Software Review: RootsMagic6

By Rick Crume Premium

• Price: $29.95, $19.95 upgrade
• Manufacturer: RootsMagic, Inc., (800) 766-8762
• System requirements: Windows XP or newer
Demo/trial version: A free version, RootsMagic 6 Essentials, has many of the full program’s core features.
• Biggest draws: ease of use, data entry, documenting sources, reports

• Drawbacks: nothing major

Ease of use

Exceptionally easy to use, RootsMagic 6 provides extensive help throughout the program.

Pedigree, Family, Descendants and People tabs make it easy to navigate your family tree. As you enter place names, CountyCheck alerts you to counties, provinces and states that didn’t exist on the date of the event. Look up information on American, British, Canadian and Australian counties with the new CountyCheck Explorer (under Tools).

In addition to a summary of events in a person’s life, timeline view now includes parents’, siblings’, spouses’ and children’s events. Now you can edit facts in the timeline without having to open up each person’s edit screen.

File management

RootsMagic opens Family Origins, Family Tree Maker (2006 and earlier), Personal Ancestral File and Legacy files directly, and even imports pictures from Family Tree Maker.

The handy RootsMagic To-Go is a separate utility program that lets you copy files to a flash drive so you can run RootsMagic on another computer. Create a shareable CD with a read-only version of RootsMagic to show off your work. A free app for iPhone and iPad lets you access your RootsMagic files via iTunes or Dropbox.

Charts and multimedia

The program lets you create highly customizable wall, timeline and box charts, as well as photo trees.

When you have a photo showing several people, it’s easy to add a picture to each person’s media album. In a media album, you can select a picture and see every person it’s linked to or select a document image and see every source it’s linked to.

Documentation and publication

Source documentation is simple: Select the template for a source type and then fill in the boxes. Research Manager helps you keep track of your research goals, sources and results. Report options include well-designed family group sheets, pedigree charts, narrative reports and reports for your website.

Publish Online, the most important new feature in this version, makes it easy to post your family tree online for free. Just select the people you want to include, and RootsMagic generates attractive individual, family and pedigree views. While RootsMagic’s HTML reports for your own website can include only one picture for each person, Publish Online lets you include multiple photos.

But Publish Online has significant limitations: You can create only one tree of no more than 50MB, and the reports are created on the fly, so they’re not indexed by Google or other search engines. People will find your tree only if you give them a link.


Using the powerful RootsMagic Explorer, you can search your file by multiple criteria, such as a name and any fact’s date or place. Now you can search by number of spouses, children or siblings. When selecting people to export in a GEDCOM file or for inclusion in some reports, choose “select from list” under People to Include. Click on Mark Group and you can now select by genetic lines.

A handy new feature, Find Everywhere (under the Search tab), searches not only people, but also notes, sources, research logs and more.

The verdict

Probably the best all-around genealogy program, RootsMagic 6 makes it easy to organize and share your family history. Most current users will find the upgrade worthwhile for the new online publishing and search features.

From the May/June 2013 Family Tree Magazine