6 Best Free Genealogy Software Downloads!

By | February 16, 2018

Family history research doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact some resources and products are available to you for free. In this post I want to show you some free genealogy software downloads. Please check them out so that you can start to trace your ancestry right away!

Free Genealogy Software Downloads

Before I begin!

If you are new to genealogy, (or even tired of continually paying for software updates), then you are probably after genealogy software that is free.

And I can quite understand because everybody likes free.

Don’t they?

Free is good but there are drawbacks though when it comes to choosing which genealogy software program is for you.

Not only do you have to choose which one is compatible to your operating system but also what features and tools are included in them that you need.

As these programs are free there are limitations to what you can and cannot do, except for GRAMPS.

These free versions are designed more as a taster at to what you can expect from the full version.

So, by trying out any of the following programs that I have reviewed here you can get a feel of the layout and interface as well as the tools and features that you can expect from the upgraded version.

With that said, let’s check out what you can download for free today!

Genealogy Software Discussed In This Post:

* Please share with me below what you discover here! *

I would love to hear from you.

Ancestral Quest Basics

What I like about this program, (and what I find surprising), is that it connects to two genealogical websites – RootsWeb and Ancestry.

Ancestral Quest Basics

What this means is that while you are working on your family tree in the background there are searched being conducted on these two sites.

These background searches check to see if there are any matches to what you have entered.

Ancestral Quest Basics
Rating 3 Stars
Operating System Windows and Macintosh
Download Ancestral Quest Basic
Full Version Review Ancestral Quest 15

Free Version Review!

You can add media to your family tree such as photos which is good. But adding them to reports can become cumbersome as you cannot add them where you would like them to be.

The free version cannot unfortunately create ancestor or descendant type charts, relationship or timeline reports.

Which is a big disappointment for me.

The program is also limited to the fact that it cannot handle international character sets.

So, if your ancestor is from a foreign land then displaying information in their language in your tree will be impossible.

As this is a free version of Ancestral Quest 15 then you will get the obvious nag screen when you first start up this program.

If you do not mind that then this program can certainly work for you.

Pros and Cons

✔ Simple and easy design
✔ Intuitive interface
✔ Automatically searches genealogical sites

❌ Nag screen with startup
❌ Limited charts and reports
❌ No ancestor/descendant type charts or reports
❌ No unicode support

Family Tree Builder

This free program is brought to you by the extremely popular genealogy company MyHeritage where you can find billions of genealogical records containing your ancestors.

MyHeritage Family Tree Builder

They even provide DNA testing kits through MyHeritage DNA where you can find out even more about your ancestry and possibly connect to living relatives as well.

Family Tree Builder
Rating 4 Stars
Operating System Windows and Macintosh
Download Family Tree Builder
Full Version Review Family Tree Builder Full

Free Version Review!

You are not limited to the amount of information that you enter for your ancestors.

So, you can add as many facts, notes, sources and multimedia such as photos, sound and video clips as you like.

The same goes for the amount of people that you add to your tree. Yep, it’s unlimited!

You get a 3 person generation view of your family. So, there is no individual, pedigree or descendant view with this version of the program.

There are plenty of reports and charts for you to choose from with this free version. And you can create and print out maps detailing where your ancestors originated from and migrated to.

One of the great advantages with this program, (similar to the others that I have reviewed here), is that you can import your family tree from elsewhere. This is done by loading into the program a GEDCOM file.

Connect with records and others!

The remarkable advantage though is because this program is connected to the MyHeritage then you can match your tree to other members trees on the website.

This gives you the ability to discover even more information about your ancestors.

Now, because this program is brought to you by MyHeritage you can discover genealogical records featuring your ancestors.

Although you may find more information for your research you will need to subscribe to the website in order to fully access these records.

But still it’s a great avenue of research for you.

The downsides!

Even though this program is very powerful there are a few drawbacks to it.

The first is that you are not able to merge information from an existing tree into your tree that you have built with this program.

Also, you will be presented with a nagging screen when something is unavailable to you. This isn’t really a disadvantage with the program but I thought that I would list it all the same.

Pros and Cons

✔ Unlimited information
✔ Many reports and charts
✔ Create and print maps
✔ Import and export GEDCOM files
✔ Match your tree to others
✔ Synchronize your tree to MyHeritage

❌ No merge tools
❌ Nag screens


The reason that I give this a maximum 5 stars is because this genealogy program gives you everything that you need.

There is no such premium version of the program, although if you wish to show your support you can make a donation.


You are probably wondering about the name of this genealogy software program. Gramps is short for Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Program Systems, and is not short for Grampa, lol.

Rating 5 Stars
Operating System Windows, Macintosh and Linux
Download Gramps

Free Version Review!

What’s great about this program is that not only can you use it on either your Windows or Macintosh machine, but also Linux as well.

Now, I know that most of you use either of the first two, but at least you do have the choice of Linux if that is your preferred operating system.

However, installation on a Windows or Macintosh machine may be bit tricky for you if you do not know your way around your computer. For Linux users on the other hand this is not the case.

Basic interface, but plenty of features!

The interface is very basic. But that’s a good thing as you can easily understand the layout of the program and how to navigate around it and use the tools that are available to you.

There are plenty of reports and charts for you to choose from, where you can make them as brief or as detailed as you want.

And if you want to keep certain people private in your tree then you can.

Other features include support for various different calendars including Gregorian, Julian, Hebrew, French Republican, Persian and Islamic calendars.

Whether your ancestors came from foreign countries is no problem as there is unicode support. This means that the software can handle international character sets.

There is also a community of users that help to suggest improvements to the software.

Which is great because you get a program that will have more and more capabilities without even having to pay anything, (unless you want to donate of course).

Pros and Cons

✔ Truly cross-platform program
✔ Simple interface
✔ Continual updates
✔ Privacy option
✔ Various calendars supported
✔ Unicode support

❌ Not easy to install on Windows/Macintosh

Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition

If you have checked out my Best Genealogy Software Programs post then you will have seen that I highly recommend Legacy Family Tree.

So, it is good to see that there is a free version of this program.

Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition

Therefore, if you are not prepared to part with your cash just yet then try the free version before you commit to the full version.

Upgrading to the paid version is simple to do and will allow you to copy your family tree over.

Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition
Rating 3 Stars
Operating System Windows
Download Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition
Full Version Review Legacy 9

Free Version Review!

Before I continue I just want to mention that you are able to import your GEDCOM file from other software.

So, if you have created your family tree from elsewhere then there is no need to worry.

Also, you can export/create GEDCOM files with this program as well.

The reason why I recommend this software and why it is extremely popular among genealogists is because of the simplistic design, the powerfulness of the program, and that it has all the features that anyone could really need.

Different views and plenty of media!

The familiar family, pedigree, descendant, and index views are available for you to enter and edit your family tree from. There are also other kinds of views supported.

Multimedia support is not limited as you can add photographs, sound and video clips, maps, and more besides.

As this is a free version of the software you will be greeted with a nagging message when you select a tool or feature that is not available to you.

This isn’t really a disadvantage but still I thought that I would tell you about it.

It would still have been better if these tools and features were just simply greyed out instead.

Pros and Cons

✔ Simple and easy design
✔ Powerful software
✔ Contains most features
✔ Unlimited data and people
✔ Import GEDCOM files

❌ No unicode support
❌ Only available for Windows
❌ Nagging message

Personal Ancestry Writer II

If you are a Macintosh user then you may find that this free download is for you. Although it really is’nt a high performing program.

Personal Ancestry Writer

It still though may do the job for you. So, you shouldn’t underestimate it!

Personal Ancestry Writer II
Rating 3 Stars
Operating System Macintosh
Download Personal Ancestry Writer II

Free Version Review!

Personal Ancestry Writer, or PAWriter for short, has a very simple design, which will make your life easier to use the program.

Because there are no distractions with this program you will clearly see what tools are available to you. And on top of that you can see what you are and are not able to do.

Pros and Cons

✔ Simple design
✔ Easy to navigate
✔ Good starting program

❌ Limited tools

RootsMagic Essentials

For the beginner this is a great free genealogy software program to get you started. Navigating around the interface is pretty easy as the menus, buttons and general appearance is easy to understand.

RootsMagic Essentials

Even though it is easy for you to navigate around the program really well this version does suffer from a nagging screen. These screens appear when you first start up the program and whenever you select tools.

Tools that aren’t available in the free version are simply greyed out.

RootsMagic Essentials
Rating 3 Stars
Operating System Windows and Macintosh
Download RootsMagic Essentials
Full Version Review RootsMagic 7

Free Version Review!

With the free version you have a choice of either pedigree or family view, where you can easily edit information for your ancestors.

The great benefit that I like with this version is that it supports unlimited data. So, you can add as many facts, multimedia, notes, and sources.

And you can easily find whichever ancestor that you are looking for within your family tree using the RootsMagic Explorer tool. The built-in templates also make citation really easy for you to do as you just fill in the blanks.

Easily see relationships!

Something that I really like with a program such as this is the ability to see how exactly that you are related to your ancestor.

And Essentials allows you to do this. It even can show you relationships such as adoptions and foster parents.

I mentioned that you are able to add multimedia. This includes photographs, sound clips, and video as well. And what also is good is that you can add photographs to your printed reports to make them even more appealing.

Within the free version of the program you get to choose between dozens of charts, reports and lists. So, you shouldn’t be too restricted.

Although it doesn’t allow you to hide individuals from reports. Which means you cannot keep people private.

Power tool included too!

Power tools are also included which can help you identify any problems with your tree. Date and soundex calculators are also included as well as sophisticated merge techniques.

If your ancestry is quite varied then you probably need the ability to handle international character sets. Well I am pleased to say that Essentials does support Unicode.

If you have already created your family tree then there is no need to worry. Essentials will allow you to import directly from Family Tree Maker, Legacy, PAF, The Master Genealogist, and Family Origins.

And if your program isn’t shown that’s OK as you can always import your tree from a GEDCOM file.

Pros and Cons

✔ Clear and understandable interface
✔ Easy navigation and editing ability
✔ Supports unlimited people and facts
✔ See relationships
✔ Dozens of charts, reports and lists
✔ Unicode support
✔ Import your tree from other genealogy programs or a GEDCOM file

❌ Nagging screen
❌ No hiding option available in reports


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post showing you the best free genealogy software downloads. If you think that this post will be helpful then please share with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

14 thoughts on “6 Best Free Genealogy Software Downloads!

  1. Eric Cantu

    I have a cousin that is super into researching our family tree and this would just blow him away.

    I didn’t even realize that you could get this kind of software for free. There a few to choose from. I’ll have to follow the links that you have provided and check them out.

    Great write up!

    1. Owain Post author

      You’re most welcome Eric. Please share this post with him and anyone else you know who you know would benefit from it.

  2. Jeff Lewis

    Hello Owain!
    Thank you for the in-depth detailed reviews of the genealogy software! You made it really easy to see which ones would be great to try out. I have tried a few different ones here and there through out the years but kind of got away from it due to the constant upselling, nagging and limited functions of most of them.

    I am very tempted to try out the Gramps, yes I admit, I thought it stood for Grandpa, lol. The main reason is because its totally free. One question I had though is there any way to generate a GEDCOM file with it?

    I appreciate the time you spent creating this and for the great information!
    Thank you!

    1. Owain Post author

      To be honest I have never tried a free version. I am passionate about my family history and so I wanted to get a program that had all the features.

      But as I said in the post free is good as it can give beginners a feel for what to expect with such a program and genealogy as a hobby. But if you want to do more with your research then a paid program is the way to go. In my opinion.

      You can create a GEDCOM file with these programs 🙂

  3. Colin Thomson

    love your site and content. This a fresh and I have bookmarked your site so that I can come back for more info in the near future to help me source my Grandads past.
    Excellent work.

    1. Owain Post author

      You’re welcome Colin. I have covered many areas of genealogy on this site so you are welcome to have a look around. There are plenty of guides and tips, as well as reviews on products and services that will help you to research your ancestry.

      All the best.

  4. Simon

    Hey Owain,, thanks for your selection of free genealogy software. I tried tracing my family tree back around the year 2000 but came across too many software issues. They were continually updating, adding new add ons and like you mention, it becomes very expensive, the reasons I gave up to be honest.

    I like the sound of Gramps, especially when you give the software 5 stars, I’m fairly savvy on the computer so I’m sure I’ll overcome the first hurdle of installing. I think most of us require an easy user interface to aid our genealogy process meanwhile because you mention Gramps has unicode support for foreign countries, I think that will be beneficial as I roll back through our ancestral tree.
    Thanks again for your help,

    1. Owain Post author

      Glad to be of help Simon. Gramps does seem to be the best so I’m glad that you’ll be going with this.

      What with community support there are improvements added all the time. And being free that’s even better. Although you may want to donate to the program if you feel like it.

  5. Maurice

    Very nice review. As a Black person living in America, I have my doubts about finding any true success in such a venture. However, You had me with the gramps software product. I will keep an open mind but by knowing the treatment and the effort to deny me of my culture on a continuous basis is a hurdle that I am anxious to see if Gramps can overcome.

    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Maurice, thank you for your compliment.

      Gramps is a great program to get you started into the world of genealogy. It is essentially a way for you to store all that you have discovered about your family history.

      If you want to discover more about your ancestors then you can always try Ancestry or FindMyPast. These two are my favourite genealogy search sites that you can visit. I have found out so much about my ancestors from these two sites.

      All the best.

  6. Benito Semommung

    Hey Owain,

    This post was an eye opener. I have always wanted to trace my genealogy especially from my father’s side. I tend to gravitate to Gramps because it’s quite versatile and provides a number of features. I have bookmarked your site because I would like to act asap.

    There is a lot of information on this post and thanks indeed for not holding back.

    Best regards.

    1. Owain Post author

      Glad this post was helpful Benito. It seems that most people are drawn towards the Gramps software. I can see why because of what it offers as well as the support behind it. And with this support there is plenty of improvements in the pipeline. So it is an exciting software to download for free.

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Peter for the compliment. There are several software programs that you can get for free but these are definitely the 6 best that you will find.

      I wish you all the best with your family history research.


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