc. are considerably easier with a computer. Sheets stay neat and clean without smudges.
- Paper copies can be printed for those who want to have paper copies of genealogy material.
- Your genealogical findings can easily be sent to another person with a computer.
- Work on research with others who have the same interest in a common pedigree can easily be coordinated via computers.
- You will find many genealogical data bases with billions of names that are easily available via computer and many are free such as FamilySearch.org.
- Putting your genealogy on these data bases which allows others to see what you have opens up the possibility of coming across others working on the same lines. You can either share what you have or acquire information you may have been searching for a long time.
- There are many associations and family history groups that you can join up with and not have to live near by to get involved.
There are many types of programs available for both the Apple operating systems and the Windows operating systems. There are also programs for tablet computers and smartphones. Below is information on software for PCs and Macs.
Free Genealogy Software for Microsoft Windows
- Ancestral Quest Basics
- Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition
- PAF 5.2 (Note: No longer supported by FamilySearch)
- RootsMagic Essentials
- Heredis basic
Commercial Genealogy Software for Microsoft Windows
- Ancestral Quest
- BegatAll Genealogy Chronicles for Windows 8.1
- Brother's Keeper
- Cumberland Family Tree
- Family Historian
- Family Tree Maker
- Gaia Family Tree
- Genbox Family History
- Kith and Kin Pro
- Legacy FamilyTree
- The Master Genealogist
Genealogy Programs for Microsoft Windows Certified for New FamilySearch
FamilySearch Certified Products and Services
- Ancestral Quest - Access, Helper, Ordinance Reservation, Ordinance Request, Multi-Language, PAF Add-in, Print, Sync, Update
- Ancestral Quest Basics - Access, Ordinance Reservation, Ordinance Request, Multi-Language, PAF Add-in, Print, Sync, Update
- FamilyInsight - Access, Helper, Ordinance Reservation, Ordinance Request, Multi-Language, PAF Add-in, Sync, Update
- Gaia Family Tree - Access, Print, Sync, Update
- Get My Ancestors - Access, Multi-Language
- Legacy FamilyTree 7.5 - Access, Helper, Ordinance Status, Ordinance Reservation, Ordinance Request, PAF Import, Print, Sync, Update
- MagiKey Family Tree - Access, Helper, Ordinance Status, Ordinance Reservation
- Ordinance Tracker - Access, Ordinance Status, Ordinance Request
- RootsMagic 6 - Access, Helper, Ordinance Reservation, Ordinance Request, Print, Sync, Update
- RootsMagic 6 Essentials - Access, Helper, Ordinance Reservation, Ordinance Request, Print, Sync, Update
Genealogy Programs for Macintosh
Programs for Macintosh Certified for New FamilySearch
These programs are listed here.