Thursday, January 22, 2015

Legacy: Creating GEDCOMS

Why would you need to create a GEDCOM?  If you want to upload your tree to one of the online tree websites like Ancestry or to one of the DNA websites like FTDNA you will need to create a GEDCOM.  If you want to send your file to someone that does not use Legacy then you will need to send your file (or portion of your file) as a GEDCOM. 

Legacy makes creating GEDCOMs easy.  There are many options when creating a GEDCOM so you can get it formatted just the way you want.  Before you get started, you need to think about why you are creating the GEDCOM and who you are creating it for because that will affect what options you will select.

I am going to walk you through creating a GEDCOM using your entire file.  You can also create GEDCOMs from a portion of your file using either Tagging or Focus Groups which will be covered in the future.

To get to the GEDCOM screen select FILE > EXPORT > GEDCOM on the main ribbon/toolbar. (You can click any of the screenshots to make them larger).



And here is the main dialog box.


Normally I just leave this first page at the defaults.  There are two drop down boxes, Produce file for: and Character Set:  If you look at the options you will be able to see that you can fine tune your export depending on where the file is going to eventually end up.  For example, there is a special GEDCOM format just for Ancestry.  If you are exporting to one of the things on the list, choose it.  The programmers have designed these specifically to take into consideration any quirks the destination program might have.  If your reason is not on the list then here are some general guidelines.  If you are creating this for someone using any of the top genealogy programs out there then use the Legacy option.  This will include all of the custom tags that Legacy uses and the top programs can read them just fine.  If you are going to be sending this to someone using a very old or very basic program you might want to tone it down to a GEDCOM 5.5 format. If you don’t like the output, you can delete the GEDCOM and try a different format. 

Now we are going to look at the four buttons on the side, Privacy Options, Compiler, Customize and AutoSource.  Some Legacy users don’t realize that there are more options to consider.


Here is the Privacy Options screen:



Here is the compiler screen:



Here is the Customize screen.  You will want to spend a little more time on this screen because it is very powerful.  What you see in the Items available for export and the Export these items box depends on what type of GEDCOM you told Legacy to create on the first screen.  The items with the asterisks (*) are the barebones basics that will be exported no matter what.  You can’t delete these.  Any tag that has an underscore (_) in front of it is a custom tag that Legacy has created. If you scroll down you will see tags that have no asterisk and no underscore.  Those are GEDCOM 5.5 compliant tags that any program and any website can read.  You can move tags from left to right or right to left.  Only the ones in the right box will be exported.  You can customize exactly what you want to export and what you want to exclude by using the Include and Remove buttons in the middle.  The buttons below those are sets of tags.  You can click one of these buttons and you will get the set of tags that goes with that particular format.  I very rarely change what defaults into these boxes.

The next section are additional things that you can exclude out of the GEDCOM.  If you don’t want the recipient of your GEDCOM to see any of your Research Notes or any Causes of Death this is where you will exclude them. 

The last section has some formatting options. 



The last screen is the AutoSource.  I do not use this because everything (well, almost everything) in my file is sourced properly.  If you use AutoSource, every person in the file will get the same source.  If you are going to do this you will want to create a source that basically states that the information came from you. 



The only thing left to do is to click the button that says Select File Name and Start EXPORT which you can see in the top right corner of the second screenshot on this page.  You will get a Windows browse box.  I always save my GEDCOMs to my desktop where they are easy to find.  I don’t save GEDCOMs after I have sent them to where they are going because if I need another one I just create a new one so that I know it is completely up-to-date. 

One very important note.  If you are sending your file to another Legacy user you do not want to send them a GEDCOM.  What you will want to do instead is to either create a backup file and send that to them (if you want them to get your file 100% intact) or you can go to FILE > EXPORT > EXPORT TO A NEW LEGACY FAMILY FILE.  You will save the new file first (save it to your desktop) and then you will get the Options screen.  You will have the familiar Privacy Options and the AutoSource screens.  The rest of the available options are on the main screen.  You can export your entire file or you can use tagging or focus groups to export part of your file.  If you send your file as a GEDCOM there is a chance some of your data will not be exported correctly because of the limitations of the GEDCOM protocol, some of your formatting might be off for the same reason, and all of your SourceWriter sources will be converted to Basic style because the GEDCOM protocol can’t handle the template format.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Hi Michele. Love the background on your family view. Is it one you found online and used?

    1. It is an image of an antique map that I found online that was in the public domain. I change my background/colors/font from time to time but I always save the scheme in case I ever want to go back to it.