Smartphones did not exist when I started out in genealogy research! I suspect that is true for most of us. Now my smartphone has become the most important organizational tool I use for on site repository and courthouse research . From keeping my research plan, my genealogy records and recording new finds, I can easily record and organize my research quickly.
How To,  Organize Your Genealogy

The Best Genealogy Apps To Keep You Organized

Ever wondered what the best genealogy apps really are? Computers and smartphones have changed the way we access genealogy data.  While genealogy research seems slow many times, it is infinitely faster because because of today’s technology.

My aunt started researching our genealogy the old fashioned way. Pencils, paper and visits to repositories were the mainstay of her research. She did not have the advantage of today’s technology, but I think she would have embraced the higher tech research methods whole heartedly!  I am thankful to have many of her notes.

Smartphones did not exist when I started out in genealogy research! I suspect that is true for many of us. Now my smartphone has become one of the most important genealogy tools for research AND organization.  It’s vital for on-site research.  From keeping my research plan, my genealogy records and recording new finds, I can easily record and organize my research quickly.

The Best Genealogy Apps To Keep You Organized and Your Research Accessible

I use a mixture of smartphone apps for genealogy research. Many of the smartphone apps I use are not actually genealogy specific.  These are all useful for other projects you may have going, too.

Note: I have an android phone, but all of the apps below are available for both android and IOs phones unless noted otherwise. (13 Oct 2019)

 1. Google Drive  – Google Drive is a fantastic cloud option for your research.  This is my favorite and most often used program and app of any.  I create research plans, I write up ancestral stories. I store needed photographs here. I also store scanned docuements. Google drive syncs across all ‘of my devices, so when I’m on the road I can access needed research documents and notes straight from my phone.

Google Drive also gives me the ability to share documents, notes, etc with others.

Oh yes, and it’s free! 

2. Dropbox – This is another often used app on my phone for keeping my genealogy  files organized and accessible. Within Dropbox, A nesting file organization system works well. I can do the same thing in Google Drive above. This is the type I use:

For example:

Talbott (Main surname folder)

     *Birth Record (Record Type Subfolder)

                      *Bossy Talbott (Individual Subfolder)

     *Marriage Records

                     *Bossy Talbott (Individual Subfolder)

     *Death Records

 *Bossy Talbott (Individual Sub-folder)

     *Census Records

                  *Bossy Talbott (Individual Sub-folder)

This is a brief snapshot of just  one filing system in Individualize your system.  Whatever system you use, be consistent!

Tip: If you keep your ancestors’ photos in a different digital location, use the same nesting file system for your ancestors’ photographs, too.  That just keeps things simple. Use the same nesting file systems for digital and paper files as well.

Read more about organizing your genealogy here.

3. Camera – While not technically an app, your smartphone’s camera is a wonderful tool in your on-site genealogy research. Use it to take digital photographs of documents you need. (Note: Many courthouses and archives do not allow digital photos or scanners.  Know the rules before you go.) You can immediately edit and file your digital files while the information is still fresh in your mind. Obviously your camera is a great for capturing impromptu genealogy stops at cemeteries and other family history “sights”. 

4. Genius Scan – Having the ability to scan into a pdf is handy.  For that, I use Genius Scan. It’s easy to use and I can upload directly to Google Drive or Dropbox. 

5. Ancestry App (or app for whichever program you keep your family tree on) – Having easy access to your family tree  is important  when performing on-site research. No matter how prepared you are for your research day, you will want to be able to perform quick tree lookups.

6. EvernoteEvernote is a powerful tool for genealogists and non-genealogists alike.  You can capture ideas, bookmarks, screenshots, etc from around the web.  Evernote also acts as a note taking tool and syncs between your other devices including your smartphone and tablet. You can choose between free and paid plans. Kerry Scott’s  How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step by Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy is a fabulous resource for organizing your genealogy.  Many of Kerry’s tips are great for non-genealogists, too.

7. Google Keep – I’ve recently started using Gooogle Keep as a note taking app. Often, when I’m researching I have an idea I want to follow up on later, so I jot it down in Google Keep.  It’s like jotting a note to myself on a sticky note. Notes can be tagged for easier retrival later. Photos can be attached as well. 

[Oh, and it’s great for your grocery list, too. ]

8. TrelloTrello is my favorite project manager app and also syncs across my devices. Create research plans and break the plan into individual steps.  Trello took some work for me to become comfortable using it for my genealogy research, but has quickly become indispensable in my research.

Learn more about using Trello for your genealogy research in this guide: A Complete Guide: Creating Your Genealogy Research Plan With Trello!

Keep Your Genealogy Apps Organized

Create a folder on your phone for your research apps. Keep the folder on your phone’s home display page for easy access.

Remember….no organization system is perfect. The most important thing is to be consistent regardless of which system you use.

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Organizing your genealogy research and files can be an ongoing challenge. These smartphone apps can help you stay organized from the start and keep your genealogy files at your finger tips.

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