By Linda Jonas


What is a GEDCOM file?

GEDCOM is an acronym for for GEnealogical Data COMmuncation. It is a way to exchange genealogical data between different computer genealogy programs.  For example, if you use Family Tree Maker and your cousin uses a different software program, you can exchange information by creating a GEDCOM file that both programs can read. Almost all genealogy software supports importing from and/or exporting to GEDCOM format

What can I do with GEDCOM files?

If you create a GEDCOM file with your genealogy software and add this file to your Personal Page at Family Tree DNA you can allow people who match you to see the names of your ancestors. This will help them decide how they're related to you. You can also attach a GEDCOM file to your Ysearch entry so that other people can see your pedigree chart. If you submitted a DNA sample to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, you may also want to update the pedigree information you submitted. If you decide to change your genealogy software in the future, you don't need to retype all of your information into the new program.  Simply export a GEDCOM file from your old genealogy program and import it into your new one. Furthermore, because you want to preserve your genealogy, you should create additional copies of your genealogical records and send these copies to family members, to databases such as Ancestry.comís World Family Tree, the Pedigree Resource File at, and to other online websites. You can do all of these with a GEDCOM file.  No matter what computer program is used by online databases or by your friends and relatives, you can create a GEDCOM file that almost every genealogy program can read. Now letís create one!

How do I create a GEDCOM file?

The two most popular genealogy software programs are Family Tree Maker because you can purchase it at most computer stores, and Personal Ancestral File because it is available free on the Internet at <>. The program I recommend is Legacy Family Tree because it has fields for recording DNA results. I will show you how to create a GEDCOM file using these three programs. If you use another software program, you can contact me by email and I will help you create a file using your software.


Personal Ancestral file 5.2

1 Click on File, then Export.












2. The Export box will pop up.

The left column is called "Export to:" In that column, click on "Other GEDCOM 5.5." Then decide how much information you want to include in your GEDCOM file, and select those things in the "Include" column on the right. For example, do you want to include your notes and sources? If so, make sure there is a check mark in the box next to those choices. At the bottom of the screen, there is a Selected Individuals box. You can specify whether you want to include everyone in your file (All) or just some of the people (Partial). [If you select Partial, you then have to click on the Select box to the right to choose the people you want to include. Click on the name of the person with whom you want to begin. Use the Relationship filter to decide how much of your file you want, then click the Select button, then OK at the bottom of the screen. This will take you back to the Export box.] Click Export.

3. You will now be at the box for "Export GEDCOM File As."


Start at the bottom. In the "Save as" field, make sure it says "GEDCOM files (*.ged). Type a name for your file in the "File name" field (e.g. Smith). Click the arrow to the right of the Save field and choose the directory where you want your file to be saved. Be sure to remember where you put your file! Now Click Export


4. Your GEDCOM file will now be in the directory where you save it in step 3. If you saved it on the desktop, look for an icon that looks like the one below. Here is a icon for a GEDCOM file created with the file name Hutchins.


Legacy Family Tree


1. To create a GEDCOM file in Legacy, click on FILE in the menu bar, point to "Export to" in the drop-down menu, and click on "GEDCOM FileÖ" in the additional dropdown menu then provided:

This GEDCOM export window will appear:

2. Click on the down arrow after the "Produce file for" box, and select GEDCOM 5.5 only." If you are sending the file to a public database, check the box "Suppress details for living people." Then click on "Select file name and start export."

This "Export GEDCOM file" window will pop up:

3. Select where on your computer you want this file to be saved, and make a note of it so that you will have no trouble finding it when you decide to attach it to an email.

4. Name the file into the "File name" box, click on ĎSave," and your export will begin.


Family Tree Maker Version 10

(This is not the most recent version of Family Tree Maker, but I know that many people have older versions of this program.   The procedure for your version may be slightly different.)

1. Click on File, then Copy/Export family file.


2. In the box that pops up, start from the bottom.

Under "Save as type:" select GEDCOM (*GED). The program will automatically enter a file name in the in the "File name:" field (e.g. SMITH.GED). You can change the file name if you wish. Click the arrow to the right of the "Save in" field and select the directory where you want to save you file. For example, if you want to put it on a diskette, you might select "3-1/2 Floppy [A:]." Remember the name of the directory where you saved you file so you can find it again! Now Click the Save button.

3. The Export to GEDCOM box will pop up. You donít have to select anything here, you can leave the defaults as they are. Click OK.

4. Your GEDCOM file will now be in the directory where you saved it in step 2.