Posted by Randy Winch on September 30, 2009 in World Archives Project

That is the question that often arises when we announce new projects or a new tool update for the Ancestry World Archives keying tool.

I acknowledge the frustration our Mac users in our community experiences when Ancestry produces products that are not Macintosh compatible.  While we do not have anything new to announce for our Mac community at this time I did want to say that your message is being heard and is a point of discussion in our product roadmap planning meetings as we explore our options for converting the keying tool so it will support multiple operating systems.

At best I can say, don’t loose your passion for this cause!


  1. Andy Hatchett

    Had Ancestry *really* cared about the Mac community they would have made sure the World Archives Keying Tool was Mac compatible from the very beginnig of the planning stages.

    As usual, we are an afterthought and get a nice pat on the head but not much else.

    Sooooo very typical!

  2. I’m a mac user, and am limited to using Family trees on the website only. I do use an old FTW Ver 7 application in a Windows98 virtual Machine, but thats about it.

    I went to sign up for the World Archives project the other day to find out it was windows only, as you posted.

    I’d be happy if you considered the mac in your planning for this, as it will increase the userbase of people able to transcribe the documents for the World Archive Project.

    I also agree with post #2, Andy – The mac should have been on the cards from initial planning. Apple have been intel for a number of years now, so porting code shouldn’t be *too* difficult.

  3. Well there’s always the excellent software that has been made avaialble for Macintosh users by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for their Family Search Indexing project – it runs great on recent Macintosh computers, and lets one contribute to their indexing efforts.

    And if like me you’re from New Zealand, then right now you can be working on New Zealand Immigration ship listings 🙂

  4. Jeff Ford

    I think if Ancestry and its parent company produced a Macintosh application that things would be very different. But they are so tied to Windows and IE. You guys aren’t Intuit in disguise? They are another company that takes its Mac customers for granted and often treats them like second class citizens.

  5. Valerie

    I’m just not sure what there is to “discuss.” Either you want to provide full support for all of your users or you don’t.

    Obviously, you value one OS over all others. You’ve made that it clear by the length of time it took you to *even comment* on the “why not for mac” issue.

  6. Mike

    Thank you for acknowledging the MAC community. I would urge your planning committee to consider moving forward with developing applications in Adobe FLEX or Adobe AIR. This will allow for both web-based as well as desktop-based products with almost identical code-based, as well as ensure that it runs on any platform that can play Flash, that includes Linux, MAC, and Windows.
    Consider the benefits of freeing yourself from the operating system, and at the same time providing more agile, responsive, and easily maintainable software.

    I have to agree with some of the other posters that planning for alternative systems after the fact is not a progressive development model – it costs much more to retrofit or redesign that to incorporate from the start.

    I say this as an experienced developer that has faced this dilemma before.

    – Mike

  7. I just want to add my voice to those who are weighing in on this, as I find it very short sighted of any company to limit the size of potential customers through such a ridiculous policy. Development to be platform agnostic, while more costly in the initial short term aspect of business is significantly more damaging to a company over the mid to long term because your service will begin to achieve a level that is limited in its reach once customers realize that you have not intention of supporting their computing preferences. Then when you do decide to make that support available you will have to go ahead am pay the development costs that you were trying to avoid anyway, now you are there, so please go ahead am write an open API that allows a third party developers community to build up an ecosystem around your product, this will allow others to write apps, that connect into the software without you having to put all the cost into development of these apps for various platforms.

  8. Clare Richardson

    What about Linux users? I don’t use Windows or Mac at home, so I’m unfortunately blocked from the World Archives Project, even though I would love to contribute. I think it’d be fantastic to see supporting users of free operating systems.

  9. Kent

    With all of the web design programming tools I can’t understand why you are WEDDED to any particular operating system. Granted, your programmers perhaps don’t have those skills but it is time to move on.

  10. Marge

    As a Mac user, I would be grateful. As an English teacher, I must ponder the ubiquity of confusing “lose” and “loose.”

  11. Thanks for the plug, Mike at #10!

    (I’m a genealogy hobbyist since 1972, Adobe software engineer since 1987, and a user of Reunion for the Macintosh since 1988.)

  12. Teri

    I am a new user to and I went into this project of finding out about my ancestors with great zest…until I found out that Family Tree maker was only for non-Mac users. I even decided after much effort at trying to find a way to use Family Tree Maker with my Mac, to buy an IBM based laptop. I find that system SSSOOOO frustrating, that I’m almost ready to scrap everything.

    I’m not happy with your website, because it is not consistent. What shows up on my neighbors homepage, etc. searches, even when we do the same thing, is different from what shows up on mine.

    I probably would never have gone ahead with this project if I knew you were so archaeic as to not use a Mac-compatible system!

  13. Victoria

    I am so glad to hear the voices of all of the Mac users. I have made several calls to ancestry with issues due to Mac incompatibility.

    I have been a member (I have world membership) for nearly four years and have made huge contributions to the site. I use and contribute to the site daily.

    I have been doing genealogy research for over twenty years. Like # 8 I use the Reunion software. It’s a great program but unlike the Family Tree Maker it isn’t connected to the site so everything has to be updated twice!

    I hope to see some real earnest efforts to invest in Mac compatibility.

  14. Sonny

    I purchased a new Mac and spent big bucks to have windows installed
    so I could continue to use Ancestry.
    Have every disc since Tree Maker started and think it’s time you realized there is a better system out in the real world

  15. I too have long been frustrated by the lack of Safari support at And worse… the cold treatment I get when I inquire about a problem, which turns out to be because I am on a Mac. It is incredible that in this day and age, that someone actually builds a website that is not COMPLETELY cross compatible. WordPress wouldn’t be number 1 if they excluded any certain platform. This is something I would think only Microsoft would do,

  16. Chagoi

    It’s interesting to note on Eastman’s Genealogy Newsletter that he took a survey of his online readers. 10% were using Mac OS X.

    What company other than Ancestry deliberately ignores potentially 10% of their customers? Their logs might only show, say, 5% Mac users but that’ll be because the other 5% have long ago given up the battle with Ancestry.

    Another Mac user … and in despair.

  17. pandanustree

    I enquired to Ancestry before purchasing mac about the compatibility, I was assured within 12 months all would be compatible, including FTM which is also under the wing of Ancestry, would have a patch to run on mac. With only a few months to go, I hope Ancestry is true to their word.
    I must say I am also surprised it took so long. I was even surprised that Ancestry was window based & not mac. Seems like a huge oversight to their paying members of Ancestry. More value for money would be appreciated.

  18. @22, Phil: I’m successfully using the Ancestry family tree website and searchable archives on a Mac on Safari. Ancestry seem to have done much to make the website more standards based in the last year, which is good. I agree with you that websites should be written to standards and not a product.

    However, my issue is lack of non-web based products i.e. the World Archives and Family Tree Maker applications for Mac.

  19. Gus Marsh

    There are more than 40 million Mac users in the USA. Please help us out so we can stay abreast with Ancestry.

  20. Smeehan

    These fingers don’t do Windows. I’ve had Macs since the first one came out in March of 1984, and I have no intention of ever shifting. We Apple folks are very loyal.

    I don’t understand the corporate culture at Ancestry deliberately limiting its customer base. Shortsighted is the first word that comes to mind, and contemptuous is the second. The folks at Reunion work night and day to give us a better product, It is high time that Ancestry realizes the value of our loyalty and produces a product that can earn it. You are making so many strides for the PC world that surely your creativity can be applied to serving us as well. We deserve to be first-class citizens of the Ancestry world and shouldn’t have to be begging for crumbs. Equal treatment is very long overdue.

  21. Bill Synwoldt

    I agree fully with the preceding comments made by Smeehan, on Oct 7. My first Mac was given to me for evaluation purposes by no other than Steve Jobs when at small meeting of information systems executives in 1984. Even though I eventually had responsibility for a network of 5,000 PCs before I retired I have always been a loyal Mac user at home. I suspect that if you look at the demographics of users, many of then are seniors who find Macs much less intimidating than PCs. Simply stated: PCs are for corporations; Macs are for people.

  22. Mike

    Mac users shouldn’t be too concerned about equal treatment. FTM products are incredibly unstable under Windows. The level of technical support is appalling especially if you are a user outside of the USA, for whom free upgrade offers don’t apply. Complaints fall on deaf ears.

  23. Peter Forkes

    If only I could ditch my Windows machine, once and for all.
    Windows is lazy and insubbortinate. It is as if it has another job, somewhere, and whenever I want it to do something for me it is off doing something else.
    It is now 1 in 8 homes with a computer has a Mac…

  24. Mike

    Peter @31: Usually these issues are inflicted on you by the OEM or by yourself. Every slow Windows machine I’ve seen in recent years has had one or more of the following:
    1. Norton/Symantec Antivirus
    2. multiple antivirus programs running
    3. multiple indexers (eg MSN and Google) running and neither used
    4. OEM preinstalled crapware loading and calling home every time you start your computer
    5. spyware running

    A little spring cleaning goes a long way!

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