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Gedcom files, a guide to them....

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Catherine Report 11 Mar 2008 03:20

Hi Glen
I am so sorry to be bothering you but I am still having problems with opening the gedcom which has come as an e-mail attachment from gr. as you said it would, I attempt to save it but once done I put my cursor on it and the file size is 0 !!!. which is why when I try to open it in FTM i get nothing coming up.? what am I not doing/doing wrong ?
When I put my cursor on it whilst still in the `e-mail programme` before saving it,the size is 140 kb. which I thought was a bit small ( I have over 700 people with details too) ? can you help me to get this right as I need to make a back-up if nothing else.


Catherine Report 10 Mar 2008 22:18

Thankyou to all of you,I have been reading the thread and have learned so much from you. It has helped me greatly in my own stuggles with gedcom and I am certain many others will feel the same.
Special thanks to Shiela for asking the questions !!!!


KeithInFujairah Report 10 Mar 2008 20:20

nudged up the board for Kenneth.

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 17 Feb 2008 14:22

I have sent you a message (pm=private mesage) through Genes with my e-mail address, it saves me having to put it on the board for everyone to see.

All you need to do is send the grdcom file as an attachment to my e-mail address and then we can hopefully see what is going on.

There is a useful screenshot guide to creating a gedcom with FTM on another site, it shows step by step how to create a gedcom, what you will see onscreen and what you need to do ;


Sheila Report 17 Feb 2008 13:32

Hi Glen,
O.K, I know you think I am thick but what do you mean by 'pm your e-mail'?
I think once you have checked out why I am having problems sending my GEDCOM file using your FTM and we can determine what it is I am doing wrong then I will delete all my attempts' and make a new one with all the stuff I have since added if that makes sense. At the moment I can't see the wood for the trees so to speak. And that way I will only have one to find.



Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 17 Feb 2008 10:02

Hi Sheila

You can make a new gedcom file at any time, any new information you have added to your tree will be included.

You can have as many gedcom files as you wish on your computer at any one time but to make it easier i would recommend that each time you create a newer updated version you delete at least some of the earlier ones AND make sure you give each one a distinct name to help you identify them.

As an example i have four at the moment, each one is named differently (Jan10th.GED is an earlier version than Feb14th.GED for example).

Regarding the overwriting;

If you upload a gedcom to a site such as Genes, Tribal Pages or Ancestry then whichever file you upload will be the one displayed as a tree and it simply "overwrites" (replaces) the information you had there before.

It is for that reason i stress making the names easy to identify, there is nothing more frustrating than having a new gedcom file and uploading an older version by mistake. Gedcom files on your computer won't affect what is displayed on a site, it is only when you upload a file to a site that any changes to the tree displayed will occur.

I'll pm you my e-mail addy.



Sheila Report 17 Feb 2008 09:27

That's fine. I have no skeletons (unfortunately,it might have made it easier to trace people!) If it doesn't work then I shall just use TB for research. I need to add my dad's side eventually so I have stuff I can be doing. Pergaps I was being too adventurous and should have stuck to GR.
Another question if I may. If say in a few weeks time I wish to make another GEDCOM file (always assuming I'm not too thick to do it) would that over ride an old one?

Many thanks for your help


Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 16 Feb 2008 21:40

That is the right icon for the file, as long as it is definately that file you are sending it should be ok.

I'm at a loss really, do you want to e-mail it to me and see if it opens on my FTM? At least that way we will know if the problem lies with your export (sending options) or the importing (receiving) by Tribal Pages.

I only need to see if the file opens but if you would rather not send it then i understand.



Sheila Report 16 Feb 2008 21:18

I am able to open my tree on FTM. My tree has its roots in a bag! I have tried to send it again but still zilch.
Sorry for being so stupid


Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 16 Feb 2008 10:27


The file should have the bare root tree icon yes?

The GEDCOM files GR creates are based on an older version of GEDCOM than the type FTM can create but Tribal Pages should be able to accept either type without problems.

Have you tried to open the file using FTM? It should have all the names/dates etc.


There are several ways you can create a file for just a part of your tree. The process is known as splitting a file. If someone sent a line of a family to you you could add them to your tree by a process known as merging.

It is easier to point you to the FTM helpcentre, there are illustrated guides (they have screenshots of the process which i can't produce here).

If you visit;

then enter the word splitting in the keyword search you should find the third topic in the list gives you the four methods. Which method to use depends on how big your riginal file is, how many names you want to put onto the new file etc.

Just make sure you give the newly split file a name you can easily recognise to avoid confusing it with your other file(s).



Sheila Report 16 Feb 2008 08:57

Sorry to be such a pain. My file is saved under Mason family tree FTW GEDCOM file 37-8 kb, not a very big tree which is why transferring it to another site would be a good way of increasing my chances of discovery!
I only started with 7, I had no close surviving relatives when I chose to take on this task.
I'm sorry to cause so much trouble, I had heard that tribalpages was a good source otherwise I would have just stayed with GR


Madmeg Report 16 Feb 2008 03:30

Can someone tell me how to create a GEDCOM for just part of a tree? I have FTM, but haven't a clue how I could partition it off.




Malcolm Report 15 Feb 2008 19:44

nudged for later

Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 15 Feb 2008 19:25


Have you saved the file?

If you have hover your pointer over the icon and see what it says about the filesize and date etc.

The size of the file depends on how many names there are and also how much you have recorded as notes etc.

My latest file with around 700 names and 10,000 or so text characters in the notes is around 567KB.

If you want me to check the file for you send a pm and i will send you my e-mail addy, you can then e-mail the file to me and i can try it on my FTM.



Sheila Report 13 Feb 2008 22:01

I uploaded my family tree onto a GEDCOM file and sent it to tribalpages which to my relief they eventually received but unfortunately when I opened up my tree on that website there was no-one on it! What am I doing wrong?



KeithInFujairah Report 13 Feb 2008 18:23



Sheila Report 11 Feb 2008 22:11

I think I must be really stupid. I received the file as an e-mail attachment,it does have ged at the end of the file but neither my daughter nor myself can figure out what I am doing wrong.
How would I send it direct to TP. Surely even I could do that


Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 10 Feb 2008 12:02

You arent being stupid Sheila, there are a couple of things that might have happened.

When you download (receive) the file from GR it comes as an e-mail attachment.

You can upload (send) this file directly to TP without using FTM at all.

If you open the file with FTM you will find it becomes an .FTW file (FTM uses different file formats, .FTW files are the normal "working" files that you use to build your tree details.)

It could be that you are trying to upload a non gedcom file to TP.

Are you trying to upload the file you received from GR or trying to upload the file after you opened it with FTM?

A gedcom file will show on your pooter with an icon that looks like a bare rooted tree and has the file extension .GED after it. That is the only type of file that you can upload as a gedcom file, If the file has a blue or red icon and the file extension is .FTW ,FBK or .FBCK then it isn't a gedcom file.



Sheila Report 10 Feb 2008 11:09

I have 'downloaded' or 'uploaded' my tree on GR onto a GEDCOM file with FTM 2005 but cannot send it to tribalpages.
I know i'm stupid so what am I doing wrong!


Glen In Tinsel Knickers

Glen In Tinsel Knickers Report 9 Feb 2008 10:38


If you want to buy a software package then either Family Tree Maker 2005 or 2006 are probably the best value (expect to pay around £7-10 depending on the current online offers).

I would avoid the 2008 version for now, there are some negative reports about it.

You can download some free programmes via the internet such as PAF but i haven't used anything other than FTM myself.