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The family-history market has shifted in the two years since Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 was released. Major updates to both Reunion and MacFamilyTree have seen them close the gap considerably, although FTM does manage to stay on top — just by a smidge. This third iteration is a relatively low-key release, concentrating on making solid improvements.
There is one new feature of note: the Family View. This provides a traditional top-down view of your tree as an alternative to Pedigree View, and makes it far easier to browse larger trees.
Version 2 introduced TreeSync, a means of keeping your family history in sync between Mac, Ancestry.com, and your iPhone or iPad through the free Ancestry app. FTM3 makes this more reliable, plus it syncs a lot more information between your devices. It also tightens privacy controls by letting you mark photos as “private” to prevent uploading.
There are still annoyances, most notably that you can only link one tree to one computer at a time. FTM3 also switches file format to match the PC version, which means a lengthy conversion if upgrading from version 2. The process doesn’t preserve TreeSync connections, so you have to unlink the tree on Ancestry.com before uploading your file as a new online tree.
Other changes won’t set pulses racing, but prove themselves where it matters, making your family history that little bit easier to manage. You can now copy and paste a person’s facts to someone else in your tree, retaining all associated information. Better still, you can paste the fact to the target’s immediate relatives at the same time, which is perfect for census records and other shared events.
Other tweaks are similarly minor, but welcome. A new global sort option lets you display children by birth order, while you can also more easily export individual branches of your tree. The Places database has also been tweaked, so locations can now be grouped by city, state, or country. Duplicate facts are easily merged, and a collection of new and improved reports makes sharing research far simpler.
All of these tweaks strengthen FTM’s existing feature set, but its media management tools continue to compare poorly to both MacFamilyTree and Reunion, while the Smart Stories narrative tool, introduced in the PC version back in 2011, is still absent.
The bottom line. Gripes aside, Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 is a worthy upgrade. It delivers some solid improvements in key areas, helping to keep its historically shaped nose ahead of its nearest rivals.
Family Tree Maker Mac 3
OS X 10.6 or later, Intel CPU, DVD drive for installation, internet access for online features
The new Family View is easy to navigate. Ability to copy and paste facts. Superb web and mapping tools.
TreeSync feature still undercooked.