Review: Family Tree Builder 6.0

Review: Family Tree Builder 6.0

Is Family Tree Builder 6.0 the genealogy software for you? Our review gives you the features, highlights, pros and cons of this program.

Price: Basic (unlimited offline family file plus up to 250-person, 250MB online tree), free; Premium (up to 2,500-person, 500MB online tree), $75 per year; Premium Plus (unlimited tree size and storage), $119.40 per year

Manufacturer: MyHeritage

System requirements: Windows 98 or newer; for Macs, Safari or Firefox

Demo/trial version:

Biggest draws: ease of use, photo management, charts, online tree publishing, support for 36 languages

Drawbacks: reports, source documentation

Ease of use

Well-designed screens and menus make Family Tree Builder easy to navigate. We like the slider that lets you adjust the number of generations displayed from three (like a family view) to four or five (a pedigree view). Hover over a name to see a window with details on that person. Take advantage of a Quick-Start Wizard and PDF user guide for help.

File management
To ease transferring media when you share a GEDCOM file (the format all genealogy software can read), Family Tree Builder helpfully puts copies of associated multimedia files in a separate folder. But you can’t specify how many generations of ancestors or descendants a GEDCOM includes, and you can have only one family file open at a time.
The Smart Match Merge Utility, available for Premium memberships, lets you merge information and photos when you find matches in other MyHeritage trees.

Charts and multimedia
Family Tree Builder’s photo manager rivals Family Tree Maker’s. You can drag and drop photos, documents, audio and video within and between albums. If you have a group photo, you can associate faces with specific names.
MyHeritage partnered with Generations Maps for outstanding chart and poster printing. Choose a chart type and style, as well as size, font, borders and backgrounds. You can save a chart as a PDF, or order a professionally printed copy from MyHeritage.

Documentation and publication
Family Tree Builder has a no-frills system for documenting sources. There are no customized templates for citing different kinds of sources, such as census records or deeds. You can reuse your sources, but there’s no quick way to apply a specific source citation to multiple people, such as each household member in a census record. Citations in family group sheets and narrative reports don’t include page numbers.

It’s easy to publish your family tree, pictures and videos on, and you can restore an online tree to your computer as a backup. You can’t save reports in HTML for publishing to your own website.

The new Family Site button makes it easy to access your Family Tree Builder project. With a Premium subscription, you can view a timeline of family events and photos, as well as a person’s profile page with events, citations, photos and close relatives. PremiumPlus members can create an online Timebook album of family photos and information.

Family Tree Builder’s Smart Research searches genealogy databases on and other sites for names in your tree. Smart Matching compares people in your online tree with the site’s millions of other family trees—a great way to find others researching the same families.

Family Tree Builder automatically searches World Vital Records, a database site acquired last year, and notifies you of relevant records with an icon on the person in tree view. It works well for uncommon names, but because it doesn’t consider dates, places and relatives, it can produce a lot of irrelevant matches. You need a World Vital Records subscription to view complete records.

The Verdict

Family Tree Builder 6.0 makes it easy to organize your family history, share it online and find matches in family trees. Automatic searching in World Vital Records is inexact, but MyHeritage’s software and growing database collection could be on track to challenge industry leader and its Family Tree Maker software.
From the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine

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