How to create a family tree with Family Tree Builder

It is somewhat like detective work: interviewing those involved and rummaging through often dusty evidence in order to eventually arrive at a reconstruction of the facts. Setting up a real family tree takes a lot of time, but the user-friendly tool Family Tree Builder can do you a great service.

Tip 01: Editions

Do you have genealogical ambitions and do you want to get the most out of it, then download Family Tree Builder and read the manual, then we recommend that you download the carefully prepared manual. Here you will find the manual, which has about 500 pages, in various languages, including Dutch. Our own five-page workshop cannot match that, of course, but it will put you on the right track faster because we walk through the most important options of the program.

Download the basic version of Family Tree Builder for Windows here. This version is free and has some limitations, for example it lacks some advanced features like Smart Matches, DNA functions and Instant Discoveries and you are limited to a family tree of 250 people. As your family tree grows, you need the PremiumPlus edition for which you pay 139 euros the first year and 189 euros annually thereafter. Mind you, that's only about the number of people you can publish to your online family tree. If you work offline, you can add an unlimited number of people, even in the free version. You can switch to a more expensive account at any time. So you can first familiarize yourself with the program in the free edition.


There are many genealogy programs available, as can be seen from the Wikipedia overview of genealogy software. You will find a number of free programs here, such as Aldfaer, Brother's Keeper and Gramps. Nevertheless, we make a family tree with Family Tree Builder, partly because this is one of the most popular programs (worldwide), is available in Dutch and offers a lot of options. In addition, the basic version is free.

Which program you ultimately want to work with mainly depends on your requirements and your personal taste. In addition, it is important that the tool can handle the gedcom format (GEnealogical Data COMmunication), both for input and output. This universally recognized format ensures that you can easily exchange information with other tools and switch to another application effortlessly.

If you work offline, you can add an unlimited number of people, also in the free version

Tip 02: Start program

Family Tree Builder (FTB) can be installed with a few mouse clicks. During the installation, make sure that you select the desired language, English. After that, when you start the program for the first time, you have to register. Then confirm with Get on to really get started with FTB. At the same time, a browser window pops up that wants to convince you of the advantages of a family site. One window further you already have to choose between Create New Tree and Import GEDCOM (see box 'Alternatives'). We assume that you do not yet have a family tree yourself, so you probably choose the first option. Another option is to just close the window and start poking around in the included sample project, with the Kennedy-Onassis family as willing subjects. Go to Open File / Project and select sample. This is a good way to get to grips with FTB before embarking on your own family project.

Tip 03: Create family tree

Are you ready to start your own family tree? Then choose File / New Project. We assume that you also give yourself a place in the family tree, so leave the check mark at I'm part of the new family tree. click on Create New Tree. After entering a project name, two windows appear, where you can enter some information about both your parents. In the following windows, enter similar information about your grandparents – if you have the necessary information. After you confirm with Ready the first persons are already in your family tree. To add or change information, double click on the name in the left pane (Persons tab) and then on the corresponding card in the right pane. A new window will appear again with tabs such as Info (Education and Occupation), Contact (Addresses), Mentions (Resources), Notes, Facts and More.

To add photos, stay on the Main tab and click Photos. Select the option Connect photos and click New (If you click on the arrow here, you can also add videos, audio fragments and documents). Press on the button To leaf through, refer to your photo(s) and confirm with Next one. Place a check next to Link photos to and finish with Complete and with OK.

Read tip 5 to find out how you can import a whole bunch of media files at once to use for your family tree.

Tip 04: Extend family tree

Your family tree is undoubtedly somewhat larger than yourself and your (grand)parents. Fortunately, in FTB there are several ways you can expand your family tree. Select the person to whom you want to add a family member, such as a partner, child or grandparent. There is a good chance that you will find the necessary frameworks in the hierarchical tree panel, such as add mother, Add Father, Add Spouse or Add family. Double click on one of these boxes to enter the corresponding information. In this window, press the button More details then you will return to the window with various tabs, as described in tip 3.

If you don't immediately find the right relationship in one of the boxes, click on at the top left Add person. In the drop-down menu will also appear Brother of Add, Sister of Add and also Add unrelated person.

Tip 05: Add media

In tip 3, you first selected a person and then linked photos or other media to it. But we can also imagine that you already have a whole series of media files ready and prefer to import them into FTB in one go so that you can gradually link them to one or more people. Click on Photos in the toolbar, just below the menu bar. To avoid that the media files all end up in one large collection, it is best to create a few albums first. To do this, open the tab Albums in the left panel and press New. Enter a suitable name and select the album. Then press the button in the right panel New and choose you New photos. The added photos are now included in this album. To link specific people to the photo, open the tab Connections and double click in the list with People on the desired people. If it is a group photo, first select the name of the person, click Highlight face and draw a box around that person's face. FTB will then display that person's name when you hover over that photo. Adding to an album and linking the other media (video, audio, documents) is done in the same way.

Ultimately, the intention is that the elusive family tree turns into a giant

Tip 06: Find and replace

The longer and deeper you dig into the archives, the more likely your once flimsy family tree will grow into a very burly version. Beautiful of course, but the disadvantage is that you can no longer navigate through your family tree properly. The slider at generations, at the top of the family tree, with which you visualize more or fewer generations, does offer some solace, but the quick filter really helps. You'll find the filter at the top of the People tab, to the left of the family tree. You only have to enter a first name and/or last name and FTB will immediately show you the (first) result in the family tree. You can refine via the button To searchat the top of the family tree. The Standard tab contains numerous filter criteria that mainly focus on previously added factual material. On the Advanced tab you can add even more criteria related to, among other things, added notes. The filter results appear in the left pane. To quickly zoom in on a specific person, right-click on it and choose Show in the family tree. Press on the button To clear in the window Searching persons to remove the set filter.

The function is also very useful Find and replace. You can find it at To process on the menu bar. You fill both Search if Is replaced by in and you give via Select which type of data FTB must take into account. For example, you can correct a spelling mistake in your entire family tree in one go.

Tip 07: Create charts

The family tree may be the central concept, but FTB also contains beautiful diagrams and reports. Different types of charts are available, including ancestor charts, pie charts, and all-in-one charts. Press the button already Diagrams in the toolbar or right-click on the name of the person who should be in the center of the diagram and choose Diagrams. The option Diagram Wizard is the most useful, because it gives you more feedback about the types of charts. Select the desired type as well as the chart view (graph style). Finally confirm with Create diagram.

If you still want a different main character for your diagram, it's more than a double click on that person's name in list with People not necessary. Do you not like the final view, with the button Views, at the top of the diagram, previews help you make a better choice quickly. With the button Options you can adjust all kinds of properties of the diagram, divided into seven tabs. The possibilities largely speak for themselves. Good to know: on the General tab you can tailor the diagram to a specific paper size and also specify the orientation (landscape or standing). On the Background tab it is possible to add your own background image and set the degree of transparency. You can even have the chart printed or order a family tree poster online. The prices start from approximately 70 euros, excluding the (high) shipping costs for shipping outside the US.

Family Tree Builder provides beautiful family tree diagrams and comprehensive reports

Tip 08: Generate reports

If you don't need such a graphic-looking family tree, but if you are more interested in the naked data, then press the button Reports on the toolbar. There are also many types available for this form, such as Family Sheet, Relationships, Ancestry, Timeline, and so on. You can generate almost all report types at the touch of a button. You can use the button Options adjust each report by, for example, displaying more or less details or setting different fonts. Of course you can print any report, but you can also save a report in rtf, html or pdf format. Do you choose to save the report as book report, first indicate who should be the central person of the report. Then you indicate which sections you want to include in the report. The result is a beautiful PDF file (in Dutch).

Tip 09: Publish

By default, FTB provides an online backup of your family tree. A kind of automatic synchronization, which means that your family tree is also created online. You can also reach that online place from Family Tree Builder: click in the toolbar on family site and choose Visit family site. Pretty handy, but if you use the free version, the family tree will not show more than 250 people.

To make an online version of your offline family tree, open the menu Sync (Publish) and choose your Sync Settings. At the touch of Sync Now the upload will be arranged for you immediately, but it is a good idea to check the Advanced settings by walking, so that you can indicate whether and which people and photos you want to sync.

If you don't like the location of the backup, it is possible to change it afterwards. Go to the menu for that Additional and choose Options and open Sync. Specify whether you want automatic synchronization, what the storage frequency should be, whether you want to encrypt the data and how many backups you want.

Once on your family site, click Family tree / My family tree, after which you can choose from different views. Click on your profile name and choose Site Settings to see the current number of people as well as your storage space (free up to 500 MB). It is also possible to edit and expand your family tree from the family site. Through Home / Invite family allows your invited relatives to view and edit the family tree.

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