Copyright 2013 by Donald R. Snow
Sections of the Notes This page was last updated 2013-11-25.
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  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( of Provo and St. George, Utah. 
  2. These notes with the active Internet links are posted on .
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  4. This class will discuss and demonstrate some programs that are freeware for genealogy and family history.
    1. "Freeware" means completely free with no "nag" screens; can use freely and give copies to anyone else.
    2. "Shareware" means that if you plan to use it regularly, you should send a specified donation (usually small) to the author at the address given in the program.
    3. "Portable" means the program can be run from a flashdrive and doesn't have to be installed on the computer, so you can use it at home or at a FHC or anywhere else 
    4. "App" means application, i.e. software; the term is used more often with mobile devices
    5. "Open Source" means freeware including the source code, so you can edit it, if you know programming.
  5. Video -- The Best Things In Life Are Free -- made with the freeware PhotoFilmStrip program (#45 on the ANNOTATED LIST below).
  6. Most of the programs on the ANNOTATED LIST are freeware and many could be listed in two or more categories.  The websites to download them are given.  These will be illustrated with live demos and with PowerPoints.


  8. Version 5.3 was the last freeware version and is still available; later versions are not free
  9. Does screen captures to various formats, pdf, jpg, tif, gif, and others
  10. Also has a print option if you want to print it directly; very helpful for printing copies of things like census records where the website print doesn't work
  11. Has several capture options including full screen, rectangles, active window, and is one of the few free programs that will capture scrolling windows
  12. Has options to capture manually or at specified intervals with automatic naming of files; also has option to include captions on your screenshots
  13. I use this for capturing photos, information, and documents from my computer screen so I can save and/or print them; for example, I do a screenshot of things I order online; if I need a printed copy sometime, I can make one from the screenshot.

  15. Extremely helpful for file management to find files, run, copy, move, rename, organize
  16. Finds files on your entire hard drive, even if you have forgotten where you put them
  17. Builds an index which it updates; uses this to find files immediately when you type in any characters that are in the title of the file -- can set it so that search terms are highlighted in file names
  18. Works better if you have a systematic way of naming your files, e.g. I use "--YYYY-MM-DD" after the title so the files all sort in alphabetical order with the latest at the bottom and I can evenn search by date this way
  19. I use this in tandem with a program like Windows Explorer to drag-and-drop files to organize them into the right folders on my computer.
  20. Q-DIR (#17 on ANNOTATED LIST)

  21. Multi-panel file manager that works like having several copies of Windows Explorer open at once
  22. Makes moving or copying files much easier
  23. Can be set to show up to 4 panels in various arrangements; each panel is independent, so you can show the same or different directories in each
  24. Can drag-and-drop from one panel to any other
  25. Also has an option to print a directory list of files in a folder

  27. Simple renamer for photo files
  28. Takes the metadata (date and time) from inside the photo file and puts them in front of the file name; makes it so that they sort in chronological order and are easy to find
  29. You need to be sure that the date and time are set correctly on your digital camera so the metadata inside the photo is correct
  30. Helps you find photos if you know the date or approximate date you took them
  31. When organizing photos from several cameras, this allows all photos taken of the same event to sort together in chronological order, but requires that each camera have date and time set correctly on it
  32. Can add more identifying information in file name, but add it after the date and time

  34. Is a much more complete bulk file renamer and is therefore much more complex
  35. Allows global searching and replacing in file names, removing or inserting characters, removing given numbers of characters starting after a given number of characters, etc.
  36. Shows the changed file names before you actually do the name change so you can check them to be sure that's the way you want
  37. Allows adding sequential numbering, changing parts of the names, etc.
  38. I use it after scanning documents at the FHC where I change the Lexmark scanner file names "Scanned Image-###.[ext]" to "Scanned-YYYY-MM-DD-###.[ext]]; I then save the hardcopy documents to keep in a file folder named "Scanned YYYY-MM-DD" so I can find the physical documents later.

  40. Makes "Ken-Burns"-type videos of your digitized still photos -- "Ken-Burns"-type has views that move around in the still image
  41. You select the photos you want to include and any music or soundtrack you want with it
  42. You select the aspect ratio (width vs height) you want, the the beginning and ending views and length of time to display each photo, and captions you want; also has some additional effects you can select for the transitions between photos
  43. When ready, you finish by "rendering" the video in desired format, e.g. Medium quality up to Full Screen High Definition

  45. Be careful when downloading fnd installing freeware -- Read before clicking -- Some companies try to trick you into downloading and installing programs you don't really want (bloatware)
  46. Many freeware programs are better than the corresponding commercial programs.
    1. -- Lists freeware that works like commercial programs
    2. -- Finds open source alternatives to commercial programs
  47. Free Apps -- -- you select the freeware programs you want from a list and it installs all of them for you
  48. Portable Apps -- -- contains several good freeware apps and allows them to run from your flash drive so you can take them with you
  49. Many additional freeware and shareware programs
    1. -- Categories of freeware
    2. -- Article and list of open source freeware
    3. -- List of freeware
    4. -- The Free Software Foundation
    5. -- The largest open source software (freeware) development site
    6. -- Old Versions of software
    7. -- Old Apps - older versions of freeware and some commercial apps
  50. To find many more such websites do a Google search for terms like "genealogy freeware" or "free software for family history" without the quotes)

  52. There are lots of free computer programs that are very helpful in family history and the Annotated List below may help you find some.



  1. PAF 5.2 -- -- Still a useful program and free, but no longer available to download from the; all earlier versions of PAF are on the CD from the LDS Church Distribution Centers and many FHCs have copies; all the programs install in Windows so you can use them to convert old PAF files to GEDCOM to import into other programs 
  2. Ancestral Quest -- -- Has a free version (Ancestral Quest Basics), as well as a 60-day free trial of full version; can be used to link to and download from new FamilySearch; full version is free to use in FHC's
  3. RootsMagic -- -- Has a free version (RootsMagic Essentials); can be used to download from new FamilySearch; full version is free to use in FHC's
  4. Legacy -- -- Has a free version (Standard version); full version is free to use in FHC's
  5. Get My Ancestors -- -- Freeware to download ancestors and descendants from new FamilySearch -- Ohana Software also makes Family Insight to link your PAF database to new FamilySearch, commercial, but free to use in FHC's
  6. Family Tree Builder -- -- Free genealogy program, includes facial recognition program
  7. Smart Genealogy -- -- Free genealogy program; can import/export Excel and GEDCOM files


  8. Record Seek (Tree Connect) -- -- Very helpful to form and save sources for you in your FamilySearch Family Tree account
  9. TreeSeek -- -- Makes fan and other type charts from your FamilySearch Family Tree data
  10. GENViewer Lite -- -- free and commercial versions; very fast and helpful to read and analyze GEDCOM's and databases from several genealogy programs
  11. OurTimelines -- -- Free website that makes timelines of world events during your ancestor's life; can be personalized with up to 10 events of your own ancestor's life; can as pdf or html file and link it into your genealogy program
  12. OnePageGenealogy -- -- freeware to make large pedigree/descendant pdf charts from GEDCOM's; website has the password needed so a print shop can print it for you
  13. Maps of United Kingdom parishes
    1. -- maps, parishes, jurisdictions, helps
    2. Parish Locator -- -- Program and database of 15,000 parishes in the United Kingdom; draws maps with nearby parishes
    3. Parish Locator for Windows -- -- Program and database of 25,000 parishes in the United Kingdom
  14. Addnote -- -- free utility to add a note to every record in a GEDCOM
  15. Addsour -- -- free utility to add a source to every record in a GEDCOM

  17. Everything -- -- Very fast desktop search program for files on your computer; very helpful to search, launch, and organize files on your computer
  18. Q-Dir -- -- Freeware two or more panel Windows Explorer-type program for file maintenance such as checking, copying, moving, and deleting files
  19. Bulk Rename Utility -- -- Very good batch file renamer; shows the new file names before actually changing them; lots of renaming features so it takes getting used to
  20. Oscar's File Renamer -- -- Good batch file renamer; shows the new file names before actually changing them
  21. Namexif -- -- Simple renamer for digital photos that puts date and time from metadata at start of file name, so alphabetizing arranges photos in chronological order; can add other descriptive terms after the date and time
  22. Glary Utilities --  -- Helpful computer utilities to keep your computer running smoothly; free for home use
  23. BelArc Advisor -- -- Utility to list your computer's hardware, software, and license keys
  24. Dropbox -- -- Synchronizes to your other computers via the Internet whatever you put in your Dropbox folder 
  25. FileSeek -- -- Free and fast search engine for text inside files on your computer
  26. DupKiller -- -- Fast program to find all the duplicate files on your computer
  27. Piriform Defragler -- -- Good defragger for your hard drives
  28. Advanced SystemCare Free --  -- Helpful computer utilities
  29. JustZipIt -- -- Simple zip/unzip file compression program
  30. WinHTTrack -- -- Will download all or part of an entire website for backing up and offline browsing 
  31. PageNest Free -- -- Website copier for offline reading and backing up
  32. Ditto -- -- OpenSource freeware clipboard extender to have more than one item on the clipboard; highly rated
  33. Resoph Notes -- -- Freeware notes program that acts like a clipboard extender
  34. Clipboard Magic -- -- Clipboard extender; saves multiple clip items and can save to various clip lists
  35. PhraseExpress -- -- Freeware program that expands phrases as you type the first few letters
  36. Karen's Replicator -- -- Freeware to backup your data from one location to another
  37. ImgBurn -- -- Freeware CD/DVD image burner with instructions
  38. LogMeIn Free -- (listed under Products) -- Allows you to control one computer through another over the Internet

  40. FastStone Capture -- version 5.3 is last freeware version (later versions are shareware) -- -- Excellent screen capture utility that allows saving in jpg, pdf, tif, and other formats; also captures entire scrolling screens
  41. FastStone Image Viewer -- -- Good image viewer that also has screen capture features, but not scrolling screen captures
  42. Irfanview -- -- Photo editor, converter, and slide shower; many features, including batch conversions
  43. Picasa 3 -- -- Google's free photo organizer and editor; has facial recognition feature to help you organize and name people in photos
  44. GIMP -- -- Open source photo editor -- GIMPShop is an interface that makes GIMP menus look and act like PhotoShop

  46. Audacity -- -- Excellent sound recorder and editor; complicated program, but basics are easy to use
  47. WavePad -- -- Sound recorder and editor
  48. PhotoFilmStrip -- -- Click on the "en" (upper right-hand side) for English; very good free program to make "Ken Burns" style videos of your photos; can include a soundtrack
  49. VLC -- -- Good media player, has adjustments to synchronize sound and video when they don't match
  50. Skype -- -- Free program to talk through your computer and the Internet - free to talk to other Skype users worldwide, small charge to talk to any land or cell phone worldwide; requires a broadband connection
  51. Listen N Write Free -- -- plays audio, starts, stops, backs up, or goes forward with key strokes to help in transcribing

  53. Evernote -- -- Freeware note program; synchronizes your notes between computers and stores your notes online so you can get to them anywhere you can get to the Internet; notes can be text, images, URL's, or webpages; has OCR indexing for pdf's; has apps for mobile devices
  54. Essential PIM -- -- Freeware personal information manager (PIM); good for appointments, calendars, To Do lists, etc.
  55. TreePad Lite -- -- Freeware note and personal information manager (PIM), uses tree-format
  56. Notetab Lite -- -- Freeware note program
  57. Jarte -- -- Small, very fast, free text editor that handles txt and rtf
  58. LibreOffice -- -- Powerful open source freeware office suite compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; updated more often than Apache OpenOffice -- -- which is similar 
  59. IBM Lotus Symphony office suite -- -- Free and compatible with MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  60. Gnumeric spreadsheet --  -- Open source spreadsheet compatible with Excel and many others
  61. NotePad++ -- -- Very good open source text editor; useful for many formats
  62. Transcript -- -- Helps in transcribing digitized handwritten documents, keeps image and your typed text in sync as you move down the page
  63. Adobe Reader X -- -- Free reader for pdf files
  64. PDF X-Change Viewer -- -- free for private use, very helpful to edit and annotate pdf's; can fill in pdf forms; now will do OCR (Optical Character Recognition) of pdf's
  65. PDF Split and Merge -- -- Open source program to split or combine pdf files
  66. Nitro PDF Reader -- -- Good pdf reader with lots of features
  67. JOCR -- -- Freeware optical character recognition program for images of text on screen - small, fast, and works well, but requires that MS Word 2003 or later be installed (doesn't work with OpenOffice)
  68. Tinyspell -- -- Spell checker that works even in genealogy program notes
  69. Thunderbird Email -- -- Free open source email reader with many helpful features

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