What is a GED file?

A GED file is a type of data file that contains genealogy information, often in the form of a family tree. The file format is used to store, organize and share genealogical data, and is typically created and used by genealogy software programs. It can include information such as individual’s name, birthdate and place, death date and place, family relationships, and notes or sources of information.

GED stands for Genealogical Data Communication and it is the standard file format for genealogy software and also used for data exchange between different software. It’s an ASCII-based format, which means it can be read by almost any program or device that can read text files.

While GED files are primarily used for genealogy research, they can also be used in other applications that require tracking and documenting family relationships, such as medical research or historical research.

What is a GED file format?

The GED file format, also known as Genealogical Data Communication (GEDCOM), is a standard format for representing genealogy data in a text file. GEDCOM was developed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in the late 1980s as a way to standardize the exchange of genealogical data between different software programs.

A GED file is a plain text file that contains a series of tagged lines of text, with each tag representing a different piece of information. For example, a tag of “NAME” would indicate the name of an individual, and a tag of “BIRTH” would indicate the birthdate and place of that individual. The format also includes tags for marriage, death, and other important events, as well as tags for family relationships and notes or sources of information.

The GEDCOM format also includes a system of levels and pointers, which allows for a hierarchical structure of the data, such as an individual’s parents, grandparents, and so on. This allows for easy representation of complex family relationships.

How to open and view GED files

GED files can be opened and viewed using genealogy software programs that support the GEDCOM format. Some of the most popular genealogy software programs that can open GED files include Ancestry Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, Gramps, and Legacy Family Tree.

These software programs will allow you to view and edit the genealogy information stored in the GED file, including individual’s name, birthdate and place, death date and place, family relationships, and notes or sources of information. Many genealogy software programs also include features such as charting, mapping, and research tools to help you further analyze and organize the data.

If you don’t have a genealogy software program that can open GED files, or if you just want to view the raw data, you can also open GED files using a text editor such as Notepad, TextEdit, or WordPad. While this will not provide you with the full functionality of a genealogy software program, it will allow you to view the data in the GED file.

Common uses of GED files

GED files are primarily used for genealogy research, they contain genealogy data that can be used to create and view family trees and track family relationships. This information can be used by genealogists to research their own family history and build a more complete understanding of their ancestors.

In addition to genealogy, GED files can also be used in other applications that require tracking and documenting family relationships. For example, in medical research, family medical history can be important in identifying inherited medical conditions and predicting future health risks. In historical research, GED files can be used to trace the lineage and lineage of individuals and families in order to better understand the events and times in which they lived.

GED files can also be used by archivists, librarians and historians to document their collections and records. GEDCOM format is widely supported by various genealogy software and can be used to import and export genealogy data.

Converting GED files to other formats

While the GED file format is widely supported by genealogy software, there may be times when you need to convert a GED file to a different format. Some common reasons for converting GED files include:

  1. Compatability: If you need to share your genealogy data with someone who doesn’t have a genealogy software program that supports GED files, you may need to convert the file to a more common format such as PDF, or a spreadsheet format like Excel.
  2. Preservation: If you want to preserve your genealogy data for future generations, converting the GED file to a more stable format such as PDF can help ensure the data remains readable for years to come.
  3. Integration: If you have data stored in a format other than GEDCOM and you want to import it into your genealogy software, you may need to convert the data to GED format.

There are several programs and online converters that can convert GED files to other formats such as PDF, Excel, and other genealogy software file formats. It’s important to check the software and online converter before using, as not all of them support all types of GED file versions and not all can export the same data fields. Also, before converting your file, be sure to make a copy of the original GED file so that you will have a backup in case something goes wrong during the conversion process.

Best practices for handling GED files

  1. Backup: It’s important to make regular backups of your GED files. This will ensure that your data is safe in case of a computer crash or other data loss.
  2. Organization: Keep your GED files well-organized and clearly labeled. This will make it easy to find and access the data you need.
  3. Data validation: Validate your data regularly to ensure the data is accurate and complete. This will help prevent errors and inconsistencies in your genealogy research.
  4. Data privacy: Be mindful of the sensitive information that may be included in your GED files. Keep your data private and only share it with trusted individuals.
  5. File naming conventions: Use a naming conventions that clearly identify the contents of the file, like adding a date or version number, it will be easy to locate and access the most current version of your GED files.
  6. Software updates: Keep your genealogy software updated to ensure that it can read and display your GED files correctly.
  7. File integrity check: Perform regular file integrity check to make sure the file is not corrupted and all the data are intact, especially when you have converted a GED file from one format to another.

In summary, handling GED files requires some best practices to ensure the data is safe and well-organized. It is important to backup the files regularly, keep the files well-organized and clearly labeled, validate the data regularly, keep the data private, use a naming conventions, and keep the software updated. Also, it’s important to perform regular file integrity check to ensure the file is not corrupted and all the data are intact.

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