Family Tree Maker Finally Gets a Free Update: Here’s How to Find It

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Family Tree Maker Finally Gets a Free Update: Here’s How to Find It


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Family Tree Maker (FTM) has been through more than a few twists and turns over the last year. In Dec 2015, Ancestry announced that it would no longer sell or support its popular genealogy program and many thought FTM was done for.

Shortly after, however, it was announced that Software MacKiev, the maker of Family Tree Maker’s Mac version, would be taking over the program. At the time MacKiev promised that they would provide a free update to the software to those with current versions of the program (2014 on Windows and 3 on Mac). That was almost a year ago — and MacKiev has now made good on that promise.

This weekend, MacKiev sent out an email to current users (who are registered and subscribed to their updates list) letting them know that a stable, recommended update is now live (an earlier, less-than-fully-stable update was offered in late 2016). This update provides a new version of Family Tree Maker – 2014.1 or 3.1 depending on your system – and it looks like they’ve made some big improvements.

The new version promises to increase stability, security, speed and responsiveness and has, according to MacKiev, been extensively tested to work out the bugs. If you’ve been having issues with your copy of 2014 or 3, as many of us have, this update may be your solution.

Who qualifies for the update?

According to MacKiev, the update is for users of FTM 2014 (or Mac 3) who registered their copy of the program. When following the link to receive the update you will be asked to enter information to verify your registration.

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What if I never registered or don’t know what version I have?

If you never registered you can do so under the “Help” drop down (top left) in your software. This is also where you can find out what version of the program you have if you are unsure (click on “About” under the “Help” drop down). Once registered, you can sign up for updates from MacKiev here. Click on the green circle in the upper left.

What if I have an older version of the program?

A discounted offer to upgrade is being offered. You can find this offer in the email they sent to registered owners and here.

Will TreeSync still work in the new version?

According to the update email, TreeSync® will continue to work after the update. MacKiev will be retiring the current version of TreeSync® eventually, but will replace it with a new version before they do. This a big relief since many of us count on that feature for a seamless integration between devices and to more easily back up our ancestry records.

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Should I update to the new Family Tree Maker?

The decision about whether or not to update is yours, but given the ongoing issues many have been having with FTM 2014 and older versions, this update seems like a great idea. It promises to provide much-needed stability and speed, and will no doubt be required for any future updates or upgrades. There may be some issues, as there usually are with updates, but MacKeiv’s release of an earlier version of this update likely helped them solve many of these bugs before offering the new, stable version.

So, how do I update?

If you received the update email from Software MacKiev read it carefully and follow the instructions. If you did not get the email you can find a link to the update page below.

A few important words of caution, as provided by MacKiev, before you update.

Make sure you have your version installed. The update will look for an installed version to update. If you deleted your copy at some point you can get a free replacement here.

Do a manual backup of your tree with media. This is always a good idea every time you update. To do this, simply select “Backup” under the “File” menu link in the upper left hand corner of FTM. Make sure you give your file a new name, such as YourTreeBackup0117 and don’t forget to make sure the media checkbox is selected. This only takes a moment.

Don’t unlink your tree from Ancestry. The update will move your link to the new version.

The update process is fairly simple. Follow this link to the update page, verify your registration and then follow the ordering steps provided by MacKiev. They will ask you to fill out an order form for your free update, will present you with some addon items to consider before completing your “purchase,” and then provide you with a download link.

Once you have downloaded the new update make sure your copy of FTM is closed and run the provided installer. An install wizard will walk you through the needed steps. We had no issues updating our copy.

You might also enjoy:

Stop ‘Saving’ Records to Your Ancestry Tree Until You Read This – information on the importance of backing up each media file in your tree so you don’t lose access and how to do it with FTM

Are You Still Using Family Tree Maker? If So, Read This – includes alternatives to Family Tree Maker

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11 Comments
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  • Alice Kauzlarich
    January 6, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Mine did not link automatically. Now I have to figure out how to get them linked without uploading them to Ancestry since they are already there.

  • JHM
    January 5, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    First of all, i don’t care if the software syncs with Ancestry or not. I do not have a family tree on Ancestry nor will I ever. I investigated the option and when Ancestry told me that if I put a tree up, then they own the copyright an I forego all my rights to the material -yes, I lose everything I researched, after paying them for the ability to research. We bought FTM 2014, It would never install on my laptop. I spent 4 hours on the phone with someone from Ancestry. The icon still shows up but it goes no where. While talking to the guy from Ancestry, I found out that if using FTM 2014, the data belongs to Ancestry. No one can tell me my hard work belongs to them. I do a lot of research in libraries, cemeteries, court houses, etc that have nothing to do with Ancestry but I do put that info in my FTM so I can print reports, etc. It will be interesting to see what the new company has in their agreement.

  • Lisa Baker
    January 4, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I’m still using Family Tree Maker 16. Bought 2011 when it came out to run on my new at the time Win 7 laptop as the laptop wouldn’t let me install FTM 16, kept saying the solution was to purchase the upgrade. 2011 was a piece of crap. Made my new laptop with 8Gb ram and 1Tb hard drive run like a slug; tried de- and re-installing several times over the years. Same slug result. Laptop works great without it. Funny thing is I bought a Win 7 desktop and upgraded to Win 10 last summer. FTM 16 mostly works on it, although I can’t print reports, create gedcom files and the newer names I’m adding (over 92,000) don’t always show up in the list. But if I find a family member that still shows up in the list, I can trace down to the new individuals. Wasn’t about to ruin my working database by installing the 2011 software on my PC.

    Don’t care about TreeSync. My Ancestry tree has less than 3000 names. I prefer to choose who to add. I also go back and forth with having a membership and am currently in a not active membership period. I do my own backups to my external hard drives and memory sticks.

    There’s no price listed for the upgrade. As far as I’m concerned, I spent good money and was royally ripped off with the piece of garbage FTM 2011 software (and there were plenty of other people complaining how bad it was on different websites). 1) What’s the price and 2) any chance to test it out to see if the new version actually works.

  • Diana Covey Frymyer
    January 3, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    My biggest regret with FTM is the fact that I bought many CD’s to do research, ie, marriage records, death records, SS death index, etc…I’d be safe to say I bought nearly 30 or 40 of these & FTM doesn’t read them any more. What am I supposed to do to be able to read my ‘material’ again? Just let me say I’m highly irritated.

    • Sonia Roberts
      January 4, 2017 at 7:17 am

      “Family Archive Viewer” (http://family-archive-viewer.software.informer.com/11.0/) this is what I use to view all those old FTM CDs from years past that don’t work anymore with FTM.. I downloaded it when FTM no longer worked. I don’t think it’s a good program for creating your tree but it’s great for viewing the CDs.. Hope this helps

    • Crista Cowan
      January 4, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Diana, All of the old FTM CDs are now available as fully searchable databases on Ancestry.

      • Cindy Clark
        January 7, 2017 at 8:17 am

        Not all of them – at least the RI Vital Records #215 isn’t there but I can use it with Archive Viewer.

    • Lisa Baker
      January 4, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      I also have a number of CD’s that I haven’t been able to view. All well and good to say they’re on-line in Ancestry’s database, but if your membership isn’t active, too bad, can’t review.

      Will try out the Family Archive Viewer to see if I can access the information, to cross-reference to what I’ve already downloaded from Ancestry during an active membership period and what may still be useful.

  • Marion Connell
    January 3, 2017 at 5:10 am

    What about “Roots Magic”? Isn’t it going to sync with Ancestry later too?

    • Sally Jarvis
      January 7, 2017 at 7:18 am

      I believe Roots Magic will already sync with Ancestry, and it seems to do a smoother job than FTM ever did. With FTM I ended up with duplicates in both my home tree and the one on Ancestry and in some cases it added info to the wrong person. When RM first made the deal with FTM users they promised they would work on getting it to smoothly integrate with Ancestry, and they seem to have kept that promise. They also have a version that will run on flash drive.

      I thought FTM was a great program before Ancestry bought it. Ancestry seemed much more interested in just mining the data from FTM sources and synced trees than they ever were in customer service.

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