Lesson 2

Workshop 2 - RootsMagic and Interfacing with Family Tree


Watch this video about journaling - think about why it is so important to keep records.


Intro to RootsMagic

RootsMagic is a personal family history program. Instead of simply relying on FamilySearch, an online website where anyone can freely edit information, using RootsMagic or another personal program located on a personal computer allows you to have complete control over what is entered and only you can edit it. RootsMagic is one way to record the information you’ve gathered. It can help you organize your information and help you see where you need to focus your efforts.


Purpose of RootsMagic

RootsMagic is a program to keep track of your research. It is very important to understand that although FamilySearch and RootsMagic are both very important, you will be using them both together to help in your research. You can use RootsMagic to do the following, as well as much more:

  • tTo document sources
    • You can also attach images to each source/citation to have a visual representation.
  • To print reports such as pedigree charts and family group sheets


5 Step Research Process

We will again be discussing step 1 of the 5 Step Research Process. Step 1 is to identify what you know about your family.

As discussed in the previous workshop, this is the step where you evaluate what you already know. One important factor is recording the information you find either on paper or electronically.

  • How can we use RootsMagic to help us with this?


Different Versions/Purchasing RootsMagic

  • Go to www.rootsmagic.com
  • When you hover over the “Products” Tab, you’ll see that there are different versions of RootsMagic.
    • The Essentials version is free and has most of the things you will need in order to complete your assignments, you just may need to come use a computer on campus for the parts not included in the free version.
    • RootsMagic 7 has the full version. If you use the Student Discount code you can get the full package for just $10 (www.rootsmagic.com/student) You must use this link in order to receive the student discount. It will NOT work if you put it in the regular coupon box. Talk to your teacher or the TAs to receive the Student Discount code.
  • Keep in mind that you don’t have to have RootsMagic for this class if you don’t want to. You can use other programs if you’d like. Also, RootsMagic 7 is available on the lab computers and Family History Center computers on the 2nd floor of the HBLL. So, you could do all your assignments on these computers and just keep a copy of your file on a flash drive or an email account.
  • RootsMagic isn’t the only family history program out there. There are many different programs you can use available. If you have questions about using other programs, please ask a TA during open lab. (Legacy, Family Tree Builder, My Family Tree)


Creating a New File

  • Open RootsMagic 7 from your start menu
  • A news window will pop open titled “RootsMagic News” - this is where you will be able to see when there is a new update to RootsMagic. If it is asking you to update, please update. RootsMagic can get finicky and some of the older versions don’t connect with FamilySearch. As well here is where you will see links to the RootsMagic blog where you are able to learn what they are doing to change the program.
  • Choose “Create a new file”
  • Give it a descriptive name
  • Click the three boxes on the right [“Display Names Uppercase” “LDS Support” “New FamilySearch Support”]. This allows your RootsMagic file to interface with your FamilySearch account.
  • Push OK


Adding Preparer Information

Preparer information is included on every report so that others will always have a way of contacting you should they ever see your reports or printouts; it makes your work credible. It’s also how you will put your name on your assignments for this class.


Additionally, and maybe most importantly, all the teachers require that you have preparer information or you will lose points.

  • Tools→File Options→Preparer [with the green person silhouette]
  • You don’t have to enter in all the fields, but should have sufficient data to get ahold of you—at least a name and one method of contacting you (usually an email address).

This is also where you will go if you forgot to check the three boxes at the beginning.

  • Tools → File Options → General → Display Surnames uppercase & Show LDS support
  • Tools → file options → FamilySearch → Enable FamilySearch Support


Start Exploring

  • Add yourself in the pedigree by clicking on the box
  • Fill in as many details as you can about yourself before clicking OK
  • When you push OK, your card will pull up. Push “Add a fact” and continue adding all kinds of information about yourself.
    • Note when you are adding information you will need to press save in order for the information to be put into your timeline.
  • Push “Close” when you’re ready to move on and start adding information about members of your family.
  • You can start with adding your mom and dad by clicking on the boxes above or beneath your name box on the pedigree view.
  • You can make notes about any fact or person by clicking on the correct box in the notebook column or using the “note” button on the right hand side--this is useful for just about anything: recording your guesses, talking about why you think an estimated date is correct, etc.
  • You can include pictures or other media by clicking on the right box in the camera column or by pushing the “Media” button at the top--this is useful if you have a record, file, video, or picture you want to attach to the person or fact. An important thing for the Media section is to have a folder on your computer dedicated to these images. Although you can attach media to a person on RootsMagic, the computer will lose that link if you move the file to another folder, etc. 
  • You are also able to view your tree through different options, such as pedigree view and family view. Family will be particularly useful for those of you researching one specific family this semester.
  • A few things to note:


Downloading (Importing) Data from FamilySearch

One nice feature of RootsMagic is that it is compatible with FamilySearch. If you choose to, you are able to download information from FamilySearch into your RootsMagic file.

  • Log on to Family Tree through RootsMagic
    • File→FamilySearch Central OR
    • On the header, choose the FamilySearch icon (the tree). This will only show up if you clicked the three boxes we told you to click at the very beginning.
  • Sign in using your LDS account username and password
  • Click on the Import button
  • BEFORE you push Import, select 4 generations of ancestors, and 0 generations of descendants. The automatic number is 10 generations, but we will warn you that selecting 10 will take forever to download. In this box you also have the option to download starting with yourself or with a specific individual using their FamilySearch ID number.
  • When the import is finished, you have to push close before it will populate the pedigree chart
  • Note the blue trees next to the name. By clicking on this it will bring up the individual’s side by side comparison of RootsMagic and FamilySearch. Here you are able to choose what you want to bring over and what you don’t. This is also where you can add parents or other family members you haven’t downloaded by selecting the grey tree next to their name.



Sourcing is one of the most important things you will do as you work on your family history.
Sources are how you prove your ancestor was real and prove their existence in certain places. RootsMagic will help you to add sources and citations to all of your facts (RootsMagic is separated into ‘Facts’ and then for each fact you can add sources specific to it. For example, if I had a birth fact, I would click on birth and THEN add a source, like a birth certificate).

  • Click on a fact and then click Sources, on the right side.
  • “Cite existing source” will pull up a list of all the sources you have put into RM
  • For now, click “Add new source.” This will pull up a bunch of source templates. To find the right one for your source, look for the most detailed source template that matches your record.
  • Fill in as many fields as possible. Don’t get lazy! Remember that your research is only as good as your sourcing. Also this is where you can enter transcriptions if you want under “detail text”.
  • If you decide to reuse this citation for another fact or individual, the yellow portion of the source template will stay the same (it’s part of the master source). The green part changes for each individual record, so you will have to fill it out each time
  • Before you close out of Citation Manager, push “Memorize” and “Paste” if you need to source the same record for the same person (if it applied to two different facts, etc.).

Research Logs

One important part of searching and sourcing is keeping a research log. Research logs help you keep track of your research. When using a log you keep track of all of your searches, and all of your results both positive and negative. Your teachers may ask for different types of research logs; you can use a word doc or whatever is most convenient for you. We will show you how to create one on RootsMagic and you can use what you see to make it work for you.

  • Lists→ Research Manager
  • Add Research Log → Name your log by keeping it relevant to your project
    • you can create a log for general research, a specific family, specific person, or even a place.
  • Your objective should reflect your purpose - you can create multiple research logs throughout your search process or keep all of your research under one.
  • Add Research Item → Date, what you were trying to find, what source you checked, where you checked, and what your results were.  


Creating and Printing Reports

Most of you will be asked to print some type of report from RootsMagic, whether it is a family group record or pedigree chart.

  • Reports→Print a Report (or there are quick options on the drop-down menu)
  • To practice:
    • Note that whoever is selected in blue when you go to print a report will be the head of household in your report.
    • Select family group sheet
    • A box will pop up with various options. If you want to you can change the font or layout, etc.
    • You’re always going to want the box that says “Print preparer and comments” checked--most teachers require it and you’ll want it too
    • Now try creating a pedigree chart.

Note: Reports will always print out a place and name index - two wasted sheets of paper. To reduce on paper and money waste, click on Indexes on the print menu, and select No Name Index and No Place Index on the Place Index tab.


Importing and Exporting Information

RootsMagic is not the only type of genealogical software out there. Maybe you’ve heard of PAF, or Legacy Family Tree or others. Let’s say your mom or your uncle or your second cousin, twice-removed is using one of those and  you’d like to share your information with them. You can do this by exporting your file as a GEDCOM.

  • A GEDCOM is a file type that is readable by any major genealogical software. In other words, if you export your RootsMagic file as a GEDCOM, anyone with genealogical software will be able to read it. This also works in reverse. You can get the information off of your grandfather’s PAF file, so long as he exports it as a GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication)
  • To export: File→Export
    • You can play around with the settings, if you’d like.
    • When you push OK, it will have you save it somewhere useful.
    • You can then send this GEDCOM through e-mail or copy it off a flash drive, etc.
  • To import: File→Import
  • Select that the file you are importing is a GEDCOM file.
  • Either tell it to “Search for files” or “I know where the file is.”
  • Select the file and push “Open.”
  • You’ll be prompted to choose one of two options- you’ll want to choose create a new database and it will have you walk through the opening steps (giving it a name, etc.).


Backing Up and Saving Your Information

Each time you edit a fact and hit the save button on an individual’s card, RootsMagic is saving the file. But you’ll still want to back up your information regularly and keep a backup in at least two places (i.e. one copy on your computer and one on a flash drive or on your email account or on an external hard drive)

  • Option 1: create a copy by exporting your information as a GEDCOM
  • Option 2: create a simple copy (the ‘Save As’ feature on most other programs)
    • File→Copy. Give it a name (notice that it ends with .rmgc) and save it somewhere you’ll be able to find it.
    • To open a copy, the computer you are using must have RootsMagic on it. You may simply find the file, double click on it, and it will open in RootsMagic.
      • Some students may find it easier to first open RootsMagic on the computer they’ll be using. Then go to File→Open, search for the file, and open it.
  • Option 3: create a backup.
  • File→Backup. Give it a name and specify a place to save it (notice that it ends in .rmgb)

To open a backup, first open RootsMagic. Then File→Restore, search for the file and open it. (This is zipping and unzipping the file so simply clicking on it will not be sufficient.)