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Working the System
Don't let technical difficulties stall your genealogy progress. Use these 16 easy tips and timesavers to get in command of your computer—and speed up your family search.

What did genealogists do before computers? We're not just talking about how the Internet has taken oodles of records from dusty library shelves and put family facts at your fingertips. Or even how genealogy software spits out charts and frame-worthy family trees festooned with your ancestors' photos. That's just the beginning of the ways today's plugged-in genealogists rely on their computers: How about e-mailing cousins around the globe, keeping research notes and massaging old family photos into works of art? Just try doing all that with old-fashioned pens and notecards.

Trouble is, most genealogists are more comfortable with paper and ink than bits and bytes. Sure, you've upgraded to the latest high-tech gizmos and have more megahertz than you know what to do with. But too often the gadgets that are supposed to speed up your research end up slowing you down. And those computer manuals and magazines just confuse you — they're written for techies instead of genealogists who'd rather be researching than rebooting. It's like finding the missing puzzle pieces about your great-great-grandparents, except the records are in German. You need a translator.

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