Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Using RootsMagic with and

RootsMagic is a full-featured, genealogical database program for both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. The program is also Certified and can read and synchronize information from the FamilySearch Family Tree. RootsMagic supports all of the LDS features. One new, outstanding feature of RootsMagic 7 is its ability to provide access to the automatic hinting features of both FamilySearch Family Tree and the Record Matches.

To understand what RootsMagic is providing to the user in connecting with the record hints, it is necessary to understand what the two online programs are doing. Family Tree has billions of records both digital and on microfilm. The microfilmed records date back to 1938 when the Genealogical Society of Utah (the predecessor to the FamilySearch) began microfilming genealogically important records around the world. There are approximately 2.4 million rolls of microfilm in the FamilySearch collection. This record acquisition project is still operating, now with digital cameras, and millions of new records are being added each year. There is also another ongoing project to digitize all of the existing microfilmed records. Both the records that are converted from microfilm and the records that are being acquired with digital cameras are being put online for free access in the Historical Record Collections.

One of the major challenges is to index all of these records so that the information in the record images is searchable. Many of these records have already been indexed and therefore searchable. Others are still in the form of microfilm images which must be viewed to extract the information on the records.

In 2012, FamilySearch released the Family Tree program to the public. In 2014, FamilySearch added the automatic record hint function. Essentially, the program searches indexed records for connections with your ancestors in the Family Tree. Here is an example of some of the Record Hints for an individual in the program:

Clicking on the Record Hints brings up a series of screens that allow you to evaluate the record to see if it applies to your ancestor and then attach the record as a source to the people in the Family Tree mentioned in the record. Family Tree and the entire website are free to registered users.

The entire program is based on adding your ancestors to a family tree. As soon as you begin adding your family names, the program begins to find suggested records through the Record Match and Record Detective programs. As you continue to add ancestors and their family members to your tree, the program constantly adds suggested Record Matches. These matched records come from the huge collection of fully indexed records on the website. At the time this was written, had just over 6 billion records with more being constantly added.

Here is a screenshot of part of my family tree on

The arrows point to some of the icons indicating that there are Record Matches available for these ancestors. I presently have over 14,000 pending Record Matches for the individuals in my family tree on  Here is a screenshot of some of the records that are available.

Now, back to RootsMagic.

The RootsMagic program is your own copy of your family tree showing your own research about your family. It is not an online family tree, but is stored on your computer. However, the program shows you the Record Hints and the Record Matches. Here is a screenshot with arrows pointing to the little "light bulbs" indicating possible record hints in these two online programs.

When you click on the light bulb link you get a window indicating how many record hints are available and how may are outstanding in each of the two online programs.

In this case I have 2 total record hints from and 21 from The large difference in the number of record hints reflects the fact that has been adding Record Matches far longer than and the fact that has over 76 million members worldwide and their record hints include Smart Matches to people who share your ancestor in their own family tree.

If I click on the light bulb link to the pending record hints, I can view the record hints in either or Here is a screenshot of some of the pending Record Matches for Samuel Shepherd on

There are many more details to the process of adding these records to your family tree in RootsMagic and/or adding the records to your ancestors in either the Family Tree or to your family tree on


  1. Great article ! I would like to see a side-by-side comparison of the major websites (FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast, and My Heritage) showing total number of records, number of trees, newspapers, number of databases, and number of photos / documents / stories contained. Is that possible? Thanks for your great work. I follow your blog posts faithfully. Best regards, Wayne Moore

    1. It would be interesting if that information were available, but each of the websites has a completely different way of accounting for their records and images. No such comparison is possible.