Saturday, January 14, 2012

Touring The New RootsMagic 5 Genealogy Software

First, disclosure. I have not received any free products or remuneration of any kind from RootsMagic for using or commenting on their product. I have a copy of the RootsMagic 5 software that bought with my own money. Now that that is out of the way, I can share with you my opinion of the new RootsMagic 5 software package!

Within minutes of seeing the email from RootsMagic that a new release 5 was available, I paid for and downloaded an upgrade copy. I have been using RootsMagic 4 for quite some time and have written about it in past posts.

Although there are elements of other genealogy database software programs that I have used and like, it was when I knew I had to focus on proper source citations that RootsMagic won me over. Now, no fact is entered into my database without the source being included. It takes a little extra time but it saves a tremendous amount of hassle and effort later. The software has also enabled me to go back and begin the process of quickly adding the (way too many!) source citations I had neglected.

The download and installation of RootsMagic 5 was fast and efficient. I had no problems with the conversion of my RootsMagic 4 file although it did take a few minutes to convert the approximately 1,100 photos and record images that were part of the file. I chose the option of having the RootsMagic 4 program uninstalled as part of the RootsMagic 5 installation process. This did not cause any problems for me.

There are four significant enhancements in the new version that I was most interested in, in order of importance as I saw them: the Timeline view, the Research Manager, the County Check, and the Media Tagging feature. For a couple of days, I `played`around in the new software, checking out the new important to me features.

It was after I viewed the "What's New in RootsMagic 5" webinar that I discovered that I was wrong about the order of the new features I had thought would be most important. To see the webinar, or any of the 30 free webinars, offered by RootsMagic, click here.

Media Tagging

This is by far the most exciting improvement for me. I have always liked the ability to attach an image to a fact in my database. For example, I cite the source for a residency fact and attach a copy of the census record from which the information was obtained. Having the image attached to the fact helps keep my material well organized and saves me the time of 'rooting' around through the electronic file folders on my computer hard drive to find a copy of the supporting documentation.

I love the media-tagging feature. I have found it to be a fast and very efficient method for attaching photos and digital copies of records to several people and the events in the lives that the photos and records (digital media) pertain to. For example, now with a few mouse clicks I can attach a census record to all of the family members from a single dialog box including attaching the record to the facts contained in the census record like residence, birth, occupation, religion, etc. A true time saver!


The timeline view provides a quick visual timeline chart showing the events in an individual's life including the events in his/her family. It allows a quick overview of someone's life events that can be helpful in pointing out areas that you may want or need to consider doing more research. It helps me see 'what's missing.'

County Check

I have experienced an emotional roller-coaster with this new feature as each time you save a fact, RootsMagic checks the accuracy of the location that you included. Many of us have experienced boundary or name changes associated with the locations in which our ancestors lived. When I first started using RootsMagic 5, the County Check feature would point out a problem with the usually historical accuracy of the way I entered a location detail and offered suggested changes. This became annoying but now, after spending time with the software, I find it to be the helpful assistant I am certain it was intended to be.

Research Log

My research has not always followed some carefully planned out pattern. I tended to go where intuitively my interests at the time took me. As I prepare for retirement and look forward to having more available time for research, this tool will come in handy. The Research Log builds into your software, in a neat orderly manner, all of the research bits of information that, if are like me, is written down somewhere on a piece of paper or in a notebook in no particular order. And, if you use RootsMagic-On-The-Go on a USB stick or drive, your research goals and notes are always with you, whether to check something or add to it as you gather leads.

I'm giving RootsMagic 5 "two thumbs up."


  1. Thanks for posting about your first experiences with RM5. I purchased RM4 in September or October and had just barely started using it when I learned that a free upgrade was available. I intended to get to it (but hadn't yet) and your post prompted me to download it. Now I'll have to go explore. I hope the learning curve (from my pre-RM5 program) isn't too high!

  2. Appreciate the details as I am almost ready to convert my PAF 5 finally to ROOTS MAGIC but needed more feedback from users not associated with marketing .