FAQ – Migrating from Windows or a Classic Macintosh

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So you’re migrating from Windows or an older Mac OS 9 Macintosh (or earlier) to a newer Intel-based Mac, iMac, MacBook, or MacBook Pro (or Mac mini lest we forget). I’m lumping the two together, because for all intents and purposes, you’re going to a completely new environment either way. Windows or Mac OS 9 applications will not run as native applications on newer Macs. I cover this a little bit in the Personal Ancestral File for Mac FAQ in regards to running older or “Classic” Mac OS apps on newer systems running Mac OS X.

Don’t Panic
Here in 2010, the genealogy market for Macs is stronger than it’s ever been. There are several applications that are in active development with lengthy histories and no signs of going away, and they all seem to be pushing each other to improve and add new features. Outside of Family Tree Maker (mentioned below) which isn’t out yet, all of the major Mac genealogy applications are developed by independent companies or individuals that are not tied to the major Windows companies, and that’s security and stability as far as I’m concerned. There won’t be any of this “the Mac version only sold X amount of copies, guess we better stop developing for Macs” business that we’ve had in the past. The number of Macs has been increasing steadily over the past decade and as we are seeing with Family Tree Maker, there are companies looking to actually enter the Mac OS X genealogy software market. It’s helping that the iPhone and iPad (and iPod touch) have revived interest in genealogy software on mobile devices, and they are also acting as gateways to people using Mac OS X and Macintoshes.

Less than 15 years ago, things were somewhat grim – we had major genealogy applications being canceled. It turns out that maybe that was a good thing. Good because it meant that those companies and individuals remaining were truly dedicated to Macs. Having Broderbund exit the Mac market with Family Tree Maker created a situation where the independents had room to grow and innovate, and it meant we weren’t getting shoddy Windows ports – we were getting genealogy software that was truly Mac-centric from the ground up.

What do I do, I’m coming from Windows
Relax and try out some of the Mac genealogy applications that are out there. I’m going to be putting together a major tutorial centered around migrating from Windows, but the first thing you need to know is that there are some great Mac genealogy applications out there, and they all handle importing GEDCOM files from your Windows genealogy software.

Am I losing anything in moving from Windows to Mac?
No. Worst case scenario – you either use Boot Camp, or better yet, Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, and you can have your Windows genealogy software running side-by-side with your Mac OS X applications. I’m fully aware that there are Windows-only applications such as Clooz and GenSmarts and yes there aren’t necessarily Mac versions of those applications (although if those authors see this, they should know there is a market there), but we’ll work it out and you will still have the option of running Windows within Mac OS X or through Boot Camp. Don’t think of it as losing anything – think of it as gaining a lot of things (more on that later).

I’m coming from Windows and I use Family Tree Maker
You’re in luck, or will soon be in luck I should say. Later this year (2010), there will be a Mac OS X version of Family Tree Maker. For more information on that, please see the Family Tree Maker for Mac FAQ.

What about Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, etc.?
You can still access those websites just fine on your Mac – between Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox, you’ll be okay. I have a subscription to Ancestry.com, and while in the past there were occasional issues, that’s not the case anymore and hasn’t been the case for quite a while. If you watched the “Who Do You Think You Are” show that was on NBC earlier this year (Ancestry.com was involved), there were a lot of people on the show, both the celebrities covered, and the genealogy researchers, who were using MacBooks and MacBook Pros when looking up Ancestry.com records or chatting long distance.

This page last updated: August 20, 2010