Posted by Ancestry Team on April 13, 2009 in Family Tree Maker

Recently, I received a number of e-mails from users who all have the same question. How do I move my Family Tree Maker file from one computer to another? It’s a situation most of us have faced. Whether you’re finally upgrading to a new system or you need to reformat your hard drive to get rid of a pesky virus (yep, that was me last week), at some point you’ll need to transfer your tree. And a few quick tips can help you move your tree–without losing any information.Your first instinct is probably to move your tree file like you would any kind of document: copy, paste, done. If you do this you will be able to access your tree, but Family Tree Maker won’t be able link to your media items, and you will see only thumbnails of your photos and records. The trick is to make sure you transfer your file and your audio, video, and images at the same time.

Note: These steps work for Family Tree Maker 2008 and 2009.

The first step is to make a backup copy of your tree on your old computer.

  1. On your old computer, make sure the tree you want to transfer is open; then click File>Backup. The Backup window opens.
  2. If you want a new name to distinguish this backup file from your original tree, enter a new name for the tree in the Backup file name field. You can now choose whether to back up your file to a CD, DVD, or flash drive.
  3. Insert a CD or DVD in your disk drive or connect your flash drive to your old computer.
  4. In “Backup location,” click Removeable Media and choose your CD-ROM drive, DVD drive, or flash drive from the drop-down list.
  5. Click the Include linked media files checkbox. If you don’t, photos, videos, and audio items in your tree won’t be included in the file.
  6. Click OK. A series of messages shows the progress of the backup.
  7. When the backup is complete, take your CD, DVD, or flash drive and insert it in your new computer.

Now you need to move the backup file to the new computer’s hard drive. This is important because Family Tree Maker won’t open trees that are on CDs, DVDs, or flash drives.

  1. Make sure you have your most current version of Family Tree Maker installed on your new computer.
  2. On the new computer, double-click My Computer and browse to the drive where your backup file is stored (CD, DVD, or flash drive).
  3. Once you have found your backup (.ftmb) file, right-click it and select Copy.
  4. Find the folder on your hard drive where you want to store the file (such as My Documents); then right-click and select Paste. The backup file is now copied to your hard drive.
  5. Open Family Tree Maker on your new computer.
  6. Choose File>Restore. The Choose File to Restore window opens.
  7. Click the Look in drop-down list and find the folder where the backup (.ftmb) file is located.
  8. Click the backup file you want to open.
  9. Click Open. The Name for Restored File window opens. You’ll now create a new Family Tree Maker tree from your backup file.
  10. In the Save in field, choose a location for the new file.
  11. In the File name field, enter a name for the new file.
  12. Click Save. Your tree opens in Family Tree Maker. Notice that your media items are saved in the same folder where you just saved your new tree.


  1. Dana

    Tana, Hi, would you mind sharing how I download all of my tree from into Family Tree Maker 2009?

  2. Jeff

    What if you don’t want all your media in one folder but would rather have them split into several. If the original media was in several sub-folders (Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, etc.) can you destination be in several sub-folders or must it all be in one folder?

  3. Reply to #1 – Dana,

    On your Ancestry.Com Tree, you will see a link, to Manage Tree on the Family Tree tab. You will see a Management Tools link. That will generate a GEDCOM file that you can download from to your PC. There you can open that GEDCOM file with Family Tree Maker Version 2009.

    Also, Please go to this website:

    Enter 2267 into the Keyword Search box and read that Article. There are a number of solutions for you there, including Downloading a Personal Member Tree.

    Hope that helps,


  4. arkylady38

    If my family tree maker is a 2006 will this still work?
    Also how can I redo my family tree maker so I can access my paid account on my tree on ancestry? It seems I used a different name when I first put it on my computer.
    Thanks, Beth

  5. Mary Beth Marchant

    For message #5-arkylady-regarding moving your FTM 2006 files from one computer to another-just back up your tree or trees on to a CD-install your FTM program on the new computer and then insert the CD you backed up your files on-open the files and they should open in FTM 2006. Make sure you back them up as an FTM file though rather than a gedcom file. If you save as a gedcom file, your pictures will not transfer. If you have some type of digital burner installed on your old computer, you just need to select your trees and add them to the CD. I have moved mine several times by this method as I upgraded from one computer to a newer one.

  6. Re: #5 Beth

    Yes, Version 2006 will work. You do need to Login to with your existing Username / Password (the one associated to your Online Account). Then go Online from within Version 2006.


  7. John Donaldson

    # 5 arkylady38 and
    # 6 Mary Beth Marchant

    Moving from FTM 2005/06/16

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that using the Tools>Compact fetaure in these versions of FTM puts your donor file in the best possible condition for the copy and transfer operation that FTM 2009 undertakes.

    It is suggested that before importing into FTM 2009, that you run a Tools>Compact on your donor file.

    For users of version 5 through to 11 you can do this by the rather arcnae 4-key combo, Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Back space, ie hold the 4 keys down simultaneously.

    If you use the GEDCOM route in any version this pre conditionaing is probably unecessary.

    John D

  8. Craig

    Creating a gedcom for download is one thing, but we need a way to download the gedcom info AND the media files and stories with it!

  9. Karen

    Is it possible to merge an old backup file into a newer program which already has its own backup and then merge any duplicate files?

  10. John Donaldson

    # 10 Karen


    How you do it depends on what version of FTM you are using.

    In any event have good backups before you attempt it and maybe practice on some test files if your are unsure.

    John D

  11. What if you have two E-mail and your family tree is in the old e-mail and you want to have it in your new e-mail What to do?

  12. Bill Gibson

    Tanya — I was very disappointed to read your comment regarding downloading an Ancestry tree (if you’re the owner) and upload it into Family Tree Maker. The only catch is that you can only download a GEDCOM of your tree which means that images and records you’ve attached to your Ancestry tree won’t be included.

    So based on this, if I understand your comments, all the work we do on (and maintaining a public view of our family tree) is waste of time (tracing US Census records, birth, death, etc) if I also want a version on my PC. Since I can’t have both (a copy on my PC and the web with the same records, pictures, stories, etc.) I need to make a choice – PC only or Web only. There is not enough time in the day to keep both family trees updated.

    Why can’t records, stories and pictures be downloaded? I’d pay to have this feature.


  13. Carole Boudrot

    Hi, Just purchased Family Tree Maker 2009. On the box it includes a 3-month membership. However, everytime I try to click on a leaf it shows me where the info may be, but if I click “on see image” it goes to a screen that offers me 14 day free and asked for your cedit card for a year subscription. I’m I doing something wrong or what? Help. Thanks in advance.

  14. What is the purpose of having family tree if you cannot transfer from to family tree or vice/versa. Info I have on family tree will not go to ancestry so there fore I have to manually type in all the info on that tree inorder to get any little green hints from others or be able to down load a tree from ancestry to my tree. Is this correct?

  15. Tana L. Pedersen

    In a comment to a previous post, I wrote some instructions about downloading a GEDCOM from your Ancestry tree. I noticed that this has prompted several questions and concerns relating to the inability of Family Tree Maker to link with Ancestry online trees. Hopefully I can answer some of them and clarify my reasons for posting those instructions.

    I too have dealt with this issue. I’ve been working on my Family Tree Maker trees for many years. But I also have an Ancestry online tree that I created at a later date. I find it frustrating that the two systems don’t currently work together so that if you update one tree, the other one is updated too. I do know that Family Tree Maker is aware of this issue and hopefully functionality that will allow this type of collaboration will be added to the software.

    In my post, I was not suggesting that downloading a GEDCOM from your online tree is a solution to the issue. I have received many e-mails from individuals who wanted to retrieve information from their online trees, and currently, this is the only workaround. I was trying to help those people who want to get facts and dates off their online tree immediately.

    One individual wanted to know why you’d have two trees–or have one kind over the other. Online trees and Family Tree Maker trees both have different strengths. And you may prefer one over the other. Online trees are great for sharing your information with others and also allow you to collaborate with other family members. And they’re accessible wherever you have an Internet connection. Family Tree Maker allows you to do more robust sourcing, includes a variety of helpful tools, and lets you keep all your information together on your computer, etc.

    I think synchronized trees is a feature many of us can rally around and get excited about. I hope that in the future this is part of Family Tree Maker and

    If you’d like to let Family Tree Maker know that you’d like to see integrated trees as a product enhancement, go to (In the “Feedback About” field, choose “Enhancement Requests.”)

  16. Tana,
    Thank you for your answer on synchronized trees. I’ve been wondering why they aren’t available for some time now. Let’s hope the development team gets around to them. It’s extremely time consuming to keep the online tree updated. And the search and merge tools online are so clunky that they preclude using it as a research primary tool.

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