How to create a family tree with Family Tree Builder

This is how you create a family tree with Family Tree Builder.


It does look a bit like detective work: interviewing those involved and messing around in often dusty evidence to ultimately come to a reconstruction of the facts. Setting up a real family tree takes a lot of time, but the user-friendly Family Tree Builder tool can do you a great job.

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 provided manual. Here you will find the manual, which has around 500 pages, in various languages, including Dutch. Our own five-page workshop cannot, of course, match that, but it will put you on the right track faster as we walk through the most important features of the program.

The basic version of Family Tree Builder for Windows , download here . This version is free and has some limitations, so it lacks some advanced features such as Smart Matches, DNA functions and Instant Discoveries and you are limited to a family tree of 250 people. If your family tree grows, then you need the PremiumPlus edition for which you pay 139 euros in the first year and then 189 euros annually. Note that this is only about the number of people that you can publish to your online family tree. If you work offline, you can add an unlimited number of people, also 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.

My Family Tree

Tip 01 My Family Tree comes in various editions: from free to 280 euros annually.


There are a lot of genealogy programs available, as is clear from the Wikipedia overview of genealogy software. You will find a number of free programs here, such as Aldfaer , Brother’s Keeper and Gramps . Still we make a family tree with Family Tree Builder, partly because this is (worldwide) one of the most popular programs, is available in Dutch and offers a lot of possibilities. Moreover, the basic version is free.

Which program you ultimately want to get started with 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 effortlessly to another application.

Family tree programs

There are quite a few programs for setting up a family tree (source: Wikipedia).If you work offline, you can add an unlimited number of people, also in the free version

Tip 02: Start the program

Family Tree Builder (FTB) can be installed with a few mouse clicks. Make sure during the installation that you select the desired language. If you then start the program for the first time, you must register. Then confirm with Continue to really get started with FTB. At the same time, a browser window pops up to convince you of the benefits of a family site. A window further on you must already choose between Create New Tree and Import GEDCOM (see ‘Alternatives’ box). We assume that you do not yet have a family tree, so you probably opt for the first option. Another option is to simply close the window and first browse around in the included sample project, with the Kennedy-Onassis family as willing test subjects. To do this, go to File / Open project and select Sample . This is a good way to get the hang of FTB before you embark on your own family project.

Boot up

Tip 02 This is what a randomly selected gedcom file looks like when it is imported into Family Tree Builder.

Tip 03: Create a family tree

Are you ready to start your own family tree? Then choose File / New Project . We assume that you also allow yourself a place in the family tree, so leave the check mark at I am part of the new family tree . click on Create New Tree . After entering a project name two windows pop up, where you can enter some information from both your parents. In the following windows you enter similar information about your grandparents – if you have the necessary information. After you confirm with Done, the first people already appear in your family tree. To add or change information, double-click on the name in the left-hand window (People tab) and then on the corresponding card in the right-hand window. A new window appears with tabs such as Info (education and profession), Contact (addresses), Listings (sources), Notes, Facts and More.

To add photos, stay on the Main tab and click Photos . Select the Connect photos option and click on New (if you click the arrow here, you can also add videos, audio clips and documents). Press the Browse button , refer to your photo (s) and confirm with Next . Optionally place a checkmark at Photos link to <selected person> and complete with Finish and with Ok .

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

Create a family tree

Tip 03 This is what a randomly selected gedcom file looked like, once imported into Family Tree Builder.

Tip 04: Expand the family tree

Your family tree is undoubtedly somewhat larger than yourself and your (grand) parents. Fortunately, there are various ways in FTB that 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. Chances are that you find the necessary frameworks in the hierarchical tree panel, such as adding Mother , add Father, Husband (o) ot (e) Add or Add Group . Double-click on one of these boxes to enter the corresponding data. If you press the More details button in this window , you will return to the window with various tabs, as described in tip 3.

If you do not immediately find the right relationship in one of the boxes, click Add Person in the top left . Among other things, the drop-down menu will also show Add brother of <person>, Add sister of <person> and also Add non-related person .

Expand family tree

Tip 04 The program automatically provides a number of frameworks to supplement your family tree.

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. To do this, click 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 first create a few albums. To do this, open the Albums tab in the left panel and press New . Enter a suitable name and select the album. Then press the New button in the right panel and choose New photos . The added photos are now recorded in this album. To link specific people to the photo, open the Connections tab and double-click the desired people in the People list . If it is a group photo, first select the person’s name, click Mark Face, and draw a frame around that person’s face. FTB will then display the name of that person as soon as you move the mouse pointer over that photo. Adding to an album and linking the other media (video, audio, documents) is done in the same way.

Add media

Tip 05 It is very clear to put your photos and other media files in albums.Ultimately it is intended that the feline pedigree turns into a giant

Tip 06: Search and replace

The longer and more deeply you dig into the archives, the greater the chance that you will grow into such a delicate pedigree into a very powerful version. Great 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 show more or fewer generations, does offer some relief, but the quick filter really does the trick. You can 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 immediately shows you the (first) result in the family tree. You can refine via the Search button, at the top of the family tree. The Standard tab contains numerous filter criteria that mainly focus on previously added fact material. On the Advanced tab you can enter even more criteria that are related to, among other things, added notes. The filter results end up in the left window. To quickly zoom in on a specific person, right click on it and choose View in the family tree . Press the Delete button in the Find People window to remove the set filter again.

The Search and Replace function is also very useful . You can find it at Edit on the menu bar. You enter both Search for and Replace with and you indicate via Select which type of data FTB should take into account. For example, you can correct a spelling mistake in your entire family tree in one go.


Tip 06 Family Tree Builder lets you filter on numerous criteria so that you can search in a very targeted manner.

Tip 07: Create diagrams

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

If you still want another protagonist for your diagram, then more than a double click on the name of that person in the Persons list is not necessary. If you don’t like the final view, with the Views button at the top of the diagram, you can quickly make a better choice based on preview views. With the Options button you can adjust all kinds of properties of the diagram, divided into seven tabs. The possibilities are largely self-explanatory. What is useful to know: on the General tab you can adjust the diagram to a specific paper size and also indicate the orientation ( Landscape or Portrait)). On the Background tab, it is possible to add your own background image and to set the transparency level. You can even have the diagram printed or order a family tree poster online. The prices start from around 70 euros, excluding the (high) shipping costs for shipping outside the US.

Create diagrams

Tip 07 A family tree does not have to look boring at all.Family Tree Builder provides beautiful diagrams and extensive reports of the family tree

Tip 08: Generate reports

If you do not need such a graphical looking family tree, but are more interested in the naked data, then press the Reports button on the toolbar. Many types are also available for this form, such as Family Sheet, Relationships, Ancestors, Timeline, and so on. You generate almost all report types with the push of a button. However, you can adjust each report via the Options button by, for example, displaying more or fewer details or setting other fonts. Of course you can print any report, but you can also save a report in the rtf, html or pdf format. Choose to save the report as Book Report, first indicate who should be the central person of the report. You then indicate which sections you want to include in the report. The result is a nice pdf file (in Dutch).

Generate reports

Tip 08 A report of the family tree displays the many details in a well-organized way.

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 location from Family Tree Builder: click on Family site in the toolbar and choose Visit family site . Quite handy, but if you use the free version, the family tree shows no more than 250 people.

To turn your offline family tree into an online version, open the Synchronize (Publish) menu and choose Synchronization Settings . With a press on Synchronize Now the upload is immediately arranged for you, but it is best to first make the Advanced settings , so that you can indicate whether and which people and photos you want to synchronize.

If the location of the backup is not satisfactory, it is possible to change it afterwards. Just go to the menu Tools and select Options and open Sync . Indicate 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 on 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 adjust and expand your family tree from the family site. Via Start / Invite family you allow invited family members to view and edit the family tree.

Synchronization settings

Tip 09 You do not necessarily have to put your entire family tree online.

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