Here’s a copy of a post on the blog written by Tana L. Pedersen (Family Tree Maker expert) that answered a question of my own, so and I’m passing it along because it may answer yours.

“Last month when I announced the February webinar for Family Tree Maker, hundreds of you posted questions for our experts. However, due to time constraints, only a limited number of topics could be covered. So today I wanted to take some time to respond to some of the questions and concerns that didn’t make it into the webinar. Hopefully I will provide information that is relevant to all of you.

I’d also like to thank everyone who comments on the blog posts, answers questions for other users, and shares their family history and Family Tree Maker experiences. I am proud to be a part of such an helpful and active community of users!

Now, to the questions.

Uploading/Downloading Trees to

Where can I find directions about uploading and downloading trees to

You can view instructions in the software’s Online Help (select “Help for Family Tree Maker” from the Help menu) and in the digital copy of the Companion Guide that comes with your software (select “Companion Guide” from the Help menu and go to pages 31-32 and 257-260).

Can I keep my tree private if I upload it to Ancestry?

Yes. When you upload your tree, you have the option to make your tree public or private. By default, your tree will be public. If you want to keep your tree private, deselect the “Allow others to see my tree as a public member tree” option. If you keep your tree private, Ancestry members can still see names, birth dates, and birthplaces from your tree in search results. However, if they want to see your tree or any attached photos and records, they will have to use the Ancestry Connection Service to contact you. Then you can choose to give them access to your tree or not.

I want to put my tree on Ancestry but I don’t want to upload my entire tree. Can I upload only part of it?

Yes. When you upload your tree to Ancestry, you can include every individual in your tree or you can choose specific individuals or family branches to upload. You can also choose to privatize living individuals so that facts and relationships for living individuals aren’t uploaded.

If I download my tree from into Family Tree Maker, will it include my pictures and documents?

Yes, your tree will contain all the facts, sources, and images you’ve manually attached to individuals in your tree.

I want to create a book using the online service on but my tree isn’t ready to be put online. Can I make a book without uploading my tree?

In order to use the online publishing tool on Ancestry (available in Family Tree Maker on the Publish tab), you do need to upload your tree to Ancestry. That way, the program can automatically create family group sheets, pedigree trees, and timelines for you based on information in your tree. However, if you don’t want to keep your tree online, you can delete it after you finish your publishing project.

Backing Up Files

Can I back up my files to a flash drive?

Yes. To back up your tree to a flash drive, select “Backup” from the File menu. When the Backup window opens, select your flash drive from the “Removable media” drop-down list.

Does Family Tree Maker auto-save my tree? And how often?

Family Tree Maker saves your tree automatically every time you make a change.

Is it safe to overwrite my backup files?

When you create a backup file in Family Tree Maker, it automatically names the backup file using the current date. This can help you keep track of various backup files you’ve created. However, if you want, you can overwrite your backup files by using the same name every time you back up your files. I would recommend that you only do this if you’re sure you don’t need the previous backup.

When I use the Backup option, does it back up all my trees at once?

When you use the Backup option, only the tree that is currently open will be backed up. You must back up each of your trees separately.

Upgrading or Updating the Software

Will Family Tree Maker 2011 open my version 16 files?

Yes. You can import your old files directly into the software without losing any data. If you have multiple files in the old program that represent different families, you will need to import each one separately.

Will Family Tree Maker 2011 replace the old version of my software?

No. Family Tree Maker 2011 installs as a completely separate program and will not affect your old program.

If you want to learn more about how to upgrade to version 2011 or want to see what new features are available, you can download a free Upgrade Guide.

I want to make sure my software is up-to-date. What is the most current version number?

For Family Tree Maker 2011, the current version is If you want to see what version you’re using, go to the Help menu and select “About Family Tree Maker”. You can also make sure your software is up-to-date by selecting “Check for Update” from the Help menu.

For Family Tree Maker for Mac, the current version is If you want to see what version you’re using, go to the Family Tree Maker menu and select “About Family Tree Maker”. You can also make sure your software is up-to-date by selecting “Check for Updates” from the Family Tree Maker menu.

I am currently using a different genealogy program. Can I import my file without losing any information?

You can import Legacy Family Tree files, The Master Genealogist files, and FamilySearch Personal Ancestral Files (PAFs) directly into Family Tree Maker; your files will contain all your information plus any media items you’ve included. If your file was created in another program, you can export your tree as a GEDCOM, which Family Tree Maker can open. You won’t lose any of the data you’ve entered, but media items won’t be included in the file.


How do I add a second marriage for an individual?

To add a second spouse for an individual, select the appropriate individual on the People workspace (Family tab). In the family group view, click the “Choose Spouse” icon next to the individual’s name. Then choose “Add Spouse” from the drop-down list. Enter a name for the second spouse and click OK. Now, enter any information you have about the second marriage in the Marriage fields on the editing panel.

How do I indicate that someone is a stepparent?

You can choose a relationship type (such as stepparent) on the People workspace (Person tab). On the People workspace, select the individual who is the stepparent; then click the Person tab. Now click theRelationships button. Select the person’s stepchild in the list. In the Relationship drop-down list, choose “Step.”

I can ignore hints on Ancestry. Can I ignore hints in Family Tree Maker?

Yes. If you find a hint that isn’t relevant to anyone in your tree, you can chose to ignore the hint so it won’t appear in your hints list again. To ignore a hint, access the hint on the Web Search workspace; then click the Ignore record button in the Search result detail toolbar.

Can I organize my media items by various branches of my family?

Yes. To organize your media items by families, you can create a media category for each family. To create a media category, go to the Media workspace and select Categorize Media from the Media menu. In the window that appears, click the Add button. Enter a name for the category (such as Reed or Smith) and click OK. Repeat the step for other family branches. When you add a media item to Family Tree Maker, make sure you assign each item to the appropriate family category.

Tana has been writing for the technology industry for fifteen years. She is author of The Companion Guide to Family Tree Maker 2011, five editions of The Official Guide to Family Tree Maker, and co-author of The Official Guide to


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9 Comments on’s Family Tree Maker: Question and Answer

  1. Don Matson says:

    Can you give me a step by step in very simple terms of how I can scan copies of newspaper clippings & regular photographs from the scanner over into the scrapbook for each individual. I’m having trouble in doing it.
    Thanks for your help.

  2. Sandy says:

    Don, I can only suggest that you contact Tana L. Pedersen at If you’d prefer, you could post a message on their the block and someone will get back to you. I’ve done this before. Here’s the link

  3. Kerriann says:

    This aritcle went ahead and made my day.

  4. Rosemary Moyer says:

    I just lost 2 hours of input data into the FTM program. There is never any sign on screen of how I can save the data I’ve entered. One little accidental joit to the mouse and it was all gone. Unrecoverable. Nothing in autoback up. This isn’t the first time. I don’t feel the toolbars at the top of the screen are nearly adequate for the tools I need. What am I doing wrong?

    I’d never recommend this program to anyone.

  5. Sandy Arnone says:

    Hi Rosemary, You might want to contact on this. I’ve asked them many questions in the past and they always get back to me with an answer. Make sure you tell them that your using their software and not working on the online version. I’ve never had this problem so it’s possible you might have a glitch in your software.


    I have been using Family Tree Maker for a long time and have the latest version. But I am becoming increasingly frustrated with it. Tonight I added new information about a family member I hadn’t put in my tree before. When I try to find the tree with the additional information, it keeps asking me to save the file. Now I can’t find the file with the updated information and every time I try, it saves yet another copy. I must have at least 20 copies now and none of them is the right one. I am totally frustrated. Will someone please help with simple steps to solve my problem.

  7. Sandy says:

    Joanne: The makers of the software will be able to help you. If it’s a glitch in the system they’ll probably send you a solution.


    OK – I will try Sandy. Thanks for responding.

  9. Ann James says:

    I uploaded two family trees on ancestry on Feb. 14th. They have yet to be made available to the public when a search is done. Ancestry says their last addition to family trees was in Jan and they don;t know when it will be done again. Is this normal for it to take so long ? I can view the trees on my home page, but no one else can see them unless I send an invittion.

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