Sharing Files with Older Versions
Family Tree Maker is backward compatible (meaning a new version can open a file created in an older version). However, if you're older versions can't directly open files from newer versions because there are some technical differences in the new file format that older Family Tree Maker versions can't overcome.
There are three things you can do to get around this:
- You can upgrade to the latest version of Family Tree Maker. Not only will this make it easier to share files, but you and your friends can take advantage of the latest features.
- Beginning with version 4.0, Family Tree Maker has had the ability to save a copy of
the Family File in the file format of previous versions down to version 3.0. Thus, someone
using version 7.0 can choose to save a copy of their file in versions 6.0, 5.0, 4.x, and 3.x
formats. To export a Family File to 4.x or 3.x format, you must be in Family Tree Maker and the file you wish to export must be open. If you are not sure that you have the correct Family File open, from Family Tree Maker's Help menu, select Family File Status. In the dialog box that appears, you will see the name of the currently open Family File. After verifying that you have the correct Family File, continue with the following steps.
- From the File menu, select Copy/Export Family File.
Family Tree Maker displays the New Family File dialog box.
- Click the Save as type drop-down list and select Family Tree Maker
3.0 for Win/Mac or Family Tree Maker 4.0 for Win.
- In the File name field, type a name for your file. It's best
if the name you choose is eight characters or less and has the extension
.ftw. For example, you could type myfamily.ftw or smith.ftw.
- Click the Save in drop-down list and select the drive where you
want to save the file. If you want to save the file in a folder on the
specified drive, double-click that folder so it appears in the Save in
- Click Save.
Family Tree Maker creates the Family File and saves it in the drive and
folder that you specified in step 4.
Note: If the file is too large to fit on a single floppy disk,
you'll need to use a 3rd party compression utility, such as
to compress it or span it across multiple disks. You can also use a larger
storage medium such as a Zip drive.
- You can use the GEDCOM file format to share the information. GEDCOM is a
standard file format for exchanging information between genealogy programs.
The acronym GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunications. The Family
History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS
Church) developed the GEDCOM standard. You can use GEDCOM to transfer data
into Family Tree Maker from another genealogy program that supports GEDCOM
and vice versa. By using GEDCOM, you can avoid retyping all of your family
information when you switch from one program to another. You'll find instructions
for GEDCOM import and export in this section of the knowledge base.
Note: The GEDCOM process will not preserve your Scrapbook pictures
or books -- you'll have to recreate these in the new file. All other fields
of information should translate fine, assuming you correctly export, then
import all fields of data during the exchange.