Spring Cleaning Your Genealogy & Computer

This past Saturday, was the first day of spring, and it reminded me of when I was a kid and the family had a cabin at Lac La Nonne. My parents purchased the cabin in 1962, and it was a meeting place each weekend for my family and my mom’s sister, Edna’s family.

Each spring, we would go out to the lake, and both families would spend the entire Saturday having what my mom called a “spring cleaning bee.” Spring cleaning the entire cabin from top to bottom inside and out. Every dish would be washed (I always wondered why we just didn’t put them in plastic bags… although I didn’t suggest it). Every rug would be taken out and hung out to air. It was a real event.

So I thought, why not do this with my genealogy and my computer? Not a full-on do-over like my friend Thomas MacEntee has but perhaps just a little time giving everything a bit of a tidy up. So I’m going to talk about the three things I’m doing for my Genealogy and the three things I’m doing for my Computer. My goal is to do this over this week and next.


  1. Sync all my genealogy tree software. I usually do this pretty regularly anyway. But I wanted to do this to all the tree programs I have because I have several. Specifically, this time I’m going to do it to my Family Tree Maker, Legacy, and RootsMagic, programs and I’m going to do it for each of my trees… and I have many. You might wonder why I have so many programs, but each program offers different tools that I like to use.
  2. The next thing I’m going to do is download a file copy of all my raw DNA Data files and store them in a folder on my computer. Maybe I’m overly concerned like my mom used to be, but with all the DNA companies being bought and sold and changing hands, I’m thinking I want my files. I’m not saying anything is going on, but I should take a precaution and have the raw data available. So I’ll download any of the kits that were processed at each of the companies. A tip I got from one of my DNA friends is to give a unique name for the files, so I know where they came from. As he said, some of the companies give useless file names. So you want to make it, so you know who’s they are and where they came from. So I’m going to make a Raw DNA Data file and then have separate folders for Ancestry, Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), MyHeritage, 23andMe, and LivingDNA.
  3. I’m going through my Shoebox on Ancestry. I try and check at least every six months on what I have stored in my Ancestry Shoebox. I do this because you never know what you’ve found in the past that can make sense now.

My Computer

  1. I had several emails; in fact, I have five. Three are for my business, and two are personal. One of the personal is a Gmail account that I don’t really use (so I wasn’t really worried about it), and my personal one is the one that I’ve had for probably twenty years. I keep that one because I have so many genealogy queries out on the internet that if someone found the email, I want them to still be able to email me.

My business emails have been busy over the past 10 years, and I had separate folders for each of the emails on Outlook. But over time, there was a lot of duplication of folders, and it was beginning to get too hard to manage. So I decided to merge all the folders together. Even that ended up being a huge list, and so when you started filing and dragging and dropping, it was very cumbersome. So besides making each of my emails into favorites (both inbox and sent), I also made folders for the alphabet, and now I have Alpha folders with subfolders inside. (the numbered are for those folders that start with a number). You can get a bit of an idea of how it might look.

2. The next thing I did with my computer is cleaned up my desktop (and I’m still working on this project). I’m terrible for storing things on my desktop if I have to do a quick reboot rather than taking the time to file and then close. I also have several icons on my desktop with different versions of the same program.

3. My third thing, and this is something that I’ve been doing for a while. Is pinning my tabs (don’t laugh) on my browser. Again I don’t know if this is something you already know, but I’m the type of person who has tons of tabs open simultaneously, and then I’m trying to figure out where a certain tab is. Now I have those three or so tabs that I always want on my browser and use all the time, and I’ve pinned them to the left side. So they are pinned to the left side of my screen. If you don’t already know how to do this, you do this by just right-clicking on the tab, and then about halfway down, you’ll see a pin.

So what have I learned from this exercise? The most obvious is that I need to take the time to finish things before I do something else. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but if that happens, then I need to go back and tidy things up.

But even these few changes have made me feel like the clutter is being lifted, and that’s always a great feeling, and it’s all about “getting my poop in a group.”

Note: The post above contains affiliate links. This means I make a small percentage of the sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. This is a supplement to my income so I can continue to support The DNA Angel Project and to make donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society.

PS. If you’re interesting in getting your photo’s organized and you’re on Facebook then you might want to consider joining my group, “Getting My Poop In A Group”. Note you will be required to answer a couple of questions.

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