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Published on
April 26, 2021 by Gemma Davison

Best Family Tree Builders 2021: Discover Your Family History

Best Family Tree Builders 2021: Discover Your Family History

Family tree software has made it easy for both amateur and experienced genealogists alike to further their research into their ancestors. However, with dozens available, how do you know which family tree builder is right for you?

Through extensive research and testing, we have found the best family tree builders from the leading providers of genealogy software. We chose family tree builders that are easy-to-use, have useful features, and provide links to genealogical websites.

If you are a keen beginner or already well established in your genealogy research, these family tree builders can help you discover more about your ancestors and where you come from.

Short on time? Here are our top picks of family tree builders

What We Looked For in the Best Family Tree Builders

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

  • Usability – We tested each family tree builder thoroughly to make sure they were easy-to-use for even the most novice genealogist.
  • Historical records – Without access to historical records, it’s difficult to progress your family tree beyond your personal knowledge. We ensured each family tree builder allowed easy access to historical records, either with integration with other genealogy websites or directly.
  • Price – Are you getting features and services that are worth the subscription fees or one-off download cost?
  • Features – Are there any unique features that enhance your family tree and genealogy research? Is there a wide variety of charts and reports to choose from?
  • Shareability – Sharing your family tree is a large part of the genealogy journey, so is the tree easy to share with your relatives with attractive print outs or on your own website?

Our 10 Best Family Tree Builders

1. Family Tree Builder by MyHeritage – Our #1 Family Tree Software

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

Easy-to-use with all the features needed to build and share your family trees, MyHeritage’s family tree software is our top choice.

Try before you buy with a free version, which lets you add 250 members to your tree, as well as allowing access to some nice features, such as the photo colorizer to bring life to your old family pictures.

Upgrade to a paid plan and you can construct an unlimited family tree and access a number of additional premium features, including access to the database of 12 billion+ historical records and the Smart Matching system to find potential relatives from other users’ family trees.

If you have a DNA test from MyHeritage, you can find DNA matches from a huge user database and link them to your family tree. Have raw DNA data from another company? You get DNA matching for free.

Build Your Family Tree with MyHeritage!

2. Trees by Ancestry – Get Access to 27 + Billion Records

  • 14-day free trial
  • 27+ billion historical records
  • DNA database with 16 million samples
  • Integrated hints to historical records

You don’t need to worry about compatibility issues with Trees by Ancestry as everything is done online through your Ancestry account – no software download required.

It costs nothing to start building your tree, courtesy of a 14-day free trial, which allows you to test out a bunch of premium features including access to over 27 billion historical records, DNA matching to a DNA database of Ancestry users, and visually-appealing charts.

Track the movements of your ancestors around the globe with access to ancestral information from over 80 countries and learn about the events that shaped their lives on their journey.

Build Your Family Tree with Ancestry!

3. Legacy 9.0 by Legacy Family Tree – Excellent Online Support

  • Free standard version
  • Hints to potential matches in several genealogy databases
  • User-friendly interface
  • Extensive webinar library

Legacy 9.0 is a great family tree builder for beginners thanks to a user-friendly interface and vast library of online webinars, to guide you through the process and provide research tips. The one-off download cost of the family tree software includes 12-months of unlimited access to the webinar library, providing great value-for-money.

Test out Legacy 9.0 before making a commitment with the free standard version. It allows you to start your family tree without paying for costly add-ons. However, you won’t get to try Deluxe features, such as X-DNA inheritance charts, hints to matches in genealogy websites, and an advanced color-coding system.

Build Your Family Tree with Legacy 9.0

4. OneGreatFamily – Huge Online Collaborative Family Tree

  • 7-day free trial
  • Automatic merging of matching family trees
  • Integrated web search
  • Explore the lineages of famous people

OneGreatFamily takes a collective approach to genealogy with all users contributing to what is claimed to be the world’s largest collaborative family tree. This means that when a match to your tree is found in the database of over 250 million individuals, your trees are automatically merged.

Although the interface is old-fashioned, there are a variety of charts to choose from and plenty of features to enhance your genealogy journey. Find out what happened in history on the days your family members were born, see the average age of your ancestors, track the migration of a family line, and more.

Find out if OneGreatFamily has what you need from a family tree builder before committing with a 7-day free trial.

Build Your Family Tree with OneGreatFamily!

5. Family Historian 6 – Good Family Tree Builder for Beginners

  • Unlimited 30-day free trial
  • Over 2o diagram types
  • Internet search tools connected to genealogy sites
  • Easy-to-use software

Thanks to intuitive software and a simple input method, getting your family tree started is easy with Family Historian 6. See just how easy it is to use with an unlimited 30-day free trial and test out premium features including scrapbooking tools, built-in internet search tools, a wide variety of charting options, and map feature.

Further your research into your ancestry with Automatic Data Matching to historical records and family trees from MyHeritage and Findmypast. Although this requires an additional paid subscription to the genealogy website. But, with a reasonable one-off download cost, Family Historian 6 provides great value-for-money.

6. RootsMagic 7 – Research Your Family Tree on the Go

  • Free version available
  • Wide variety of report and chart options
  • Connected to genealogy website records
  • Take your tree anywhere with RootsMagic To Go

RootsMagic 7 offers a free basic version of its family tree builder, which allows you to add as many relatives as you like to your tree, including numerous facts, dates, and media. You can create a wide range of printable charts and reports and access hints to matches on historical records on third party genealogy sites. To view the historical records you’ll need to pay a subscription.

Upgrade to the Platinum version without losing any of your data and access additional features including an integrated WebSearch tool and access to Ancestry records, editable timeline, and use of RootsMagic To Go, which allows you to edit your family tree from anywhere. RootsMagic Premium offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try out all it has to offer, risk-free.

Build Your Family Tree with RootsMagic 7!

7. Family Tree Maker – 20+ Charts and Reports

  • Matches to historical records
  • Useful scrapbooking tools
  • TreeVault Cloud Services
  • Organize and edit media with ease

Unfortunately, Family Tree Maker doesn’t offer a free version or money-back guarantee, but you can create an attractive and extensive family tree in a short space of time courtesy of a simple input method and photo editing software.

You can further research current and unknown ancestors with hints from FamilySearch and Ancestry, with the latter requiring a paid subscription to access historical records. Other features include a useful color-coding system, integrated web search, scrapbooking tools, and over 25 types of charts and reports to choose from.

However, the standout feature of Family Tree Maker is TreeVault, a cloud service that provides additional features including historical weather, an emergency back-up tree, and FTM Connect, and a free mobile app that allows you to view your family tree anywhere.

Build Your Family Tree with Family Tree Maker!

8 – Heredis – Free Demo Version Available

  • Free demo version
  • Integrated with FamilySearch MyHeritage, and Ancestry
  • Dozens of chart options
  • Useful internet search tools

While not the easiest family tree builder to use, Heridis allows you to experiment with the input method and interface for free with the demo version. Use your family tree to create a variety of visually-appealing charts, slideshows, and illustrated books,  and follow your ancestors’ migration with interactive mapping.

Certified by FamilySearch, through Heredis you can access its six billion personal records and historical records for free. It is also synchronized with Ancestry, but to view the records potentially linked to family members, subscription costs apply.

Build Your Family Tree with Heredis!

9. WikiTree – Completely Free Family Tree Builder

  • 100% free
  • Community of collaborators
  • Over 7 million DNA connections
  • 25+ million profiles

Use of WikiTree – a shared social networking genealogy site – is completely free but still provides many of the same features of a premium service. Find new relatives from a database of over 25 million individuals, which includes 7 million DNA test connections.

While researching and adding to your own family tree, at the same time you are contributing to a single worldwide family tree. If you are struggling at any point along the way, the genealogist-to-genealogist forum is an excellent source of information.

Build Your Family Tree with WikiTree!

10. FamilySearch – Access 6 Billion+ Records for Free

  • Six billion+ historical records
  • Collaborative family tree software
  • Automatic tree matching to existing profiles
  • Mobile app available

FamilySearch offers free family tree software and allows you to research your relatives by searching for specific ancestors in the collaborative family tree. With a billion unique profiles in the FamilySearch tree, there is a chance of linking to another users’ tree.

You can also access billions of historical records from the FamilySearch archive without paying for a subscription. In-person help with your family tree is available at over 5,000 family centers across the globe.

Build Your Family Tree with FamilySearch!

And Another Option…

We built our very own family tree builder, the Simple Free Tree Builder, which is great for school projects or for those at the start of their genealogy journey.

What’s In the Fine Print?

When choosing one of these tree-building services, there are a few things to watch out for in terms of additional fees:

  • MyHeritage’s free version allows you to add 250 members to your family tree, but you’ll have to purchase a subscription to access historical records and customer support, and connect your family trees with those of other users.
  • Ancestry offers a 14-day free trial, after which you need to sign up for one of its subscription plans to continue to view historical records.
  • Legacy 9, RootsMagic, Heredis, and a few other family tree builders on this list require just a one-off download cost to use the software. However, to access the historical records from third-party genealogy sites requires a paid subscription.
  • OneTreeFamily offers new users a 7-day free trial, but if you want to continue building your family tree and contribute to the collaborative tree, a monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription is required.
  • Family Historian 6 has a lengthy 30-day free trial, after which it’s a one-time license fee to keep using the software. To get the most out of the family tree builder you’ll probably need access to MyHeritage’s database, which you can purchase at a discounted rate as a Family Historian user.
  • Family Tree Maker is one of the most expensive programs with a one-off download cost and there is no free version or money-back guarantee. Plus, if you want to take advantage of TreeVault, there is an extra monthly fee to pay.

How Do Our Top Picks Compete on Price?

The vendors with the biggest databases – MyHeritage and Ancestry– are understandably the most expensive, but you get unlimited access to billions of historical records. OneGreatFamily offers more flexible subscription plans, but its database is not as extensive you can’t upload raw DNA data to find matches.

The downloadable software products are much cheaper than subscription genealogy sites but can prove to be less cost-effective as they often require a subscription to a genealogy site to access historical records. Family Tree Maker is the priciest of the installable software, while Legacy 9has the lowest one-off download cost.

Want to build your family tree entirely for free? Then choose FamilySearch or WikiTree, but be aware that your access to historical records is limited, compared to the likes of MyHeritage and Ancestry.

Comparison Table

Genealogy Records Record Matches DNA Upload GEDCOM Import Phone Support Mobile App
MyHeritage
AncestryDNA
Legacy Family Tree
OneGreatFamily
Family Historian
RootsMagic
Family Tree Maker
Heredis
WikiTree
FamilySearch

The Bottom Line

Which family tree builder you choose is dependent on how detailed you want your family tree to be. If you’re new to genealogy software or want to create a smaller tree for a family gift, Family Historian 6 is super easy-to-use and has a wide variety of chart options. If you want to create a large-scale tree going back generations, MyHeritage is a great choice, providing access to billions of historical records to further your genealogy research. If you want to try a few family tree builders before making a commitment, Ancestry and OneGreatFamily offer free trials.

FAQ

What software and devices work with family tree builders?

It’s never been easier to build your family tree. There are many benefits of genealogy software over the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Not only can you easily rectify mistakes, but you also have billions of historical documents at your fingertips. Most of the best family tree builders on this list can be used online or are compatible with both Windows and Mac. Many also have apps for iOS and Android.

Which family tree maker is the best?

Each family tree builder has its own pros and cons. Some have large databases of historical records to help with research into your ancestors. Others give you ways to connect with relatives linked to your tree. It’s important to determine what features matter the most to you before choosing your genealogy software.

Our top pick is MyHeritage as it scores well in all the areas we tested. A subscription lets you access more than 12 billion historical records, connect with other users who are potential relatives, and even link DNA test results to your tree.

Can I build my family tree for free?

A number of family tree builders on this list – including Ancestry, Family Historian, and OneGreatFamily – all offer unlimited free trials, so you can try out all the software has to offer, risk-free. Plus, several – including – MyHeritage, RootsMagic, and Heredis – have limited free versions you can test to get an idea if they have the features you’re looking for.

WikiTree and FamilySearch are collaborative family tree programs, which allow you to contribute to their collective family trees completely free. You may need to subscribe to a genealogy website to access additional historical records.

How can you protect your privacy when building your family tree?

Built into most family tree software is the option to make your tree public (visible to others) or private (only visible to you). However, doing so can limit your ability to connect with other potential relatives.

Always make sure you read a company’s privacy policy before signing up to get an understanding of how it stores and uses your personal data.

How can you find pictures of distant relatives?

Adding pictures of your distant relatives to your tree the fun part and it can really bring your charts and reports to life. The majority of the family tree builders on our list allow you to add media to your tree, and some even have photo editing software.

What if you only have photographs of relatives going back a couple of generations? Where do you find pictures of your more distant ancestors?

A simple web search may provide you with some images of your ancestors, particularly if they appeared in newspaper articles or submissions to Wikipedia. But, if you don’t get lucky, subscribing to a genealogy – like MyHeritage or Ancestry – may unveil photos of your distant relatives in their archives.

About Author
Gemma Davison
Gemma Davison

Gemma is an Applied Biology graduate who has always had an interest in DNA, spending a few years after her degree researching epigenetics. She always keeps up to date with the latest advancements in DNA technology and has even DNA-tested her puppy.

Gemma is an Applied Biology graduate who has always had an interest in DNA, spending a few years after her degree researching epigenetics. She always keeps up to date with the latest advancements in DNA technology and has even DNA-tested her puppy.