Posted by Crista Cowan on January 9, 2014 in Family Tree Maker

I use Family Tree Maker every single day.  There are many reasons why I love it.  I can move around my tree without having to wait for web pages to load with each new click.  I can customize my screen to show me exactly what information I want to see about each person.  I can privatize specific pieces of media or facts that I don’t want uploaded to my public tree on when I sync my offline and online trees.  Not connected to the internet? No problem. I still can access my tree from my laptop at 30,000 feet or when I’m at grandma’s house.

Here are a couple more examples of ways in which I use Family Tree Maker to enhance and improve my genealogy research experience..


I enjoy having so many options for creating reports.  I can create pedigree charts and family group sheets, relationship charts or descendants reports.  There is even a report I can run for all undocumented facts in my tree.  I can print these reports to use as a map for my research or just create a PDF file to share with family via email.

Family Tree Maker Reports

My favorite Family Tree Maker report is the data error report.  This report allows me to check my file for common mistakes that are made when I enter information into my tree.  Did I mistype a birth date and have a woman married to a man who died before she was born?  Are there families in my tree where the children are not listed in birth order?  Is there anyone in my tree who lived to be more than 120 years old because I copied a piece of information incorrectly?  The data error report allows me to search for these and many other possible errors.  A list is generated that I can then print out and use as a guide to go through my tree and review those errors so I can fix what needs fixing..


As much as I love family history research, one of my personal challenges is focus. Some days I sit down to work on my family history and I don’t know where to start.  Or I start with one thing and get distracted along other lines of the family.  Sometimes this is a fun way to approach the climb up my family tree.  Other times I frustrate myself with this behavior.  One of the features in Family Tree Maker I use a lot is the filter.  I can filter the index of people in my tree down to any specific criteria.  Then I can focus on that specific list of people to do further research.  The possibilities are endless but here are some suggestions to get your brain working.

  • Who in my tree was living in the United States in 1940 but does not yet have a 1940 census record attached?
  • A new database just came online at  Who in my tree ever lived in the specific location covered by the records in this new database?
  • Which men in my tree were eligible for the World War One draft but don’t yet have a draft card attached?
  • Who are all of the descendants of a specific ancestor?

Family Tree Maker Filter

The list of filter options is only bound by your imagination and could invigorate your family history research.  And, the more facts you record about people (hair color, eye color, height, military service, occupation, etc.), the more your filter options become a really fun tool to use.

Now, I’d like to hear from you.  What’s your favorite feature of Family Tree Maker?

Have fun climbing your family tree!

Crista Cowan

Crista has been doing genealogy since she was a child. She has been employed at since 2004. Around here she's known as The Barefoot Genealogist. Twitter


  1. As a professional genealogist, I love how easy it is to work with multiple databases in Family Tree Maker. The Plan workspace makes it extremely easy to switch between trees as I move from one job to another. I like to work with a chronological view of data and I use the Facts and Timeline views in the People workspace extensively. Sources are always close to hand in the People workspace and I use the Undocumented Facts Report to double check that all my client reports are correctly sourced. The charts are good looking but easy to create and I am able to customise them to meet my clients’ requirements. Best of all, the software doesn’t let me down – it is extremely stable.

  2. observer

    I have one question that I don’t seem to be able to find the answer.

    Is there a way to print my tree to include the scrapbook for each person?

  3. Larry Czarnik

    Have been using FTM V3 and also facilitate a user group both online and face to face in Sydney Australia. Have attended many presentations and had many discuss their experiences with other programs. One of the many things that seem to be key to it’s success is that FTM is a very encompassing program, allowing entry of pretty much any family structure. Of particular importance to many is that privacy settings allow the owner to control what facts are or are not displayed in reports, online, etc.

    Personally when source management came in, it allowed me to document my sources my way, but giving me hints on how to if I needed.

    And lastly the online tree capability has actually been around since the early days, but the recent addition of sync and mobile apps has allowed me easy access when not at my desktop and easier sharing with those I choose. As long as Ancestry continues to allow me to maintain privacy settings and controls on our trees, it should keep the privacy concerns at bay.

    So what is left for Ancestry to do? We can always have improved robustness in the sync process and allowing multiple PCs to have access to the same tree without breaking sync / online trees, (for those with a desktop and one or more laptops) would be great.

    But thanks FTM and Ancestry for helping me learn, store and share my family tree and giving our family pride in where it’s been and where it’s going!

    2013JA10 10:20 Sydney, Australia

  4. Marcia M

    Christa, thanks for the online tutorials. However, still can’t find an answer to this question (pardon my detail, but it is necessary):
    My data base in FTM 2014 is almost 60,000 names, and of course multiple lines cross and intersect. I am at the editing stage where I want to PUBLISH multiple descendant reports, each one FROM one of many “famous” ancestors, to ME, the home person. I do not want all the other children etc swept along in each line for each report; just, e.g., 30 generations from one selected ancestor to me. (However, annotation should be included.)
    Please direct me! Help! Can this even be done in 2014 version?
    Thank you very much – MM

  5. Ladonna Viertel

    We recently updated my FTM after a computer malfunction back in December. I had to get a newer version in order for it to be compatible with the required repairs. So, we bought the newest version. I have to say, I absolutely hate it. I don’t even want to do research anymore because I can’t find anything. I hadn’t updated in a few years, but at least it was a simple process to find my reports, see all the children on a page with their places and dates of birth, etc. I’m not computer savvy and having everything hidden or “too small” is not amusing. Do not like.

  6. francisca cooper

    Oh how I agree with Ladonna! the latest FTM is absolutely appalling. The designers seem to have thrown the baby out with the bath water. The point of a family tree is show family members. This program just does not deliver. Shows you all sorts of other stuff, not much of which is really new, but forgets the basics.
    And as for renaming all my image files and deselecting my profile photos!!! Thanks very much.
    And thanks also for reducing my sources to nonsense. By the way I am not in the least interested in the new classification system. How do I get rid of it?
    The programme is also extremely slow [my computer is one week old]. And I do mean sloooow.
    To repair the damage FTM2014 has done to my trees – and I have a good dozen – I shall have to boot up my old laptop and re-input the data manually from one screen to another. This is absolutely disgraceful. I have better things to do with my life than checking tens of thousands pieces of data, if not hundreds of thousands. I have a spent a week on this already on just one tree and have barely managed to scratch the surface of the problem.
    The whole thing is too dreadful for words
    I would not recommend it to anybody.

  7. linda durr

    Did not realise all I could do with the tree maker. I previously printed 35 pages for one side of my family. I am now trying to print one for another branch of the family but all I get is the same 3 pages. Why? Any help please.

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