Macintosh OS and Genealogy

There are a growing number of Macintosh users in the genealogy world.  The two most common Mac OS genealogy programs are Reunion and MacFamilyTree.  Recently Family Tree Maker was added back to the Mac world.  iPhones and iPads are other tools that support Macintosh genealogy software.  This DGS blogger hopes that there will be discussion on this site of the use of Mac based resources.

This entry was posted in Macintosh OS & Genealogy. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Macintosh OS and Genealogy

  1. Patrick McKinney says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting problem with apostrophes and quotations in my Reunion family files posting incorrectly at I wanted to share this with all the Reunion users in case they ever run into this same problem.

    After uploading my updated Reunion GEDCOMs to Rootsweb, all of the quotes and apostrophes in my file suddenly started appearing as ?(question marks). I tried manually going thru my notes and re-typing all of the quotes and apostrophes, then re-uploading my files, but that didn’t work. I was at a loss at what to do about this so I wrote to Reunion Tech support. Following is the email correspondence between Reunion and me that explains the problem in detail and the procedure for correcting it.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011 5:12 PM
    “Patrick McKinney”

    Dear Leisterpro,
    I’m writing to let you know of a problem I’m having with Reunion and apostrophes and quotations being changed to ? (question marks) after posting the information online.

    Problem Example.
    I include many notes on individual persons in my family file. I many times use apostrophes and quotation marks in my sentence structure.
    I upload/update my family file to and have done so for years, updating the file very often. Recently, I’ve noticed that after uploading/updating my Reunion family file, all of the apostrophes and quotes, i.e. ‘ & “, get converted into question marks– ? . The older notes sections that are not updated by the particular update that I’m uploading are not affected and stay the same.

    See following for an example.

    Notes from my Reunion family file:

    In May 1684/85 Staples was ordered to surrender Abraham Gale’s wife and children on payment of two thousand four hundred pounds of tobacco. However, there is no record of Staples having complied with the verdict of this suit.
    Ten years later in 1699, a testator of the will of John Hodgson of Cecil County ratified the sale of 140 acres of Redmond’s Supply “at the head of the bay” to John Gale. One of the testators was Philip Rasin.

    Notes from my Reunion file after posting to on Nov. 13, 2011.

    In May 1684/85 Staples was ordered to surrender Abraham Gale?s wife and children on payment of two thousand four hundred pounds of tobacco. However, there is no record of Staples having complied with the verdict of this suit.
    Ten years later in 1699, a testator of the will of John Hodgson of Cecil County ratified the sale of 140 acres of Redmond?s Supply ?at the head of the bay? to John Gale. One of the testators was Philip Rasin.

    Notice the ?(question marks) where there should be apostrophes and quote marks.
    Is this a Reunion problem and if so, can this be fixed/corrected??
    Please advise.
    Thank you for your help,
    Patrick McKinney
    Dallas, TX

    The very next day on November 14th, I received the following reply from Mark at Reunion Tech Support. Talk about service! Gotta love LeisterPro!

    Hi Patrick,

    >Is this a Reunion problem and if so, can this be fixed/corrected?
    The issue is most likely that Reunion is using smart quotes/apostrophes (slightly different than normal quotes), but Rootsweb doesn’t properly recognize them, so it results in a “?”.

    There are two steps to fixing this:

    1 – Go to Reunion -> Preferences… , Appearance, and uncheck the “Use smart quotes” option in the “Data entry” section at the bottom of the window.

    2 – The next thing you’ll need to do is replace all the smart quotes/apostrophes with normal ones. You can do this using Find -> Replace…

    You will need to do the following find and replace operations:

    Find: “
    Replace with:”

    Find: ”
    Replace with:”

    Find: ’
    Replace with:’

    You may have to copy and paste the characters out of this e-mail to make sure they are correct.

    Hope that helps,
    Mark Harrison
    Leister Productions, Inc.
    Reunion Web Site

    I followed Mark’s instructions, re-uploaded my family file, and Voila! All fixed and corrected.
    I love the Reunion software and the company LeisterPro that created and maintains it. With customer service like this, who wouldn’t??

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      Many thanks for this. I followed Mark’s instructions as a preventative measure. I don’t think that I have any quotations in my notes, yet, but now I am ready for them.

  2. Barbara Ware says:

    Reunion Tip.
    I like to display the children of a couple in list view instead of button view. But the only things on the list were name, age, gender birth and death dates, and status. Then I saw three icons at the bottom left of the page were. While playing around with them I discovered that the first one (yellow colored, looks like a grid), brings up a dialogue display. On this display you can check what you want on the parent’s list and on the children’s list. I now have name, age, birth date, birth place, death date, death place, gender and status visible on the children’s. This is great.

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      Thanks for the tip. I made some changes, also, but did not like the order in which the categories were presented…specifically birth date, death date, birth place, death pace. I discovered that I could click and drag the columns into a different order. So now I have birth date, birth place, death date, death place… Changing the order just once seems to change the order in all parent-children entries.

  3. Barbara Ware says:

    Which iPad 2? There are six choices: 16 GB, 32 GB or 64GB in Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G. Has anyone bumped into a storage problem? I assume that a genealogist would want to use an iPad to store their genealogy program, associated family photos, books and podcasts on genealogy. What are your experiences?

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      I’m also wrestling with which size iPad2 to buy. I’m pretty well decided that I will choose one without 3G because (1) most libraries and research centers have wi-fi and (2) my combined ATT bill is high enough as it is!

      • Barbara Ware says:

        I just thought of a possible reason to get iPad 2 Wifi + 3G. The 3G can be a month to month charge. So, if you are planning to give presentations where wireless is not available, 3G might work for an internet connection. How much is the month-to-month charge? What connectors are needed to run a projector?
        Any thoughts?

        • Carolyn Davis says:

          ATT offers two monthly data plans w/o contract for the iPad 2 – 250MB data for $14.99/month or 2GB data for $25.00/month. It automatically renews every 30 days, unless you cancel prior to the start of the 30 day renewal, which could be a problem if you forget to cancel. I also don’t know how easy it is to pick up the service again after a few months lapse; it may mean registering all over again.

          You can purchase a VGA Adapter from the Apple Store ($29.00). Plug it into the iPad Dock and connect the Adapter with a VGA cable to a compatible TV, projector, or VGA display to mirror what’s on your iPad. From what I’m reading, this is a simplistic statement. The application that you want to project and the make/model of projector are factors in whether it works or not.

          More research is required – as usual.

          • Barbara Ware says:

            After a visit to the AT&T store, I feel more confident that it will be easy to stop and start the month to month 3G plan. You can even do it on your iPad. But you have to remember to do it. And, if you get the smaller plan, you should remember to turn off 3G when you don’t need it. There is a charge for running over the plan amount.

        • Barbara Ware says:

          I also looked into using my iPhone as a “hot spot” for the iPad when I visited the AT&T store this week. Depending on your phone plan, this could cost $15 more per month, every month. And, if you have a “grandfathered” unlimited plan, as I do, you will have to give it up and go to a tiered plan. What I forgot to ask: is the “hot spot” 3G or wireless?

  4. Cecile Coonrod says:

    I love Reunion too for all the reasons mentioned above. I also use CircusPonies Notebook to keep together information, ideas, or conclusions. It’s not exactly my research notebook, but almost. My husband (the engineer) recently suggested mindmapping as a tool for looking at data more visually. I found a lot of mind mapping applications for Mac but didn’t spend lots of time evaluating them. I merely looked for something not too expensive and not too powerful for my needs. I downloaded NovaMind5 which advertised it’s product as being for students and teachers. I started using it right away it was so easy. I’m hoping it will help with my brick wall by showing interconnections among neighboring families in a visual format.

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      Thank you for the suggestions about CircusPonies Notebook and NovaMind5. My company was a big booster of the original mindmapping program offered by Tony Buzan 15 or so years ago. I must admit that I never got the hang of it, but maybe it’s time to look at the concept again. And any suggestion of a program that helps me organize my research is well worth exploring!

  5. Barbara Ware says:

    Thank you Steve Jobs (1955-2011). We love our Macs (iPhones and iPads). Genealogy and family history is enhanced by the creative world that you and Woz created in the 1970s; and that you carried forward into the 21st century. Your leadership made this a GUI place for all.

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      Steve Jobs and Apple introduced me to the world of computers 20 years ago. I don’t believe that I would have become such an enthusiastic convert without the ease of use, stability, and (most of all) fun, of their hardware and software.

  6. Carolyn Davis says:

    I have recently discovered two handy apps for the iPhone.

    One called “totheday” calculates what day of the week a particular date was (or will be). It displays the day within a calendar month graphic not just as text. The app indicates if the year is a leap year. Cost-99 cents.

    “Genius Scan” is a free app which turns your iPhone camera into a portable scanner. Take a photo of just about any type of handwritten or typed document. Within the app you can crop, correct perspective, and post-process the image to increase clarity. You can create a single PDF document from multiple scans. Many ways to distribute scans – wifi, email, or export to iBooks. Upgrade to Genius Scan+ ($2.99) to use with Dropbox, Evernote or Google Docs ( I have not done this, yet). Pretty simple to use.

    • Barbara Ware says:

      Thanks for the info on “totheday.” What a great tool for genealogists. Now I don’t have to jump back and forth on Foxfire screens to find out the date of a death or burial when I am reading obituaries on DMN Archives. I put in the year and press the month and up comes the calendar.

  7. Barbara Ware says:

    Reunion Hints. If you have any hints or interesting discoveries about using Reunion genealogy software, please post them as a comment to this message.

    • Barbara Ware says:

      How to deal with old date/new date on Reunion.
      I have been putting in the year as 17 Feb 1788/89 or 1788/9. A dialogue box pops ups that says “Reunion can’t understand the date entry 17 Feb 1788/9″ and then gives you the option to change the date or to save a Custom Date sort date. Reunion’s suggestion for the Custom Date is 17 Feb 1788. But 17 Feb 1788/9 is really 17 Feb 1789 in new date format. So I change sort date to 17 Feb 1789. In the person’s entry box, the date of 17 Feb 1788/9 appears, but now when they are sorted with their siblings, they are sorted by 1789.

  8. Barbara Ware says:

    GedView is one of the iPhone/iPad Apps that I saw mentioned in a newsletter. There is a description in the iTunes Apps Store. It says that it works with FTM. There is a cost.

  9. Tony Hanson says:

    My wife and I both have iPhones, and she has an iPad, but we are both Windows Family Tree Makers users. I would be interested to know what apps we can use on our iPhone and on the iPad that would allow us to load and view a GedCom export.

    • Happi says:

      Ancestry has a free app called Tree To Go for iPhone that also works on iPad. Reunion has a wonderful app that will read GEDCOMs and do much more. It is native to the iPad and costs $14.99. That’s all I know about except what you can get while browsing the Internet on Safari. Ancestry works very well on Safari.

      • Sandra Crowley says:

        Tree to Go for iPhone / iPad has been updated for iPad — it’s just called Ancestry. If you have Tree to Go on your iPad, this is a free update. It looks significantly different and works much better than Tree to Go, which I really didn’t use much. I also have GED View, which lets me look at any GEDCOM file, which I store in Dropbox to make it easily accessible. On Ancestry, the basic view is pedigree including images if you have them uploaded onto Ancestry. You can search, display an index of names to select from or open up a sidebar to show info on individuals, family, photos, and evidence. So far I like it!

  10. Happi says:

    Reunion (Mac only) is one of the most powerful, flexible and easy to use genealogy programs available today. I have researched applications for both platforms and have not found a PC program I would trade Reunion for. We have a SIG at the Dallas Genealogical Society for Mac genealogy and software (focusing on Reunion). From time to time at our meetings, we compare the various Mac genealogy programs and we have yet be impressed enough with others to want to change. Yes, there are programs with some fun features available; however, we prefer to do our research and work in Reunion and export GEDCOMs to the others if we want to see the 3D animated features, for example. So far, the other programs have flaws that we do not want to deal with. I cannot recommend Reunion highly enough … and, no, I do not work for them nor do I have any financial interest in them. I have been using Reunion for many years personally and professionally. Everyone, from beginner to professional, can make excellent use of its features. Reunion has great tutorials and a really good manual built in (which even professionals can learn from). And, their tech support is outstanding.

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      I recently purchased’s Family Tree Maker for the Mac and loaded it on my laptop in order to compare it to Reunion. I liked it, but not enough to drop Reunion in its favor and I certainly don’t want to maintain two genealogy programs. If you already use the Windows-based FTM and have recently purchased a Mac, then you might want to consider using this Mac version; there would be a shorter learning curve.
      FTM for Mac is based on Family Tree Maker 2010, not the recently-released 2011 so you may not find the same updates and improvements. If you are a regular user, the integration provided with the web site may be a plus; however, their full-featured browser is not used when you search within the FTM for Mac app so there are limitations. I liked the Merge feature, the Places feature (connects to Google Maps) and the layout of the People pane. I found the source/citation entry process cumbersome, but that is not my strong point in any software program. Good help/training is available within the app as well as on’s web site.

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      Reunion app for the iPad2 has been out for awhile. How well is it working? How does it compare to the iPhone version? I browsed some of the Reunion forums yesterday ( and it appears that few users are experiencing problems with either iOS5 or Lion.

Comments are closed.