2018 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2018-03-17

Don's Freeware Corner notes are printed in the UTAH VALLEY TECHNOLOGY AND GENEALOGY GROUP (UVTAGG) Newsletter TAGGology each month and are posted on his Class Notes Page at  where there may be corrections, updates, and additions.


RootsTech 2018 in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City just concluded with more than 200 classes given and the pdf handouts for them available to everyone, whether you attended RootsTech or not.  These are a major source of family history information for everyone.  My last month's Freeware Corner article (Feb 2018) described a method of how anyone can download any or all of the RootsTech 2018 handouts and the handouts are still online so you can still download them, even though the conference has finished.  This Freeware Corner article (Mar 2018) is what to do with all the handouts to help you in the future.  We will discuss forming an electronic database so they are findable, usable, and searchable.  This will also apply to pdfs from other conferences and to scanned articles.  Some people print hardcopies of the papers they think might be useful later, but my experience is that I can't find the ones I've printed later, so I've developed an electronic system.  Besides making them more usable, they don't take up any space on my shelves and are available wherever I happen to be.


Family history conferences now give the registrants a flash drive with the pdfs on it or give them a link online where they can download the handouts.  They used to give hardcopy printouts and then started giving CDs with all the papers.  Most conferences still sell hard copy books of the notes, if you want to buy one.  For example, RootsTech 2018 this year sold the hardcopy book of about 650 pages with all the papers for $50.  When attending a class, I like to have a hard copy of the handout so I don't have to take careful notes and can mark or write added things to follow up on later.  But, after the conference, the hardcopy books take up too much space on my shelves and I can't remember which book had the information when I'm looking for it.  Several years ago I developed a system of labeling and keeping the records in electronic form so I can find what I am looking for.  This "How-To" database has been growing and is very helpful.  I also include scans of article from the two genealogy magazines to which I subscribe.  The key is making the articles findable and searchable.  I call this my Family History How-To Collection.


The pdfs from RootsTech conferences have prefixes like GS####, RT####, etc.  These codes mean the following:  GS = Getting Started, RT = RootsTech, FDD = Family Discovery Day, and LDS = Mormon.  The numbers identify the class.  Here are a couple of handout titles from RootsTech 2018.

RT0290-Wilkins-Organizing and Preserving Photograph Collections.pdf

With just their titles you can sometimes tell which ones you need, but to have them sort in order, I add additional code words, the author's full name, and where the paper came from.  Here are my augmented titles of the above papers.

FH-WEBSITES-RECORDS--GS6515-MortonSunny-HowtoFindandUseHistoricalRecordsontheGiantGenealogyWebsites-- RootsTech2018.pdf
FH-PHOTOS-ORGANIZE--RT0290-WilkinsAri-Organizing and Preserving Photograph Collections-- RootsTech2018.pdf

The FH- at the start tells me it is a How-To genealogy paper and the occasion and date at the end lets me know where and when it was given.  The other keywords and the author's full name make it so I can easily find all papers with that subject matter or by that author.  Many times the title of a paper does not describe what it contains, so the keywords are needed.  The keywords and author's full name have to be entered by hand, but can be done easily using FILE EXPLORER with the Preview Panel open so you can see the pages of the pdf and rename it without opening it.  The terms FH- and RootsTech2018 can be added to the entire collection all at once by using the freeware program BULK RENAME UTILITY available from .  With these enlarged titles the papers will alphabetize by their main subjects and that may be enough to find what you are looking for.  More specific title searches are easily done using the freeware program EVERYTHING described below.


Once the files have their names completed they can all be moved into a single folder with previous papers.  The entire database can now be examined immediately for papers of a main topic by just noting where the main keywords alphabetize.  A more detailed search in the titles can be done using the extremely helpful and free program EVERYTHING.


This free program EVERYTHING is available from  and has the ability to search for any words or characters in the titles of all files on your entire computer, not just in one folder.  Note that it searches titles, not the text in the files.  Other programs will do that.  Using EVERYTHING, even if the files are not in the same folder, they will show up in the results.  For example, to find all files that are How-To's of using censuses, you can search for the terms  FH- and census in EVERYTHING.  If you want all papers by a particular person, just search for FH- and their name.  If you want just papers from recent years, include the years in the search terms.  The search results show all the files from anywhere on your computer and in alphabetical order by the keywords since they follow the FH-.  Papers from elsewhere on your computer can all be moved into a single folder by highlighting them in EVERYTHING and drag-and-dropping them to a particular folder.  You will see their path change in EVERYTHING, but the names will remain where they were in the results list.


There are programs, many free, that will search for text in all files of a collection.  One such program is ASTROGREP from .  You select a folder and search for any text in any file in that folder and its subfolders.  Keep in mind that searching for text in a collection of files will probably take much longer than searching for file titles, since there is so much more text to be searched.  But such programs can be used to find the files containing any text you are looking for and they are easily used if you have all your How-To collection in one folder.


Another option is to copy the entire collection of How-To files into an EVERNOTE notebook.  EVERNOTE is a note taking program available from  with free and commercial versions.  Files can be drag-and-dropped into notes in a notebook in EVERNOTE, but it is much easier to just highlight the whole collection in FILE EXPLORER, EVERYTHING, or other file manager program, right click, and Send To EVERNOTE.  The Send To EVERNOTE option will be in your Context Menu (the right-click menu) once EVERNOTE is installed on the computer.  This puts each pdf into a single note into the EVERNOTE notebook you had open and only takes a minute or so to copy in several hundred files.  Once the pdfs are in EVERNOTE every word in them will be indexed so they are every-word searchable.  The commercial versions of EVERNOTE index the files immediately, but the free version waits until late at night so the every-word index isn't available to you until the next day.  But the index remains, even in the free version, so later searching doesn't take very long.


Using such a "How-To" database can be a real help whenever you need information about some task or someone asks you a question or you are preparing a class.  It takes time to form the file, but like so many things, it may end up saving you time in the long run.  Because of copyright restrictions of the papers, it would not be appropriate for you to post your How-To database nor even share it too far.  For my own use I find this collection very helpful.