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How to Use Family Tree Builder for Genealogy

How to Use Family Tree Builder for Genealogy

Family Tree Builder is a free genealogy software from MyHeritage that allows you to build your family tree on your desktop or laptop computer. It offers many of the same features as the MyHeritage website, with additional advanced features and customization options that make it ideal for the advanced genealogist.

If you are looking for a desktop software for building your family tree that doesn’t require a connection to the internet, Family Tree Builder is an excellent choice. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of how to use Family Tree Builder and give you an idea of the exclusive advanced features you can enjoy on this platform.

Why use Family Tree Builder to work on your tree?

If you already have an online family tree on MyHeritage, you may be wondering why you should bother with Family Tree Builder. There are a number of unique advantages to FTB as a family tree building platform:

  • Working offline: Working on your tree on FTB doesn’t require an internet connection. This is especially useful if you are traveling somewhere where you’re not guaranteed online access but still want to be able to work on your tree. For example, when we sent teams into remote areas as part of our Tribal Quest project, they were able to use FTB to create family trees even in the middle of a desert, jungle, or tundra!
  • Expanded features and customization options: FTB offers more customization options and the ability to drill deeper down into the details in your tree. These include a task management tool, advanced charts and reports, expanded details and source citations, advanced privacy settings, the ability to record the reverse side of photos and documents, a find and replace tool, and much, much more.
  • Free unlimited tree size: On the website, you need a paid plan to add more than 250 members to your family tree. When using FTB, however, you can add as many people to your tree as you like.
  • Automatic syncing: You can set up your tree on FTB to synchronize automatically with your online tree — allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Ready to give it a try? Let’s get started.

Downloading, installing, and logging in to Family Tree Builder

Family Tree Builder is available for free download from myheritage.com/FTB. Simply visit the site and click “Download now” to begin downloading the program.

When the file has been downloaded to your computer, double click it to open it, then click “Yes” or “Run” to begin installing it on your computer. Once installation is complete, click “Finish” to launch the program.

You need to have a MyHeritage account to use Family Tree Builder. When you first run the program, you’ll be prompted to sign up for a MyHeritage account or log in to your existing account.

Starting a family tree on Family Tree Builder

Downloading a tree from MyHeritage

If you have a family tree on MyHeritage already, when you first sign in, a window will open offering the option of downloading it to FTB. Simply select the tree or trees you wish to download to FTB and click “Download now.”

Downloading a tree from the MyHeritage website to Family Tree Builder

If you skip this step now, you can always download your MyHeritage tree later by selecting “Restore project” from the “File” menu and choosing “Restore from online family site.”

Starting a tree from a GEDCOM or from scratch

If you don’t have a tree on MyHeritage or otherwise prefer to start building your family tree on FTB, just click the “New” button on the far left of the top toolbar, or open the “File” menu and select “New project.”

Starting a new project on Family Tree Builder

You’ll be given the option to start a new tree or import one as a GEDCOM file. To begin a tree from scratch, click “Create new tree.” If you have an existing tree as a GEDCOM file, you can import it by clicking “Import GEDCOM” and selecting the file on your computer.

When creating a tree from scratch, the program will take you through a wizard where you can fill in information about you, your parents, and your grandparents.

Just like on the website, once you’ve entered these basic details, MyHeritage will automatically begin scanning for Smart Matches™ and Record Matches.

Adding people to your tree and editing details

To add a new person to your tree, you can click the empty space above or below a person card that says “Add [family member],” or click the “Add person” button at the top of the tree.

You can also right-click on the person card of the new person’s relative, hover your cursor over the type of relationship, and select “Add [family member].”

See this how-to video for step-by-step instructions on adding an individual to your tree and editing their details:

To edit the details or add facts to an existing person in the tree, just double-click the card to pull up the details window.

Adding and managing photos

Clicking the “Photos” tab on the top toolbar will take you to the Photos section, where you can manage all the photos and other media you have on your tree.

The how-to video below will show you how to add and manage your photos and other media on FTB.

Advanced Family Tree Builder features

Now that you’ve learned your way around FTB, you can begin to explore the advanced features that make FTB such a powerful tool for advanced genealogy.

It is well beyond the scope of this article to describe all of these features, but you’ll find information about some of them in this Knowledge Base article by MyHeritage Support Specialist Ziv Sorrek. The features Ziv covers in the article include:

  • Task management
  • Profile list
  • Working offline
  • Charts and reports
  • Recording the reverse side of photos
  • Manual backup
  • Advanced GEDCOM options
  • Advanced privacy settings
  • Adding unrelated people
  • “Find and Replace” tool

You can also learn more about advanced FTB features in our Genealogy Expert Daniel Horowitz’s Ask the Expert sessions on the subject:

You can find additional Knowledge Base resources on FTB here.

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