Family Tree Maker 2009 Features

Family Tree Maker 2009 Features
Part two of my review of Family Tree Maker 2009© (FTM 2009) includes features in the Web Search, Places and Media workspaces. FTM expanded the Web Search feature with more databases on a manual basis, either paid for or free. FTM still searches the Ancestry database for results. However, users are required to have a subscription to Ancestry to retrieve the document images.

Users can review all the Web Search results from the selected databases for relevancy, then import the vital information into your family tree including the source information. Document images can also be imported into the Media section of FTM. The Web Search window has three panels (similar to FTM versions 2005 to 2008): 1) database results at the top half, 2) your family tree info in the lower left, and 3) the highlighted database results in the lower right. Users can compare the relevancy between the two lower panels as shown below in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Web Search Results View

After the database results have appeared, users then select the preferred choice(s), which will show the image associated with the preferred result as highlighted in blue. Users then select the image to read the document details. Users have the option to save the image into the Media folder and merge the source information into the master source file. Users can add notations into the Notes panel.

Tip: Ancestry Library Edition users can email any image directly to your email account, then import it directly into your laptop via a Wi-Fi connection at the library along with the source information. Import the information into the same FTM Media folder for later use. This is a nice feature that Ancestry has created. You can do the same with your home desktop computer.

FTM users will appreciate the Places workspaces with over three million worldwide map locations as shown below in Figure 3 that shows the locations of your ancestors. That’s a considerable amount of map locations compared to earlier FTM versions. More locations can be added to the main map database. Three panels are shown in the Places workspaces: 1) Index of ancestor locations in the collapsible left panel, 2) a map of the selected ancestor location in the center panel, and 3) a list of people associated with the selected location in the movable right panel. Any of the panels can be changed by moving the inside panel edges in or out by selecting the dotted lines or dragging them with your mouse.

Figure 3. Road Map View

FTM 2009 uses the Microsoft Virtual Earth© maps worldwide database to show where your ancestors lived. What’s unique about the virtual maps database is the ability to view a road map, view second or third dimensional maps, or an actual satellite Aerial or Bird’s Eye view. You can zoom fairly close in any view to see more detail. The Bird’s Eye view shows great pictures of houses and streets in today’s world. However, the Bird’s Eye view only works on certain locations in the United States and United Kingdom for now. Lots of map capability is available and expanding. This is definitely worth a trip down memory lane!

The Media workspace includes all family photos, video or audio clips of your ancestors as shown below in Figure 4. All three media items have to be imported into FTM’s media folder before FTM can use them in any of the reports, album, or book. There are two tabs in this section: 1) the entire Collection tab that shows all family photos and documents including any video and audio clips, and 2) the Detail tab that gives more information on a specific Media item. The details include 1) a photo or document image of the selected item, 2) the link to that ancestor in the lower panel, and 3) details of the media item in the right panel. Audio and video clips of family history interviews can be included also.

Figure 4. Media View

Adding photos or document images is easy to do. It’s recommended to make an original copy and place it in the ‘My Pictures’ folder on your computer, then import the photo into FTM by selecting the Person tab in the People workspace. Then select the Media tab in the lower panel, select New, and follow the instructions on adding a new photo for any ancestor. Sadly, the previous version internal photo editor has been removed that allowed some photo editing functions before importing into the Media folder. Users will have to use any external photo editing program to modify ancestor photos. I’ve requested to reinstate the photo editing program back into FTM since it was very handy to change cropping, brightness, and contrast of the photos.

Tip: For better photo organization, add more folders names using genealogy photos, surname and given name (if necessary) for faster recall later. Can you imagine stacking lots of photos into one folder and trying to find it later?
The Media workspace view received a makeover in FTM 2008 after reports of sluggish operation. One of the past complaints of FTM 2008 was how long it took to load up the software and use it right away, provided lots of photos were included in the same family file. FTM 2009 resolved that problem by creating a separate folder for the photos separate of the main family file. As before, even though some screens look too busy or crowded, many of the panels are collapsible, thus expanding the main content for easier viewing.

About the author: Bob teaches monthly FTM classes for Larimer County Genealogical Society ( in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he is also president of his society. He is an author of a family history book, speaker at many workshops, regional societies and regional conferences, and a family historian. Bob’s email is

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Larimer County Genealogical Society

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