Family Tree Software for Novices and Experts Alike – FREE VERSION
RootsMagic 7 is a fairly easy-to-use software that allows you to build an extensive family tree, with as many relatives as you like.
Hints to matches from genealogy websites – MyHeritage and Ancestry – can provide extra information on family members, and help you further your research on your ancestors. However, accessing historical records will require a paid subscription.
A free basic version of the software – RootsMagic Essentials – is available, which is compatible with Windows and Mac OS. The Premium version offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try out all the features of RootsMagic, risk-free.
Read on to learn about my experience using RootsMagic 7, what I liked about the software, and what I found disappointing, so you can decide if it’s the right genealogy tool for you.
Try Before You Buy with the RootsMagic Free Version
You can try out some of the features of the genealogy software, with the free version, RootsMagic Essentials. The free download allows you to build an extensive family tree, which includes numerous details of relatives’ lives. Use your family tree to create a range of reports and charts with a single click.
Get up and running with your family tree quickly thanks to RootsMagic Essentials’ user-friendly interface. Features of RootsMagic Essentials include:
- Automatically search online for records that match relatives
- Add unlimited relatives to a family tree
- Attach media and import files to your family tree
- Search your family tree easily with the explorer screen
- Create a wide range of printable reports and charts
Downloading RootsMagic Essentials is easy. All I needed to do was visit the RootsMagic website, enter my name and email address, and hit the download button.
Roots Magic Essentials is tailored towards beginners, making it a great option for testing out the family tree software and making a start on your genealogy research.
If you enjoy the experience with the free version, you can upgrade to RootsMagic 7 Platinum, without losing any of your settings or data. The Platinum version has a bunch of extra features, including, but not limited to:
- WebSearch tool and access to Ancestry genealogy records.
- The ability to back up your files to Dropbox and Google Drive
- Editable timeline
- RootsMagic To-Go
- Create your own fact types
- Search for relatives based on genetic lines
Both the Essentials and Platinum versions of RootsMagic 7 are compatible with Windows (10, 8, 7, Vista, XP, and 2000) and Mac OS.
RootsMagic 7 Family Tree Builder Software – User-Friendly for Beginners
Downloading the roots magic software is easily done via the website. The software did take a while to download and install on my Windows computer, but that could be because my laptop is an older model.
Upon opening the software, you’re provided with a selection of links to guides for using RootsMagic, but what would have been more helpful would have been a sample project – like that provided by Family Historian – to see how to input information and what to expect.
Having said that, after experimenting with the software for 20 minutes, I found it to be intuitive and easy-to-use. You can input as many family members as you like and include over 50 default facts about each one.
Hints to potential matches to genealogy websites show up next to family members, but accessing records from MyHeritage and Ancestry requires paid subscriptions.
There were some issues I had with RootsMagic, the major drawback being the inability to add any really useful DNA information, which is an issue many other users have found when I’ve been researching online forums.
Additionally, in my opinion, the charts and reports are not very exciting to look at, and I found it quite labor-intensive to add images. However, you can create custom reports if you want to present your family history in a more exciting way.
5 Standout Features of RootsMagic 7
Find Your Family Online with the WebHints
With WebHints, RootsMagic automatically searches several genealogy sites – including FamilySearch, Ancestry, and MyHeritage – for possible matches to your relatives. They appear as light bulb icons next to a relative’s name and clicking on them opens a web browser with matching records. However, accessing records with Ancestry and MyHeritage requires a monthly subscription, which can be costly.
There is also an integrated WebSearch tool, which allows quick internet searches to find more family tree matches.
TreeShare for Ancestry
The recent release of RootsMagic 7.5 – a free update to RootsMagic 7 – includes TreeShare for Ancestry. This allows you to move data between your RootsMagic files and your personal online trees with Ancestry, including people, notes, events, pictures, source citations, and more between the two programs.
The partnership with Ancestry also allows RootsMagic users to easily collaborate by giving family members access to their online Ancestry tree. With the TreeShare features, any new changes to the family tree by any family member will be automatically synchronized to both the online tree and desktop RootsMagic version.
Work on Your Family Tree Anywhere with RootsMagic To-Go
You can take RootsMagic and your family tree wherever you go courtesy of RootsMagic To-Go. It allows you to copy the RootsMagic program and all your data onto a USB stick or external hard drive, so you can work on your family tree on any computer you like. Or you could pass your genealogy research to a family member, so they can fill in what they know about their branch of your family tree and hand it back to you.
This gives you the advantage of not having to purchase multiple downloads of RootsMagic to work on your family tree on different computers.
Discover and Correct Mistakes with Ease
With RootsMagic, you can be sure your family tree is as accurate as it can be. RootsMagic automatically analyzes all the data you input to identify any potential problems, mistakes, or inconsistencies in your family tree.
In the ‘Tools’ menu is a ‘Problem Search’ option, which shows you a list of any possible mistakes you’ve made when imputing data, as well as directing you to areas of further research where information is missing in your family tree.
There is also a DataClean tool, which allows you to fix issues with names and places. Don’t worry, it doesn’t happen automatically, you can review each change before it’s made, to prevent any mistakes.
Create a Wide Selection of Shareable Reports and Charts
RootsMagic 7 offers a wide selection of reports and charts that can be generated from your family tree. They include family group sheets, pedigree charts, relationship charts, photo trees, calendars, and seven styles of narrative reports with the sentences written for you. There’s also a custom report generator to create and share your own specialized lists.
Once you’ve created your reports, you can use the RootsMagic Publisher to combine multiple reports in a single document that can be downloaded or emailed to family members.
Building A Tree Starts Well, But Accessing Records is Costly
Getting started with RootsMagic 7 is easy. Using myself as the starting point of the tree, with the user-friendly software I had the beginnings of a family tree in less than an hour. The method to input family members is easy to get to grips with and you can add media and multiple facts to each relative.
It didn’t take long before I’d used up my personal knowledge of my relatives, but RootsMagic provides on-screen hints (as little lightbulbs) next to family members in the main workspace. Clicking on these links reveals potential matches to your relatives on the genealogy websites, MyHeritage and Ancestry. However, you need to pay for a subscription to access the records.
If you don’t have subscriptions, you can use the WebSearch tool to look for family history records online, from the likes of World Vital Records, Find My Past, Family Search, and search engines. I didn’t find much information of note that didn’t require a subscription, but it is handy that you can search the web within the RootsMagic program.
There are a few elements of the RootsMagic software that I really appreciated. Adding family members and information about their personal history is very easy. Plus, you can view a timeline of each individual on your family tree, complete with dates, locations, and when they connect to another family member.
I also found it really helpful that RootsMagic automatically analyzes your family tree for mistakes, inconsistencies, or areas where information is missing and compiles it into an editable list. This allows for an accurate family tree, as well as providing hints as to where further research is needed.
This big drawback to RootsMagic 7 is the inability to add DNA information. You can search for people based on genetic lines (mtDNA and Y-str), but there is no current option to enter Autosomal DNA results, which could unveil many potential relatives via genealogy sites.
One-off Download Cost, but Research Costs Extra
If you have exhausted all you can do with the free Essentials version, RootsMagic 7 Premium can be purchased through the website for a one-off cost of $29.99 for a download of the software.
An upgrade from a previous version of the software to the newest release will cost just $19.99. If you want a CD version of the software, you will need to pay extra shipping costs, which depends on your location.
RootsMagic offers a number of additional products on the website which may help you with your genealogy research. They can be purchased in a bundle with RootsMagic 7, for an overall saving, which is good if you’re serious about genealogy research.
While there are no subscription costs for RootsMagic, if you want to access historical records from MyHeritage or Ancestry to build your tree beyond your personal knowledge, you’ll need to pay the monthly fee. Unless you have extensive knowledge of your family history, it will be difficult to create an extensive family tree without a genealogy subscription.
So, this leads to the question: Is RootsMagic worth the cost? A one-off download cost offers good value-for-money, but if you want to access lots of historical records, you may be better off using the family tree software offered by MyHeritage, Ancestry, and others.
The good news is that RootsMagic does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for the Premium version, so you can try it out, risk-free. For physical orders, the product must be returned within 30 days of purchase to receive a refund (minus shipping costs). For download orders, a certificate of destruction must be printed, signed, and returned within 30 days of purchase.
Customer Service has Room for Improvement
If you need any help with the RootsMagic software, there is a large ‘Help’ section on the website, which includes links to YouTube tutorials, webinars, and guides. There are also links to user groups, forums, and social media pages, where you can connect with other RootsMagic users for advice and suggestions.
The website also has an ‘Online Support’ page, which features an extensive list of FAQs and solutions, which to be honest, I found a little overwhelming. I wanted to know more about the options to import DNA data as the RootsMagic support section provided no answers.
I decided to get in touch with customer services directly but found my options to do so were very limited. There are email and phone contact information available, but that is only for sales questions and phone orders. So, live chat support was my only option. However, this is only available Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm MST (Mountain Standard Time), which was not ideal for my location in the UK or if you need customer support on the weekend.
I sent an offline support ticket and it was over 36 hours before I received a response. However, the answer I received did clear up the confusion I had about imputing DNA information into my family tree.
It’s quite disappointing that there is no way to contact customer support outside Canadian business time, particularly as I was waiting a long time for a response, which would be frustrating if I was having a technical issue. Plus, technical support is only available to RootsMagic Premium users.
Offers All the Basics, But You May Need More
RootsMagic 7 is a good place to start in your family tree journey, especially as you can try the Essentials version of the software for free. The interface is intuitive and the software automatically searches all the information you input for potential mistakes and inconsistencies.
However, if you don’t have a great deal of knowledge about your ancestors, once you have filled in a few generations, your research will probably require additional resources. Hints to potential matches on genealogy sites are provided, but you will need subscriptions to MyHeritage and Ancestry to view historical records. This quickly increases the one-off cost of $29.99 for the software download.
You can add as many family members as you like to your tree, and create narrative reports of each member with the Timeline feature. Or you can import a previous GEDCOM file to produce a wide range of shareable reports and charts from your family tree.
Overall, RootsMagic 7 is a good choice if you’re creating a family tree for the first time as you can try out the premium version of the software risk-free, thanks to a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, there is definite room for improvement in the quality of the charts, customer service, and the inability to add DNA information.
FindMyPast is a better choice if you’re serious about investigating your family history, and the subscription prices are fair, considering the number of historical records you can access.
Is there a RootsMagic App?
Yes, a RootsMagic app is available to download on your Android and iOS devices, for FREE. The app is compatible with your actual RootsMagic files, so no conversion is needed. However, the app is designed as a companion to RootsMagic – not as family tree software – so you can view your family tree on the move.
Can I chart my family tree for free with RootsMagic?
Yes, thanks to the free version of the family tree software, RootsMagic Essentials. Although you don’t get to access all the features of the premium version, you can still build a family tree with as many relatives as you like. Plus, there is no time limit for RootsMagic Essentials, which is a major bonus over the free trials offered by other family tree builders.
Additionally, if you decide to upgrade to the Premium version, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try out the full range of features, risk-free.
Do I have to pay for an upgrade when RootsMagic 8 is released?
RootsMagic 8 is not currently available for purchase. However, every copy of RootsMagic 7 comes with a free registration key for RootsMagic 8 for when it is released. So yes, if you purchase RootsMagic 7 today, your upgrade to version 8 will be free.
Can I share my RootsMagic family tree?
There are a number of ways you can share your RootsMagic family tree with relatives and friends. From your family tree, you can create a wide range of charts, reports, maps, and books that can be printed or downloaded onto CDs and USBs. Plus, you can also publish your family tree online as a website, to easily share your genealogy research with relatives all over the world.
Should I subscribe to a genealogy website?
There are some web records you can access online for free, which can help with your research into your family tree. However, you may find your research can only go so far without access to the vast quantity of historical records that are available through genealogy sites.
I recommend subscribing to Ancestry which has access to over 27 billion historical records and offers a free two-week trial.