I recently started to digitalize some church records. A photo of each double page, each double page between 5 and 15 entries. I got over 1000 photos which I renamed (church - running number - year - type of event.jpg).

Now I want to do some basic indexing:

  • mark an individual’s entry in a file
  • enter a name
  • access this entry in this particular file from a database that covers all the names from all photos

Are there any tools available to accomplish a task like this on your own computer? I am running Mac OS X.

  • 1
    I just downloaded GenScriber to try it out, but unfortunately it is only available for Windows and Linux. :( genscriber.com/genappsd It saves files as *.csv . UPDATE from 19 Jan: Note that the developer has posted an answer (which obviously has better information) so I have edited my original comment.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 20:07
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    I'm interested in doing the same for city directory images downloaded from Ancestry.com; their indexing is horrible and it's not worth it trying to scrape theirs. Using Win8 here.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 20:16
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    It is not clear what exactly you want to do. Can you try re-phrasing your question? Do you want to transcribe the information in the photos? Do you want to edit the photo's metadata so that you can search for it? Do you want to create a database with the photo title and some data about the photo? Or what?
    – Colin
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 7:41
  • @Colin I don’t want to transcribe all the information like it can be done with transcribing tools for a single file. I want to connect a person’s entry in a certain file with a name in a database, so that I can easily search this name in a database and find this entry. Several online projects do this with their records, I just want to do this offline with my own records.
    – lejonet
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 14:14

5 Answers 5


If I understand correctly, you have around 10,000 church records in 1,000 images. You want to be able to enter a name that is on one of the records and then find the image it is on. Ideally you would also want to indicate which of the 5-15 entries per page is the correct entry, but for such a small number of images per page that seems optional.


One approach is to use transcription software like FromThePage, Scripto and others (see list at Bamboo Digital Research Tools), however few of these run on OS/X and they are overkill if the result is intended for your own use.

The advantage of a full transcription is you can search it for something other than names, such as places, or notes.


Assuming you do just want to do this offline on your machine, and just need a name index, then building a simple list in a spreadsheet is one approach.

Columns for last name, first names, image name. So you can just search or sort the spreadsheet to find a name. Open Office is good enough for such a small table like this (but it will take a long time to enter!).

That will give you the image name to open for a particular person name. You could go one step further and use a formula to create a new column that takes the image name and adds the path on your machine to make a clickable link that will open the image for you.

A database would also work, but data entry on a spreadsheet is perhaps easier. The result (when exported as a csv) can be used for many purposes later.


A different approach is to tag (add keywords to) the images by their contents. So, for each image, list the 5-30+ names on that image as tags ("Hans Schmidt", "Ulrike Fisher") etc.

The tagging can be done with software on your own machine, such as Picasa and iPhoto.

You could also use a cloud based service like flickr. For any cloud-based service, be sure the sharing options have been set to what you want and expect.

Both on your own machine and/or using a cloud based service, test with a few images first. Experiment with entering tags or keyword phrases (the names of people) using different programs and services, see how easy (or not) they are to enter. Try the search tools, make sure you can retrieve images by the names you have entered. Make sure there is a way to export your list of tags into another format such as CSV, in case you ever change program or service.

One disadvantage of tags could be poor search and sort tools (such as all entries for one last name sorted by first name). On the other hand, it's more flexible than rigid columns in a spreadsheet, and provides a more integrated way to search and view.

  • PIcasa is now dead and Google Photo has no desktop version and has no all the functions Picasa had. Are there any alternatives? I don't want cloud-based photo services, I want smth local
    – Suncatcher
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 13:30

I would create a database using a package like OpenOffice or LibreOffice. These are available for Mac, Windows & Linux and are free. This is similar to Access in Microsoft Office or to the much larger MySQL.

Create a data table for your images, which can be imported from a CSV file, which also contains the image name and location. Create another table for your relatives which contains links to the image table. The two tables coexist in the same database file.

Creating a database takes a bit of planning to ensure you have the right connections between tables plumbed in from the start. However, you can change your data structure if you need to at a later date.

This is something I keep meaning to do with my data, which at the moment is indexed by an OpenOffice spreadsheet. The spreadsheet approach works well for smaller numbers of people & images but has become unwieldy.

  • The big disadvantage of using a spreadsheet as a flat-file database: the user can trash the database by sorting the data if the selection to be sorted isn't chosen properly. (A friend did this and saved his file before he noticed his mistake, so he couldn't undo his changes.)
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 5:19
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    Re messing up a table through careless sorting: put a password on the file allowing access but restricting saves or create a working copy in a separate tab, labelled appropriately (lesson also learned the hard way).
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 13:51

GenScriber does allow linking to media, and multiple hyperlinks can be used in a single cell. You can link to multiple images for a single record. GenScriber will also export nicely formatted html complete with links.

Also, the sort in genscriber will never trash your data. It always sorts across all columns. It also has multiple column sort.

I am working on a Mac version, but I do not have a release date.

  • Thank you for your answer. Will there be a version for OS X to try it out?
    – lejonet
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 13:35
  • Thanks for the clarification, and welcome to Genealogy.SE.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 17:31
  • Any news, Les Hardy?
    – lejonet
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 0:47
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    A wine wrapped version of GenScriber is available now.
    – lejonet
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 17:35

I am one of the cofounders of ENISoftware, which just released ENIndexer. I don't believe our software would be right for your needs, as it is primarily a solution for creating "back of the book" every name indexes.

Based on your original post, it sounds to me like Genscriber in its wine wrapped version is the clsoest thing available to what you are trying to do. If it can't do everything, perhaps Les would be willing to add some of your additional requests into a future release.

  • 2
    Welcome to G&FH SE! Many thanks for your assessment of your own software - it is great to have you join our community.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 2:18

I just saw the announcement of ENIndexer (Mac, Windows). It helps to create name indexes for books and similar documents. There is however no linking to source files. There is a trial available, the price tag is 74,95 USD.

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