Why Can’t I Open Family Tree Maker? (Simple Fixes)

You may occasionally experience issues with Family Tree Maker not opening properly.

This article runs through the most likely problems and how to fix them.

Problems Opening Family Tree Maker

The problem occurs in different ways, but the end result is the same. You can’t view or work on your family tree.

Here is how to recognize the symptoms. Some are more obvious than others.

Error messages

You may see one of these error messages in a pop-up box:

  • “Family Tree Maker has stopped working”
  • “Family Tree Maker has encountered an error and needs to close”

The pop-up box expects you to click “Ok” to acknowledge the problem. The application will shut itself down.

Spinning circle

Sometimes the application doesn’t even open to the point that it can display an error message.

Instead, you see a spinning circle indefinitely.

Unwanted shutdowns and crashes

Sometimes, you open Family Tree Maker but it shuts down either immediately or while you are working on your tree.

The rest of this article has a number of simple fixes that have worked for me and other users.

Fix 1: Restart Your Computer And The Application

Sometimes you don’t need to do anything. The software does have some self-correcting features that will let you restart it without further problems.

However, I recommend that you restart your computer before restarting the application again. This lets Windows get in on the act of clearing up issues.

Fix 2: Compact Your Family Tree Maker Files

Sometimes the Family Tree Maker data can get bloated and over-sized.

The application includes a tool that not only compacts the files, it can also clean up some errors.

Expand the Tools menu and choose “Compact Files”.

You can then choose to have the process perform extended analysis to catch errors.

Fix 3: Be Sure That You Are Not Running Out Of Memory

In my experience, memory issues are the usual cause of Family Tree Maker shutting down unexpectedly.

Mackiev, the company behind the software, recommend that you have 4 GB of RAM. That is the norm now on modern laptops.

However, if you are running other heavy software applications on your machine, you may have problems running FTM at the same time.

Just running Microsoft Word or Excel shouldn’t present an issue.

But if you are running other applications that consume a lot of memory, you should shut them down and try to reopen FTM.

Fix 4: Check You Are Not Running Out Of Disk Space

Mackiev, the company behind the software, advise that you have a minimum of 900 MB of space available on your computer.

However, it’s best to have a bit more than that. I recommend that you have at least 1.1 GB of free space.

But how do you know how much space is free?

How to check free space on Windows

On a Windows machine, open file explorer and highlight “This PC” in the left pane.

You will see the disk usage in the main pane. This picture has an example:

Modern laptops and computers do come with a lot of disk space. But if you see that you’re running low, you should start deleting large files after backing them up first.

How to check free space on a Mac

Select “About This Mac” in the Apple Menu.

The storage tab displays the free space.

Fix 5: Return FTM To Its Default Settings

Sometimes you just need to put everything back to the way it was.

Family Tree Maker comes with this option. You won’t lose your files when you do this.

How to restore the original settings

There is a special screen that lets you manipulate the program settings.

To get to it, you hold down the shift key on your keyboard and double-click the FTM icon to open the application.

You will see that the selected option is to revert to the default settings temporarily. This is the best option to start with.

Keep that option selected and click the “OK” button to try to proceed with opening the application.

Fix 6: Contact Mackiev Support

Mackiev, the company that owns Family Tree Maker, offer free customer support via chat.

If the simple fixes I’ve described above don’t work, then their support staff will diagnose your problems with you.

This is the support link.

Make sure you contact the correct support option

Be careful that you contact the free support service from Mackiev.

There are other websites that offer paid support. These sites are not affiliated with the official makers of the software. There is no reason to pay for support FTM.

Margaret created a family tree on a genealogy website in 2012. She purchased her first DNA kit in 2017. She created this website to share insights and how-to guides on DNA, genealogy, and family research.

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