The Best Genealogy Apps To Keep You Organized
A collection of the best genealogy apps for staying organized while finding your ancestors. Make researching on the go easier with these free apps.
One of the things my husband appreciates about me is that I travel light. I can pack for a week in carry-on luggage only. If need be, I can make do with just a backpack (a really stuffed backpack!).
I travel light when researching on-site at repositories. You never know when you might need to move from area to area in the archives or courthouse, and I do not want to be slowed down by too much stuff.
Genealogy apps on my smartphone allow me to “research light”.
Smartphones did not exist when I started out in genealogy research! [I currently have the Samsung Galaxy S10e which I love!]
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.
Ever wondered what the best genealogy apps really are?
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.
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. (1 Dec 2019)
Google Drive is a fantastic cloud option for your research. This is my favorite and most often used program and app of any on my smartphone or my computer. I create research plans. I write up ancestral stories. I store needed photographs here. I also store scanned documents.
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 easily share documents, notes, etc. with others. It’s perfect when collaborating with a research partner.
Oh yes, and it’s free!
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 of nesting file organizational system I use:
Talbott (Main surname folder)
*Birth Record (Record Type Subfolder)
*Bossy Talbott (Individual Subfolder)
*Bossy Talbott (Individual Subfolder)
*Bossy Talbott (Individual Sub-folder)
*Bossy Talbott (Individual Sub-folder)
This is only a brief snapshot of just one filing system in Dropbox.com. 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.
Learn more about organizing your genealogy here.
3. Your Phone’s 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 in your cloud storage such as Google Drive 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”, too.
You can also easily share your finds directly from your phone’s camera.
4. Genius Scan
Sometimes instead of take a photo of a document, I prefer to record it as a pdf. Having that 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.
Other family tree apps include: FamilySearch Tree, MyHeritage, and FindMyPast.
Evernote 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 Google Keep as a note taking app and keep this app front and center on my phone.
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 retrieval later. Photos can be attached as well.
[Oh, and it’s great for your grocery list, my Christmas shopping list, and anything you need a “list” for.]
Trello is my favorite project manager app and also syncs across my devices. Create research plans and break the plan into individual steps. Trello did take 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!
I like having genealogy educational opportunities on-the-go. Ancestry Academy allows me to learn about various topics in genealogy while I wait for a plane or for a doctor’s appointment.
It’s genealogy education on the go.
10. Cemetery Apps
BillionGraves and FindAGrave apps are both very helpful to have on your phone. Easily perform a bit of research while on the go. These are particularly helpful when on a research trip to where your ancestors lived.
11. Conference Apps Such as the RootsTech App
Attending genealogy conferences is the highlight of the year for many genealogy researchers. I highly recommend downloading the conference app prior to attending. You can stay up to date on schedule changes and take advantage of all the conference has to offer you.
Keep Your Genealogy Apps Organized
Now that you have your favorite apps installed on your phone, make sure you can find them when you need them!
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.
Other Posts of Interests:
- How to Create Your Genealogy Research Plan (& Why You Should!)
- 3 Powerful Time-Saving Tips for Successful Genealogy Research
- What You Need To Know To Organize Your Genealogy
- How to Research Genealogy In 20 Minutes a Day
I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2016/07/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-july-8-2016.html
Have a great weekend!
Wow! Thanks so much, Jana!
These are really good ideas for keeping track of everyone in your lineage! My family and I will definitely benefit from these tips. Thanks so much for sharing this!
Thank you, Morgan! I’m so glad you found these ideas helpful.
The ancestry app and camera could go a long way toward helping people document their genealogy related experiences and knowledge. They can definitely capture relevant moments and edit the files on the spot, just as you shared.
Can you explain why saving things in a pdf format is sometimes preferred?
Pdfs are more universal than Word, so everyone can read them. I like to scan documents as pdf’s for a better quality.
I loved your blog today about the apps you use. I already use some of them, but I hadn’t used Genius until or Trello. I have used both of them today! I have the same phone as you. Thank you for being a huge help!
Yay, Davine! We obviously think alike. Enjoy the others, too.
I’m a Mac user. The best app for my computer and my iThings is Reunion. I gladly pay to update it, and have it on my computer, phone and tablet.