Published on
December 15, 2020 by Joseph Levy

Best Genealogy Software 2021 - Build Your Family Tree

Best Genealogy Software 2021 - Build Your Family Tree

There are so many family tree builders out there that can help you start or advance your research into your ancestors, both close and distant. But with such variety, how do you know which one to choose?

Don’t worry, our team has spent weeks testing out the genealogy software of the leading companies to bring you the best family tree builders.

We looked for family tree builders that were easy-to-use, provided links to genealogical databases, and have useful or unique features.

Whether you have been working on your family history for a while or are just starting on your genealogy journey, these family tree builders can help you delve deep into your ancestry.

Short on time? Here are our top picks for the best family tree builders!

Our Best Family Tree Builders Reviewed

1. Family Tree Builder by MyHeritage – Best Overall Family Tree Software

  • Free version
  • Access to 12 billion historical records
  • Matches to historical records and MyHeritage family trees
  • Easy integration with MyHeritage DNA testing

MyHeritage’s easy-to-use family tree builder, which supports over 40 languages, has all the features needed to construct and share your family trees, whether you’re an experienced genealogist or just an interested amateur.

A free version is available which lets you add up to 250 people to your tree and allows access to some nice features, including the photo colorizer (My Heritage InColor™), but no access to the MyHeritage database of 12 billion historical records.

Upgrade to a paid plan to access historical records and MyHeritage’s Smart Matching system to review potential matches from other users’ family trees. Plus, if you have a DNA test from MyHeritage, you’ll be able to add DNA-matched relatives to your tree from an extensive DNA database.

Build Your Family Tree with MyHeritage!

2. Trees by Ancestry – Best for 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

It’s easy to get started building your family tree with Ancestry – it’s all done online through your Ancestry account so no software download is required, eliminating the risk of compatibility issues with your operating system. Visually-appealing charts bring your family tree to life, with unique options such as a detailed timeline chart.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial to take advantage of premium features, including hints to matches in Ancestry’s 27+ billion historical records, 100+ million family trees, and a DNA database of AncestryDNA Users. With access to ancestral information from over 80 countries, you can track your ancestors’ migrations around the globe.

Build Your Family Tree with Ancestry!

3. Findmypast – Best 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 a 14-day free trial, you can access over 8 billion historical records in a database that contains more British and Irish entries than any other genealogy site. With records going back hundreds of years – including immigration records, court records, and newspapers –  you can trace your ancestry back almost to the dark ages.

The family tree builder allows you to add relatives to your tree easily along with photos, facts, and dates. Hints to matching records in the Findmypast database help to further your research and with the mapping feature, you can see the results of your tree mapped over 80 global regions.

Build Your Family Tree with FindMyPast

4. TheGenealogist – Best for DNA-Based Ancestry Insights

  • Millions of exclusive historical records
  • Partnered with Family Tree DNA
  • Track paternal and maternal ancestry
  • Useful genealogy tools

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. The family tree builder, TreeView, has a user-friendly interface with visually appealing and customizable charts.

The genealogy website offers access to millions of exclusive records, focusing on tracking the movements of the British Empire and specifically looks at migration to Australia, including tracing people who were transported to the penal colonies.

Build Your Family Tree with TheGenealogist

5. GenealogyBank – Best for Accessing US Historical Newspapers

  • 7-day free trial
  • Over 2 billion genealogy records
  • 330+ years of US newspaper coverage
  • Exclusive newspaper archives

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.

The collection of historical records includes US newspaper articles from all 50 states, obituaries, death records, government publications, US census records, and more. You can access all of these records for free to help with your genealogy research, courtesy of a seven-day trial.

Build Your Family Tree with GenealogyBank

6. Legacy 9.0 by Legacy Family Tree – Best for Online Support

  • Free standard version
  • User-friendly interface
  • Hints to matches in several genealogy websites
  • Mapping tool to trace the migration of your ancestors

Legacy 9.0 has an intuitive interface that is very user-friendly, plus with access to a vast library of online webinars, mastering the family tree builder and advancing your genealogy journey will be a breeze. Pay the one-off download cost of Legacy 9.0 Deluxe and you get 12 months of unlimited access to the webinar library.

You can try Legacy 9.0 before you buy, with a free Standard version. It doesn’t have all the features of the Deluxe version – such as an enhanced color-coding system X-DNA inheritance charts, and hints to matches in genealogy websites – but it does offer the opportunity to start your family tree without paying for add-ons.

See Legacy Family Tree Deals

7. Genes Reunited – Best Family Tree Community

  • Get started for free
  • Pay per view option
  • Over 550 million English and Welsh historical records
  • Active community

Genes Reunited has an active community forum where users connect with long-lost relatives, and exchange tips for tracing and tracking ancestors. Build a family tree on the GenesReunited network and, you may be linked to another user’s tree with shared ancestors.

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. They also have parish records and an enormous library of images so that you can enrich your tree.

Build Your Family Tree with Genes Reunited

8. Family Historian 6 – Best Family Tree Builder for Beginners

  • Free unlimited 30-day trial
  • Easy-to-use, intuitive software
  • Internet search tools connected to genealogy sites
  • Wide range of chart options

Intuitive software that allows the easy input of a wealth of information about each relative, makes Family Tree Historian 6 one of the easiest programs to use. During an unlimited 30-day free trial, you can access all the program has to offer including a wide range of genealogy charts and scrapbooking tools, map feature, and built-in internet search tools.

There’s also Automatic Data Matching to historical records and family tree profiles from Findmypast and MyHeritage to further your research, but this requires the additional cost of a subscription to the genealogy site.

9. WikiTree – Best Completely Free Family Tree Builder

  • Completely free
  • Over 25 million profiles
  • 7+ million DNA connections
  • Multiple support options

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.

Use of the shared social networking genealogy site is 100% free and allows users to individually research and add to their own family trees, whilst at the same time collaborating on a single worldwide family tree.

Build Your Family Tree with WikiTree

10. Heredis – Free Demo Version

  • Free demo version
  • High quality and visually appealing charts
  • Useful internet search tools
  • Synchronizes with MyHeritage, Ancestry, and FamilySearch

Heredis may not be the easiest family tree builder to use on this list, but you can try it out without making a commitment with the free demo version, which allows you to add up to 50 family members to your tree. From your family tree, you can create dozens of visually-appealing charts and track your ancestors’ migration with interactive mapping.

The family tree builder is certified by FamilySearch meaning you can access its historical records and six billion person records for free. Heredis also synchronizes with MyHeritage and Ancestry, so with a subscription to these genealogy sites, you can further your research your family history with ease.

Build Your Family Tree with Heredis

Family Tree Builder Comparison Table

Free Trial/Version Software Subscription Best Feature Main Disadvantage
Family Tree Builder – MyHeritage Automatically finds historical records of your ancestors The overall graphic appearance could be more appealing
Family Tree – AncestryDNA Access billions of historical records (more added daily) Subscriptions can be pricey
Findmypast Over 2 billion records Records only cover 90% of North America
TheGenealogist Army and Navy records Complicated dated interface
GenealogyBank Birth and marriage announcements taken from 50 states US-focused with a lack of global resources
Legacy 9.0 – Family Tree Great value for money  Lacks an undo or redo tool to edit your work
Genes Reunited No limit to the size of the family tree Dated website interface with limited features
Family Historian Automatic matching to MyHeritage historical records and family trees Visually unappealing charts
WikiTree 100% free No real fact-checking
Heredis Synchronizes with AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and FamilySearch Basic features 

How We Tested Family Tree Builders

To determine the best family tree builders, we considered a number of important criteria that contribute to the best user experience:

  • Ease of use – We carefully tested each family tree builder to ensure they were easy-to-use, for both experienced and beginner genealogists.
  • Cost – Whether the software has a one-off download cost or requires a subscription, are you getting features and services that are worth the price?
  • Historical records – You’ll find it difficult to build your family tree beyond your personal knowledge without access to historical records. We made sure that each family tree builder enabled easy access to historical records either directly or by linking to other genealogy websites.
  • Features – Does the family tree software offer unique features to enhance your genealogy journey? Does it have a wide range of charts to choose from?
  • Shareability – It’s important that you’re able to share your family tree with others, either by printing out or emailing charts or by sharing your genealogy research online.

What is a Family Tree?

A family tree is a diagram that shows how the members of your family are related to one another. It can trace your family’s history back many generations, listing the names, birth dates, and death dates of your direct and indirect ascendants and descendants.

All of the online family tree builders on this list offer a convenient way to create and extend your family tree, without having to deal with multiple pieces of paper or starting a whole branch again when you make a mistake.

You can also share an online family tree with your relatives and collaborate on building it together. But best of all, companies that offer a paid genealogy subscription service – like Legacy Family Tree, MyHeritage, and Ancestry – enable you to do research that will help you find relatives, and information about those relatives, quickly and accurately.

Along the way, you can discover photos and historical documents that bring these people to life, in your imagination. You can also discover living relatives around the world that you never knew about before! Yes, building a family tree can be time-consuming, but the end result is a vivid and exciting way to experience and share the fascinating history of your family.

Can I Build My Family Tree For Free?

Yes! A number of family tree builders on this list offer free versionsFamily Historian 6, WikiTree, Legacy 9.0 – or free trials –  Ancestry and Findmypast – that allow you to start your genealogy journey, with no upfront cost. These free versions and free trials give you the opportunity to test out some if not all of the features of a number of family tree builders before making a commitment.

Is it Worth Subscribing to a Genealogy Website?

If you already have a wealth of information that delves deep into your family history and a host of knowledgeable relatives, you may not need a subscription to a genealogy website, at least at first. If you have information to work from, there are many useful resources – such as census and some military records – that can be accessed for free.

But, if your knowledge of your family history is limited, and you’re dedicated to creating an in-depth family tree, a subscription to a genealogy website will be a huge help in your research. A genealogy subscription can provide hints on your family tree when its algorithms find people who seem to be your relatives. This can be a huge time saver … and an exciting experience!

You can try a number of genealogy websites you can try for free, including Ancestry, which offers a two-week trial, during which you can access its over 27 billion+ historical records.

The Bottom Line

Which family tree builder you choose really depends on how extensive and detailed you want your family tree to be. If you’re looking to create a large-scale tree, MyHeritage is a great choice offering access to billions of historical records. If you’re new to using genealogy software, Family Historian 6 is very easy-to-use, with an input method that is simple and quick to get to grips with. If you’re not sure which family tree builder is right for you, Ancestry and Findmypast have 14-day free trials, so you can test them out, risk-free, to see if they have all the features you’re looking for.

FAQ

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

Absolutely not! But if you do take a DNA test, there is the potential to find DNA matches in the company’s database, 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.

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 – such as Ancestry and MyHeritage – 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.

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. However, this process isn’t infallible. 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.

Why do many family tree builders have monthly subscriptions?

Professional genealogy companies like Legacy Family Tree, MyHeritage, and Ancestry charge a monthly subscription fee to maintain huge databases of genealogy records for you to access.

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, Findmypast is an excellent resource for British and Irish records, and TheGenealogist is best for those with Australian ancestry.

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?

You may get lucky and find images of your ancestors with a simple web search. But if you have no luck this way, a subscription to a genealogy website, such as Ancestry or MyHeritage, will sometimes contain photographs along with its historical records.

About Author
Joseph Levy
Joseph Levy
Writer

Joseph Levy is a transplant from New York and currently living in Cyprus. After receiving his law degree and acquiring eight years of experience in the civil side of American law, he moved to the Mediterranean and shifted his focus from being an attorney to his first love: content writing. Joseph prioritizes not only honest accuracy, but also providing an informative and interesting perspective on whatever he puts his name to.

Joseph Levy is a transplant from New York and currently living in Cyprus. After receiving his law degree and acquiring eight years of experience in the civil side of American law, he moved to the Mediterranean and shifted his focus from being an attorney to his first love: content writing. Joseph prioritizes not only honest accuracy, but also providing an informative and interesting perspective on whatever he puts his name to.