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Gedcom files, a guide to them....

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 15 Jan 2007 17:08

Gedcom files have been mentioned a lot recently, bo you know what they are and how to use them? See below for some basic info and advice.

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 15 Jan 2007 17:09

So a GEDCOM file is a handy way to quickly share your file (or a part of it) elsewhere via the internet.

Receiving a file

Those of you who don't have a software package will find some problems if you receive a file, you can't open a file as a "tree" but you can open a file as a text document in either Word or Notepad. However if you do so then you will find even a very small file is a long document and extremely difficult to understand.

One option you have is to upload the file to a site (eg GR) BUT if you do so your existing tree will be overwritten. This means that your existing tree on GR for example will no longer available to you.
An option is to have a second membership and view the tree with the second membership but this is not an ideal situation.

For those of you who do have a software package you have several options.
It is possible to keep the gedcom as a separate tree on your software or to 'merge' the gedcom file into your existing tree.

Note though that you should keep the files separate until you can verify how accurate the details are, better to do that than add a file of say 100 names with dubious/incorrect dates and places etc.


It is possible to verfiy parts of the gedcom and incorporate those parts whilst leaving the remaining unverified parts 'unmerged' if you need to.

You can also 'merge' any additional information from the file you wish, for instance notes for an individual can either be included in the merge or omitted, the same applies to census references and sources of information etc. Include those additional notes you wish to keep and exclude those that you do not want. Full details of how these can be included/omitted can be found with your software package.

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 15 Jan 2007 17:12

What is a GEDCOM? A GEDCOM file is a file used to transfer family history reseach between different programmes, computers, websites and researchers. GEDCOM files are not a 'tree' as such but can be used to create a printed tree when opened with software which can use the information they contain. They contain text only, images, photographs and census images etc will NOT be included in a GEDCOM file but the all important names, dates, relationships etc are included. How are they created? To create a GEDCOM you do not need a family tree programme installed, if for example you have a tree on GR then you can 'export' your tree from GR as a gedcom file to your hard drive. However if you wish to use the GEDCOM file you will need some software installed to allow you to 'open' the file in the first place. A GEDCOM from GR is sent as an e-mail attachment, without the additional software the file cannot be used but you can send the file to another site (such as tribal pages for example). This allows you to have a tree on another site without having to enter all the details manually. For those of you who do have a software programme you can create a GEDCOM from your software package, this file can be 'exported' (sent) from your computer to another site, or sent to someone else who you wish to share your research with. Additionaly software users can create a GEDCOM file of a specific part of their entire file, for instance you may wish to create a file for a distant relative based on your research into a specific surname within your tree and omit the names of unconnected branches.

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 15 Jan 2007 17:13

As mentioned above, a GEDCOM file can be used without a software package, but your best option is to use some form of software. For less than the cost of GR membership it is possible to buy a programme with all the bells and whistles, it will allow you to control what information you disclose to someone and allows you to withhold information about living relations or distant vranches if you wish.*****Update, check the price for the latest offers on software, typically the price is around the £10 mark but prices are subject to change******** Those who use software have the peace of mind that they can create a backup of their tree and view/print their tree without an internet connection and without relying on a third party as the only place to store your tree. Just think for the cost of a certificate YOU CAN ENSURE YOU NEVER LOSE YOUR TREE INFORMATION AND ALSO REMOVE THE PROBLEMS OF TREE VIEWS ETC. If GR were to 'lose' your tree there is no value attached to the tree, the months and years of work can vanish in moments and if you rtely solely on GR COULD YOU GET IT THE INFORMATION BACK EASILY? Spend the money, use the GEDCOMS and protect yourself against loss of information.


Liz Report 17 Jan 2007 22:37

Saving for reference - such useful info. many thanks, Liz

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 17 Jan 2007 22:55

Sarah If you don't have a programme like FTM then you will have to export your tree from whichever site(s) you have a tree saved. GR offer the export option, not sure about TP as i don't use it, Ancestry didn't offer an export facility but i think it is due soon. You export your tree from the site to your hard drive, BUT without a software package you can't access the information, all you could do is upload (send) it to another site (eg Ancestry or TP) If you do have a software programme (FTM or Family Historian are examples) then you can create a gedcom by using the software. Glen


Xxxxxx Report 18 Jan 2007 11:05

The PAF from the Latter Day Saints (LDS for short) is really very good. It is a free download, and if you also upgrade the 'companion' (and I had to phone them in usa) it will give you lots of trees and charts, with many variations. The non-upgraded one will only do three generations of a tree. It has a comprehensive and clear help section. Jennifer


Janet Report 18 Jan 2007 12:03

Glen Thanks for these tips because I have certainly struggled with GEDCOM. I have now copy and pasted into word for use at some future date. Janet


Louise Report 18 Jan 2007 12:38

Am saving this for future reference. Ta very much Gan Canny

Tenerife Sun

Tenerife Sun Report 19 Jan 2007 07:45

nudged for me later

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 19 Jan 2007 14:14

Sarah To create a gedcom in FTM 2005 simply follow these instructions 1. From the File menu, choose Export File, then select Entire File. Family Tree Maker displays the New Family File dialog box. 2. Click the Save as type drop-down list and select GEDCOM (*.GED). This is the last/bottom option on the list. In the File name field, you can either keep the name that Family Tree Maker suggests or type another name for your GEDCOM file. It is best if the name you choose is eight letters or less and has the extension .GED. For example, you could type myfamily.ged or smith.ged. 3. Click the Save in drop-down list and select the drive or folder where you want to save the GEDCOM file. When you are happy that the drive or folder is the place you want then click OK. 4 Click SAVE, another box opens, leave the settings as they are. then click OK.


Lancsliz Report 23 Jan 2007 00:31

Thanks. Filing. Liz

Her Indoors

Her Indoors Report 23 Jan 2007 07:29

Just answering the question about the PAF download. What you want is Personal Ancestral File v5.2. The accompanying PAF Companion program is very good (additional printed charts and reports), but the free version is of very limited functionality, and it is only really worth having if you buy the unlocking code from LDS for just a few dollars. PAF on its own is very good, easy to use and has never given me any problem whatever. FTM seems to have a stranglehold on the market. I bought a copy, couldn't see anything materially different or useful, and gave it away again, but FTM is the one everyone rates. I suspect there is some subliminal advertising of it on Ancestry's site: perhaps a FTM IS GOOD flashing for a fraction of a second every minute of so.


Blackswan Report 24 Jan 2007 00:15


Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 24 Jan 2007 15:55


Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 26 Jan 2007 21:12


** Cheggle

** Cheggle Report 26 Jan 2007 21:57

You can look out for Family Tree Maker being given away as a freebie - I got mine FREE with my sunday paper a while back (Sunday Times probably because that's what we usually have...). If you are in no great rush to get FTM straight away it can be worth waiting and keeping your eyes peeled! Cheryl :o)


Penny Report 26 Jan 2007 22:03

saving for later, thanks for explaining it so well!!


Linda Report 27 Jan 2007 06:35

Hi there, Is there any way to transfer our gedcom files (l have FTM 2005) to genes reunited? Havent put much in this site as l dont look forward to placeing all the info by hand once again. Regards, Linda


Rita Report 27 Jan 2007 17:46

n RIta