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Professional Reviews
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Reviews Guidelines
Published on
August 26, 2021 by Elly Hancock

Best Genealogy Software 2021 - Build Your Family Tree

Best Genealogy Software 2021 - Build Your Family Tree

Which family tree builder is the best for uncovering the paths of your ancestors and tracking down relatives? That’s a good question and it’s one we’re here to answer for you!

Our team of expert researchers has done the testing for you to find the very best family tree builders, no matter where you are in your ancestry journey.

If you want to dive right in, go for our #1 choice MyHeritage. Easy to use and affordable, it’s a great option.

Uncover Your Past with MyHeritage!

Short on time? Here are the best picks for genealogy software

Start Your Family Tree with MyHeritage!

What We Look for in the Best Genealogy Software

When narrowing down all the options, we looked for companies that offer specific features, so you truly get the best value for money.

  • Ease of use: Software should have an easy-to-navigate interface, intuitive search tools, and be user-friendly whether you’re a beginner or a genealogy expert.
  • Records database: We only chose companies that have large genealogy databases with various types of archives, whether birth certificates or immigration records, so you have more chance of finding what you’re looking for.
  • Hints and tips: It can be hard to know where to start with genealogy, so we picked companies that offer hints and tips to guide you with your research.
  • Value for money: Most genealogy software companies offer subscription services, so we made sure these were high-value with regular new records and cool, unique features.

1. MyHeritage – Easy-to-use Family Tree with Relative Finder

  • Free version available
  • Access to 14 billion historical records
  • Matches to historical records and MyHeritage family trees
  • Easy integration with MyHeritage DNA testing

MyHeritage is our top choice. Its family tree builder is easy to use and it supports 42 languages, so you can use it all over the world. It has all the features I was looking for that you need to build your tree, whether you’re an experienced genealogist or just starting out.

You can search through billions of records, which include everything from census data and wills, to birth and military records, to help you track down your ancestors.

The search tool is easy to use and we were able to find the records we wanted without much digging. You can filter your search and narrow it down by category to find more relevant results if your search is very general. Sometimes the same search terms brought up different results the next time I tried, which was a bit annoying.

We got plenty of hints and tips along the way to help us build a family tree. This includes both recommended records and possible ancestors that you can simply review and add to your tree.

MyHeritage finds and sends you relative matches, which makes it really easy to find ancestors. These matches come with family photos, historical information, and interesting facts that help you learn about your past. With the mobile app, you can even take photos and upload them to your tree right away.

We liked the Smart Match feature which scans other MyHeritage trees when you add your family members to yours. If it finds possible matches, you can combine ancestors rather than creating new profiles. Sometimes it sent people that weren’t actually our researcher’s ancestors, though, so always double-check your results.

If you’ve taken the MyHeritage DNA test, you can add DNA-matched relatives to your tree straight away from the DNA database.

There’s a free version available so you can test it out first. But you can only add up to 250 people on your tree and you don’t get access to the huge bank of records. There are also three different subscription plans, so there’s something for every budget.

Build Your Family Tree with MyHeritage!

2. AncestryDNA – Huge Database of Historical Records

  • 14-day free trial
  • Access to 27+ billion historical records
  • Huge DNA database with over 16 million samples
  • Hints to people and historical records

AncestryDNA is one of the best for tracking down records because it has the largest genealogy database available. There are over 13 billion records. These include marriage certificates, death records, military certificates, census data, and immigration records.

Even though there are billions of records, it’s really easy to find what you’re looking for. You can filter the search results by category, year, and country to make finding the right records even simpler. And we liked that you can preview each one to check it’s what you’re looking for before attaching it to your tree.

It also has a huge DNA database with over 16 million samples, which makes finding ancestors very easy, because there are more people on AncestryDNA than any other genealogy website. Of course, this only counts if your ancestors have actually taken the AncestryDNA test, but it saves a lot of research because it finds relatives for you.

You can find ancestors using the search tool just by searching their names and birth dates or places. Even with minimal information, we tracked down many ancestors.

The family tree builder is straightforward and intuitive. It comes with a shareable link. We really liked this feature as it lets you send your tree via email to another family member and give them editing authority, so they can help you with your research (if they have a subscription).

AncestryDNA helps you build your tree and finds links between you and other people by sending you hints. It can identify your long-lost ancestors and locates records that might be linked to your tree.

We were able to review these quickly and link them to ancestors’ profiles if they were a match. The only downside is that you don’t get email notifications, so you can only see hints when you’re logged in.

We found that some areas of the world are better represented than others, so it depends where you’re looking. There are millions of records from Europe, but not many from South Africa, for example.

We tried AncestryDNA’s mobile app and it was great for the most part. The only negative is that you can’t see ancestry member tree hints, so you have to be logged in from your PC to review these and link your trees.

You have access to a 14-day free trial, which is ideal for getting some free clues. It’s very well-priced, though, with a variety of subscription options available so you can find the best one for you.

You can also buy the DNA test to uncover more about your heritage and link your results to your tree.

Uncover Your Heritage with AncestryDNA!

3. Findmypast – Ideal for British and Irish Ancestry

  • 14-day free trial
  • Over 8 billion historical records
  • Hints to matching records
  • Trace maternal and paternal lines with ancestral DNA testing

With Findmypast, you can access over 8 billion historical records in a database that contains more British and Irish entries than any other genealogy site. It’s one of my favorites for uncovering British and Irish ancestry and it’s always adding new records every week.

It has records going back hundreds of years, including immigration records, court records, and newspapers, so you can trace your ancestry back all the way to the 1500s. It goes deeper than a lot of other genealogy websites we’ve found, and we really liked that you can access historical newspapers so you can read even more about your heritage.

We also like the 1939 register, which tells you the precise location of people in England and Wales at the start of WW2. We were able to browse through handwritten letters, neighborhood maps, lists of household members, and much more.

The search function has loads of filters which is great for locating what you need. You can narrow down by category and extra sub-categories relating to different document types, plus type in extra keywords to help you.

The family tree builder comes with step-by-step advice from Findmypast’s genealogists to help you uncover your past. This includes links to possible ancestors, relevant records, and important information like missing birth dates. It helped our researcher track down their great-great-grandmother’s birth date and certificate.

You can see your tree mapped over 80 regions, which is a great added feature. And any relatives you add to your tree come with photos, facts, and timelines to help you dig deep into your ancestry. You can also upload these yourself.

If you’re interested in taking a DNA test, Findmypast’s ancestry kit uncovers your ethnicity percentages and allows you to track your maternal and paternal lines across the globe.

Start Your Genealogy Research with Findmypast!

4. TheGenealogist – Unlock Ancient Records

  • Millions of exclusive historical records
  • Partnered with Family Tree DNA
  • Easy-to-use family tree builder with mobile functionality
  • Records dating back to the 1100s

Thanks to a partnership with Family Tree DNA, TheGenealogist has the added advantage of access to one of the largest genetic genealogy databases in the world to help you trace your family history and build a complete family tree.

There are millions of exclusive records. During our tests, we found that there are records specifically looking at your ancestors’ heritage in the UK. So if you know you have British heritage, it’s a great choice.

The records database goes all the way back to 1127, which is practically unheard of. This includes birth, death, and marriage certificates, military records, parish records, and more. We actually found over 20 types of different records.

We only had to enter first and last names with approximate dates to get a huge list of relevant records results. And despite the wealth of records, finding the information you need is really easy. You can also search by keywords, which we liked.

The family tree builder, TreeView, has a user-friendly interface with visually appealing and customizable charts, which we liked for changing how you view your tree.

It also works on mobile, so you can build your tree on the go. And you can export your tree to AncestryDNA, Genes Reunited, and MyHeritage, if you use any of these platforms. We tried it and it was straightforward enough, but we thought it worked best with AncestryDNA.

Start Your Ancestry Search with TheGenealogist!

5. GenealogyBank – Massive Collection of US Historical Newspapers

  • Over 2 billion genealogy records
  • 13,000 US newspapers from 330+ years
  • To-do list feature to create genealogy search tasks
  • Ideal for people with US heritage

GenealogyBank isn’t a family tree builder, but it is an excellent resource of historical documents, especially if you have US ancestry. You can search for your relative by name, geographical location, and date range for records that match the criteria.

Its newspaper bank includes family stories dating back to 1690, with over 13,000 from 50 US states to search through. We were able to learn more about our ancestors’ history and how they lived, which is really useful for exploring your heritage a bit further.

You also get access to obituaries, death records, government publications, US census records, and more

The search function allows you to filter results by keywords, proximity, names, location, and other fields, to help you find your ancestors.

We liked that you can easily download images and family records, save your searches, and pick up where you left off.

Another great feature we found is that GenealogyBank consistently updates you if it adds more records to its site that might be linked to your tree. You get an email to let you know if these documents match your search queries.

We found the to-do list feature super helpful, letting you create a list of all the actions you need to tick off and help you keep track of your genealogy search.

There’s also a mobile app called Tree View, which allows you to amend and update your tree on-the-go. It’s pretty easy to use and you can choose from various tree layouts, but of course, the records search is a little more clunky than on the web platform.

Uncover Your US Ancestry With GenealogyBank!

6. Legacy 9.0 Family Tree – Easily Connects to Other Genealogy Sites

  • Integrates with four other genealogy sites
  • Research help to find your ancestors
  • High-function search tool to narrow down results
  • To-do list to create goals

Legacy 9.0 Family Tree integrates with Findmypast, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank, and MyHeritage, allowing you to search through all the records available on these sites. There are billions to search through, going back thousands of years.

Legacy 9.0 Family Tree only works on Windows platforms, so it’s not worth the investment if you have a MacBook or other device.

The interface is very dated and can be tricky to master, but it works just fine. The charts and trees are easy to master once you learn to navigate the site.

One highlight we enjoyed was being able to work on your tree offline, so don’t need an internet connection to update your tree. You can’t do any research, but you can input data.

You get research guidance from Legacy 9.0, which we found very useful. We received tips on reviewing ancestors’ timelines, entering personal information, and reviewing related records. You can also create and organize stories for all of your ancestors by entering detailed biographies and memories.

The search tool comes with many filters, so you can search by name, marriage information, address, and more. If you’re not sure, you can also create a general search or a name that sounds like something else to get some results. This didn’t work as well for us in terms of relevant results, but it’s a good starting point if you don’t know where to go next.

It comes with a to-do list to create and track your goals, as well as a printing tool that allows you to create a physical report of your tree.

Discover Your Past with Legacy 9.0 Family Tree!

7. Genes Reunited – Huge Family Tree Community

  • Forum to connect with ancestors and other users
  • Over 550 million records
  • Link to other users’ family trees
  • Parish records and a huge library of images

Genes Reunited has an active community forum where you can connect with long-lost relatives. We tested it and exchanged tips for tracing and tracking ancestors, which was really useful.

One good thing about Genes Reunited is that the family tree builder is completely free with no limits on how many ancestors you add. You have to pay to access any records, though.

When you build a family tree on the GenesReunited network, you can find out whether it may be linked to another user’s tree with shared ancestors.

We found the best way is to use the search function that scans other family trees in the network to find a match. You can connect to link your common ancestors together and help each other with your research.

With a subscription, you can search over 550 million historical records, including census records, birth, marriages, death announcements, and military records to discover your family’s history.

We found a lot of English and Welsh records rather than worldwide documents, so probably not the best choice if you have US ancestry, for example. They also have parish records and an enormous library of images so that you can enrich your tree.

Trace Your Ancestors with Genes Reunited!

8. Family Historian 7 – Easy-to-use Software Great for Beginners

  • Easy-to-use family tree builder
  • Searches through MyHeritage and Findmypast records for you
  • On-screen hints to guide your search
  • Video tutorials and guides to help you

Family Historian 7 is really easy to use so if you’re new to genealogy, it’s a good place to start.

The trees are all interactive and come with charts that are easy to print. You can navigate yourself around your tree to browse records, ancestors, or connect family members. We appreciated the tons of on-hand guides and video tutorials to help with research and building the tree.

Each ancestor has a diagram branch where you can find their details, any images, or other historical information. We uploaded a few images and found that you can tag your ancestors in them so they’re automatically linked to their profile without you having to go in and do it yourself, so it saves you some work.

Family Historian 7 comes with automatic internet matching, which searches through records on Findmypast and MyHeritage to help you with your search. During testing, we got plenty of on-screen hints and tips to guide us towards possible ancestors and related records, which made our genealogy research much easier.

Start Your Genealogy Search with Family Historian 7!

9. WikiTree – No-Subscription Genealogy Builder

  • Completely free to use
  • 25+ million profiles
  • G2G forum to connect with other genealogy researchers
  • Create biographies and stories for your ancestors

WikiTree provides many of the same benefits you would get from a paid genealogy subscription. There are more than 25 million profiles from around the world in its database, which includes over 7 million DNA test connections.

It’s completely free to use. You can undertake your own research and add ancestors to create your own family tree, while at the same time collaborating on a single worldwide family tree.

You can create detailed biographies and stories for each of your ancestors, but you must back these up with sources. We also found that you can add memories to ancestor profiles which is a nice touch. If you manage to find a long-lost relative, you can read through their detailed biographies and learn more about their lives.

It comes with a G2G forum where you can connect with other users, track down ancestors, and share tips to help you with your genealogy research. We found this a really useful way of kickstarting our research. You can add tags to your questions so that they can be easily found by other users searching for similar queries.

Since it’s free, it does come with some limitations. The search function is a bit hit and miss, and you don’t always get the best results. But it’s good to start with and test out before you find a paid service.

Build a Bridge to Your Past with WikiTree!

10. Heredis – Visually Appealing Family Charts

  • Search through records on MyHeritage, AncestryDNA, and others
  • View your family tree in many different ways
  • Tools that allow indexing, merging ancestors, and custom reports
  • Use on various devices, including mobile

Heredis’ genealogy software comes with various family view angles, which allows you to get a better understanding of your heritage.

We were able to switch between immediate family, ancestors’ charts, descendants’ charts, extended family, and more, which is great for providing you with a granular view of your heritage.

Its search tool navigates through various genealogy databases to find the records you’re after. It integrates with MyHeritage, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and AncestryDNA. We didn’t get any hints to help us find more records or ancestors, though.

When you find documents and images, you can easily capture them and link them to your family tree. There are a few other cool tools, too, including the ability to merge people, convert dates, and indexing. The merging tool was one of our favorite features because it helps you find other trees in the database and continue your research.

It’s not the easiest of family tree builders to use, so I’d only recommend it if you’re an experienced genealogy researcher. It’s all a bit disorganized and the data entry process was quite difficult. There’s a free demo version of the software, but we found we had a limit of 50 relatives on the family tree.

Start Your Genealogy Research with Heredis!

What’s in the Fine Print?

Genealogy software usually involves an ongoing subscription with regular payments, so the fine print is especially important. Always check out the different plans first to see what you really get access to.

Most companies on this list offer basic subscription plans, which don’t always include the full package. For example, if you pay for the premium package with MyHeritage, you can make a family tree of up to 2,500 people, but you don’t get access to the historical records.

Similarly, with AncestryDNA, you get a lot with the basic package, but you have to upgrade to World Explorer to learn about your immigrant ancestors or get unlimited access to international records.

Be careful with free versions, too. As you’d expect, a free trial is usually just that – a trial. This means you get a very limited version of the software, but just enough for you to test it out and see if you like it. WikiTree on the other hand is completely free, but that means it comes with limitations and it’s not the easiest to use.

What Can I Learn by Using Genealogy Software?

Genealogy software can uncover all kinds of information about your past and your ancestors. With genealogy research, you can:

  • Explore billions of historical records relating to your ancestors, including birth, death, and marriage certificates
  • Find your long-lost ancestors and connect with living relatives
  • Map out your family tree and start to uncover your ancestry maps
  • See where your family comes from and how they lived

How Do Our Top Picks Compete on Price?

All of our best choices offer subscription packages that increase in price, with more features available.

MyHeritage costs $129 a year for the premium plan, but this doesn’t include any access to historical records, so it’s not ideal for your genealogy research.

The complete plan includes everything, though this sets you back $299. It’s discounted to $199 in your first year, though.

AncestryDNA’s basic plan is a bit cheaper, at $99. You can also pay monthly for $24.99, but that works out more expensive than paying upfront.

You get access to all US records, but you need to upgrade to get international documents and unlimited access to records, which costs $149. The most expensive plan costs $199, and this includes extras like tracking your ancestors and access to Newspapers.com.

Findmypast is the cheapest, costing $10.75 a month, but it’s only really worth it if you have British or Irish ancestry. You do still get access to international records, but it can’t compete with MyHeritage or AncestryDNA’s genealogy databases.

Which Genealogy Tool is the Best?

The best all-rounder is MyHeritage. It’s our top choice because it’s affordable, easy to use, and has a huge bank of genealogy records. It’s a good option for helping you track down records since it automatically finds them for you.

Go for AncestryDNA if you want access to billions of genealogy records because it has the largest database around, including from Newspapers.com. If you’ve already taken an AncestryDNA test, your family tree already comes populated with DNA matches.

Findmypast is ideal for anyone with British and Irish heritage. It specializes in these areas of ancestry and has a huge collection of British and Irish records and newspapers to help you with your research. It’s quite cheap, too.

You could consider TheGenealogist if you have a particular interest in military records. Or GenealogyBank for birth and marriage certificates and historical US newspapers.

Top Feature Free Trial Ancestor Finder Genealogy Records Hints & Tips Starting Price
MyHeritage Automatically finds historical records of your ancestors $0.00
AncestryDNA Access billions of historical records (more added daily) $0.00
Findmypast Huge bank of British and Irish records $0.00
TheGenealogist Army and Navy records $19.64
GenealogyBank Historical US newspapers from 50 states $6.65
Legacy 9.0 Family Tree Links to Findmypast, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank, and MyHeritage $79.95
Genes Reunited No limit to the size of the family tree $8.95
Family Historian Automatic matching to MyHeritage historical records and family trees $46.50
WikiTree 100% free $0.00
Heredis Explores family history and ancestry patterns $29.99

Start Your Genealogy Research and Uncover Your Past

Genealogy software is a great tool for exploring your heritage, finding your ancestors, delving deep into historical records, and ultimately, learning more about you and your family.

MyHeritage is the best option with its easy-to-use family tree builder, automatic records finder, and DNA matching tool. It also sends you tons of tips to help you with your genealogy research and point you in the right direction.

Want to take a DNA test to help you build a bridge to your past? Check out our review of the 10 best DNA tests to find your perfect match.

Best Genealogy Software in 2021

FAQs

Do you have to submit a DNA sample to use a family tree builder?

Absolutely not! But they can help.

MyHeritage scans the database to find potential DNA matches, unlocking hidden relatives. Based on your shared DNA, you’ll know how you are related, and with their permission, you can contact these relatives and perhaps add whole branches to your family tree. You can add all of these ancestors to your family tree, too.

Can you upload raw data from a DNA kit to start building a family tree?

Companies that offer both family tree builders and DNA testing sometimes allow you to upload raw data from other companies to find matches in their DNA databases. This may save you the time and expense of having to get your DNA tested all over again. However, not all companies offer this service or accept raw DNA in certain formats, so you should check a company’s website to find out what your options are.

Can genealogy software prove you are related to someone?

Many of the family tree builders on this list provide automatic hints to matches of your relatives in genealogy databases. This can help you find individuals that seem to be related to you. MyHeritage and AncestryDNA are our top picks for helping you track down ancestors. If you’re not sure which to choose, check out our comparison of both companies.

For example, if you find a match to your Grandmother in a genealogy database, associated historical records may uncover more relatives you haven’t yet discovered.

Finding an entry in a genealogy database that matches the name and dates of a family member isn’t a guarantee that they’re your relation. It could simply be someone with the same name, so try to find more than one source of information to reinforce the familial connection before adding a new relative to your family tree.

Is a large genealogy database important when choosing a family tree builder?

The more historical records you can access, the likelier it is that you’ll find potential matches to relatives, which may lead you to photos and documents, as well as clues to as yet unknown family members.

Some geographical populations are better represented in some genealogy databases than others, which you should consider before choosing a subscription.

For example, MyHeritage has a huge database of US historical records, so is ideal for US ancestry. By comparison, Findmypast is an excellent resource for British and Irish records.

How can you find pictures of distant relatives?

Adding pictures of your distant relatives can really bring your family tree to life. However, it’s not uncommon to only have images of relatives going back a few generations, so where do you find pictures of your more distant ancestors?

Companies like MyHeritage offer images as part of their historical records database. You can find these attached to different records and ancestors’ profiles. And you can upload them to your ancestors’ profiles, too.

About Author
Elly Hancock
Elly Hancock

Elly Hancock is a professional writer based in the UK with experience of creating engaging web copy for a variety of industries, from internet technology and science, to food and nutrition. Her love for content writing stems from an ability to connect with readers, understand their needs, and provide solutions in an honest and easy-to-read manner. In her spare time, you can find Elly on long dog walks, cooking a new recipe, or in the gym.

Elly Hancock is a professional writer based in the UK with experience of creating engaging web copy for a variety of industries, from internet technology and science, to food and nutrition. Her love for content writing stems from an ability to connect with readers, understand their needs, and provide solutions in an honest and easy-to-read manner. In her spare time, you can find Elly on long dog walks, cooking a new recipe, or in the gym.