RootsMagic Essentials is the free counterpart to RootsMagic 4 (*Est. $30), and it shares many of the same features, including the easy-to-navigate interface. The main differences are that there's no built-in web search or web page creation and you don't get free technical support. Randy Seaver, a genealogy teacher, says Essentials has nearly all the features a novice genealogist could want. You can add and edit an unlimited number of family members, create basic reports and save data as a Genealogical Data Communication (GEDCOM) file (GEDCOM files are compatible with many genealogy programs and is a sort-of universal file format for genealogy research). You can easily upgrade to the paid version should you want more advanced reports or the ability to create wall charts. Eastman says that RootsMagic Essentials is more powerful than the "old fashioned" Personal Ancestral File (Free download).
RootsMagic Essentials gets brief overviews from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and Genea-Musings.com. Download.com reviews the trial version of RootsMagic 4, which has similar features to Essentials, while Amazon.com reviews of RootsMagic 4 offer a glimpse into how the software works on an ongoing basis.
1. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
Dick Eastman offers a comparison of RootsMagic Essentials with RootsMagic 4, and concludes that the former has enough features to get a budding genealogist started. He notes that upgrading to the paid version is seamless.
Review: RootsMagic Essentials, Dick Eastman, Jan. 24, 2010
Randy Seaver teaches genealogy classes and offers advice on what to look for in beginner genealogy software. He takes a look at the features offered by RootsMagic Essentials and calls it a "good starter program," saying he'd recommend it to his students.
Review: RootsMagic Essentials Software Available, Randy Seaver, Nov. 19, 2009
Download.com reviews the trial version of RootsMagic 4, which is similar to RootsMagic Essentials. Editors say the program has simple directions and an excellent layout.
Review: RootsMagic 4.0, Editors of Download.com, Oct. 2, 2009
While Amazon.com doesn't have user reviews for RootsMagic Essentials, reviews of RootsMagic 4 apply because many of the features are the same. Users praise the program's citation and source capabilities, as well as its intuitive interface.
Review: RootsMagic Family Tree Genealogy Software, Contributors to Amazon.com