Who Do You Think You Are?
Take an introductory tour of RootsMagic 8
RootsMagic 8 features a dramatically different user interface. Nick Peers shows you the ropes
The recently released RootsMagic 8 – and its cut-down, free sibling RootsMagic 8 Essentials – has had quite the makeover. As we revealed in last month’s review, its user interface has been overhauled to make the program more accessible and easier to navigate. But as with all radical changes, there’s a learning curve involved.
This is where we step in. If you’ve just upgraded to the new program or are thinking of upgrading but unsure whether you’ll get on with the new user interface, then our step-by-step guide will take you on a tour of the program’s key areas – where to find them, and how they work.
RootsMagic 8 is the first version of the software that has been built from scratch to run natively on Macs; previously the Windows version was wrapped inside a ‘compatibility layer’ to allow you to run it. The good news is that the Windows and Mac versions are virtually identical.
You can download RootsMagic 8 Essentials at rootsmagic.co.uk/tryrootsmagic-essentials. Remember that not all of the features work in this free, cut-down version. However, we’ve flagged this where applicable.
1 Import Your Tree If you’re upgrading from RootsMagic 7, then RootsMagic 8 will install alongside it. When you launch the program, choose ‘Import File’ under ‘RootsMagic Files’ then select ‘RootsMagic Versions 1–7’ to convert your file to work with the latest version of the software.
2 Edit People And Families The ‘People’ section is where you build your family tree, adding individuals and families, and then fleshing out their details. To switch views, use the icons beneath ‘Pedigree’. If you buy the full version (from £29.95, or £19.95 for an upgrade), you will be able to open more than one edit screen at once.
3 Manage Place Names Select ‘Places’ to view the new Places index. Select a place on the left and use the right-hand panel to edit it – insert longitude and latitude for precise map placement, and click the ‘Place Items’ panel beneath it to add notes, attach photographs, assign tasks (full version only) and more.
4 View Maps If you’ve purchased the full version, click the ‘Map View’ icon (highlighted in orange in the screenshot) to view the selected location on a map (any geocoded place details will show up too). You can magnify and pan around the map. If the map is incorrect, go back to ‘Places’ to correct its coordinates.
5 Map Family Movements Click the ‘People’ icon in the righthand panel followed by the ‘Nobody’ dropdown to choose ‘Select people from a list’ to map the events associated with one or more individuals. Place a tick next to each person and click ‘Select’. The selected person’s markers are in red, everyone else’s are in blue.
6 Set Up Tasks The ‘Tasks’ section – which is also not available in the free Essentials version of RootsMagic 8 – combines the old ‘Research Manager’ and ‘To-Do’ sections in one convenient location. As you’d expect, you can go here to create your tasks and research logs, plus organise them into folders.
7 Publish And Upload Select ‘Publish’ where you’ll find options for creating reports and charts (some but not all of them are available in RootsMagic 8 Essentials). This is also the place to go to link your tree to Ancestry’s TreeShare or FamilySearch Central for backing-up and syncing purposes.
8 Design A Chart Click ‘Pedigree Chart’ or the new ‘Fan Chart’ (full version only) to explore the new charting tool. Use the ‘Settings’ pane to configure your chart: select the start person, then set options such as how many generations to include, and the colour scheme and fonts. Then click ‘Generate Report’.
9 Customise Look And Feel Select ‘Settings’ and click the monitor icon to access ‘Display Settings’. Here you can change the theme colour, font size and background colour on pedigree and family views, among other options. Tick ‘High contrast grid highlight’ if you struggle to see selected items on lists.