Family History

Reviews: Genealogy Software for Mac

Why Mac?

I switched to Mac computers back in 2008, after losing yet *another* PC laptop to another fustrating breakdown. In the past, each time my PC died or needed repairs, my Mac-using friends and family would chide me, “Get a Mac! They never crash or die, they’re impervious to viruses, and your family history files will be more safely preserved!”

In the end, they were right. Mac computers are MUCH safer and reliable for precious family history files; whereas in the past I had to buy a new PC every 2-3 years due to premature death, the Macs I bought back in 2008 and 2009 are still going strong, and have never acted out or needed repair. Whew.


I wondered–did the Mac have any decent genealogy programs?*

My findings: YES!!!

As an adjunct of family history at BYU-Idaho, so many of my students were Mac-users, too, that I often helped them with their Mac software purchases outside the university’s PC-preferring curriculum. Today, I’m doing the same for the blogosphere!

The Mac Genealogy Programs I Use

Here are the programs I use, in order of my decreasing preference:

#1 Favorite: REUNION, by LeisterPro



–As easy to use as the PC programs out there

–Great media file organization/tagging features

–Event management is faster and easier than other programs (ie, I can add four birthdates to one person–thereby listing all conflicting records–faster and easier than I can in other programs)

–Citation is faster and easier than in other programs (I can grab past citations and drag them to wherever I am using them again)

–Individual reports and Family Group Records (non-graphic reports) come out better-looking on this program than on any other I use

–The program has iPad and iPhone apps so you can work on your tree from other devices

**(FAVORITE FEATURE OF ALL!) I can format citations MY way. I don’t use EE citation method like other genealogists do; I’ve created my own citation format that is faster, easier, and more clearly traces a source’s provenance, but most other genealogy programs force me to use EE citation style, instead. This feature alone is the reason I use this program, despite some very annoying “cons,” as listed below:


–Pedigree and other visual/graphic charts come out cheap and cartoonish-looking; not professional at all (I use their cascading pedigree chart feature, instead which is much sharper and professional-looking!). I can change them to something more professional, but it irks me that I have to do this, lol!

–Pedigree view is clumsy and difficult to navigate (want to go back to yourself as the head of the pedigree? Good luck–it will take you a minute or two to get there. Grrr)

–The program costs NINETY DOLLARS! Ouch. (But I think it worthy every penny for the citation features alone!)

Second Favorite: Family Treemaker for Mac 2 by


–The ONLY program out there with a version for both PC *AND* the Mac. I recommend it for families working on research together, where some members are on PC and others on Mac.

–iPad and iPhone app versions available and sync nicely (take a pic of ancestral grave with your iPhone; tag and upload it to your pedigree, then when you get home and open the pedigree on your computer, said gravestone is already there!)

–Makes great charts AND non-graphic reports, though when I try to add fancy fonts and other niceties for frame-worthy charts, the program sometimes freezes and shuts down on me.

–Geographical date entry is self-populating, so I don’t have to worry about misspelling a foreign city with a funky name.


–The #1 reason this is not my favorite software: It won’t let me format my own citations. It forces me to use forms that follow the EE citation method ONLY. I wonder how other scholars of genealogy with other citation formats feel about that?

–As mentioned earlier, it freezes up and shuts down. A lot.

–It costs SEVENTY DOLLARS. Yikes.

MacFamTreeThird Favorite: Mac Family Tree, by Synium


–It makes astounding 3D family trees and other graphic marvels that I haven’t yet begun to understand (the men in my family all prefer this program for the graphics alone–I often call it “Genealogy for Dudes” for that reason!)

–It won’t exactly let me format my own citation style, but it doesn’t force me to use EE, which is nice.

–Family group records include graphic pedigrees–two in one–with sharp, professional designs that are fantastic-looking!

–The software-makers are VERY open to feedback. If there’s something you need the program to do, drop them a line and within a week you will get notice of an update that incorporates your request!


–It won’t let me format my own citations (but it doesn’t force me to use EE citation format either, which is nice)

–Not all of the charts/reports will let me include my citations in as footnotes (the main reason I don’t use this program much)

–Adding data takes several steps that the other programs don’t require (for example, to add a birthdate, it takes me 3-5 clicks before I can actually enter the date, whereas in other programs I just have to put my cursor in the “date” section under “birth”)

FREE Genealogy Software for the Mac:

Another program I haven’t yet had time to try–but I’ve heard some good reviews about–is Gramps, a FREE program that is available for both PC and Mac:

Gramps genealogy software is FREE for both PC and MAC:

Please weigh in in the “comments” section if you noticed anything good or bad about any of these programs, if you have another program for Mac that deserves mention, or if you’ve tried Gramps.


*NOTE: I do not use genealogy software for reporting data to clients or for storing my personal family history data, because nobody has invented a program that lets me cite the lines connecting each individual in a pedigree chart. Proving pedigree linkage by citing the reasons one bracket is linked to another in a pedigree is the most important task that genealogists undertake, but no software maker out there has ever made such braket/line citations possible. I therefore only use pedigree software for graphic supplements to insert inside a narrative report, or for visual reference sheets when I’m out doing research. But I do NOT enter my data into genealogy software and call it a day–my narrative reports are spreadsheets are THE ONLY actual repositories for all of my research findings. I’m not alone in this preference–see Michael Hait‘s article, “Why I Do Not Use Genealogy Database Software.” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. September 2012.

ALSO NOTE: any videos or images appearing after my signature were placed there by WordPress, not me. I cannot see these ads, so I cannot endorse them.

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