Family Tree Maker will not install and run on Chromebooks. The software only runs on Windows or Mac computers.
However, several workarounds let you work on your family tree using your Chromebook.
This article runs through your options. One method is simple, and the other is a little more technical.
But first, we’ll explain what the problem is.
Why Doesn’t Family Tree Maker Work On Chromebook?
MacKiev, the software company behind Family Tree Maker, states clearly that their software only runs on a Windows or a Mac operating system.
Chromebooks have the Google Chrome operating system (OS), which is not supported by MacKiev.
The Chrome OS is a stripped-down version of Linux. If you’re not sure what that means – I’ll say that it’s basically a version of the Chrome browser on a lightweight device.
Chromebooks are designed to run web-based applications that don’t save data on a local disk drive.
Family Tree Maker comes as a desktop or laptop installation that can work offline. The application stores family trees on files on your machine.
This isn’t how Chromebook apps work.
Will Family Tree Maker ever work on a Chromebook?
MacKiev has no current plans to develop a version of FTM for Chromebooks.
The question was raised at a genealogy conference in early 2022. The MacKiev representatives confirmed that it isn’t in their current roadmap.
Simple Workaround: Use Ancestry.com With Your Chromebook Browser
Many people like to use the Chromebook when traveling but also keep a laptop or desktop computer at home.
If you’re in this category, then there is a simple solution. Use your Chromebook browser to log into the Ancestry website where you can view and work on your tree.
If you make changes via the website interface, you can sync the changes to Family Tree Maker on your home computer when you’re next using it.
Before you leave for a journey with your Chromebook, you can use the FTM sync to make sure the online version of your tree is up to date.
Don’t like regular syncing?
I know that some people with large trees don’t like to use the sync feature very often.
But let’s say you’re going to visit a cousin for a weekend and would like to show them parts of the family tree. You can probably make time for a one-off sync.
Alternatively, you may not mind if the version on Ancestry.com is a few months behind your latest work in Family Tree Maker.
Another option is to export part of the tree in FTM as a GEDCOM file. Then import this smaller tree into Ancestry.com to show your family online.
More Complex Workaround: Use Your Chromebook To Dial Into Your Home Computer
I spotted one intrepid FTM user saying on social media that he uses his Chromebook to “dial into” his home desktop computer.
This needs a little technical knowledge to set up. But it’s relatively simple when you know the option exists.
However, the main drawback is that you you must keep a standard Windows or Mac computer running at home.
Note that the home machine must be switched on even though you are away. And when I say “running”, it can’t be in sleeping or hibernation mode.
Most computers now are set up by default to go into sleeping mode if left unattended. You have to go into your settings to turn this off.
If you’re using a laptop and keep it running over a prolonged period (like a year), you may find that your battery degrades until it’s faulty. I speak from experience!
So, I advise you to re-enable the power-saving features when you don’t need remote access.
Several online applications and websites let you log into your home machine remotely.
Basically, you get a window from your Chromebook into your home machine.
That means you can access Family Tree Maker on your home machine through your Chromebook browser.
Free Chrome option
Chrome offers a Remote Desktop option that lets you set this solution up.
The first thing to do is to set up the arrangement on your home computer.
Log into your home machine and install the “Chrome Remote Desktop” extension into your browser. You can do so by clicking the link from this Google page.
This extension will walk you through downloading an application onto the machine. You will be asked to choose a PIN for later use.
Be sure to use the extension to turn on remote sharing before you leave the house with your Chromebook tucked under your arm.
You will need to make a note of an access code. You also need to leave the computer running.
Before you leave home, you should also install the extension on your Chromebook and test it out.
As long as you are logged into Chrome using the same account on both machines, the remote connection should be fairly seamless. You just need that PIN for access.
Personally, I’ve used LogMeIn in the past for remote access. A quick check tells me that this how now changed names to GoTo.com.
This service used to be free but it seems to be a little pricey now.
There are other paid alternatives out there too.
However, given that you’re using Chrome technology, it would be worth checking out the free Chrome option I described in the previous section.
Lightweight Alternative To A Chromebook
If you’re thinking of purchasing a Chromebook because it’s so light, then you could check out some alternatives that let you run Family Tree Maker directly on the machine.
At least one long-term FTM user is very happy with the ASUS brand of mini Windows laptops. He reported he has a tree of over thirty thousand people and that Family Tree Maker runs well on his machine.
Prefer Macs? Another user was waxing lyrical about running FTM on a Mac Mini. Admittedly, his tree was a fair bit smaller at about 4,500 people.
I don’t have either machines so I can’t give a personal recommendation.
Check out these articles on other operating systems: