PDA Software Halp

By Diane Haddad Premium

Q I just purchased palmOne LifeDrive handheld computer. I’ve never used one before. I have Family Tree Maker on my computer, and I can use it to create a GEDCOM file, but do I need software on my handheld to receive that data?

A.Yes, you’ll need special genealogy software on your handheld computer (also called a personal digital assistant or PDA) to read the information in the GEDCOMs you hotsync to it. (Hotsyncing is what you call the process of transferring information to your PDA from your desktop PC, or vice versa.)

PDA software is designed either for palmOne or Pocket PC devices (similar to the way desktop software is made for a Mac or PC operating suystem). Most genealogy software for PDAs lets you read data from GEDCOMs, but not make changes to it. Even so, on-the-road researchers find it helpful to whip out their PDAs and check family facts, and all PDAs come with organizational software you can use to take research notes.

It won’t be hard to find the software you need. Palm programs include:

The last one, PAF for PDA, is free, but it can be hard to find: Go to FamilySearch, click Order/Download Products in the top blue bar, then Software Downloads-Free, then Personal Ancestral File 5.2, then the Download button. Fill out the registration page and click Submit. On the resulting page, scroll to the bottom and click the link for PAF Data Viewer for Palm Handhelds.

Family Tree Legends version 5 desktop software comes with GedStar. (For you Pocket PC users out there, it also has Pocket Genealogist Lite, which is available separately at

For more on using handhelds in your genealogy research, see the 2005 Genealogy Guidebook, a special issue of Family Tree Magazine.