Ancestral Quest 15 Review

Ancestral Quest genealogy software is built around data management rather than family tree charting. It connects to online databases to help with research and comes with above-average scrapbooking tools.

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

Ancestral Quest has above-average data management tools, making it great for genealogists with large records, but the tested GEDCOM accuracy was just average, and the chart quality is poor.


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    It has above-average scrapbooking tools.


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    The data entry tools scored only a C+ for ease of use.

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Ancestral Quest genealogy software is built around data management rather than family tree charting. It connects to online databases to help with research and comes with above-average scrapbooking tools. But its overall ease of use doesn’t compare to that of better programs, its GEDCOM accuracy is just average and its charts are poorly designed.

After importing and checking four GEDCOM files, I gave Ancestral Quest a B grade for GEDCOM accuracy. The program certainly wasn’t the worst performer in this category, but neither did it finish among the elite. It was perfect with two of the large GEDCOM files and almost perfect with my own family GEDCOM file, but it struggled with the GEDCOM file I created based on fictional characters. As Branches did, it imported all the individual information accurately but made errors in the pedigree chart. If one name was not imported correctly into the chart, all subsequent names were also excluded.

The navigation tools received a B+ for ease of use, but the data entry tools earned only a C+. The interface presents a simple, logical menu, but the design lacks style. It’s a bit too granular and pixelated, like an ill-fitting suit. The biggest downside is the number of windows you must open to enter data. It seems like a small issue at first, but it’s not efficient. It took me nearly 16 minutes in total to enter the data for 10 individuals, compared with only about five minutes to enter the same information with Family Historian. If you spend hours a day on genealogy, efficient data entry is important.

My least favorite aspect of Ancestral Quest is the charts, which earned a D for quality. The program only lets you work within one pedigree chart, which has no customization tools. You can print out descendent and fan charts, but the settings menu for this is not easy to navigate or customize, as you can't make adjustments to the charts in real time. In addition, you can't make bowtie or hourglass charts without a third-party plug-in. That said, many genealogiest aren't concerned with the style and aesthetics of charting capabilities, so this may not be a big issue if you're priority is record keeping.

The scrapbooking tools earned a B+ grade. The media file tools are easy to find and easy to use. You can add photos, audio, video and text to document your ancestors’ life stories. But Ancestral Quest doesn’t come bundled with a mapping tool, which is a relatively new feature among genealogy software. It’s neat to see an ancestor’s life unfold on a map. You can achieve this on Ancestral Quest, but only by using a purchased third-party plug-in.

A useful feature in Ancestral Quest is the ditto tool. For siblings, multiple marriages or any kind of relationship linking many people to one person, the ditto tool connects individuals in bulk. This lets you add multiple children to the same couple quickly, for example. Also, if you find duplicates in your database, you can combine profiles with the merge tool on the toolbar.

Ancestral Quest provides warnings at the data entry point when an individual's information is obviously wrong, like when a birth precedes a death. However, in my tests, it did not provide any warnings for less obvious, yet equally problematic scenarios, like when an individual's birth is just two years after the mother's birth or a father who is younger than a son.

Most of the ancestry software I tested provided warnings for these problematic scenarios at the point of data entry, allowing the user to double-check the error as it was made. But Ancestry Quest provided no such warnings until a "Possible Problems Report" is made. However, this tool is not easy to find. I was only alerted to it after contacting the software's support team. And even then, the report failed to catch all of the problematic scenarios I entered.

Ancestral Quest imported GEDCOM files with average accuracy in testing, and its interface scored above average on navigational ease of use. But data entry is laborious, and the chart quality is poor.

Jeph Preece

Jeph is a freelance writer who specializes in automotive subjects, like car stereos, and tech. With a Masters degree in Fiction from San Diego State University, he has written extensively for Top Ten Reviews on subjects ranging from car speakers and Bluetooth devices, all the way through to online file storage and backup software.