FTM 2014 Using Family Tree Maker 2014 - Ancestry/MacKiev

Family Tree Maker 2017 has now been released, with new technology for the connection to Ancestry for sync and other functions. So Cutlock & Co has split out pages for FTM 2014 (below), as well as FTM 2012, versions. These versions are effectively obsolete unless you don’t use any features which connect with Ancestry – search, record merge, hints, sync. Other internet access has also gone as of July 2017 – error messages misleadingly imply that there is a firewall or internet issue but it is rather that Ancestry has switched off the portal at its end.

See the main FTM page for the 2017 version, which will have some differences. Other pages: Sync trees between Ancestry and your computer includes options beyond TreeSync; FTM Reports.

The material below is based on FTM versions up to 2014.1.

MacKiev has FTM support pages.  The most active forum to post problems and queries is probably the independent Facebook FTM Users group.

Moving from Ancestry and other changes

In 2016, Ancestry transferred ownership of the Windows edition of Family Tree Maker to Software MacKiev. Previous to that MacKiev were developers of the Mac edition, which didn’t have quite the same features (up until FTM 2017).

While most of the following has been updated to reflect the move of support material between websites, all information about (Tree)Sync, Ancestry search, merge and hints is now out of date as these no longer work in FTM 2014 or earlier, as of 29th March 2017. {Note: italic items in brackets are obsolete}.

FTM version 2014.1

Software MacKiev released the update for the ‘finished’ version of FTM 2014.1 on 31st Dec 2016, build 22.0.1.(1)501, after many months of an evolving bug squashing process.  The update package is about 600MB, while an installer for starting from scratch (no FTM) is probably a little smaller as it won’t have to check for, transfer over data from and potentially remove older versions. No new features to play with, ‘just’ improvements in stability, speed, security. The latter includes the ability to add password-protection when exporting a file for use in other software.

My History was selling the full UK edition of FTM 2014.1 for £44-95, MacKiev list price £69-95.

Update install

Please also see: ‘Tackling TreeSync issues with MacKiev relying on Ancestry for answers‘.

Be prepared that trees (from 2014 or earlier) opened in v 2014.1 will need to be converted to an updated database format – which won’t then open in previous versions. It is best to do a full FTM backup before starting the update anyway, which will mean you have a copy to fall back on if necessary.

Note that for this update, the ‘Check for update’ feature in FTM 2014 etc. won’t find the new version. You need to get the update installer from the MacKiev website, from the link in their email – the instructions are largely repeated on the Update Centre info page. Download and then, after making sure that any sync’d trees have been recently sync’d, run the installer (double click on the downloaded item). As soon as you start this up, you will need to decide whether to keep the old FTM 2014 program version or not. Entirely up to you – keeping it is an extra insurance against install problems but could cause confusion later.

On opening the updated FTM 2014.1 for the first time, make sure you register the new version. If there is a tech problem (or a new PC) and you have to re-install it, you can then easily get a fresh download from MacKiev.

Go through your current trees, open one by one to convert (uncheck ‘create a copy’ usually).

There is just one other step in the update process which needs to be watched, the conversion of any of your existing trees in FTM on first opening after the update, for instance via the New Tree screen as above. (I advise going through all your current trees and converting them to the new format before doing any work on these trees via the Ancestry website, if sync’d.) The default setting on database/file conversion is to create and convert a copy of your file (and media), leaving the original in place. If you are using the sync feature you almost certainly want to untick this box and convert the existing tree file instead, so you don’t have to upload a new one to Ancestry from scratch. This upload would be time-consuming and any invites to the tree would have to be issued again. A copy tree will typically get ‘(1)’ added to the end of its name. (Note that MacKiev  originally wanted copy and original to work the same, and not everybody seems to see this convert box.)

At some point after converting the file, FTM will start redoing the thumbnail previews for the media linked to your tree. This can suck up computer power for a while, although it shouldn’t stop other processes. Tech note: FTM 2014.1 does appear to make better use of a multi-core CPU.

Existing FTM2014 users can update for free – emails were sent out 31 Dec 2016 with a specific update link, for those who had signed up for the MacKiev mailing list by end November. 2014.1 should also be downloadable via their Replacement Center.

If you had an earlier version of FTM 2014.1, note that the update will remove it (but not your preferences, tree files etc.). The program actually moves from being in a ‘Software MacKiev’ folder to ‘Family Tree Maker 2014.1’ folder, both under Program Files (for 64 bit version anyway). There will still be a tree file upgrade process but its likely to be very quick.

MacKiev FAQs (answers to ‘frequently asked questions’) on the process are under their ‘Free updates for FTM 2014 and Mac 3 users‘ article.

Ancestry 2014 version

The UK 2014 edition of Family Tree Maker came out in autumn 2013 (purchased/installed Feb. 2015). See Cutlock preview article or ‘FTM User’ on using FTM2014.

The final Ancestry FTM 2014 version was 64 bit, .410 for 32 bit (December 2015, patch 7, although files show as 29 Oct 15).

  • Initial FTM 2014 version was 22.0.0.(1)207 ?, Aug 2013.
  • Patch 4 = .(1)340, Nov 2014
  • Patch 5 = .(1)345, Dec 2014
  • Patch 6 = .(1)404, Aug 2015

If you have the original program on CD, it may well be worth saving patch files in case you need to re-install later (e.g. on a new machine). In version 2012, you needed every patch to do the complete update, for v 2014 each patch appears to be self-sufficient, according to posts on Ancestry’s FTM discussion board.

New features over FTM 2012

See MacKiev support page What new features are available in Family Tree Maker 2014?.

Oddly, perhaps the most important change gets only a brief mention at the end. There is finally a 64-bit version, which means the program can make full use of the RAM in a modern PC, often over 4GB. See MacKiev’s 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Family Tree Maker 2014 for how to check/change which version you are running.

Connection to Ancestry

See Sync FTM to Ancestry page.

Unlinked trees

If you want to download a tree from Ancestry without linking, in FTM under New Tree there is a ‘Download from Ancestry’ option with a Link to Ancestry tick box. If you untick, the system will request a Gedcom file from Ancestry. Standard Gedcom files don’t contain everything, although the Ancestry/FTM version has more I believe. So you might want to do a linked download then unlink (for example to merge data from a branch)?

Tweaking the Display

Customising the family view

Tucked away bottom right when looking at the people/family view is a ‘Customize View’ button, which allows you to change what you see on the selected individual in the right-hand pane. Click on the button and on the pop-up window scroll through the ‘Individual facts’ box top left and select any of these you want visible (easiest to do one at a time?). Click on the right arrow and it should appear in the Selected box. Do the reverse to move something out of the Selected facts. Make sure you press OK button to finish.

You can of course do a similar customisation for Shared facts, with the two other boxes.

Family view in FTM 2011

These customisations are reflected in the Person view’s ‘Add fact’ button (a big blue + next to the Facts/Timeline/Relationships buttons). The added facts will show in the same order on this quick access list.

Display options

The Options box, under Tools, has a ‘Fact display’ section (General tab) – whether you want to be able to see media and notes connected with facts. Why wouldn’t you?

Date format is another tab on the Options box, along with some choices on Names (use of AKA, married names, titles).

On most FTM screens, you can drag columns to be wider or narrower.

A common display problem

It is very easy to accidentally collapse a side panel on various screens, come back later and wonder where some feature has gone. Look for the small solid arrow head with 3 dots either side, embedded in the border – the open/close button.

Managing data

Historical Events are customisable – good to soften the heavily American nature of the events in the default list. ‘Manage Historical Events’ is under the Edit menu – see FTM support Answer ID 4968 for an (old) image.

Up to FTM 2012’s patch 580, a fresh uncustomised database was loaded by the install routine when upgrading to the latest version. If for some reason you can’t get your FTM upgraded to at least this patch, here’s the previous notes on how to get back to your tweaked history (a bit techie):

Find the <HistoricalFacts.xml> file lurking under  the current version/version number sub-folder of Ancestry.com in your user AppData folder*, make a copy and/or rename. Find the old one from the previous version in similar place and copy across. (These files and folders are usually left behind when old versions of the software are deleted.)

* In Windows 7, this is on the lines of OS (C:)/Users/{username}/Appdata/Local/Ancestry.com/Family Tree Maker 2012/

Moving tree files

Once installed, it is possible to move the FTM tree .ftm file, along with its associated media file, to another location – on your computer or an external drive apparently. (Note: I haven’t done this myself but it is reported in the FTM group on Facebook). If you are syncing, for FTM 2014 the .sync file needs to be moved too –  for FTM 2012 it remains tucked away under Users/[name]/AppData/Roaming.

Notes and Tasks

Notes can be attached to individual facts for a person, and each person can have a general note and a research note too. Sources and attached media also have notes fields. With so many possibilities, you may want to restrict which of these you use, for specific purposes.

There are also two types of Tasks – a note for what you want to follow up, which can have a target date and be ticked off. Both display on the FTM ‘front page’ – the Plan screen and a task list can be printed off. The difference is that a person task is firmly attached to an individual, while general tasks aren’t.

Web Search - LocationsSearch and web browser

You can add your own websites to search to a list on the Web Search screen (left hand panel – if not showing see ‘Common display problem’ above). There are 2 buttons at the bottom: New and Manage. You can’t merge the results in the same way as with Ancestry, but you can clip items from the web page to merge in to facts.

Internet Explorer

There is a lot of confusion over what browser is used by FTM when searching Ancestry etc. On Windows,  FTM generally uses functionality from the version of Internet Explorer installed on your computer {see Note}. Having a different browser (Firefox, Chrome etc.) set as default won’t make any difference. So if you are getting warnings about an out-of-date browser:

  • if you use Internet Explorer as your main browser you really need to update anyway,
  • if you don’t use IE, it might be a slight inconvenience to do the update but it will improve security and won’t hit your main browser. (An IE upgrade shouldn’t force the computer to change the browser default.)

To see for yourself that IE is in use on FTM, go to the Internet Properties menu (under Settings) in the full IE browser and change something in the Appearance options – remember to change it back later! For instance set Colors: Background to yellow, orange or such – click OK twice to set. Go to one of the ‘Other search sites’ such as Yahoo.co.uk in the example above – the colour background should show.  (It won’t show on well constructed web pages as they will have their own background settings.)

Note: a Facebook discussion (Nov 2016) has seen the boss of Mackiev clarify the position (many thanks):

The embedded browser implementation in FTM is indeed using system IE components, and FTM tries to use the latest available which currently as you point out would be from IE 11. If those are not pre-installed or added through the Windows Update Utility, then FTM will use the latest edition that is available. (There is a small exception here for Vista and XP which cannot use the latest edition, so the IE they use are permanently old).

Install of FTM 2014 (Ancestry)

My install of FTM 2014 went fine (separate install, not overwriting FTM 2012, done Feb. 2015). However applying the latest patch (5) update crashed it. The manual system patch update {as outlined in the bottom half of Ancestry support (answer id  5588) page} would seem a good idea, but at autumn 2016 this no longer applies as patches aren’t available.

FTM 2014 Sync Upgrade impacts FTM2012 I have noticed that after FTM 2014 was installed, and first sync of the main tree performed, the sync button in FTM 2012 became unavailable, even for trees not yet converted to FTM 2014 format. Makes sense, as the Ancestry website must have slightly different communication protocols for the 2 versions, but it would have been nice to have known this beforehand.


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