Working with GEDCOM Files Made Easy - Part 1
June 2008 by Robert
Why GEDCOM files are a genealogy
researcher’s best friend…
How would you like to no longer stress over GEDCOM files? It is time to solve this genealogy mystery once and for all.
This introduction section shows you what GEDCOM files are and begins to solve the confusion and frustration that surrounds them.
The majority of genealogy researchers don’t know how to work with them and are missing out on so much.
Over the years, I’ve found this GEDCOM file issue to be a stumbling block with the majority genealogy researchers.
Here is genealogy GEDCOM file video workshop for you, with step-by-step lessons in an easy-to-understand presentation. This workshop will help solve your GEDCOM file phobias once and for all.
Part 1: Why GEDCOM Files Are a Genealogy Researcher’s Best Friend.
The lessons and examples in this workshop go by fast, so don’t be shy about using the “Pause” button on the videos.
What the Heck is a GEDCOM File?
Remember, a GEDCOM file is “just a file,” and like any type of file, the file name has a three letter extension.
For example, you type letters on your word processor, right? Let’s say you use Microsoft Word. When you save a letter (which is a file), you are saving a “.doc” or document file.
So if save a letter that you are writing to a family member and name it “familyletter,” here’s how the name of that Word/document file would look: familyletter.doc.
It works the same with genealogy files that you create with your genealogy software.
If you create a genealogy data file (with names, dates, and places) with the Family Tree Maker software, the file extension will be .ftm (for Family Tree Maker) or .ftw.
Here’s how a Family Tree Maker file, named “Ragan” would look: ragan.ftm or ragan.ftw.
If you create a genealogy data file with the PAF (Personal Ancestral File) software, it saves the information as .paf files. You get the idea, a PAF file named “Ragan” would look like this: ragan.paf.
The same applies to GEDCOM files. The three letter extension for these files will be .ged.
Using the Ragan example, the file name would look like this: ragan.ged.
You are just working with FILES. You do it already
with other software that you are already using, right?
Don’t make this a big deal because…the genealogy software does all the work for you.
It is important to think of these different genealogy file like this, because the most common misunderstanding that I have seen, time and time again, is someone who can type their data into a genealogy software program (say, Family Tree Maker) and save the information with no problem. But, they don’t realize the difference between their .ftm file and a GEDCOM file.
In fact, they don’t even realize what a big deal that GEDCOM files are. You will see why they are so important, how to work with them, and how to find them on the Internet in this mini-course.
RESOURCE: The Genealogy Software Programs
Shown in this GEDCOM Workshop are:
PAF (Personal Ancestral File): PAF is a free genealogy and family history program that
allows you to quickly and easily collect, organize and share your family history and genealogy information.
You can download this powerful free genealogy software from the FamilySearch.org site. Click on this Personal Ancestral File link, you will see the link to get the PAF software on the front page.
Family Tree Maker: This link will take you to the latest version of the popular Family Tree Maker 2008.