There are lots of programs that can import new persons from the shared tree on FamilySearch. I know most of the FamilySearch features of Ancestral Quest, Legacy, and RootsMagic, but they all lack one thing: They don't import the attached sources automatically, so after import, I still have to check the imported persons, one by one.

Is there any program out there that has an option to import sources (and notes) right away? I'm aware that some add the FamilySearch URL of the person as a source, but that's not what I mean.

  • I think the only three websites that support FamilySearch tree imports are the ones you mentioned. If those programs are not able to do this then I suspect this is not possible at present. It may be to do with the way FS exports the data rather than the way it is imported. It might be helpful to contact FamilySearch directly about this. As an aside, this may be an (unintentional?) deterrent for individuals who want to download and import large tracts of data without checking its validity.
    – Harry V.
    Jan 10, 2016 at 18:29
  • This is not about sites, but about desktop program features. I know that FS has the citations, but for some odd reason, above programs don't download them automatically. Jan 11, 2016 at 19:45
  • I mistyped when I said websites instead of programs. As I said, I don't think it is possible to download a FS tree into a program other than the three approved by FS. All I was saying is that since none of the programs are downloading the citations correctly it may be an issue at FamilySearch's end.
    – Harry V.
    Jan 11, 2016 at 22:00
  • It's not that they aren't downloading citations correctly, they aren't downloading any at all. That's the problem. When I synchronize data for a single person, I can download individual citations by selecting them, and then they are properly processed, and can then be exported to GEDCOM too. In other words, it's not a FamilySearch issue, because the data is available, and can be downloaded. It's the big 3 that don't download them. They all do allow mass downloading of dozens, even hundreds of persons at a time, but always without sources. That's the odd thing here. Jan 12, 2016 at 22:35

3 Answers 3


Today, Randy Seaver wrote a blog post about how RootsMagic Can Import Sources From FamilySearch Family Tree.

He gives an example and shows a screen where he compares RootsMagic Sources on the left with FamilySearch Sources on the right and then shows how he added a source from FamilySearch to his RootsMagic database.

In conclusion, he says source citations from FamilySearch can be added through a relatively simple multi-step process, but not "automatically".

Now if, as was posed in the question, Ancestral Quest and Legacy both download sources in a similar manner, i.e. not automatically, then those 3 programs will not do the trick.

However, the fact that sources can be downloaded in entirety as shown by Randy, says that the API (Application Programming Interface) provided by FamilySearch does allow the retrieval of all the source information.

There are other full family tree programs among the FamilySearch approved "Apps" in their App Gallery that likely also download sources. It is possible one of them have been programmed to download them automatically. You can check: Familienbuch, Family Tree Builder, Family.me, MacFamilyTree and WikiTree. (MagiTree would have been another one, but it is no longer available.) I believe all those programs can export GEDCOM, so if you find one of them can download your sources automatically, then you can use it to efficiently retrieve all your sources from FamilySearch.

If not, then it is likely a matter of time. I'm sure users will request this of the programs they use. I know of at least one program that is planning one day to include automatic downloads from FamilySearch of all data including sources.

  • Louis, I use RootsMagic in the way described by Randy, but most of the other programs that you mention don't seem to be up to the job. I found that Familienbuch can not send data to FamilySearch like the programs that I mentioned can, Family Tree Builder can't communicate with FamilySearch directly, although My Heritage can, and Family.me and WikiTree aren't very good for my purpose either, because neither site can handle sources in a proper way. Family.me can't handle any, and WikiTree puts all sources in notes with wiki mark-up, so none of these is a serious option for me. Nov 3, 2017 at 20:30
  • And of course, I am quite interested in that one program that you mentioned here ... Nov 3, 2017 at 21:20
  • When you search for apps on FamilySearch, you can filter them by type, platform, and FamilyTree capabilities, and when I choose type Family Tree Management, platform Windows, and check the capabilities to read from and write to the FamilySearch Family Tree, only 4 programs are listed, which are the 3 that I already listed, and MagiTree, which I think should be removed, because it's not available anymore. In other words, the answer is still no indeed. Nov 3, 2017 at 21:27
  • Enno: Your question was about importing sources and didn't require that the program have to export them back to FamilySearch. You'll find more programs in the FS apps list if in the search you don't check the write to capability.
    – lkessler
    Nov 4, 2017 at 13:53
  • 1
    I tried Legacy again recently too, and found that it has an option to add sources while importing from FamilySearch. And although that sounds promising, it does not deliver what I hoped for either, because the sources that it adds are all references to the person on FamilySearch, and not the person's sources. Nov 5, 2017 at 16:10

There is a Python program that does the job quite nice, and that is pretty fast. I sometimes use it in Linux, and it has a simple GUI, in which you can also check whether you want to download notes, and make some other tweaks.

You can download it here, and since it's written in Python, you can probably also run it in Windows, when you install Python first. Here's the URL:


  • How does this access the FamilySearch APIs, do you know? Back end formal access, or in some magic way via the publicly available FS browser API? I shall give this a go, the FS browser API works and can be automated-ish but it's not very fast at all and exception handling is painful. Time to learn Python perhaps.
    – MandyShaw
    Sep 24, 2023 at 8:21
  • 1
    AFAIK, the program makes use of the official API. It is read-only, and much faster than Ancestral Quest and RootsMagic. It's also quite stable, and does a few retries when needed. Since I'm always on Linux, I have no idea whether you need more than just Python to make it run in Windows. There is no need to learn Python for it, but you may need to figure out how to install extra libraries that are standard in Linux, like for the UI. Sep 25, 2023 at 21:58
  • Thanks, that is really helpful.
    – MandyShaw
    Sep 27, 2023 at 7:39
  • Really? There is no indication that the program wil actually run in Windows, and the manual doesn't say much about it either. Sep 28, 2023 at 20:36
  • I could run it on Linux if I really needed to.
    – MandyShaw
    Sep 29, 2023 at 21:18

I have found one program that may serve the purpose inquired about. That program is Family Tree Maker 2019. You can import into a new file starting with yourself (or anyone else), tell it how many generations to go back and how many generations of descendants for your ancestors. It will automatically import all information including sources attached to events as they are on Family Search Family Tree.

  • Family Tree Maker does not seem to have any sort of free trial. Could you possibly add a screenshot or a gedcom snippet so we can see the sort of thing you get?
    – MandyShaw
    Sep 24, 2023 at 8:15

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