Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

My Take on Legacy 7

I’ve used several genealogy programs through the years, from PAF to Heredis to The Master Genealogist, to Roots Magic, FTM and Legacy. Each has some things to recommend it but in my opinion Legacy 7 is the best program for genealogy overall.

Heredis, a french offering, is confusing (or it was to me anyway) with a clunky interface and was difficult to use.

PAF is too simplistic and lacks too many features commercial programs offer but if someone brand new to genealogy asked me I’d tell them to use either PAF, or the Legacy free edition as they get started and to migrate later when they are better equipped to know what they want from a program and some basic genealogical experience. It’s easy to migrate from PAF to just about any of the commercial programs since it’s basic features are included in most offerings and work about the same.

The Master Genealogist has rabid adherents, and some claim its THE program for professionals but that’s bunk. Professional genealogists can use any of the top programs successfully and without a lot of trouble – the genealogist makes the program, not the other way around. ANY of the major players in genealogy software are well equipped to be used professionally – the trick is learning the program you come to prefer until you can tweak it to do what you want it to do. To that end I’ll say that users become emotionally invested in these programs to extraordinary degrees, claiming the program they use is vastly superior and deriding the other programs. They are ALL good programs. Each has enough of different look, feel and usability to make which one you choose a matter of comfort and preference rather than any feature set exclusive to one or the other.

I happen to love Legacy but I’ve given many others a serious look, owned iterations of FTM, TMG and RootsMagic and have stuck with Legacy every time. Legacy feels like home to me – for reasons I’ll try to explain. TMG, while a great program, just seemed too darn complicated – too many things to set up and adjust, and it was, for me, very slow to enter data, and lacked some automation that Legacy had that makes data input very quick and easy. TMG’s customizability is ahead of the others, though, and it breaks info down into small chunks or tags. I just found it too busy. Others love it.

Roots Magic is a very good program – if I was forced to leave Legacy it would be my choice. I am not going to knock Roots Magic, I just like Legacy better myself and that may simply be because I am used to the feel and look of Legacy. Claims I’ve read that RM is better or Legacy is better? I honestly think Legacy is ahead of RM in a few things and that Legacy is easier to use, slightly more feature laden and capable. A long time RM user would undoubtedly make the same claim for Roots magic. Both claim “their” companies customer service is better. On that front all I can say is that it would be nigh impossible to have better customer service than what I’ve gotten from Legacy through the years.

You’ll notice I rarely mention FTM. That’s because I really, really don’t like it. Personally, I think it’s the dog among the major offerings. It’s so commonly used because they have mass marketing and and’s clout behind them. TMG, RM and Legacy are all light year’s ahead in just about every facet but one area -FTM does a good job with charts and reports. Not a lot better than the others, really but very good in that area.

Specifically then, what do I love about Legacy?

Multiple Tabbed Views. Let me show you:


Family view is common to all programs and Legacy’s is its weakest link, imo. The children columns can be set for 2 or 3 columns but its difficult to see any info about them unlike with TMG or RootsMagic. You can customize what you see in many of the panes, set colors for ancestry lines, preferred lines, play with fonts. Pretty much most programs can do most of the same but I am so used to Legacy’s views that its shortcoming in the children view doesn’t bug me – much. I still wish they had an option for full line child displays like RM, or siblings columns like TMG, and TMG’s very customizable pane arrangements.

Pedigree view


Again this is common to all programs. I don’t find any having an edge here

Legacy Home


See what’s new, update, coolest thing is it is a browser right in the program – enter url and go – then turn on the split screen and cut-paste, type-edit into program from the web page without leaving legacy and without having to flip back and forth. Cool! Or take a Legacy tutorial and follow along in the program so you can use and see the features being taught as you go. And for tutorials Legacy has the best, imo, from videos, to slide presentations to printed manuals if you wish, a top notch help system built in, a very helpful forum and support. Very responsive, quick, friendly. Shows your version whether its the latest build, how many individuals are in the file, your to do list and a birthday and anniversary reminder. Did I mention Legacy works extremely well as an address book, too? Support is listed too prominently – they don’t hide or make you look hard to find the contact.

Descendant View


notice the options on the right? Customize the display, print, edit individuals right from the screen.

Chronology View


My favorite screen for studying and researching. Info is timelined, including births and marriages, notes are displayed and editable, and it can be printed or sent to .rtf, text .pdf for polishing before pasting back into notes, and you see on the right buttons to customize to make a report, to edit the person’s individual screen, and a powerful feature is using chronology and split screen on 2 persons to compare movements and dates and information to see how they interacted. Legacy comes with a bunch of timelines but you can create ones of your own, too. For instance, create a timeline of a county’s history so you can add it to an ancestor who lived there and see how they might have been affected – it is a powerful tool for suggesting new research possibilities, too.

Index View


All programs have a drop down name index as does Legacy but this is a full page view and you can select what is displayed.

Research Guidance


I love this tab! As you can see in the screenshot this tabbed pane gives you the ability to make a survey of your ancestor using trees, ancestral file, IGI, etc. and it will link you directly. Then go on to specific sources.



This tab suggests a large range of source possibilities and includes a bibliography, repository list and you can select items to include in your to-do list for that person. Finally the to-do tab


This is a research log that can collect all the sources you’ve checked, mark them when done and it records whether you found anything or not. Gather them all from the whole database, just tagged individuals, or just one person, or a specific record type then print it and take it with you on research trips.

Legacy 7 also includes a Geo Database and can tell you that a county wasn’t formed when your ancestor was born for instance, prompting you to find the actual county of his birth so you can search that county’s records as well. It helps you format correct locations, spelled correctly and in the correct time frame. If it bugs you turn it off. Your choice.

Reports and Charts?


Legacy has a wide range of reports, book capability, charts and includes blank forms for censuses, family groups, pedigrees. Compete customization. I use reports a lot more than charts and love the program’s capabilties. So far, it gives me everything I ask of it.



This is a big one. Legacy 7 now has source templates conforming to Elizabeth Shown Mill’s “Evidence” and they are GREAT! I’m still converting my sources over as I go but they are easy to use and understand and output great looking citations, footnotes and endnotes. FTM has templates but I think they’re clunkier, clumsier and harder to use. Let’s face it, sourcing is perhaps the slowest part of genealogy data input. Correctly formatting sources, including the right information, and placing the citations correctly is often skipped or glossed over. No program makes sourcing fast but Legacy comes as close as possible to making it fast – and easy. Enter a source properly once, then use it again and again using the source clipboard for multiple entry. One click sourcing for repeat citations, with a detail screen that can prompt for specific details like page number. Multiple sources can be stored on the clipboard and switched back and forth as you work. Different clipboards can be saved and reloaded as you work on different lines.



Legacy also adds mapping to your bag of tools. Incorporating MS Virtual Earth, you can view maps in formats like 2D, 3D, Road, Aerial and flags locations your ancestor(s) events occurred at. Hover on the “flags” or “pins” and a popup shows you what events occurred there. See where they were born, married, died, were buried. Compare for migration patterns. This is freakin’ incredible and according to Millenia it’s going to get better in the future with icons that represent types of events, animation, etc.

So what else do I love about legacy?

Split screen views – open 2 windows at once, either the same database or another one. Compare side by side. Cut and paste back and forth, edit, merge. Indispensable. Any program without this feature is automatically a notch beneath Legacy without going farther. Maybe if you have a multiple monitor setup it wouldn’t be a big deal but for single monitor users it’s incredibly useful.


One click copying of events from person to person. Have an event that includes several people? An obituary for instance – copy the event after typing it once and paste it to every person’s events. I use this all the time for censuses, obituaries, death and marriage records – first for the primary persons, then I paste to the witnesses and executors etc. and make a quick edit in notes to suit. Recopy then paste to the rest of the witnesses etc. Very, very fast and easy.

Record source once then click to add it to one field or add it to all filled fields with a single click – either way, flip back and forth between multiple sources from source clipboard, detail screen can be set to pop up or not. (Source clipboard puts several sources on clipboard that lets you make ‘single click’ citations when you work from a source)

Sentences used in reports for events can be redefined to read how you’d like, or overridden for individual exceptions.

Info displayed in views can be customized to display the info you want to see, plus colors and fonts can also be customized. The whole look can be changed quite a bit.

File can be opened in access just by changing extension to .mdb. When using this though be sure to back up your file or work from a copy. Advised for experienced users who underastand the concepts of databases. In fact same sex marriages can be recorded using an Access work around. It’s explained here: workaround for same sex marriage

The Free edition is free without strings and is useable from the git go. No limits on the number of people, import your full db from a gedcom (and used correctly you can remap to the tags you choose in Legacy) or directly from PAF or Ancestral Quest. Use it until you learn enough to decide to buy the deluxe features (and none of the deluxe features are “basic” and necessary to make the free edition completely useable – they really are deluxe features that are very nice to have but not absolutely essential). This “trial” version is a useable program and without the restrictions ones like RootMagic impose (limit 50 people etc). If you’re really strapped right now, Legacy’s free version is great until things turn around for ya!

Media – create slideshows, presentations, link photos and videos and sound clips, link documents and pdfs, media backups. Makes Legacy a filing cabinet for all your documents, photos and digital files. Link ’em and then decide whether to include in reports or not or to display or not. I used to use Clooz but not anymore. Legacy works just fine for me and is easier to input, although legacy will import and export right into Clooz, if you use and like Clooz.

Create web pages, nice layout, indexes, customizable, save and edit html if you’re an advanced user. No need for outside utilities to make your genealogy pages. However, I freely admit that John Cardinals “Second Site” for TMG makes incredible sites that Legacy can’t match. But Second Site is an add-on to TMG. Do the same thing with Legacy, or Roots Magic, for that matter with “The Next Generation v7”. Same price (30 bucks) as Second Site and works with Legacy or RM and creates sites that rival or exceed what Second Site can do.

See an actual site built with TNG –

This isn’t my site, just an incredible example of what can be done with Legacy and The Next Generation.

Finally, Legacy’s support has always been superb. It’s darn near instant. I’ve had answers by email within the hour at times, never more than the next business day. When I reformatted my hard drive and lost my Unlock number I emailed them at 10 pm and the next morning had a new code from Legacy. After buying Legacy 6 they phoned after a month, and then almost a year later just to ask if I was still satisfied and if I had any questions (and no, they weren’t trying to sell me an upgrade or anything either).

Importantly to me, I also did not notice any uptick in email from outside vendors when they got my info, either. They mean it when they say they don’t give out your e-mail. Great user forums, excellent newsletter and great training tuorials, many are free at their website:

Just as a disclaimer, I do not now, nor ever have worked for any of these vendors, I don’t get a kickback or an affiliate commission. I just love Legacy the product, and really admire the company and the way they’ve done business with me. Try Legacy. Its free to try out and you just might find the same thing I have. It’s a “can’t be beat” genealogy program!




February 23, 2009 Posted by | genealogy | , , , , | 1 Comment