Posted by on 13 September 2011 in Family Tree Maker


Have you accidentally spelled an ancestor’s name incorrectly throughout your tree? Or discovered that a cemetery name you’ve recorded is actually the wrong cemetery? If you’re like me and make these types of mistakes regularly, you’re in luck. Family Tree Maker has a Find and Replace tool that lets you search for specific terms and names in facts, person notes, media captions and descriptions, to-do tasks, and sources–and replace the incorrect terms when needed.

For example, in my tree I have a tendency to transpose the I and E in my great-grandfather’s name, making him Neils instead of Niels. Instead of sifting through every fact, source, and media item for the incorrect spelling, I use the Find and Replace tool to search for the mistake and correct it.

Before you use the Find and Replace tool, you’ll want to make a backup of your tree since these types of changes can’t be undone.

1.  To open the tool, choose Edit>Find and Replace.
2.  Enter the term(s) you want to search for in the Find field. You can choose how exact you want the search to be and which parts of your tree to search. In this situation I want to search all available options because I am looking for a misspelled name. If you know the term you’re looking for is in a source or a note, you can select only that option.

If your search term includes a date, keep in mind that text in Date fields cannot be searched. A date shows up in search results only if it appears in the Description field or in a note, source, or media item.

3.  Click the Find button. The window expands to show the first item that matches your search.
4.  If you want to open the record or workspace where the search term is used, click the Go To button. If you want to replace the term, enter a new term in the “Replace with” field and click the Replace button. To find the next matching term, click Find Next. Continue searching and replacing terms, as necessary.

Although you can replace all matching text by clicking the Replace All button, I recommend viewing each search result individually. For example, if I had chosen “Replace All” when replacing my great-grandfather’s name, it would have changed a record transcription in a source citation. This is an instance in which I wanted to keep the name as I found it in the record.

Also, don’t feel like you have to use the Find and Replace tool just for correcting mistakes. It can be useful if you simply want to locate specific information. Perhaps you’ve entered important facts in a person note but you can’t remember which individual it’s linked to. Search all notes for the text you remember and then click the Go To button to open the individual and the note.

1 Comment


If Ancestry could provide this function in their on-line trees it would make a lot of people happy!

14 September 2011 at 9:59 am