RootsMagic 1 Software Review

By By Rick Crume Premium

The creators of Family Origins boast that their new program, RootsMagic, makes family history easy. And we agree. RootsMagic provides a comprehensive set of tools for entering family information, organizing your research and producing a large variety of reports.

The program’s three views make entering and examining data a snap. Pedigree view displays five generations at a time, and family view shows a couple, their parents and children. Descendants view, not found in most programs, gives you another useful perspective on your family tree.

In any of the three views, just double-click on a name to edit a person’s information. The program comes with 60 predefined fact types, including birth, marriage, death, occupation and religion; you can create new ones, too. Unlike most other programs, RootsMagic lets you specify a sort date for each fact (event). So even if you don’t have an exact date, all the events in a person’s lifetime are listed in relative chronological order on screen and on reports.

It’s important TO record where you found each piece of information on your family, and RootsMagic makes the process easy. Step by step, the Source Wizard guides you through entering documentation for each kind of source, whether it’s a census record, obituary or interview. Plus, you can record a personal file number for each source, which makes finding a document a breeze.

Genealogists rely most on family group sheets, pedigree charts and narrative reports to summarize their findings. All three reports in RootsMagic are well-designed. If you want to create a book, the RootsMagic Publisher lets you combine these and other reports in a single document with a comprehensive index and source list.

Other reporting options, all highly customizable, include a relationship chart, calendars with birthdays and anniversaries, scrapbooks, address labels and numerous lists. All can be printed or saved as PDF files, which makes them ideal for e-mailing — the recipient needs only the free Adobe Acrobat Reader <> to view them on a Windows computer or Mac.

RootsMagic’s photo-editing capabilities rank among the best of any genealogy software. You can scan photos directly into RootsMagic; adjust sharpness, brightness and contrast; crop; rotate; and zoom. Include images in photo trees, books, scrapbooks, family group sheets and other reports.

RootsMagic also provides online publishing options. Although putting your family history in book form creates a permanent record of your family, a genealogy Web site is inexpensive, instantly accessible worldwide and easily updated. RootsMagic creates Web pages in several formats, including ancestor and descendant books, family group sheets and pedigree charts. Whichever format you choose, the navigation bar, colors and background images can be customized.

The program’s perks don’t stop there. RootsMagic has a full range of useful tools, including relationship, Soundex and date calculators. You can maintain a correspondence log, keep a to-do list for each person in your file, bookmark a name and spell-check your notes. The PlaceFinder database is handy for finding the county where a town is located.

Perhaps the most powerful of any genealogy software, RootsMagic’s search function lets you search by name, date, place, notes and other types of data. You can run a global search-and-replace for notes, sources, names and places, and merge duplicate individual records manually or automatically.

Overall, RootsMagic’s ease of use, well-designed reports and numerous capabilities make it an excellent choice for any genealogist. Plus, it successfully imports all data from Family Origins and most data from other programs, so you should be able to switch to RootsMagic without much trouble. Graphical wall charts, the one important feature missing from this program’s impressive debut, are expected in the next version.

RootsMagic requires Windows 95 or higher and costs $34.95 ($44.95 with a printed manual) from FormalSoft; see <> or call (866) 467-6687.


RootsMagic features outstanding multimedia options (left) and a five-generation pedigree view (right).

From the June 2003 Family Tree Magazine