Go beyond your Ancestry and FamilySearch apps! There are 1000s of apps created everyday. Only a fraction of them will have family history in mind. The apps below were not created for family history, but they are all a great addition to any genealogists toolkit.
All the apps featured are available on either desktop or on both Apple and Android devices. They all all either free or have free versions. So there’s no excuse not to dive in. Enjoy!
Apps for Family History Bloggers
Blogging is a great way of sharing your genealogy stories with cousin and beyond. But how can you help your blog stand out from the crowd? Here’s 2 apps to help.
Canva is a graphic design tool that allows users to make a wide range of images. From Instagram posts to A4 size PDFs. Able to sync between desktop and mobile devices, this is one versatile app. Packed full of images, icons, shapes, frames and fonts. Use Canva to create magazine worthy ancestral narratives. Or simply make an attention grabbing Facebook post to set some cousin bait.
Sick of publishing blog posts that no one reads? Perhaps you just need to tweak your title. With all the hundreds of thousands of content available online, it’s hard to grab your potential readers attention. Headline Analyser will help you to create better titles. One’s that are far more likely to entice readers to check out your article. No more shouting into the void!
Apps for Organising Your Thoughts
Researching your family history can get pretty complicated. Sometimes we need help organising our thoughts, so we can see the wood for the trees. Or the Smith’s from the Jones!
Miro is a tool that helps you to display information in a visual way – for example, using mind maps or kaban boards. It’s free version allows you to create up to 3 ‘boards’.
Miro was made for businesses so has collaboration at the forefront of it’s design. Set up a team to work collaboratively, with all users able to comment, edit and create. Or share your map using a URL for ‘view only’. Ideal for those working on collaborate One Name or One Place studies. Miro’s also great for users that like to use a keyboard over a mouse. Users can edit and add to their map using a wide variety of keyboard shortcuts.
Google Keep is a simple app that’s quick to learn to use and available on both desktop and mobile devices. It allows you to create virtual post-it notes. These can contain checkbox lists, photos or voice notes. Share with family to allow them to view and edit the notes too. It’s ideal for creating shareable to do lists for those working on joint research projects. Or for simply making short notes whilst out and about visiting gravestones or archives.
Save Time with Automation Apps
I don’t know about you, but I always feel as if there is never enough time in the day. I love productivity hacks – anything that saves me time. If you feel the same way, then these apps are for you.
IFTTT stands for If This Then That and is a tool that enables your apps and devices to talk to each other. For example, Evernote and Twitter. Or Facebook and journal app One Day. The app can be used to automate a wide range of processes. For example, you could create an automation whereby any tweet you publish using #IFTTT is automatically saved and copied into note taking app, Evernote. This means that if you were to re-tweet a helpful article (using the #IFTTT) you can be reassured that you’ll never loose the link to the article. It’ll have saved automatically in Evernote. Not an Evernote user? Don’t worry. The list of automations possible is huge! Another example is the ability to automatically add Facebook events into your Google Calendar. Never miss a Family History Society meeting again.
Zapier automates the movement of information across web apps. For example, automatically adding all email attachments from Gmail to a cloud storage filing system, like Dropbox. Or adding all your new Google Drive files to Evernote. A huge number of apps are included with a wide variety of different automation options. Zapier calls these automations Zapps and the free version of the tool gives you 5 single-step Zapps . For genealogy bloggers this app could be particularly useful. Allowing you to automatically create WordPress posts from Twitter threads or to share your new WordPress blog post on your Facebook page.
Apps for the ultimate Family History Research Log
These apps can take research logs beyond just tracking where you have and haven’t looked for an ancestor. Imagine having one place to record your workings, thoughts, draft individual and family narratives, your statistics and so much more.
Think of Evernote as a huge folder whereby you can store all your notes, images, website links, tables etc. Within this folder you can create sections and sub-sections. Furthermore, you can tag each of your individual page.
Imagine you have a married couple; David Davies and Mary Smith. You create some notes on Mary in your Smith notebook. But, you also want to be able to see her in your Davies notebook. No problem, give her notes a Smith tag and a Davies tag.
It’s hard to sum up all of Evernote’s capabilities within one paragraph. You can read more about how I’ve used it here.
Whilst I’ve always loved Evernote, I am finding myself slowly migrating towards using Notion. It’s not the easiest of tools to get to know though. It means dedicating a bit of time and effort to sussing out it’s more complex functions. But it’s soooo worth it!
Notion is a work and information management tool. You can create pages and sub-pages but each of these pages could consist of a mix of different types of information – for example: tables, notes, kaban boards, calendars.
However, the thing that makes Notion really stand out from the crowd is that you can create relationships between data. For example, you could have a table containing your ancestors. Instead of just typing their name, you can create that “name” as a page. A page of notes, with headings, to do lists and tasks. Furthermore, you don’t have to write that structure out from scratch. With Notion you can create your own templates.
Please watch this space for more information on this amazing tool. It’s fast becoming my favourite app of all time!
Extra 2 Bonus Family History Apps
OK, at least one of the below apps was created with family history in mind, but they are so good I couldn’t help but include them. So here’s an extra bonus 2 apps to add to the list.
Photo Apps for family history fun!
Tracing your family tree doesn’t have to be serious all the time. These apps are great fun and their visual nature makes them perfect for sharing with family members.
This mobile app is great fun. Upload a selfie and apply a range of different filters. How is this relevant to genealogy? Well, one of these filters will age your face. Chose to go either older or younger. Age your ancestors photos up or down, look for familial similarities.
There is something mesmerising about seeing old black and white photos transformed into colour copies.
The My Heritage photo colouring tool is both useful and fun. Whilst, I’ve found that the colours on the photos are incorrect – for example, army uniforms transformed into blue shades rather than green – the coloured versions do often reveal details that you miss when looking at black and white images.
5 lessons about your railway ancestors, from my in depth chat with Mike Esbester from the Railway Work, Life & Death project.
Write a family history that’s your relatives will want to read. One brought to life by newspapers and my FIG technique.
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