I learned right away that free genealogy software practically didn't exist -- except for Legacy 7 for Windows.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Stop paying for software:
Legacy Family Tree is a well designed and free genealogy program for Windows and some Macs

Aug. 16, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard

   The best way to save money is to stop spending it. That's the idea behind my new series on the best free software for Windows and Macs. This week I'm recommending a free genealogy program for Windows that can also run on Macs that have Windows installed.
   I've always felt like a bystander when it comes to genealogy software. I haven't been keeping track of my roots in any organized fashion, so whenever someone has asked me to recommend genealogy software I've had to hem and haw my way out of the conversation.
   But never more. The proverbial lightbulb lit up in my head the other day and I realized I was the perfect guinea pig for trying out genealogy software. If a genealogical dimwit like me could use it, anybody could. Right?
   So I looked for the best beginners genealogy program out there. It had to meet three requirements. First, it had to have enough features to make it a keeper. I didn't want something that was dumbed down. Second, it had to be easy to use. And by "easy," I mean REALLY easy. And, third, it had to be free.
   Whoops! Free software is easy to find when you're looking for utilities. But I learned right away that free genealogy software practically didn't exist -- except for the program I chose, called Legacy 7 for Windows.
   The full name is Legacy 7 Family Tree. There's a Deluxe Edition, which costs $30 for the downloadable version. But the version I was interested in is the Standard Edition, which is free. You can download it from www.legacyfamilytree.com.
   The names of the two editions don't give much of a hint as to the differences. The Standard Edition should be called the "Fancy Edition" to help show how many features it has -- 40 or more, based on a quick count. Millennia Corp., the company behind Legacy 7, says the Deluxe version has nearly 100 extra features, but most of them are icing on the family cake. A list of Deluxe features can be viewed at www.legacyfamilytree.com/DeluxeEdition.asp.
   Setting up my family tree was simple. I liked the way Legacy 7 kept me focused on the task at hand and guided my entries. Charts were easy to make, with a lot of appearance options. I was able to add as many as 15 children to each family unit -- no, not for anyone I know; I was just testing -- and I was able to keep all kinds of notes for each grouping.
   I was able to use photos throughout the program -- for birth, death, burials and other events -- and I was able to create Web pages out of genealogy reports.
   What about Mac users? If you have Windows already installed on your Mac, you'll find that Legacy 7 runs perfectly. But I had problems running it under Crossover Mac, the software that runs Windows programs without needing Windows installed. The charting program that comes with Legacy 7 ran nicely under Crossover, but the main program gave me errors.