The researcher’s digital toolbox is a collection of services and applications that will support your online genealogy research efforts. All of these are general desktop or online tools rather than something customized just for genealogy. They don’t replace your genealogy database software, but they are just as important.
Although any good toolbox will contain the same basic tools, the actual product chosen will depend on the individual. This article introduces you to the toolbox. Upcoming articles will take a look at each tool and discuss the options available.
The digital toolbox includes the following:
- Research email account. I recommend a research email account/address set up on one of the general mail systems (Google, Yahoo or Hotmail). I can still find message board entries posted three street and five email addresses ago. Little good those messages do for me today. These email accounts will stay with you regardless of your street address or Internet service provider.
- Web browser. You can choose from Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and more, but make sure you keep your browser updated to take advantage of the latest web functionality and to ensure you have all the latest security features.
- Newsreader. The newsreader allows you to subscribe to various news sources and blogs which will then deliver their latest content to your desktop. You do not have to visit each site to see if new content has been posted. And, unlike email, newsreaders don’t generate spam.
- Diigo account. Diigo is an amazing platform for saving, organizing, and sharing bookmarked sites. In addition to having those bookmarks available to you from any computer with Internet access, you can also include notes about the content found at that site and even highlight text on the bookmarked page.
- Skype account. All you need is a computer with broadband Internet access, a headset, and Skype and you can talk to any other Skype user in the world for free. Add a webcam and you can have video calls and even share your desktop with others.
- Online photo-sharing service. A photo management platform offers a cost-effective place to archive and share your priceless photos, old and new.
- Google account. Your free Google account gives you an email address, news reader, reference library, mapping resource, blog site, and so much more. Each of these services can have a significant impact on your research efforts.
- An online presence. One of the most delightful things about online research is getting connected with your research cousins. Having an online presence that defines the people and places you are researching will help make that happen.
- Screen capture software. These apps will capture all or part of your computer’s screen as an image. You can then save the image file or copy/paste it into another application.
- PDF reader and creator software. This format lets you create a publication that can be read by anyone with a PDF reader, regardless of the software used to create it. A growing number of publications are being distributed in PDF format. Most readers are free, and you will find many word-processing and other applications are including PDF as an export option.
- Note-keeping software. These amazing apps give you the ability to collect, organize, and share your research easily and efficiently.
In upcoming articles, I’ll look at the research benefits of each tool, the options available, and provide some tips for putting them to use. And, if you have tools you’ve found useful, I’d love to hear about them.
This article was written by Denise Barrett Olson
Any recommendation, evaluation, opinion, or endorsement of a specific product, brand, work, practice, or entity in this post, or the comments following, reflects the sole opinion of the author and not those of FamilySearch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or their affiliates.