Posted by Tana L. Pedersen on June 14, 2010 in Family Tree Maker

Sometimes it’s the easiest tasks that stump usor is that just me? Whether it’s renaming one of my trees or checking for software updates, I have the tendency to forget how to do some simple procedures unless I do them on a regular basis. Here are some of my “how do I do that?” tasks. Hopefully some of them will sound familiar to you.

Renaming a Tree

  1. Go to the Plan Workspace.
  2. In the Trees section highlight the tree you want to change. Then click Options and choose Rename Tree from the drop-down list.
  3. Enter a new name for the tree and click OK.

Setting a New Home Person

  • On the People workspace, highlight the individual’s name in the Index or pedigree view. Right-click and choose “Set as Home Person” from the drop-down list.
  • On the Plan workspace, go to the Current Tree tab. Hover the mouse over the words “Home Person” until a button appears. Click the button. In the window that appears, choose the individual you want and click OK.

Checking for Software Updates

Did you know that Family Tree Maker periodically provides free updates to the software to fix issues and improve the product based on customer feedback? You can keep your software current by checking for updates. To do this, go to the Help menu and choose “Check for Update.” A message will tell you if there’s a current update waiting to be downloaded.

Formatting Names Consistently

If you import another person’s family genealogy file into your tree, you may find that each file has recorded names differently; for example, your surnames may be in all capitals. You can use the Convert Names tool to format all the names in your tree consistently.

  1. Click Tools>Convert Names.
  2. To capitalize the first letter in each name, click First Middle Surname; to capitalize the first letter of the first and middle names and capitalize the entire surname, click First Middle SURNAME.
  3. Click OK.

Displaying Children by Birth Order

By default, Family Tree Maker displays children in the order you entered them. To display the children in their correct birth order, go to the Family tab on the People workspace. In the family view, click the sort button above the children’s names. (The icon is two twisting arrows.)

Working Offline

Most of the time you’ll want to have Family Tree Maker connected to the Internet so you can view the maps on the Places workspace, receive hints from, and perform Web searches. However, if you’re experiencing performance issues or know you won’t be using Internet-specific features for a period of time, you might want to turn off Internet access in Family Tree Maker.

To disconnect Family Tree Maker from the Internet, click File>Go Offline; to reconnect Family Tree Maker to the Internet, click File>Go Online.

Now it’s your turn. Are you stumped by source templates? Can’t ever find the media item you need? Please share your “how do I do that?” moments with everyone. And check back in two weeks to see part 2 where I focus on media items.


  1. Thank you for the great hints! I have a simple problem I’m hoping someone can help me with. I have two instances where it shows my ancestor has two spouses. In both cases there is no second spouse and when you click on show spouses it shows one as . No children are listed with the and I can’t find a way to delete them and leave the one and only spouse!

  2. Charlotte

    Lisa: That was happening to me any time I merged people in Family Tree Maker. Get into the People mode then click “person” then “attach/detach” then “detach selected person” and you can click on the “No Spouse Entered” listing and detach it from your person and it should reset the marriage number to 1 instead of 2.
    Which brings me to my comment/complaint: I wish that “synching” the tree I’ve made in FTM and the tree I uploaded to was as easy as synching my iPod! There should be a way to “synch” them and have only the changes made in one or the other show up for approval or rejection. As it is the only way I’ve figured to keep them current is to try to remember to make all my updates in FTM then upload the tree anew once or twice a month and delete the old tree. I tried downloading the version into FTM and it was a nightmare to have to go through 2700 people. Is there a method I’m not aware of? Trees are such fluid things that it seems logical that I want to be able to continue making changes.

  3. My problem is with a very basic function of FTM.

    Putting children in the order that you enter them is absolutely absurd!

    This is particularly true when those children have known dates entered.

    Why should I then have to go an sort them into the proper order??

    As to synchronization…
    Do you really expect people that can’t design a program that can’t sort children by birth as they are entered to be able to develop one that sync between two different applications?

  4. Since the introduction of the new FTM format I have begging the FTM developers to come with a sync method. The older version of FTM had full sync capability. They keeping tell me that maybe in the next release they will have the capability. As for the sync method from your trees on that is a JOKE!

  5. David Farr

    On FTM-10 when i click on a hint and save to my tree it does not save to FTM only to ancestry WHY?

  6. #5 David.

    NO Version of Family Tree Maker has had a “full sync capability”. None, at least since Version 3.4.

    What sync are you looking for. Update on your PC and automatically update the Web? If that is what you are looking for, That feature does NOT exist (yet).


  7. #4 Andy,

    Order Entered: The issue here has been around for a while. To be specific, and this happens when DATES are not known, some old trees that can be found, the Children MAY have been displayed in date order, but, the dates were not provided. I have seen a couple of them. In previous versions of Family Tree Maker, the sort order of children in this case was alpha order.

    This feature gives a 3rd way of sorting children. It may be helpful to some, when the Dates are not available.

    Thank you,


  8. Russ Worthington

    I started using FTM in 2000. Most of the versions up to FTM 16 had the capability to sync to your tree online. So when you ask the question–“Update on your PC and automatically update the Web? If that is what you are looking for, That feature does NOT exist (yet).” DONT TELL ME THAT FTM NEVER HAD THAT FEATURE, because it did.

  9. David Farr

    When I am working in Family Tree Maker 10 and do a search i expect what I save to be saved to my FTM on my PC However it does not only saves to my tree in ancestry,I only want to save to FTM 10 which is what I am working in.I don’t care if it saves to both as long as it saves to the medium working in.

  10. Angel Piper

    The “FTM 2010 New Features” webinar showed us a list of features we could find in FTM 2010. One of the features listed on the screen during the webinar was the “ability to add siblings in a family without parents” (appears 23 minutes in, if you watch the recorded video).

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t explained anywhere in the webinar how to do this. I’ve also read both the full FTM 2010 Guide AND the FTM Little Book of Answers and I can’t find the answer in those either. Is this something that you could cover during the Advanced FTM webinar on Wednesday?

  11. Mary


    In Family view, make sure you have the person to whom you want to add siblings showing in the Children list at the bottom.

    All you have to do then is click on the line below his/hers where it says Add Child. The dialogue box will open, same as it does when you add children to known parents. Enter the details as usual.

    Job done.

  12. Mary


    Sorry, I should have included – to get the person you want to add siblings to, click on the Add Parents bar first. That’s what takes the person into the Children list.

  13. The PaulR

    #8 Russ

    Thank you! I’ve been having the same problem as Lisa when I merged people and that answer helped me too.

  14. Judy

    How do I organize the pictures in the media? I want to keep the branches separate. I have ordered FTM 10, but now feel that maybe it was a mistake!
    thank you,

  15. Jim F

    Every so often I have a leaf on a person that when I click on it nothing shows up. How do I get rid of an individual leaf that leads to nowhere?

  16. Clara Owen

    I have read in several different places that the FTM for iMac 2010 would be for sell this year. Do you have any idea the date for the release? I ordered Reunion but sent it back after I read that the FTM had the iMac ready to release. Thank you! Clara Owen

  17. Louise Larson

    I’ve been using FTM since “the beginning”. Now, I find I like working in better. However, I have FTM 2010 and I’ve been trying to figure out how to create those old family trees I used to create with older versions that one could print on continuous printer paper (you know, the kind with holes along the edge for feeding the paper which could could be torn off at perforations). I loved those trees for displaying extended families at family reunions, etc. Some of mine were several feet long. But, I can’t figure out how to do that with FTM 2010…or FTM 9 for that matter. Can you still do that? Does anyone have an alternative?

  18. Lynn

    Tana, Unfortunately, I missed tonight’s FTM webinar due to a conflict. Do you now the ETA for the posting of the webinar on the website? I look forward to viewing the webinar.

  19. Arleen W.

    When working in FTM 2010 I can put things into my shoebox but don’t know a way to get anything out. I have contacted Customer Service and they are stumped too. Is there anyone out there who has a creative solution to this dilemma?

  20. Mary

    Hi Louise #23

    You have to set that up in the printer Properties dialogue box that comes up after clicking on the Print icon in the Publish view in 2010.

    If your printer has the capability (i.e. is a dot matrix one as you described or is an inkjet one that can take paper rolls as well as sheets) you should be able to choose the correct type in Paper Options/Source.

    Hope that helps.

  21. I have a number of relatives who have “Jr.” or “III” or such after their name. I’ve been recording that information in the “Suffix” fact field (Family Tree Maker 2010). But that information doesn’t seem to get picked up and shown in the index that way. Is there some other field I should be using? I don’t want to just enter it in one of the name fields because that makes it appear as if I have a bunch of relatives whose name was “III”. Thanks for any guidance!

  22. Diane E.

    I agree with others, I would LOVE to be able to just send updates from FTM to Ancestry when I’m ready rather than the whole tree! As it is now, I’ve got changes in FTM and would like to sync up JUST those changes, but then I’ll have to re-invite my family members all over again even if I use the same tree name.

    That is not a good software program!!! Please give us the ability to sync up changes made in FTM and not have to totally reload a tree, thus wiping out our invitees!

  23. Barry Tennison

    I have a small annoyance with FTM2010 – maybe I’m missing the way to do it. I would like to be able to copy a Fact from one person to another person (and maybe edit the copy afterwards). For example, if a whole family Emigrates, I might construct quite a complicated Emigration event, with attached Media and Fact Note: I’d like to be able to do that once, and then attach a copy of that same fact to each family member who emigrated on the same ship etc. I’d really like to “copy”, not “link” (as with a Shared Fact like Shared Marriage).
    Is there a way to do that and save me from entering the same data many times?

  24. Sharron Hastings

    On the Individual & Facts screen, how do ensure the facts are sorted by date? Sometimes it is done automatically and other times they are not.

  25. Abe Bassett

    I am new to FTM, using the 2008 version. I cannot register my FTM because I am told that I do not have an internet connection. I cannot check for upgrades for the same reason. No connection possible on either Foxfire or Internet Explorer. No connection if I disable the Firewall. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

  26. Lynn

    Tana, I wanted to pass along to you, Michelle, Duff and that I found the FTM Advanced Topic Webinar helpful – Thank You. I typically find FTM fairly intuitive, but I always welcome new insights and knowledge. My favorite tip came during the Q&A portion of the webinar — that we can type “Unknown” into any date field. And, other special words that can be used in date fields:

    Birth/Death related
    * Stillborn
    * Child
    * Infant
    * Young
    * Dead
    * Deceased

    Marriage related
    * Never Married
    * Not Married

    Although different users will utilize these special words for different reasons; one of my reasons will be to help privatize my FTM file, prior to posting the tree to I have individuals in my tree who were born a couple hundred years ago which the privatization filter in FTM considered living (i.e., their info is privatized) and some living individual’s information is not privatized. [Note: In both cases, this typically occurs when I do not know their birth or death date.] To more easily “privatizing” my exported file, it would be helpful if “living” or other similar word could also be utilized (i.e., guaranteeing that a living individual’s information is privatized). I realize that I could guesstimate the birth date for living individuals in my tree to accomplish this goal, but I prefer not to enter “guesses” in my tree, but solely sourced information. Currently, I am spending a bit of time further-privatizing my tree before posting it to

    #30 Sharron, I am assuming you are using FTM 2010. If so (or likely relevant for earlier versions), when you are in “Individuals & Shared Facts” view -> click on “Date”, this should sort the facts by date. Note: A possible reason that you sometime have the facts sorted different is you may have purposely or accidently clicked on the “Fact” or “Place/Description” or other subcategory under the heading “Individuals & Shared Facts” and thereby changed how the information is sorted.

    #31 Abe, a possible answer to your question can be found in the webinar (i.e., the webinar shows how to go online in FTM 2010, if FTM was not automatically going online (File -> Go Online). You can access the webinar at: (or go to the Learning Center portion of the website)

  27. carole van houten

    I got a new computer, the Dell 7 and had the Geek squad transfer all of my filed onto the new computer. I cannot find me early files of my Family Trees. I am now finding information but have no way to put them on my original trees. What can I do………………..?

  28. Lynn

    #34 Carole

    Although this is probably stating the obvious, contact the Geek Squad and let them know they did not tranfer all your information and you would like that information transfered to your new computer. Alternativly, if you posted a tree to, you can download that tree to FTM. If you are uncertain how to download an tree to FTM, watch the FTM Advanced Topic webinar since this topic is covered [you can find the webinar at (or go to the Learning Center portion of the website)].

  29. Lynn

    #34 Carole

    Some additional thoughts, just because I can imagine the panic of potentially loosing years and years of research … although I am likely stating the obvious again, it is always a good idea to periodically backed-up your computer to an external hard drive (or otherwise). If you did that and transferred the related FTM files to your computer and are stuck on next steps … in FTM 2010 (and likely similar in earlier FTM versions) go to the “Plan” page, then go to the upper right hand corner of the screen and select “Options” then “Browse” and locate the FTM file that you want to open.

    Not sure if help desk could help, but they might have some further thoughts.

    Hope you find your original tree!

  30. Glenys Masson

    Is it possible to delete the hints green leaves from an individual after the hints have been checked and not used. It makes it difficult to know which ones I still have to check and which I have done. TIA

  31. Tana L. Pedersen

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I appreciate everyone helping each other with their issues.

    # 36

    Glenys, it depends on which version of Family Tree Maker you are using. In 2009 and 2010, you can choose to ignore a hint after you’ve viewed it. Access the Ancestry hints for an individual. Then click the result that you want to ignore. Then click the Ignore Record button on the Search result detail toolbar (it’s a circle with a cross through it). This record won’t appear in your Ancestry hints anymore (although it will appear in manual search results).

    # 28
    Barry, there isn’t a way to copy a fact and paste it for another individual. Another great enhancement I’d like to see.

    # 26
    David, the typical way of entering name suffixes in Family Tree Maker is to include it in the Name fact. If your ancestor was a Jr. or a Sr., enter the suffix the end of the name without a comma (for example, John Bobbitt Sr.). Family Tree Maker recognizes name suffixes and sorts them correctly in the index and charts/reports.

    # 23
    Lynn, I haven’t been able to get an answer on when the latest webinar (from June) will be posted online. I will send out a message when it is.

  32. Elaine Duncan

    For about a month I’ve been busily trying to input boxes of pictures and information from numerous sources. Since I used myself as the home person my records list under my married name. So far no problem, I’ve managed to put in over 1000 records. What I didn’t anticipate was that before I could get all this in someone would ask for my help on one record. I’d like to help since I’ve inputted pictures they can use; however, the rest of this data is not correct enough yet to release the whole tree even to relatives. Is there anyway to send her the pictures she needs or just release the one record to her.

  33. John Donaldson

    # 38 Elaine

    In terms of Media (pictures) FTM only links to the media file on your hard drive. To provide a copy of the image file, simply attach it from where it is stored on your hard drive in an email.

    In terms of specific information, there are many ways but I would suggest that you consider a familiy group sheet or an invididual report of an individual. Both can be Shared as PDF files and again attached to an email.

    John D

  34. Kevin

    #28 Barry
    I have the same problem. I export only the individual with the facts I want copied (along with sources for those facts). Them I open the exported file and delete all the facts I don’t need and rename the person as Import. Now I can merge that file to each person I want those facts associated with.

  35. Tana L. Pedersen


    Lynn, the Advanced Topics Family Tree Maker webinar will be posted on the website in about a month.

  36. Lynn

    Tana, Thank you.

    The team at is ahead of schedule. The webinar can be found at (in the Learning Center portion of the website). The webinar highlights numerous FTM 2010 tips and tricks, some that I had not previously utilized — so I found the webinar helpful. Please pass along the thank you to Duff, Michelle and the other at who collected the users questions and created/facilitated the webinar (as well as to the individual(s) who quickly posted the webinar 🙂 ).

  37. Elyse Eisenberg

    Hi Tania/Russ,

    Not looking at this blog regularly, I just read your May post: Unmarried or Childless Relatives. Since I missed the opportunity to post a comment there, I am posting here.

    I would like to point out that the upgrades and patches for post-FTM 16 versions have not addressed the inability of Reports (not Charts) to include – or even mention – names, facts or notes for spouses when there were no children. The new format ignores this info.

    Unlike others’ enthusiasm for putting in “Never Married” in the marriage boxes, I think this is a bad move as it creates additional unnecessary files as the program will read this as a new individual (unless it is added only as a fact and not in the marriage box). I believe this to be a step backwards.

    The result is that all the current reports since the FTM overhaul is that (for example) there is no mention of my late husband (because we had no children) or gay spouses in reports, while siblings with spouses and children get to read all about the facts and accomplishments of their significant others.

    I have been pleading for three years to return this information to the report format. It is not even possible to include these spouses in customizable reports.

    This is a grossly unjust and insulting mistake on FTM’s part and I refuse to share data with family until this is corrected in the program. I refuse to distribute reports that ignore my husband but include my sister’s.

    I have reported this issue at least a dozen times to the the various feedback and issue sites to no avail or even awareness that this problem persists. How can I be the only person that is bothered by this?

    Russ, as you know, you and I have been corresponding for a couple of years about this issue.

    It is not a technical problem as I have no other problems with 2010 except that it is cumbersome and clunky and no where near as easy to use as ver 16 and earlier.

    Any idea when it will become a priority for FTM to format the data in Reports as they previously did?

  38. Rebecca

    i have ftm 2009 for PC, v18.0.0.307 (according to the about tab)
    I cannot find a way to sort the children by birth… I looked online and in ftm help, it just says to display the family in the family view and click the sort button… sorry this does not exist! It is driving me crazy. Why doesn’t it automatically sort according to birth if a date is entered?

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