How to Open GEDCOM Files

By Melanie Fleury

When searching for your family tree or your ancestral roots on the Internet, you may receive information in a GEDCOM file. A family tree is best viewed and created as a GEDCOM file. While usually easy to open, a GEDCOM file can sometimes be hard to access. If you have a GEDCOM file, it will end in a GED extension. If your file does not end with GED but ZIP instead, you will have to unzip it first.

Things You'll Need

  • Genealogy software
  • Antivirus software

Step 1

Give the GEDCOM file a name and save it on your computer. It does not matter where you save it as long as you can find it. You may want to create a folder just for GEDCOM files.

Step 2

Use antivirus software on your computer to scan your GEDCOM file. Although you may be comfortable opening it because you know who sent it to you, viruses can often go unnoticed as they pass from person to person.

Step 3

Save your current genealogy files. Sometimes when you open a GEDCOM file, it will automatically make updates to your genealogy software. If you make backup versions of your files, you can to revert to them if needed. This could happen if your GEDCOM has inaccurate information.

Step 4

Launch your genealogy software. Go to "File" and select "Open" or "Import."

Step 5

Scroll down to the file you want to open. You should now be able to view your files with the new GEDCOM information loaded in. Save this new file with a new name.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you do not have genealogy software, there are software and freeware that you can downloaded.
  • Some software may work slightly differently; consult the owner's manual.

References & Resources