Old School Interface Design Packed With Modern-Day Capabilities
Popular among newbies and seasoned users alike, Millennia Corporation’s Legacy Family Tree software has been around for over 20 years. Given how quickly technology grows and evolves, there’s something to be said for its longevity for sure. Recently acquired by MyHeritage, it also has the resources to remain a top choice for many years to come, too. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely perfect or the best option for every user.
I’m not gonna lie, Legacy 9.0 Family Tree feels a bit stuck in the Windows Vista era – at least, visually. But don’t let the interface scare you off! Everything you need is clearly labeled, and if you’re used to Windows Office software, it will feel just like home to you. Even with its slightly dated looks, it also has a dedicated team constantly working on improving and adding new features.
The charts and trees are easy to follow once you get the hang of it. They work much like the ones you’ve likely seen or used on sites like MyHeritage or Family Tree by Ancestry. What’s really great about Legacy 9.0 is that you can work totally offline. So if you’re on vacation or off-the-grid, you may not be able to do research, but you can do data entry no problem.
As you weigh your options between Legacy Family Tree vs. MyHeritage, Legacy vs. AncestryDNA, or any of its other big-name competitors, you deserve a thorough, yet honest opinion. Why should you choose Legacy, and what makes it better than the others? Keep reading for the full review, (minor) flaws and all.
Get to Know Legacy – It’s Free to Try Before You Buy
Deciding between Legacy 9.0 Family Tree Standard vs. Deluxe? You can try out the Standard version for as long as you like for free, although it won’t have every feature unlocked unless you upgrade to the Deluxe version. Some of the handy Deluxe features include an enhanced color-coding system, relationship calculators, and the ability to address potential problems with your records.
If you’re new to family tree building, it might be a little intimidating at first to figure out all the bells and whistles. Personally, I found it a bit overwhelming as someone with limited family tree software experience.
I was able to download and install the software just fine, but there’s a bit of a learning curve, especially if you’re used to jumping in and doing everything perfectly right away. Thankfully, Legacy offers lots of video tutorials and a built-in help system to help you get started. On the other hand, if you’ve used family tree software before, you shouldn’t have any problems figuring out Legacy 9.0.
Legacy 9.0 Family Tree System Requirements
- Pentium-class PC
- VGA display or higher
- Minimum 8 GB of RAM
- Minimum 500 MB of free hard drive space
- Windows 7 or newer
- A computer mouse
- Internet connection (to download the software, and for online features)
5 Standout Features of Legacy 9.0 Family Tree Software
Most of Legacy’s best features require an upgrade to the Deluxe version, but you’ll find it’s worth the investment, especially if you’re a serious genealogist.
1. X-DNA Inheritance Charts (Deluxe Version)
Have you completed an at-home ancestry DNA kit? If you’ve used a popular site like AncestryDNA or MyHeritage, you’ve likely discovered thousands (or more) potential relatives. Legacy lets you make note of known DNA matches hiding in your family tree, plus you can add a color overlay to your charts that let you see how you’re genetically linked to one another.
2. Hinting at Family Pictures and Stories (Deluxe Version)
Need a hint? Legacy combs through billions of records on the top genealogy sites, including Findmypast, MyHeritage, FamilySearch, and GenealogyBank. This means less dead ends and more breakthroughs. As you add to your tree, Legacy automatically starts searching these databases for you, and will make additional research suggestions along the way.
3. Compare Two People (Deluxe Version)
Not sure if you have the right Uncle John in your tree? Or maybe you have multiple generations with the same name? Legacy lets you compare the two records side-by-side, highlighting the similarities and differences to ensure you include the correct information in the right places.
4. Online Cloud Backup (Deluxe Version)
Nothing is worse than losing a project you’ve worked long and hard on. Keep your hard work safely backed up in Legacy’s cloud storage. If your system has a meltdown or you upgrade to a new computer, your family tree can grow back to its former self with just a few clicks.
5. Blank Census and Questionnaire Forms (Deluxe Version)
Ensure you’re collecting the right information about your family with blank census and questionnaire forms. Print or email them out so close family and long-distance relatives can fill in gaps with everything they know about your ancestors, including birth and death dates, plus possible research leads and family anecdotes.
Legacy’s Guided Wizard Makes Tree Building a Snap
It’s easy to get your family tree blooming in a matter of minutes. The first time you load Legacy 9.0, it will walk you through creating your first family tree. You can also import data from an existing tree or another genealogy program, or from a FamilySearch account. It also features a sample file to help familiarize you with how the software works.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to automatically sync data between Legacy and AncestryDNA (yet). If you could easily transfer data, this would be a huge upgrade, given how Family Tree by Ancestry is by far the biggest and most popular site for DNA testing and family tree building. As of now, Family Tree Maker (formerly owned and developed by AncestryDNA, and currently owned by Software MacKiev) is the only program that lets you sync family trees and linked media files directly with Family Tree by Ancestry.
However, you can still upload and download family tree data manually from Legacy into AncestryDNA via a GEDCOM file. A quick primer on this technology: GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communications) is a universally-accepted file format developed by the LDS Church as an aid in genealogical research. GEDCOM files are compatible with many family tree software titles, making it easier for you to populate your own family tree and share your research with others.
Although the image below explains how to do this with Family Tree by Ancestry, you can swap family tree information with any program or website that supports GEDCOM files, including Legacy 9.0. This can save you countless hours of data entry, especially if you or someone else has already done the work elsewhere.
Fantastic Value for a Premium-Quality Product
You get a lot of value out of Legacy 9.0 Family Tree for the price. You can access all of the Deluxe features for less than $40. (Starting price: US$34,95)Honestly, it almost seems too cheap for what’s quite a premium product. Some of that savings may come from the fact that it’s available by digital download only, so there are no heavy books, packaging, or shipping costs to worry about. And, as mentioned earlier, you can access the Standard edition for as long as you’d like, for free.
Many top genealogy competitors – like Family Tree by Ancestry (US$100,00) or MyHeritage (US$0,00) – make you pay an ongoing monthly subscription to access the software and historical records databases. As you can probably imagine, this means that costs will quickly add up. Legacy is by far one of the cheapest options available because its Deluxe software is a one-time purchase (for each edition). If you own a previous edition of Legacy, you can also upgrade to Legacy 9.0 at a discounted price.
When you purchase the Deluxe edition software, you also get one year of unlimited access to the Family Tree Webinar library, including previous webinars with instructor handouts and webinar chat logs, plus a small discount off anything in the online store.
If you decide to go with Legacy 9.0 Family Tree, you can pay with any major credit card at checkout. The software can be accessed immediately following payment.
The Best in Help, Training, and Customer Support
Legacy really outdoes the competition with its outstanding customer support and help options. Although its website, like the software, looks a bit outdated, the organization and thoroughness of its knowledge base is top-notch.
While Legacy doesn’t offer phone support, you can reach out for help via social media, email, or by submitting a support ticket. You can also find common questions and answers in Legacy’s FAQ section.
I asked a couple of quick questions, first on Facebook, and I received a response within 15 minutes. (Sorry, there’s no set launch date for the 10th version of Legacy, but it is in the works.)
I also submitted a question via email. A support ticket number was issued to me right away, and I got a response within a few hours – and this was on a weekend. Very impressive! Unfortunately, I learned that the company doesn’t offer a CD version of the program, but I appreciated the quick answer.
If you’re still stuck, Legacy covers a lot of material in its YouTube tutorial videos. The Legacy website also links to user groups located around the world, plus you’ll find contact information for regional genealogy groups who are eager to help you online and in person. Legacy also offers subscriptions to its popular Legacy Family Tree Webinars, which features a massive library of genealogy videos by leading experts. It also offers regular live events and training, including free and low-cost events.
A Well-Rooted and Reasonably-Priced Family Tree Builder, but It’s Not Perfect
There are several great titles out there for family tree building, and Legacy 9.0 Family Tree is among the best.
If you compare Legacy Family Tree vs. RootsMagic, the latter wins for supporting both Windows and Mac systems. However, Legacy offers more features in the Standard version than RootsMagic’s free edition, and a Mac version is in the works now, too. Legacy supports more languages as well, including international versions of the software, while RootsMagic only supports English.
Unfortunately, without Unicode character support (Legacy claims this is due to programming language limitations), the program only works with Western European fonts. This leaves out users of Eastern European, Hebrew, Asian, and other non-Western European fonts. This could make it difficult for you to enter data or import/export GEDCOM files containing unsupported alphabets. Let’s hope they’re able to add Unicode support in a future edition of Legacy.
Between Legacy Family Tree vs. Family Historian, both let you create a variety of colorful and interactive charts, but only Legacy supports DNA charting along with clever extras like Family Tree BINGO cards, birthday and anniversary reminders, and reunion name tags.
What really makes Legacy shine above the rest is its vast library of online webinars that help you master the software and hone your skills as a genealogist. And best of all, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars and airline miles to create thoroughly-researched and slick-looking family trees you’ll be proud to show off. Sure, the interface looks a bit dated (let’s call it “retro chic”), yet it’s backed by over 20 years of hard work by the Legacy team.
Is Legacy Family Tree compatible with Ancestry.com?
Yes, and no. You can upload and download GEDCOM files between Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree by Ancestry. You can’t sync family tree data and media files directly from Legacy into Family Tree by Ancestry, but you can upload images and news snippets you’ve gathered in Legacy into your AncestryDNA account and then link them manually. You can also add a link to Family Tree by Ancestry to the built-in Legacy browser, which lets you search records and add information to your family tree without exiting the software.
Does Legacy Family Tree work with Mac?
Legacy is currently only 100% compatible with Windows computers. Since its recent acquisition by MyHeritage, the Legacy team has shifted focus toward creating a Mac version of the software. Until then, you can use Legacy on a Mac using a Windows emulator program.
When will Legacy Family Tree 10 be released?
The Legacy team has no official launch date planned for the 10th edition of its software, instead focusing on making it the best it can be. To keep track of updates, follow Legacy on its website and social media channels.
Which is better – Legacy Family Tree or MyHeritage?
When it comes to Legacy Family Tree vs. MyHeritage, it’s really up to you which software fits your needs and budget. MyHeritage now owns Legacy (which is maintained by the original Legacy team), plus it also offers its own free family tree builder software.
Legacy offers a lot more chart-building options, so if that’s your main focus, it might be the best option for you. Something else to keep in mind: MyHeritage Family Tree Builder is free to download, but you’ll have to pay for an ongoing MyHeritage membership to unlock all of its features. In comparison, you’ll only need to pay once to upgrade to Legacy 9.0 Family Tree’s fully-featured Deluxe edition.
How do I choose between Legacy Family Tree Standard vs. Deluxe?
If you’re just looking for the basics, Legacy 9.0 Family Tree’s free Standard edition is a great way to see if it’s a good fit for you. There are some limitations to the charts and data you can create and view in the Standard edition, yet the cost to upgrade is very reasonable compared to other family tree software.
Upgrading to the Deluxe edition unlocks 100+ advanced features, including expanded color-coding, timelines, customizable book reports, and enhanced research guidance. If you’re serious about family tree building, the Deluxe edition gives you everything you need, plus a whole lot more.