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

The announcement about the release of Family Tree Maker 2011 produced so many questions I decided that a follow-up post might be helpful. Unfortunately I won’t be able respond to every comment that was left but hopefully I can cover some of the bigger issues.

What is happening with the Mac version of Family Tree Maker?

The Mac version is on schedule to be released within the next two months.

What about synchronization between Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Member Trees?

I realize that synchronization is a much desired enhancement for Family Tree Maker users, so I asked if there was more I could post that would clarify the company’s position on the issue. Here’s the official statement. “Our customers frequently ask for more ability to synchronize and transfer data between Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Member Trees, and we want to assure you that we are listening. This is a complex issue and while we cannot say for certain when it will be resolved, it is an important priority that we are actively working on.”

Why does the Web Merge seem to be slower in this version?

As some of you have commented, the Web Merge seems to be taking a few seconds longer than in previous versions. And there’s a good reason for it. Now when you merge an image from, Family Tree Maker processes the image and cleans it up. These higher quality images have larger file sizes and are the reason for the difference in performance.

Here’s an example of a downloaded Ancestry record in 2010 (file size 2.9 MB).

Record before Family Tree Maker processes it.

And here’s the same record cleaned up in 2011 (file size 9.7 MB).

Record after Family Tree Maker processes it.

As always, we appreciate your concerns and will continue to look for ways to improve performance and speed in Web Merging.

Others have asked if the new “Internet speed” setting influences the speed of the Web Merge. The Internet speed setting is used to improve performance when downloading a tree from

When can I get Family Tree Maker 2011 in the UK?

The 2011 version should be available in the UK in mid-October.

Will 2011 install over my Family Tree Maker 2010?

No, Family Tree Maker 2011 installs as a separate program.

Can I use the Internet backup feature in 2011?

The Internet backup feature hasn’t been available since Family Tree Maker Version 16. Unfortunately if you are accustomed to using this feature, it is not an option in 2011.

Why can’t I right-click in Web Search results anymore?

As some of you have noticed, when you right-click on a Web Search result in 2011, no drop-down list appears. Apparently some of us had been doing something Family Tree Maker had never intended us to do! ( I liked to use the right-click option to open search results in another browser so I could get a better look at an image before I download it into my tree. ) And because the ability to right-click was never a feature, it was eventually disabled—it just happened to be in the 2011 release. But I am hoping now that some of us have spoken out about it, that the ability to right-click will be brought back.

How large of a poster can I create in Family Tree Maker and export to PDF?

Because of PDF limitations, the largest size poster you can export (without creating truncation problems) is 200 X 200 inches. (Which let me add, is still a pretty large chart!)

Is there a Smart Stories type feature in 2010?

No, Smart Stories is a new feature available only in 2011. However, in 2010 (and 2011) you can add text or stories to a book by typing your own text manually or by importing an entire document from a word-processing program such as Microsoft Word.

Can I add pictures of individuals in Register (descendant) Reports?

At this time, you cannot add photos to Register (descendant) reports. However, in 2011 you can add family photos and embellishments to charts—anywhere you like.


  1. Nancy Caes

    If 2011 is a separate program, is there a way to merge all the information I have in 2010 into the new program without having to enter it all again?

  2. Aylarja

    I have not yet committed to upgrading from FTM 2009 to FTM 2010, so I read your post with interest.

    I am curious that simply “cleaning up” an image is more than tripling its file size in your example. Unless one or more of the file’s variables such as dimension, resolution, color depth, and file type are changed, this difference would be hard to explain. So I assume that a change to some of these variables – and not just contrast, brightness, and other similar enhancements – is the reason. Is there a place where I can find a more in-depth technical explanation of the enhancements performed by FTM on the image? And is there a way to turn this enhancement feature off should that seem advantageous?

    With regard to right-clicking in the FTM web search results, I plead guilty! I regularly right click to view an image for a record in order to open it in an external browser window while I review and fiddle with the data in the internal FTM browser window. This simple change could well be an upgrade show-stopper for me as its impact on my productivity and workflow in FTM would be severe. I vote to “undo” this change, or at least bring back a simplified right-click menu that permits opening a link in a separate, external browser window.

    Thanks for providing these points of clarification.

  3. Jeff Jahn

    I am also guilty of right clicking because i like to search then copy and paste data into file. Like birth dates and such. Do be honest to have a web search feature and not have that ability is stupid in my opinion.

  4. phil walker

    I don’t understand not having the privilege of the right click . Saves time and proves very handy! I’m sure you will find a way to charge for the convenience .

  5. Holly Hanna

    Now that I have downloaded 2011 can I simply delete the previous versions – ie 2009 & 2010?

    PS Hooray for the Mac version coming soon! — and for those of us that DID purchase the 2010 & 2011 versions faithfully waiting …. will we have to then pay full price for the Mac version when it arrives?

  6. Leo-Guy de Repentigny

    My file : 182000 persons

    For these operations:

    Merging people
    Set spouse order
    Set preferred spouse
    Unlink a source
    Detach a person from a family (Attach a person does not to this)
    Insert a note for marriage

    After these operations, in FTM 2010, re-indexing the names took ca 20-30 seconds. With FTM 2011, it takes ca 2-3 minutes for each operation. Way to long and frustating. This is a bug and very annoying.
    FTM 2011 is slower than FTM 2010, even when opening a session. All went well in FTM 2010.

    Thank you for your collaboration.

    Leo-Guy de Repentigny

  7. scott m jameson

    I noticed now in 2011 that when you click on the first link of a record listing a pre-record or listing comes up showing the family names and/boarders. In 2010 you could left-click the mouse and copy the text. Now, in order to do that, you must click to open the record in a separate window in order to copy text. More time is consumed in doing this. Was this inadvertent on the programers’ part or was this intentionally done?

  8. Dana Shepardson

    I just installed 2011 and one of the new features that I am absolutely crazy about is the Smart Story feature! I love that you can add media files right from FTM, and any other data you want by simply dragging on to the work space. I would import the family group sheets into word and then manually add my media files. This drastically cuts down the work for me as I am creating a book on my family history.

    After reading the posts where so many people were complaining about the program crashing and slow web searches, I was hesitant about my purchase. I have not had one issue with the program being slow or unresponsive. FTM automatically found my files and the conversion took less than a minute.

    I admit that I have never right clicked to open a file in a separate window, so I can’t say the lack of that feature disturbs me.

    So far, I am very happy and satisfied with my purchase of the FTM 2011 software! Nice job!

    Best Regards
    Dana Shepardson

  9. Robert Harper

    I have Family Tree Maker 2010 but most of the time I use Family Tree Maker 2006. It is much more user friendly. I hate 2010 and the only reason I would get 2011 is in the hopes that it is more like 2006. If not I will most likely start using a different program all together.

  10. I have to say that FTM 2011 has more flexibility on reports than any version since FTM 2008. Plus it adds the Smart Story capability which rounds out being able to print your own Family Tree book right from your own printer. So my take is this is a better version.

    However, removing the right mouse click capability though does not seem like the smartest move in my opinion. Anytime you have software that performs a certain function, even if that function was not part of the original design (unless it is detrimental like a bug for example), you just don’t arbitrarily remove it. It sounds more like a programmer put it in as a “nice to have” and a different programmer decided to take it out because it isn’t part of the original specs. Shame, shame, shame! Next time, seek to understand if it is being used before pulling the trigger!

  11. Silver Parnell

    Regarding the Family Tree Maker version for 2011:

    I was forced to buy this program because when I bought my new computer I “had” to buy Windows 7 which doesn’t support Family Tree Maker 16, the version I was using.

    I loved the simplicity of Family Tree Maker 16. It was easy to use.

    I absolutely HATE 2011 and I am very sorry I purchased it. It looks like a technophile vomited on my screen.

    Not only that, but it takes forever for the program to load. Family Tree Maker 16 worked better.

    It will take me MONTHS to adjust to this new format and, frankly, I don’t know if it is worth it to me. I do NOT want to spend my time learning new computer programs! I don’t have time for it and I feel that I am being forced down a path I do not want.

    You know, most people who get into genealogy appreciate HISTORY. They aren’t interested in having the newest and latest. We want the oldest and dustiest.

    This is the last family tree maker program I will ever purchase. I may not ever use it.

    S. Parnell

  12. Tony Knight

    I have been and continue to be surprised at the reaction from people who have moved from FTM16 to FTM2008 in relation to the interface. Yes it is different, but it remains, in my opinion better than all the others. The only disappointing feature I found was it was no longer as easy to link together siblings where you were not including their parents.
    My needs are simple. I would love to have the description field as fast text. The number of times I have typed “agricultural labourer” and similar!
    The only real issue for me is operational speed (not the merging referred to by Tana, but simple typing, refreshing etc) which is why I no longer use FTM, but maintain an interest in how it is doing.
    The only possible response to Leo-Guy de Repentigny is that if he was not having problems with FTM2010 he was really lucky.

  13. Kat

    Posted my problem previously, but haven’t seen
    it addressed, so will try again:

    Cannot install Family Tree Maker 2011 because
    the program needs Microsoft.NET Framework 3.5 SP1.
    Have tried installing that particular Framework
    and it won’t install either! Catch-22.

    I have a Compaq, Windows XP SP3.

    Any suggestions?

  14. bromaelor

    Kat, Microsoft state that the minimum system requirements for Microsoft.NET Framework 3.5 SP1 are:
    Supported Operating Systems: Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista; Windows XP
    Processor: 400 MHz Pentium processor or equivalent (Minimum); 1GHz Pentium processor or equivalent (Recommended)
    RAM: 96 MB (Minimum); 256 MB (Recommended)
    Hard Disk: Up to 500 MB of available space may be required
    Display: 800 x 600, 256 colors (Minimum); 1024 x 768 high color, 32-bit (Recommended)

    So it should work on XP.

  15. BEE

    clickity, click, clickity click. It’s off topic, but would it be so difficult to have the number of comments visible for past articles instead of “read more”?

  16. Deb H

    #16 BEE – I’m with you all the way. Sometimes the number of comments listed is a great way to judge whether the post is worth reading at all! I really miss that feature which disappared when they revamped the blog.

  17. Vanessa

    I wish I was lucky enough to even have any problems…I just want to know when I’m going to get the one I ordered…sigh.

  18. Richard

    Relationships between step and half siblings

    There is a “known issue” in FTM 2010 that when there is a marriage between people that have children from previous relationships and these children are attached to the new family the relationships are not calculated properly. Here is an example.

    My father and mother had 5 children, my mother passed away.
    My father remarried.
    His new wife also had 5 children from her previous marriage.
    All 10 children have been attached to their respective step parent as step children to create a family. (there was a function in pre 2008 versions of FTM to do this)

    With me as the home person when in the “Family view” I select my step mother she is shown as my mother which is not correct.
    When I select one of my step siblings they are shown as brother or sister which is not correct.
    On both my father’s and step mothers “person view” “relationship tab” all 10 children are correctly identified as natural or step.
    On my or any of my siblings “person view” “relationship tabs” all 9 siblings are identified as brother or sister when in fact 5 are step brother or sister. The parental relationships are correct.

    A Register Report based on my father shows my fathers marriage to my mother and their 5 children correctly.
    It then shows my fathers marriage to my step mother, 10 children are listed, my fathers children (again) and my step mothers children.
    My step siblings have children and grand children that are included in the report.

    The net result is that there are a lot of people shown as descendants of my father that in fact are not.

    Has this issue been addressed in FTM 2011 ?

  19. Pat B

    About this business of wanting synchronization … I agree with Andy Hackett’s comments from an earlier message that it really depends on what a person expects to happen. We all work differently. For example, I do all my “work” in FTM and when I am finished with a branch or section to my satisfaction, then I upload to Here’s what I would like to have happen:

    1. If the name you have given to your FTM tree to be uploaded is identical to a tree you have at, then you should be given a message asking if you want to replace the tree, or rename the new one. That would save having to upload, delete the old tree, etc., etc.

    2. If your tree is “public”, like mine, I would like the notes I have entered in FTM to be available to the public, not just to those that are “invited”. To me, the object of having a public tree, is to make information available to everyone.

    3. I personally find it very annoying that the notes I have in FTM do not translate into “stories” on I certainly have no intention of retyping everything into as “stories”, so that the public will have access. As a result of this, I always additionally upload my file to, so that all the information I’ve collected is readily available to other researchers. The problem there, is that the media files do not upload to

    As I said, this is the way I work, but I’ll bet I’m not alone. Maybe the synchronization I am persnally looking for is between and

  20. David Ives

    Here, here — I’ll not have anyone bad-mouthing FTM 2011! In my opinion, it’s everything a new version of a program should be: 1) it’s slower than previous versions; b) it crashes more than twice as often as previous versions and; c) its file structure is incompatible with previous versions. All this and we get a new color scheme too! I pity the poor fools (like Microsoft, Open Office, and every database developer on the planet) who try to make their new versions faster, more stable and backwards compatible. What idiots!

  21. Robert Morgan

    #19 Richard-
    Yes, I brought this up in the prior blog version of this topic. I migrated from FTM 16 to FTM 2011. Love most of the features of FTM 2011, but something is definitely wrong with the relationships:

    My father left scene when I was two – forever. Nine years later my (half) sister was born. FTM 16 correctly calculates the relationship of my father to my (half) sister as “Ex-husband of the mother.” FTM 2011 incorrectly refers to the relationship as “Stepfather,” implying there was a household relationship, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    I submitted a help request to Ancestry for assistance on how to correct this. On the site it says Ancestry tries to get back in 24 hours, although in busier times (like now, understandably) there could be a delay – but it has been almost a week and I still haven’t heard back, which is disappointing.

  22. Kevin

    I have recently installed FTM2011 and I love it. I also liked 2010. 2010 did crash for me when I tried to open a .ftmb file. 2011 doesn’t do this.

    Syncronization would be nice, but it’s more of an annoyance with having to reinvite everyone every time I update my online tree. A Droid app is higher on my wishlist, as well as checkboxes to select any combination of Date/Place/Description for fact elements. And Santa, could I would also like a description field for places, so I could note, for example, that Two Hills, Alberta used to be called Pozerville.


  23. Derric Scott

    Kevin #23 …
    > And Santa, could I would also like a description field for places, so I could note, for example, that Two Hills, Alberta used to be called Pozerville

    You mean like a Residence fact? If you go to one of those facts, on the “Person” tab, to the right is an Options button. If you choose “Fact Properties” you can choose what elements you want the fact to display… Is that what you’re talking about?


  24. Erick

    I too miss the right click and open in new window. It made viewing data vs. what was in FTM a bit easier.

    For those that didn’t realize, if you hold the ‘shift’ key down and left click on the link, it will accomplish the same thing as a right click-open in new window. Not quite as simple as before (1 hand vs. 2 hands), but at least I’m able to continue with that sort of work flow.


  25. Carolyn

    “1 Nancy Caes September 14, 2010 at 9:21 amIf 2011 is a separate program, is there a way to merge all the information I have in 2010 into the new program without having to enter it all again?”

    Nancy – I just received my disk today for 2011. There is no problem with opening your 2010 files in 2011. When you open the file, FTM 2011 will make a back-up disk to update your 2010 data to 2011. I’ve just opened a couple of my files and even still have the personalized fact options that I added in 2010.

  26. Hi, Tana. That’s great news about the release timing!

    How can I get a beta copy? I’d like to have some experience with the product prior to release. Signing and honoring an NDA is okay by me. Please contact me through my blog:

    I operate (was where I produce how-to videos to help genealogists break through more brick-walls. I have hundreds of Mac users in my audience and I am one myself.



  27. Tana L. Pedersen

    # 1
    Nancy, Family Tree Maker is a separate program in that it doesn’t install over your 2010 version. However, your 2010 files open in 2011. There is no need to redo all your hard work!

    # 2
    Aylarja, I don’t have any more technical explanation on the image processing at this time. Also, I think the idea of being to turn the image processing on and off is a great idea and also something that has come up in other comments. I’ll be sure to pass that along.

    Holly, yes, you can delete previous version of Family Tree Maker if you want to. I personally keep all my versions—probably because I’m not good at getting rid of anything.

    #8 Dana
    Thanks for your comments on Smart Stories. I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoying that feature. For those interested, I will be doing a blog post on Smart Stories in a few weeks so stay tuned.

    Tony, I guess I can make your day…or at least tell you that Description fastfields are available in Family Tree Maker 2011.

    And for those interested in right-clicking…I have to announce (quite sheepishly I might add) that you can display a search result/item in a new window without using the right-click menu. It’s been in Family Tree Maker all along and I guess I never noticed. Click the search result or image you want to open. Then click the Browser Options button next to the Address field. (The button looks like a checklist with a pencil on it.) Choose Open in New Window and voila. Try it out and let me know if it worked for you.

  28. Tony Knight


    Thank you for the fast field information. Shame I no longer use FTM.

    Why will no one say something about the speed issue. I find I can enter information at least 5 times faster in RootsMagic and it doesn’t crash every session.

  29. Dan Wilmoth

    Why do you add more features to a program that only makes it slower???? Maybe you should try eliminating features and make it faster?

    2010 was slow. 2011 is dismal. I finished reading the analog Sunday newspaper while FTW 2011 merged a 6 member family tree, two death certificates and three census records.

    It also does not help that you cannot tell when FTW 2011 is doing anything. The only way I can tell is when it get the “Not Responding” message or the screen goes pale.

    PLEASE address these issues without telling me to buy more memory, a faster processor or the next version. I did all that two years ago. Still waiting.

  30. Shasta

    I am using a very old version of FTM. I really want to be able to have photos on descendant reports. It is something I wanted ever since I bought my first software program decades ago. If you had that, I would be willing to buy the new software.

  31. Steve

    I too am sorry I have wasted my money yet again in the vain hope that FTM had improved.
    I have bought the previous 2 issues and should have known better, still glitchy, and even slower.
    Looks like I will have to bite he bullet and try Roots Magic,at least you get to try the cut down version for FREE!

  32. Charles Bash

    I really like the improved genealogy reports, especially the option of alternate number sequences. But (didn’t you just know that was coming), when I Share and export to RTF, the contents jump back and forth between being formatted as a text document, and using tables to force the alignment desired. This is very irritating. It seems to happen in NG sequence whenever it needs to insert the “+” sign in front of the number to indicate that this person appears later. I believe if you used a decimal tab (instead of a left tab mark) to place the numbers, this problem disappears. Can that be fixed as “a bug” instead of waiting for 2012?

  33. Charles Williams

    Family Tree Maker 2011 IS SLOW VERY SLOW.
    I just download 1900 Census with 3 names. It took 5 minutes and 10 seconds.
    I just reload family Tree Maker 2010 it took 15 seconds to merge the info.
    I will not use FTM 2011 until you allow me to TURN OFF YOUR IMAGE ENHANCEMENT.

  34. cneubie

    I just upgraded to 2011. I have been using it for 2 days and already I do not like it.

    It is riddled with errors.

    It is S-L-O-W.

    There is no way to tell is a record merge is in progress: no hour glass, no swirl, nothing. Just when you think your “click” didn’t “take”, and you start clicking again, there’s a little screen flick and after a few additional seconds, you get the Merge OK message. This is not acceptable.

    If, on the person page, you open any fact drop-down and select a source that has an online link – click “view source online” it just searches and searches and searches………. It never finds the source you have attached to your fact. Eventually – perhaps 15 minutes later (maybe longer), you get an offer to “kill” pages. That’s the best you can do?

    You used to be able to have a “person note” revealed (not open for edit) and “copy” text previously entered there for pasting elsewhere. Now, 2011 lets you think you can do it, but it’s a ploy. Once you have it highlighted, the highlight turns off and you can’t copy (you just can’t be fast enough before the highlight turns off).

    What have you folks done to this software?

    I’ve checked already. There are no upgrades available….which means no fixes to take care of my problems (this is just a start).

  35. Charles Swanson

    Up front I apologize for my naiveté.

    I, obviously, am new to genealogy, but so far I truly enjoy learning about the field and have already encountered two surprises in my initial research.

    I use Reunion 9.0c for the Mac (I have an iMac and a MacBook).

    But, my comment/question is, I think much more basic.

    My comment/question:

    Why, it appears to me, do I have to use Reunion, Ancestry, Family Tree Maker, etc., to do my research? Why do I have to upload/download “files” to/from Reunion and Ancestry?

    Why do I need to buy more and more software to supposedly enhance my genealogical experience?

    Just askin’


  36. Charles Re: #36

    You don’t have to do any of those things- it just makes it easier to find, record, and manipulate whatever genealogical you acquire.

    There are still people who do it the old fashion way; pen, paper, and writing lots of letters and/or taking lots of research trips.

    It really all depends on why you do genealogy and what you want to get out of it.

  37. I can understand the web merge taking longer for document download and improvement, however it takes much longer for a merge with out a document download, the merge for Social Security and Family Tree take very long as well.

    Is something else happing with the web merge?

    Is FTM 2011 passing information on my tree back to your server?

    Seems like a programer could come up with a way to finish the web merge as I continued to work on another record.

    My productivity is much lower in 2011 than in previous versions of FTM.

    Is it the desire of your company to send long time users of FTM to programs that are more stable?

    Please improve the speed.

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