Site Map

Family Tree Builder Ver. 5

Tony Bandy examines the newest version of MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder (page 16 Aug/Sept 2011)

With a bit of the old and a lot of the new, 2011 has seen the release of Family Tree Builder 5.0. Produced by MyHeritage, this new version introduces updates, such as the family tree consistency checker, fields for recording DNA results and more. Testing it on my latest family research project, it proved to be very stable and quite usable. If you are new to family research or even an experienced pro, there’s a lot to like with this latest iteration. Let’s take a look at some details!

About MyHeritage
For those of you who might be new to family research or just unaware of the program, Family Tree Builder is offered by MyHeritage, Since its origins in 2003, MyHeritage has continued to grow and expand, recently acquiring several family networks and social media companies in Europe, as well as becoming a major online genealogy destination and resource. With over 700 million user profiles and 55 million members, this is no small site!
Perhaps known best for their online facial recognition and celebrity matching service available at http://celebrity.myheritage
, the Family Tree Builder software offered by MyHeritage bridges the gap between the local user and the web-based world that seems to be transforming our family research. For more details about the company and their approach to genealogy, try the following online interview by TechCrunch at

Overview: What’s New?
With any new edition of software comes both improvements and updates, and Family Tree Builder is no exception. Besides the previously mentioned family tree consistency checker, additional pieces include customized export reports, project restoration options, and “To-Do” lists, just to name a few. While I will talk about a few of these, a more detailed examination can be found online at:

Available as a free download from the MyHeritage website at, it’s easy to acquire the program without purchasing any packaged software or CD installation disks. At around 24mb, the installer isn’t too large to carry on a USB flash drive or even download via dial-up if you are not on a broadband Internet connection.

For Windows computers only, the program includes two levels of installation: basic and premium. Essentially the same software, the advanced (or premium) version contains all of the features of the basic edition plus extra features, such as Smart Matching (mentioned later in this review), larger-sized online family website, and extra charting capabilities. These different options, as well as additional MyHeritage subscription information, can be found at

Being a new Mac user, I looked for any hint of an OSX version of the program, but did not see one available. MyHeritage does, however, mention using the online portal as an available option. For more information, try this link,

Downloading and installation of the software on my Windows 7 laptop and Windows Vista desktop was easy with few issues or problems, and seemed faster and more streamlined than in earlier editions. I did not see the MyHeritage toolbar or the MyHeritage homepage options that were present in 4.0.

After installation, I was asked to register to use the program and then chose my primary and secondary languages, a handy thing to have, especially if your ancestors may have come from another country. In fact, Family Tree Builder supports 37 different languages in the software (and online).

As a final step in the process, the Family Tree Builder software automatically offers to back up your family information to MyHeritage online. I chose not to only because I have local backup options, but if you are looking to keep your family information safe from disaster or other problems, this might be an avenue for investigation.

Using Family Tree Builder 5.0 for the first time, I found the layout similar in nature to the preceding versions, with rows of program options at the top and work areas to the bottom of the application. Entering family data and media, I found the program options at the top time saving, as it gave me quick access to these highly used features.

The rest of the display is given over to the main working area where you will be adding data and working with your family tree. Here, customization is king and you can adjust the area to best fit your research style with collapsible panes to the left and right and a toggle for full-screen, making maximum use of your monitor. If you have a wide-screen display or even multiple displays, this can quickly help you increase your efficiency and speed research along.

Ready, Set, GO!
If you are new to family history or genealogy software in general, starting a new research project can be intimidating! Who do you start with? How do you import old projects? How do you link your photos, movies and other forms of media?

I found Family Tree Builder makes getting started easy with options ranging from starting a new project to working with existing projects to import options from other programs.

While perhaps this is not unique, Family Tree Builder also includes a sample project as part of the installation. This is a great way to see family information in the tree, as well as helping to get a workflow going for your own project. Viewing it only takes a few moments and it even includes media files that you can modify and use... to see the rest of this article, subscribe now and request to start with this issue!