Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Apple for genealogy

There is a commonly inaccurate perception that there are no programs for doing genealogy on Apple Macintosh computers. As it turns out, the list of available programs is very limited, and there are barely enough offerings to make the Macintosh a viable platform for those doing their family history. But there are at least two or three programs that compete favorably with anything available on the Windows/PC type computers.

The now old Personal Ancestral File (PAF) program, called Family Records, was one of the first extensive programs for the Apple operating system. Unfortunately, the support of the program was discontinued after version 2.3.1 and after some Apple operating system upgrades it ceased to be a viable product. Translated, that means the program would not work on newer computers. There are a few programs available that use either the old PAF format or use the program itself as a basis for the present offering.

The lineup of currently available programs includes a long list of both commercial programs and freeware (that is programs that can be downloaded for free) but unfortunately, most of these programs are either lacking in features or are very difficult to use. For a current review of the available programs, click here. Browsing through the reviews, you will quickly discover that there are only three, or at most four software programs that could be favorably compared to the PC/Windows programs. To contrast these offerings, there are at least ten PC based programs that could be considered useful and functional.

The simple answer about keeping genealogical information on a Macintosh, is yes, you can do it but almost none of the support programs such as those supporting personal histories, advanced charts and printing, research guides and all of the other programs are available for the Apple operating system.

The solution to this problem is possible but not simple. Newer Macintosh computers are extremely fast and have adequate storage and memory to support running both Windows and Apple OS X on the same machine. The program for doing this is called Parallels Desktop. Originally, the program was rather slow and clunky and did not support a great many Windows functions. The present version 5, runs Windows 7 and supports every program I have tried to use with it. The reason I say the solution is not simple is because running two operating systems simultaneously can be very confusing unless you are well versed in both. In other words, it makes no sense to try to run Windows 7 if you have no idea how to operate in a Windows environment. Likewise, running Apple OS X's current edition, Snow Leopard or 10.6.3 without some familiarity with Apple's OS takes some time to learn.

But, if you have the desire to use Apple, running Parallels Desktop is not impossible and is a very elegant and reasonable solution to having the graphics advantages of a Macintosh while still preserving a beachhead in the Windows world of genealogy programs.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! I've been trying to figure out how to open a PAF file my dad sent me for several days now but haven't been able to find a program. I'm looking forward to getting started on our family history.

    Instead of parallels, you can also download and use VMWare. They make their money selling to big companies, so they offer their program free to individuals. You do need a copy of Windows to install, but you also need that with Parallels and Boot Camp.