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Ancestral Quest Software: Discover and share your family history

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Ancestral Quest Software

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In 1994, Incline Software began their quest to develop the best family tree software available for consumers. From that time to the present, Incline has aligned with several other companies to market their Ancestral Quest product. In 1999, in a strategic relationship with The Hope Foundation, Incline helped The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints develop its Windows version of Personal Ancestral File (PAF). All of this experience led to the development of their best software yet. Incline currently produces 2 versions of their premier genealogy software for Windows, Ancestral Quest Basics and a full featured version of Ancestral Quest Software. Ancestral Quest Basics contains all the essential features of the full version but lacks many of the advanced features that are available in the advanced version. Ancestral Quest Basics is totally free and will do a great job organizing your family history data. The full version of Ancestral Quest not only organizes your data but can help in the search for your more elusive ancestors.

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I started out with Ancestral Quest Basics. The current version of the program is 14.00.16. It was a free download which installed quickly and was fairly intuitive to use. Entering people into your family tree is easy but time consuming. You wouldn't want to have to enter all this information more than once so each time you add a new person, the information is Saved. There is also a Backup feature that let's you save a copy of your data to another hard drive, flash drive, or SD Card. I go a little overboard and backup my data to multiple drives. With more than 700 people in my database so far, I really don't want to enter this information again so I'm taking no chances.

Ancestral Quest Basics is a great product but I kept clicking on features that required the full version. I hate restrictions so I moved up to the full version which is worth far more than the small price of only $29.95 for the download version or even $34.95 plus shipping for the program on CD. If you're serious about researching your family history Ancestral Quest is a great place to start. Check out the Ancestral Quest online store to explore all purchasing options.

System Requirements

The current version number of Ancestral Quest (both versions) is 14 (Build 16). Ancestral Quest Basics and Ancestral Quest require Windows 8.x, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP or Windows 2000. The program will run on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems but the PDF generating software installed by the program will not run on 64-bit systems. There is a simple workaround available to get past the problem.

In order to take advantage of the Family Search Family Tree resources, you will need an Internet connection and a free account created on the FamilySearch.org website.

You will need a mouse or comparable pointing device, about 40 MB of hard drive space and a CD drive for installation if your installing from the disc version.

A scanner, sound card, speakers, and microphone, plus the means to import video will allow you to make use of the optional advanced multimedia capabilities.

Getting Started

When the program launches, a small window will open with a tip on using the Ancestral Quest's features. This Tip window is optional and you can disable it if you'd rather not see the tips at startup. When you're done viewing the tips, close that window and you will see another window titled 'Ancestral Quest News'. The first item on this page will tell you if your copy of Ancestral Quest is current. If not, there will be a link you can use to update it.

Next up will be a link to any upcoming training events. These all seem to be in Arizona, California, Oregon and Utah. I don't know if there are ever any events in other areas of the country.

This window will also lead you to a product tutorial that will help you with the new features in AQ version 14 and a another for 'Preparing Ancestral Names for Family Tree".

Announcements of product improvements will also be listed as News. Such as: 'AQ is now Family Search Certified for Tree Share, Sources, Discussions, Change History and LDS Support.' Another news flash announces 'AQ is now available in French, Finnish, German, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish and Chinese!' Just click on the link of interest to find out more. You can also customize what appears in this window by selecting or deselecting options at the bottom of the window. Then close this window and your ready to begin using Ancestral Quest. Both the Tip window and the Newsline window are also available from the Help menu.

Entering Your Family History

Ancestral Quest provides a variety of different ways to enter and view your data.

The Pedigree View is the traditional fan chart showing an individual, then that person's parents and their parents back as far as you can find people to enter in the blanks. You can hover your mouse over a name in this view and see the birth, marriage, and death information or right-click on the name to edit that individual.

The Family View shows fields to enter an individual and his/her Parents. If there is a Spouse for the individual, that person can be entered here as well. Navigational arrows to the right of the individual's parents will scroll the screen to the right to see information on each of their parents. Easily add children and spouses to a highlighted individual. Add Notes, Sources, photos to the scrapbook, military service, career history and more using the Edit Individual menu. Easily manage multiple spouses for an individual so the children are always listed under the correct parents. Entering a long list of children can be a problem in some programs if the dates are not entered in chronological order. Ancestral Quest has a feature to quickly change the order of the entries by clicking an arrow up or down. A similar Order feature is also attached to the Spouse field.

Each individual will display a tiny tree icon beside the name. Once you have registered on the FamilySearch.org site, clicking that tree will bring up a screen with information on people who might be this individual or a spouse or parent. This is actually the only area of the program that I don't like. Some of this information is useful and I would like to select what I want and manually enter it into my individual's data. The program won't let me do this. You can chose to Link information from a search to your own local page but I'd like the option of doing it manually on my own. I can select an item and add it to my Family Search page but I cannot get back to the Ancestral Quest program page until I close down this Family Search window. In my opinion the user should be able to switch back and forth between the 2 pages to view and enter data manually if they choose. That's my 2 cents anyway.

The Name List View shows you all the names of people in your family tree in alphabetical order with their gender, a life event (usually birth), the date of that event, and the location of that event. You can add an individual on this screen and then use the search child (or parent or spouse) function to select him/her from the Name List and add the individual to the appropriate field as you enter data later.

The Individual View will display the information for a highlighted individual along with the parents, siblings, spouse and children of that person. You can expand the information for each highlighted person on that page but you cannot edit information while on the Individual View page.

Internet Search Options

Ancestral Quest offers a variety of ways to search for information on your family history. You can connect to Ancestry.com and search if you are a subscriber to that service, otherwise you will do better using the links to the FamilySearch.org and World Connect Search sites which are free. There are other search options including Yad Hashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims, World Vital Records and Mamma Search. These are all included under the Favorite Sites tab under the Internet Menu where you can add your own favorite genealogy sites to the list. The Internet Menu also provides a Web Page Wizard to help you set up your own Ancestry site. Links to the Incline Software home page and additional genealogy resource on the Web are also included for your convenience.

Ancestral Quest Features

  • Publish your own Family Book including a table of contents and an index.
  • Create and print a variety of elegant, functional Charts and Reports including Fan charts, Single and Cascading Pedigree Charts and more.
  • Create Multimedia Scrapbooks plus choreographed slide shows with audio backgrounds plus narration or music.
  • Mark children, parents, spouses and relationships as "Confidential", so they won't print on reports.
  • Unlimited Spouses per Person, Children per Family, and Parents per Child.
  • Record relationships as Married, Not Married, Common Law or de Facto
  • Add Titles, and nicknames, and categorize a relationship as biological, adoptive, step or foster.
  • Compare and Merge Databases.
  • Store Photos, Audio clips, Video clips, and other documents.
  • Create Web Sites and share your family tree with family and friends.
  • Take Ancestral Quest with you on a flash drive using AQ2Go. Plug the flash drive into any compatible computer and run the program from the drive. Setup instructions are available online.
  • Export your data to a GEDCOM to share with others.

The full list of features is too long to include here but you can view it online and see a Comparison of the features available in both versions as well as the older PAF software.

It seems as if every time I turn on the television, I see a show on finding your roots or an commercial for Ancestry.com which is probably the best known subscription family history site. When you make the decision to begin a search for your own family history, you may want to sign up for a subscription or just stick to the free resources as I have done. Either way, you will need a good software application to allow you to compile all the information into a usable form otherwise it will be useless to you. I have used several different genealogy programs in recent years and they all left me wishing for something easier to use that would allow me to enter and view my data without having to read a hefty manual first. Ancestral Quest is the answer to my prayers. If I need help, I can view their tutorials or access the help files but the program is simple and intuitive to use. If you want a printed manual, one is available from the Ancestral Quest Store online. When your search is complete, create charts, reports, wall charts and a Family Book to share with your family and friends. Ancestral Quest pulls together all the tools you need in one very affordable package. Every family has one person who is considered the family historian. Ancestral Quest would make a great gift for that person for Christmas or any other special occasion.

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