Posted by Tana L. Pedersen on September 12, 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. Laura

    I’ve found this very helpful in correcting information from imported trees. Different people record city names differently and when adding a new person from a tree into FTM you aren’t given an option on what information to accept or reject on a new person. I find it helpful to locate one person with information I want differently and then use the find and search to find all of the people with a similar change I want to make.

  2. Would it be possible to split off FamilyTreeMaker into a separate blog of its own? That would allow those of us who don’t use FTM (I maintain my database in Reunion, on a Mac) to focus on news about, while also allowing FTM users to get more frequent tips about using the application.

  3. Tana L. Pedersen

    #1 Laura
    Thanks for the tip. That’s a great use for this tool.

    #2 Teri
    Thanks for the suggestion. I will pass it on.

  4. Jeff Jahn

    Would be nice to have a blog on Ftm 2012 where we could ask some questions with it be do to ship here in a week or two. From what i have read so far and the faq i feel the description of the software maybe alittle misleading, and it would be nice to clarify it.

  5. LOL!!!
    Ancestry language misleading??? !!!
    You have *GOT* to be kidding!

    To paraphrase an ad I saw recently…

    “You don’t have to know what you’re buying- you just have to start buying”


  6. Tana L. Pedersen

    #4 Jeff
    I will be talking about all the new features available in Family Tree Maker 2012 in a few weeks. Please check back then and ask any questions you have.

  7. Mary

    I use this search all the time to find people who live in a county or state, since the “places” lists most by city, county and state. (Unless you have a better way to do this…)

  8. BEE

    To answer the last #40 question on the previous post: “The directions are confusing – – can’t find the tabs that they’re talking about on the site” – that is because the post was about FAMILY TREE MAKER, the purchased software, not the site.
    Hopefully, anyone reading this blog will finally get it that FAMILY TREE MAKER is the topic, and won’t continue to confuse it with

  9. Lisa

    Great tip! I was just wondering how to do this the other day. I also laughed because your ancestor you used in your example has the same name as one of my husband’s. LOL. Thanks for the post.

  10. Loretta

    Thearticle helped. But my quwstion is a little different-I have been involved with this ancestry search for several years, there fore have made many mistakes. How do I combine two or three trees (all the same family? And how do I delete one? Any help is appreciated. Thank you?

  11. Wilma Smith

    The question from Loretta prompts me to ask about a similar situation: When first starting out on this project I didn’t realize how involved it would become. I began by entering both my father’s family and my mother’s family. This becomes very involved. Also, if I wanted to print only my father’s family, how could I do that? Is it best to enter each family in a separate tree? If so, how can I move one family to its own tree? How have others treated this subject?

  12. Wilma Re:#14

    My advice is to put everything into one big tree as it is always easier to split off a branch for printing or whatever than it is to combine trees and have to deal with duplicate people, images, sources, etc.

    That way you can also make sure you are entering a person only once and not wind up with a bunch of duplicates in your tree.

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