Using Rootsmagic with Ancestry

Greetings to all. I am very much a newbie as regards Rootsmagic, but have been researching family history for many years using various software packages.

I have downloaded the trial version of Rootsmagic 8 and so far I am impressed. We have an Ancestry account and the ability to link the online and offline data and keep it in sync is attractive. We are currently using Family Historian 5 as our offline software and I have exported the data from that into a Gedcom file and imported it into Rootsmagic 8 and the import has worked well.

I am aware that our online and offline data is probably not in sync! Very remiss I know! Is there a way of downloading the Ancestry data and comparing the 2 data sets and creating a single database that we can use both in Rootsmagic and also online in Ancestry. I assume that once they are in sync that any changes made either off line or on line can be sync’d?

I am experimenting with a separate copy of the data in Rootsmagic 8 so as not to corrupt existing data. Can I do the same thing with Ancestry data as I do not want to change what exists in Ancestry until I am sure that it is correct and matches the offline version?

Are there any data fields that exist in either Rootsmagic or Ancestry that are not present in the other?

Also we are in the UK and I assume that Rootsmagic is really intended for the USA? Other than some conflicts with spelling are there any other limitations for a non USA user?

Thanks for your help.


There is a MagicGuide on the RM Inc website that explains what can transfer over TreeShare between a RM database and an Ancestry Member Tree. Because their respective data structures are different, one cannot perfectly replicate the other.

There is no automatic or even a batch sync. FTM2019 comes closer to that but even it has a review differences process. RM starts by flagging changes or differences which you review and resolve one at a time.

You cannot connect an existing database to an existing Anc Tree. You can initiate the creation of a new one in either direction that establishes the link and transfers the supported data.

RM has a Compare Files function for comparing two databases and reconciling differences. However, be prepared for a laborious and potentially confusing process because relationships are not transferable.

Previous versions of RM had the choice of a UK spelling dictionary but RM8 does not have the spelling checker yet.

RM Inc does not offer a fully featured trial as does other software. You might want to check if you can get a refund if you are not satisfied within 30 days of download.

Some users are very content with how minor are the differences between their data as it is stored in ancestry vs. their data as it is stored in RM. Other are very dissatisfied with how major are the differences between their data as it is stored in ancestry vs. their data as it is stored in RM. You will have to look at those differences and see which camp you are in.

The initial linking of RM and ancestry is completely automated. You copy an existing RM database to a new and empty ancestry tree or else you copy an existing ancestry tree to a new and empty database. Subsequent syncing of the data between the two is a very manual process. Some RM users are very content with this process and other RM users are very dissatisfied with this process. Again, you will have to try out the process and decide for yourself which camp you are in.

Syncing up an existing RM database and an existing ancestry tree is a virtually impossible process. For example, you could download an ancestry tree into a new and empty RM database. Then you could merge your existing RM database into that newly downloaded RM database. The merge could take days or weeks or months because much of the processing would be manual. The merged RM database would still be linked to the original ancestry tree. You could then do a manual sync between the merged RM database and the original ancestry tree, and the process could take days or weeks or months because much of the processing would be manual.

Thanks to thejerrybryan and TomH for your responses.

It sounds to me like the facility to keep Ancestry and RM in sync is very much a manual process?

I did download the data from Ancestry and it created a new RM file. I can open this file but it would not let me compare the 2 databases because I am using the basic version. Equally I can find no way of contacting RM to ask about the suggestion of a refund with 30 days

I did look at FTM2019 but that does not appear to have a trial version or if it does it is well hidden. Likewise their technical support does not appear to have an email address where I can query them.

So I am unsure whether RM or FTM2019 is a better bet. Is anyone aware of whether a comparison of the 2 products has ever been done.

Thanks for any further assistance



When I have played with FTM, I have always found it very hard to use. In fairness, I haven’t played with it in a long time. So it may be easier to use than it used to be.

The data model for FTM is much closer to the ancestry data model than is the RM data model so that data transfer with ancestry is cleaner with FTM than with RM. And the sync between FTM and ancestry is more automated than is the sync between RM and ancestry.

I therefore suspect that if I wanted to work on my research both on my desktop and at ancestry that I might have to take a serious look at the current FTM. But unless FTM has changed pretty radically since last I looked at it, I would be very hard put to switch to it. Plus, I really have no interest in doing my genealogy work online. I do my genealogy work in RM and use ancestry to find source documents. Obviously, many users do like doing their genealogy work at ancestry. So my preference to work primarily on the desktop is not the only ones in the world.

1 Like

Once Mackiev took over FTM in 2015 from ancestry they spent a year fixing performance and bugs and it shows. I bought FTM 2017 and upgraded to 2019 and find it wonderful except for small text size on my mbp 13". It is very easy to use, stable and fast and integrates well with ancestry. Just download the user PDF guide and scan through it to understand how things work. Most of the flaws in RM7…8 do not exist in FTM. RM8 does find and fix missing media better but adding it is much worse.

FTM is my primary database but I link to an ancestry tree to work the hints. These I download manually along with transcripts and source citations to add to my computer file. RM7…8 have very different data structures than ancestry and merge…sync poorly. RM8 does have a similar person data screen and a better tree view which I use to see where I am in FTM (I port a FTM gedcom to RM8 periodically).

1 Like

You could phone or use the “Need help? Chat now” button - both on the page

Also email:

As for RM, I think you have to get a statement from FTM Sales. I’m pretty sure that both provide it and are required by law in some jurisdictions so, to be fair…

You already have fh5 and I know that Calico Pie does have a 30 day full trial for free for fh7. Although it does not have TreeShare or FamilySync equivalents for Ancestry, its user interface should be familiar.

I do not like crippled free trials because you cannot explore all that you may need without paying for an upgrade to the full licence and only then find out that it does not do what you thought the marketing said it does. I think they are designed to make it easy to import data from some other software and entrap you into committing.


I had a similar issue with an imported Gedcom file. Diana at RM tech support advised me that I could open a Roots Magic ver 7 file that was linked to Ancestry into RM 8. I did that and I was able to use the new RM8 file with Ancestry via Tree Share.

Rich W

You can get a UK version of the software from S&N Genealogy, not sure what the differences are.

Thanks to all who responded to this post.
A quick update and some more questions. So I bought the full version of RM 8, it does state on the website that all products have a 30 day money back warranty.

I downloaded the tree from Ancestry took a while because it downloads all the media files as well but no big deal.

I then used the compare files facilities which no surprise found lots of anomalies, far more than I thought. I found that I could transfer individual people between the two databases but, as TomH states relationships do not transfer. What I found strange is that it appears to have the name of the spouse in the details but it does not create the link in any charts. I will have to have a further look to confirm this. So unless anyone has any suggestions as how to merge the two sets of data it looks like a laborious and potentially confusing process.

I did have a look at tree share but it seems like a one time process, what I mean by that is you only appear to be able to access Tree Share immediately after downloading the tree?

Also I am unsure what the difference is between Tree Share and Compare Files. Are they the same thing with a different interface?

So it looks like I have to chose which set of data is the most complete and use that as the base for transferring data into. Then once I have a corrected database (in goodness knows how many years) up load that to Ancestry as a new Tree.

Such Fun



TreeShare works with two sets of genealogical data - one set of data on your local disk in an RM database and the other set of data in a tree on ancestry’s servers.

Compare Files works with two sets of genealogical data - one set of data on your local disk in an RM database and the other set on your local disk in a different RM database.

To run an RM Compare Files between your RM database and ancestry, you first have to use TreeShare to download your ancestry tree to a second RM database. You can then run RM’s Compare Files between your original RM database and the one you just downloaded.

After downloading an ancestry tree into RM using TreeShare, the ancestry tree and your new RM database remain linked unless you unlink them. But there is something different after the download. During the initial download, you don’t have to approve each person and each fact and each source and each media file to download. It just sort of downloads everything automatically. But if subsequent to that, you make changes to your ancestry tree and if you use TreeShare to download those changes into RM, you will have to approve each person and fact and source and media file you download, one at a time.

1 Like

Some questions about the media files that download from Ancestry.

When I downloaded the tree from Ancestry, as is standard, all of the media files were downloaded.

What I had not appreciated is that not only did the photos etc that we had uploaded to Ancestry get downloaded but also all of the media associated with sources linked to the tree, so images of a census, a passenger list etc etc. I can see the point of this as now we have the information available in RM (all 5300 + pieces and 3.5gb worth). I can go to a person or an event and view the media associated with it which is great.

But what I cannot find out how to do, and perhaps you cannot, is to work backwards, that is select a media file, with an impenetrable name like 31280_197559-00027.jpg, and see who or what that image is associated with. The tags associated with that image just say something like “Citation: UK and Ireland incoming passenger lists 1878 - 1960” In some cases this appears multiple times, meaning, I assume, that this is linked to multiple people?

Why would I want to go backwards , well perhaps I want to split the tree into smaller chunks, not having done this, does RM create a separate Media folder with just the media relevant to that part of the tree.

Also after I have got to a stage where I am in a position to upload the tree from RM back into a new tree on Ancestry do I have to upload all of the “source images” as well as any photos that I may have added, or does Ancestry go off and re-find the source images?

Also should I move any new images into the media folder that the download created or create separate folders for my photos etc?

And finally, for now, is there a printed manual for RM8, I thought I had seen one somewhere but I cannot locate it or is everything in the RM wiki.

Sorry for the number of questions but as I wrote more occurred to me.



1 Like

You have encountered what I believe is a serious design error in RM8. If you were using RM7 with TreeShare and ancestry and did everything else the same, you would be able to see exactly where all of those 31280_197559-00027.jpg type media files are tagged.

Actually, I believe there are two serious design errors in RM8 with respect to displaying the media tags for citations. The first design error is that it RM8 only shows you the the source name where the media files were tagged rather than showing you the source name + citation name where the media files are tagged. The second design error is that RM8 does not follow the citation links for media files all the way to where the citations are actually used. For example, RM8 does not follow citation links for media files all the way to the Birth fact for John Doe or to the Death fact for Jane Doe, etc. RM7 did both of these things.

Suppose RM8 fixed the first of these design errors but not second. In that case, you actually could find all the citation links for media files but it would be a convoluted process. You would first have to look at a media file itself to see the actual citations where it was used. That’s why you need the citation name in addition to the source name. Then you would have to leave the media list and go to the source + citation list and lookup all the places where the citation is used.

These two particular design errors are in my list of the top three or four design errors in RM8 that are preventing me from converting from RM7 to RM8. The last complete rewrite of RM was going from RM3 to RM4. I was extremely happy with RM4. I did very extensive testing of RM4, and then I adopted it very eagerly and happily. Only then did I discover some major problems which persuaded my to try to convert back to RM3. When that effort failed, I struggled for a long time to come up with satisfactory workarounds for problems in RM4 that I hadn’t discovered despite extensive testing.

The kind of problems I’m talking about were not bugs in RM4. They weren’t even design errors in RM4 like I’m talking about for RM8. They were simply design differences that prevented me from printing narrative reports for family reunions. In any case, I promised myself that if ever there were another complete RM rewrite, I would be much more cautious about adopting the new version.

For example, I would hate to be in the position right now of needing to convert from RM8 back to RM7 as several users have reported. So my plan is to remain on RM7 until at least a year after RM8 was officially released. By remaining on RM7, I don’t have to convert back from RM8 to RM7 and I can still spend extensive time working with RM8. I don’t know what I’m going to do if some of the design errors in RM8 are not corrected, such as the design errors for media links to citations.

1 Like

thejerrybryan thank you very much for your reply. As a brand new user of RM8 without the benefit of using RM7 it would seem that RM8 has lost a lot of features.

I assume that in the download that I took from Ancestry those tags are recorded?

Assuming that RM8 is fixed do you think that the links will be restored automatically or is it a case of having to start again with a fresh download, thus losing all of the modifications made!

I also assume that if I were to upload the current RM8 files to Ancestry those links would all be lost?

Do you know if RM7 is still available and having purchased RM8 will I be able to use the full version of RM7 until such a time that RM8 matures. I could then start the process I have started in RM8 again in RM7 having only spent a few days using RM8. I am assuming that this would be necessary as exporting the data from RM8 to RM7 would not recreate the links.

I fear that I am wasting my time continuing in RM8, do you know if there is a comparison list between RM7 and RM8, is all that RM8 is giving is bells and whistles and a new fancy interface, whereas RM7 is fundamentally sound in terms of data handling? I assume that the download from Ancestry is present in RM7

Thanks for your advice and help



1 Like

The media links are there in RM8 and you won’t have to restore them later if the behavior of RM8 is changed. It’s just that RM7 displayed the media links all the way to each specific citation and RM8 does not. If you upload from RM8 to ancestry, the links will be there.

Do understand that it’s my personal opinion that the RM8 design is in error. Other people may not agree that the design is in error, and in particular the RM designers may not agree that the design is in error. People can usually (but not always!) agree on whether a program behavior is a bug or not. A bug is when the program is not behaving as designed. But people can frequently disagree on whether a program behavior is a design error or not. A program behavior can be very much intentional and not be considered a design error even if I or somebody else doesn’t agree with the design. Therefore, we can’t speak of “when the error is fixed”. We can speak of “if the behavior is changed”.

I do not think it’s possible to purchase RM7. It’s possible to download it and install it. But if you do that, you will have the free Essentials version. To unlock the full function you would need to purchase a key, and that’s what I think you cannot purchase.

Well, you might be able to a RM7 license from someone who has a license they are not using. I’m not 100% sure of the legal ramifications of that process. If you have an RM7 license, it will work until it doesn’t. The main functions of RM7 should work for a very long time. The TreeShare function will work until ancestry changes something that breaks TreeShare. When that happens, TreeShare in RM8 will be fixed to work with the changes in ancestry and TreeShare in RM7 will not be fixed.

I didn’t answer your questions in quite the order you asked them, but yes, TreeShare is the RM upload and download interface to ancestry and it is in both RM7 and RM8. It actually works a little bit better in RM7 right now than in RM8, but I’m sure the rough edges in RM8’s version of TreeShare will be smoothed out. I’m not worried about RM8’s TreeShare. I’m worried about the way RM8 supports media links to citations, and several similar issues. RM8 does support media links to citations. It just doesn’t show you the information you need to see about such links.

1 Like

thejerrybryan . Again thank you for your response, I installed a copy of RM 7 and then downloaded the same Ancestry tree that I was working on in RM 8.

Sure enough looking at the same document the name of the person and the event appear in the media gallery. So much more useful.

I have contacted RM support and asked them whether they intend to re-introduce this feature into RM 8 and also asked then for a key for RM 7. I think that they were offering a free upgrade to RM 8 for purchasers of RM 7, so I don’t see why they should not offer the facility for purchasers of RM 8 to experience RM 7. We shall see.

I received the following from RM support:


In RM7 the citation was a one time usage. We were able to show exactly what fact it was being used on for a person. In RM8 the citations are reusable so you will not see a list of everyone connected to it, only the name of the citation using the media. To see a list of everyone using that citation go to the Source page and view the Used list for the citation. It will include the date, event and name of everyone using that citation and the media connected to it.

If you are seeing on the Media page a link to multiple Citations of the same name, you will probably find on the Source page that the source has multiple duplicate citations. You can merge them. The 3 dot menu on the Source and Citations pages both have merging options. Merging does not take into account media or webtags attached to it. If your citations are blank or they all have the same citation name it will merge them as duplicates. So check if you have media or webtags connected to them before merging them. In those cases you will want to give them different citation names to prevent a merge if you happened to select merge all.

Q: As a registered user of RM 8 can I also get a key for RM 7 so that I can protect my investment in data and time?
A: Before RM8’s release we sold RM7 with a free RM8 key. Now that RM8 is released we no longer sell RM7 or generate keys for it.

I responded:
thank you for your email.

I did follow your instructions and did find the used list that you mentioned. But it is very well hidden!

But there is still no way to directly see from the media page who the image I have selected is relevant to. Whereas in the basic version of RM7 I can select an image and immediately see in the right hand pane who the image is linked to… Plus I can also see the file’s location. In RM8 I can see the filename but unlike RM7 the filename does not word wrap so most of it is off the screen

Not sure what you mean by “the citation was a 1 time usage”? If you mean that each image can only be used for one person that does not appear to be the case See the screenshot below, from the media gallery in RM7, where the same image is used multiple time and annotated as such.


With regard to RM7 it is still available to download on your web site, so you stance regarding letting users revert back to the full version seems strange. Perhaps you could explain.

Thank you for your assistance.

So we shall see, at least the person that is relevant to a citation exists in RM 8 it is just well hidden!


1 Like

A similar reply was once posted on Facebook. Such messages are hard to find, and may have been posted in the Community Preview page rather than on the main RootsMagic page on Facebook. But I definitely remember such a message.

I do understand their terminology about a “one time usage”. What they are calling a usage is a link between two different database tables. So an individual row in the RM7 CitationTable could only be linked to one row in one other table - namely, to the PersonTable, to the FamilyTable, to the NameTable, or to the EventTable. Therefore one row in the CitationTable could only be “used” one time.

With the advent of RM8, there is a new table called CitationLinkTable. One row in the CitationTable can link to more than one row in the CitationLinkTable, and one row in the CitationLinkTable can link to one row in one other table - namely, to the PersonTable, to the FamilyTable, to the NameTable, to the EventTable, or to the TaskTable. Therefore each row in CitationTable can now be “used” multiple times via the mediation of the CitationLinkTable.

The implication of the RM response seems to be that RM7 could follow media files to each citation use because each citation was only used one time. But RM8 cannot follow media files to each citation use because each citation can be used multiple times. RM8 obviously could follow all the CitationLinkTable links and include this capability. Doing so is absolutely possible. But a design decision has been taken not to do so.

The decision might have been taken to help get RM8 out the door faster. Such a decision would have been entirely reasonable, provide there were plans to add the capability later. The decision might also have been taken because it was viewed that users did not need to be able to follow media files to all the places they were really used. If that was the basis for the decision, then I don’t think the decision was reasonable. Users need the capability, and this feature needs to be added to RM8.

1 Like

The question here is not whether you can download the full RM7. You can. The question is whether you can still purchase an RM7 license key to unlock the full RM7 rather than only having RM7 Essentials. I don’t think you can still purchase RM7 license keys. But I could be wrong, and that needs to be clarified by RM. So the real question is whether you can still purchase an RM7 license key, and if so, how. The question is not about downloading RM7.