How to read a Family Tree Maker file without software?
Hello, I'm new to researching and collecting our family history. I just found this community. I My uncle has done a lot of work in our family history and he sent me a file he made on 'Family Tree Maker' software. I don't have this software and I prefer to use Family Search. I've been struggling to figure out a way to open or read the file, but am at a loss. I am dying to see what information is in the file! I think there might be lost relatives that aren't cataloged on Family Search!
Is there a way to see the contents of the file or upload it to Family Search without having the Family Tree Maker software?
If I go to a Family Search center, can they help me open the file at the center?
Thank you! (I don't even know where to post questions in the community!)
Julia Szent-Györgyi ✭✭✭✭✭
Is the file in FTM's proprietary format, or is it a GEDCOM?
If the former, then you'll need some type of software to open it. I'm not finding any information online about what (besides FTM itself) can do that. I did see some evidence that some public libraries have FTM available for public use; calling your local Family Search center or library is a good first step. The idea would be to open the file using the software, and then create a GEDCOM file out of it.
If it's a GEDCOM file, then any genealogy software should be able to open it -- but even failing that, it's a text file. Granted, it's a bit gibberish-y as text.
(Random snippet from random .ged file on my computer.)
You can upload a GEDCOM to FamilySearch, in the Genealogies section. This is like a public cloud backup for genealogy files: the result will be publicly searchable and viewable, but nobody will be able to make any changes. The drawback is that the upload is limited in size, and it strips notes, sources, and other such attachments out of the file. It also strips any profile not marked as deceased. (I haven't done it since 2018, so my memory may be faulty, but I seem to recall it being highly literal-minded: if the file didn't explicitly include "DEAT Y" for the person, the upload didn't show him.)
FamilySearch also offers a compare-and-add process for uploaded files, with which one can add to the collaborative Family Tree from the file, but unfortunately the process is badly flawed, and I highly disrecommend it. (It's like working in Family Tree while blindfolded, with a six-year-old to read you what's on the screen.)2
If your uncle sent you an FTM (*.ftmb) file, he can just as easily create and send you a GEDCOM (*.ged) file.1
Thank you both for the help! @Julia Szent-Györgyi, I will see if our local Family Search has this software.
@Aine, I had asked my uncle to take a screenshot of the open file or print it, but this was the best he could do, I wish it would be a GEDCOM file!0
Which version of Family Tree Maker is he using? If it is one of the recent versions, under the Help tab, he has access to the Companion Guide, with easy instructions to download a GEDCOM.
I use Family Tree Maker every day and have for more than 15 years.1