GEDCOM Standard

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FamilySearch adds valuable new enhancements including Zip packaging capabilities for files and media with the GEDCOM family tree information

What is GEDCOM?
The word GEDCOM is an acronym for GEnealogical Data Communication. GEDCOM is also the name of a computer program created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the specifications of a file standard used for exchanging genealogical data between different desktop genealogical family tree software programs and websites. The original GEDCOM Standard program was released in 1984 and the last update to the standard was Version 5.5 in 1996. An incremental upgrade to 5.5.1 was released in 2019. The GEDCOM Standard has become a de facto specification and file standard for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy desktop software programs and websites.

If a desktop program or website has adopted the GEDCOM program standard, users of the desktop program or website can download their family tree data to a standard GEDCOM file that can then be uploaded to another program or website that recognizes the GEDCOM Standard. Hundreds of website and desktop applications support the reading and writing of GEDCOM files. Individuals who use desktop programs and websites that implement the GEDCOM Standard can share all or portions of their data for collaboration, reports, charts, special analysis, and other innovative purposes.

The GEDCOM Standard file format allows users to build, preserve, collaborate, import and export their data with different applications while maintaining control of the original copy of their data. GEDCOM is still relevant for personal private backup of family tree information. The “ged” file extension is the standard used as a suffix to indicate the file has been formatted using the GEDCOM data specification.

Why is GEDCOM Important?
Your genealogical or family tree data is important, especially if it is stored electronically, because it links your family together. The GEDCOM standard gives you the ability to share and collaborate by transferring your data to another program or website while allowing you to preserve your original file in its present format. You can do this even if the person with whom you are sharing your data does not use the same desktop program or website that you are using.

How to Create and Use GEDCOM File
The GEDCOM standard program is not a stand-alone program. It is used by genealogical desktop programs and websites to create a file that can be downloaded and then uploaded by other programs to assist in sharing information between different desktop programs and websites. You create a GEDCOM file by using the procedures specified by the desktop program or website you are using to store your genealogical data. Some of the desktop programs and websites that incorporate the GEDCOM Standard can be found in the FamilySearch Solutions Gallery or by searching “genealogy software” on the web. These services provide support for their own products and the way they implement the GEDCOM Standard may vary. currently allows your family tree to be submitted and stored on its website by means of uploading a previously created GEDCOM file or files to with certain limitations. See the “Genealogies” section of the website for more complete instructions. Once your file is uploaded, you have the ability to delete or replace the file at a later date. Other users are able to see the information in your GEDCOM file, but they cannot change it. Your uploaded information may help others further their research on the shared Family Tree.

Many genealogical desktop programs and websites also accept GEDCOM files. Please contact them for how to upload and manage GEDCOM files using their services.

Additional Information

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