2019 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2019-02-19

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 2019 will be held in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah, from 27 Feb-2 Mar 2019 and the class papers were posted online in Jan 2019. This is the only genealogy conference I have heard of that makes these available for anyone to read and download, whether they will be attending the conference or not. However, this is also the only genealogy conference I have heard of that charges the attendees for a flash drive with the papers on it, if they want one. The cost is $15 and attendees can order it when they register. It will not be mailed in advance, even though they are mailing the name badges, so you have to pick it up at the registration desk at the conference. The class notes papers are available to everyone now, but only on a mobile device and not on a computer. Since most of us older genealogists use computers and not mobile devices as much, I have worked out a way to download the papers with a smartphone or tablet and then move them to your computer and that's what this Freeware Corner article is about. Regarding the availability of the papers, here is a note from the RootsTech 2019 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions): "The syllabus is available only through our mobile app for Apple or Android. There is not a desktop version." But even if we use mobile devices, most of us also want them on our computers to be able to work with them. The procedure discussed here is to first download the papers to a mobile device and then upload them to your computer. It's a lot of work and  takes 8-10 hours, if you want to get the entire collection, but it does work. There are more than 250 classes and it appears to me that about 90% have class notes, pdf papers.  I wish the other 10% had notes, since a few of those look interesting to me.
These papers are called "Resources" and "Handouts".  In earlier years RootsTech has had the papers available to download easily on computers, but the last two or three years they have only had them for mobile devices. Since it would be very easy for them to post the pdfs on their website, and several of us have suggested this in the past, they must have a reason for making it so hard for us to have a computer copy now.


On a mobile device you first download the RootsTech 2019 app from whatever app store you use. This is free whether you will be attending the conference or not. The app is the same that they have used for the last couple of years, but is updated with this year's schedule and program. There are icons for the daily schedules, Wed, Thurs, Fri, and Sat, a list of the speakers in alphabetical order, and lots more. When you find a class you are interested in and want to see what the speaker will be presenting, click the title and you'll see the name of the speaker, a short write-up about the class, keywords associated with that topic, and, way down at the bottom, Resources, which means Handouts. As mentioned above, about 90% of the classes have handouts and it would be nice if they all did.


When you see Resources - Handouts(1), that means there is a handout for that class. The (1) means there is one handout for that class. A few have (2) or more handouts and these are usually classes with more than one presenter. To see the handout(s) you have to have it downloaded on your mobile device. You do this by tapping on the title of the paper in the Resources box. You are presented with options such as Download it, Email it, etc. If you only want one of two papers, you could email them to yourself. I wanted the entire collection, so emailing them didn't seem like a good option for me, sincer I would have had to type my email address for each handout. So I first downloaded them.  Now, when you go back to the Handouts box and click the title again, you see a new option, Open it. Clicking this option you are asked what program you want to use to open it. I usually click the Drive PDF viewer so, when the file is open in that viewer, at the top I see an icon for Google Drive. It's the ribbon-folded-in-a-triangle icon. Before starting this whole procedure I formed a folder on my Google Drive on my computer called RootsTech2019, so clicking that folded-ribbon icon and selecting that folder, I could save the pdfs in it. After saving the pdf to Google Drive, you can press the back-arrows to go back up to the schedule and find the next class you are interested in and repeat the process. With this process you now have the papers in Google Drive in the "cloud", but available to download to your computer or any other device where you can get to Google Drive.


There are 241 papers that I now have in my Google Drive folder. I have probably lost a few in the process and sometime I will take time to go back and check against the original RootsTech 2019 schedule. To get them from Google Drive onto my computer I copied them out one-by-one. I first tried to download the entire folder and it started making a zip file of the entire folder, but then quit and said it failed, probably because it was too large. Next time I'll try putting them into several folders with 40-50 papers in each, so they would be smaller.  That would probably allow me to zip each folder and download that collection and would be much faster.  


The papers this year don't have the session number identification in the title of the files, nor even the author's name in some cases, so to find the one for a particular session, you have to search for the title and hope the paper title is close to the session title. Sometime I will probably take time to rename the files to include the author's name and a few topic keywords, since the title doesn't always indicate the paper's content. It would also be of interest to analyze the topics covered. This year there aren't as many topics that I am interested in and it seems to me that some topics are almost completely left out; for example, sound and audio in family history. The paper selection obviously reflects the interests of the organizing committee and, hopefully, the interests of those who attend. An interesting project would be to analyze the topics in each of the past RootsTechs.

After downloading by this process, each of the pdfs for this year is every-word searchable. If you know the file you are interested in, you can open it in whatever pdf reader you use and read and search the file that way. Or you could put your entire collection into one large pdf file, which would then be searchable, but would be unwieldy. To find all papers discussing a particular topic you need a way to search all pdfs in a folder and there are such free programs. A simple way to be able to search through the entire collection is to put them in the free program EVERNOTE which indexes them for you. To do this open a notebook in EVERNOTE, highlight all the pdf files you want to copy into EVERNOTE, right-click, and "Send To" EVERNOTE. Each file goes into a separate note in the notebook you had open in EVERNOTE. For the free version of EVERNOTE you have to wait until after midnight for them to be indexed, but for the paid versions, they are indexed immediately and then are completely searchable.


This year RootsTech 2019 is also broadcasting 15 or more talks for a fee, besides the free live-streamed ones. As I recall, the fee is $129 and you have to register to be able to watch those additional classes. I haven't checked them, but I imagine that the papers for both sets of online talks are in the downloadable collection.


This is the procedure that I have worked out and there are probably other ways to get the papers on your computer, so if you find an easier way, please let me know. Since I am interested in the entire collection, not just a few of the papers, it has taken me many hours to go through this process, but now I have a major collection that will help me in the future. I have also developed a system of naming files so that I can find particular topics in my family history "HowTo" collection, but that's the subject for another article. With the downloaded collection you can use them without being connected to the internet, so if you are attending the conference in the Salt Palace where the internet is "flaky", it seems like a good idea to have them all downloaded before you go.