Synium Software – Mac Family Tree review

family tree software for the Apple Macintosh
Photo of Synium Software – Mac Family Tree

In the main, genealogy software is notable for two things: its popularity (no-one likes to pass up a good family history/mystery) and the awfulness of the interface. Web-based services had made some progress here but much of the software has limped along behind, like an old-fashioned database wearing a suit from the charity shop.

We’re pleased to say that Mac Family Tree 6.0.2 goes some way towards rectifying this situation by providing users with many of the key features they require from a genealogy program and also by looking as though someone’s put some thought into the design.

Mac Family Tree has all the data entry features you need to create a wide range of media-rich genealogy charts. Special mention goes to the Virtual Tree view which displays a three dimensional representation of your family tree, where the different members hang in the air like pieces on a child’s mobile: useful for small trees, hopeless for larger ones.

You can add images, sounds, video clips, PDFs, web sites and so on to go alongside the more standard information like facts, figures, dates, relationships, source citations and so on. Once you’ve exhausted the information that relatives can provide, it also lets you hunt through a range of online databases (including Ancestry, and Findagrave) from within the program, though you’ll need subscriptions to use some of these. Disappointingly, it’s only actually integrated with FamilySearch, an online genealogy service currently limited to members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Version 6 introduces plenty of new features: a revamped interface that separates the main functions (Edit, Views, Reports and Export) yet makes them easily accessible from the main screen; the new breadcrumbs-style headings along the top which speed up navigation no end (especially with large, complex trees); and printing has been transformed making it faster, more intuitive and capable of producing much more professional-looking results.

You can also build family trees visually using the new editor by ‘dropping’ family members onto the screen instead of just filling in a bunch of forms, and this makes creating and understanding relationships much easier than before.

Elsewhere, the new version is cleverer at handling geographical locations and integrating them into an individual’s details or timeline and allowing you to see instantly all the events that took place at a particular location, and finally it adds a to-do list, more reliable GEDCOM import/export and generally much faster performance.

The swishness of the new-style interface and the sophistication of those reports and family tree charts should be enough to convince any Mac user interested in their family history to crack open the box. The data entry features are rich, the interface intuitive and the charts themselves a joy to behold (who doesn’t like a good fan chart?). We’d rate it even higher, though, if the FamilySearch stuff was available to the wider public or if the program itself was integrated with the Ancestry web site.

Company: Synium Software

Contact: +49 (0) 6131 4970 0

Mac Family Tree is a good choice for Mac users interested in setting down their family's history. They'll appreciate the interface and the data recording features as well as the variety of tree styles and the quality of the printouts. Better integration with online data services would improve the product, but when FamilySearch (which is included) becomes widely available at the end of the year that'll go some way to plugging the gap.