What is GEDexplorer?

GEDexplorer is a viewer for genealogy data contained in GEDCOM files. (GEDCOM is a file format used for exchanging genealogy data between different computer programs - see this Wikipedia article for more information.) GEDexplorer supports the most important information elements from the GEDCOM 5.5 and 5.5.1 standards.

Please note that GEDexplorer is not an editor for genealogy data - it can only visualize genealogy information that you have already collected.

How to get a GEDCOM file

If you don't already have a GEDCOM file you need to generate one from your genealogy program on your "real" computer. Most genealogy programs are able to export its data to a GEDCOM file. Please refer to the instructions for your genealogy program to learn how to produce a GEDCOM file.

Once you have a GEDCOM file you need to transfer it to your iOS device. You can do this in three ways: 1) you can email the GEDCOM file to yourself, to an email account that you can access on iOS, 2) you can upload the file to iCloud Drive and then tap the "iCloud" button in GEDexplorer, or 3) you can connect your iOS device to your computer with a USB cable and transfer the file to the GEDexplorer app using iTunes. To use iTunes, click on your device in the toolbar, then click on "Apps" in the list on the left, scroll down to "File sharing" and click on "GEDexplorer".

Note: For GEDexplorer to recognize the file as GEDCOM, the name of the file must end with ".ged" or ".gedcom" (upper or lower case doesn't matter).

How to use GEDexplorer

When you have transferred your GEDCOM file to your iOS device you can open it in GEDexplorer. Start GEDexplorer, navigate to the directory where you stored the GEDCOM file and then select it.

When GEDexplorer has loaded the GEDCOM file you can search for individuals contained in the file. You can do this in two ways: either by searching for a name or by browsing the surname index. Tip: If you specify an empty string in the search dialog then the search will return all individuals, sorted by name.

When you tap a person's name in the search results (or in the index) then this person will be shown in the person view (see below).

The views in GEDexplorer

The principal views in GEDexplorer are the person view, the tree view and the circle view. When you switch view then the next view in the mentioned order is shown. Switching view from the circle view will return you to the person view. You switch view by tapping on the button in the title bar that depicts the next view (an ancestor tree, a circle or a page of text, respectively). See below for more information about the views.

GEDexplorer can show two views simultaneously by splitting the screen in two halves. To enter this mode, tap the split screen icon which is located to the right of the app title. If the tree view or the circle view was shown then this view is shown in one half of the screen and the person view in the other half. If the person view was shown then this view is shown in one half of the screen and the search results (or name index) in the other half. To leave the split screen mode, tap the split screen icon again.

The person view

This view shows detailed information about a chosen person as well as the names of his or her nearest family members.

The personal details include events, attributes (such as title and profession), multimedia links (such as pictures) and notes. At the bottom of the screen, the sources for the information above will be shown.

Relatives will be shown as links (underlined and in a differing color) which you can tap in order to view the details for that particular person.

The place view

If you have added a note, a media link or a map coordinate to describe a place then the person view will show that place as a link. Tapping that link will show the details for the place in question.

Note: GEDexplorer supports media links in place records even though they are not part of the GEDCOM standard. However, the GEDCOM standard allows media links in event records which GEDexplorer will also show in the place view.

The tree view

The tree view can be opened from the person view by tapping the tree icon in the app's title bar.

The tree view will show the chosen person and a configurable number of his or her ancestors and descendants (see "settings" below). Ancestors will be shown above the chosen person, partners next to the person and descendants below the person.

In the tree view you can tap any person to see a new tree centered on that person.

You can toggle fullscreen mode by tapping and holding anywhere in the tree view.

The circle view

The circle view can be opened from the tree view by tapping the circle icon in the app's title bar.

The tree view will show the chosen person and number of generations of his or her ancestors. The number of generations depends on the size of your screen. At most five generations can be shown.

In the circle view you can tap any person to see a new circle centered on that person.

You can toggle fullscreen mode by tapping and holding anywhere in the circle view.

The settings dialog

To view or change settings, tap on the "Settings" button in the toolbar. These are the available settings:

Show surnames in uppercase:
If enabled, GEDexplorer will change case of surnames to UPPERCASE.

Show notes as HTML:
If enabled, text in notes will be shown as HTML.

Show events for children:
If enabled, events such as birth, christening etc will be shown for the children in the person view.

Show single event notes inline:
If enabled, events that have a single note will be shown with the note in parentheses in the same paragraph.

When restarting, load the last opened file:
If enabled then GEDexplorer will automatically open the last opened file when you start the app the next time.

Here you can select which of the supported languages GEDexplorer should use. If you choose "Default" then GEDexplorer will follow iOS's language setting. If that language isn't supported by GEDexplorer then English will be used as a fallback.

Date format:
Specifies how GEDexplorer displays dates.

Text size:
Specifies the size of the text in the person view.

Print text size:
Specifies the size of the text in printouts of the person view.

No. of ancestor generations in the tree view:
The number of generations of ancestors to be shown above the selected person in the tree.

No. of descendant generations in the tree view:
The number of generations of descendants to be shown below the selected person in the tree.

Path prefix for media files:
Use this field to specify where your media files are stored. GEDexplorer will add this path as a prefix to the media file names found in your GEDCOM file. The path prefix can either specify a file path in the file system of the GEDexplorer app or a URL. You can leave this field empty if your media files are stored in the same directory as your GEDCOM file (or more precisely, if your media file paths are relative to the directory where your GEDCOM file is stored).


GEDexplorer can print the contents of the person, tree and circle views. To do this, tap the menu button and then "Print". This will open the printing dialog where you can select printer and specify printing options.

Notes on how GEDexplorer interprets GEDCOM files

Character encodings

GEDexplorer supports these character encodings:

UTF-8 (Unicode encoded using 1 to 4 bytes per character)
UNICODE (Unicode encoded using wide characters; little endian or big endian)

HTML in notes

GEDexplorer supports HTML tags in note texts if you enable HTML support in the Settings dialog. The supported HTML tags are:

<a href="...">

Tip: You can use <a href> to link to another person in the GEDCOM file. Use this syntax: <a href="#INDI @I123@">NN</a> (where @I123@ is the GEDCOM id and NN is the name of the person you want to link to).

Multimedia links and files

GEDexplorer supports links to multimedia files but not embedded multimedia files. (Embedded files were removed from the GEDCOM 5.5.1 standard, anyway.)

Instead of embedding your multimedia files in the GEDCOM file you should refer to them by name (using so called "multimedia links"). You can either store the files on your iOS device or on a web page. The directory path (or the base URL) that points to these files is configured using the Settings dialog (see above).

GEDexplorer handles these media links by opening them in an appropriate app. Links beginning with http: or https: or ending with .htm or .html will be opened in your web browser. Links ending with .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif or .bmp will be opened in your picture viewer.

Place records

GEDexplorer supports the MAP, LATI and LONG tags (from the GEDCOM 5.5.1 standard) to be able to show the location of a place on a map.

Additionally, GEDexplorer supports place records as specified by the GEDCOM 5.5EL extension to the GEDCOM standard. The following elements in "_LOC" records are supported:

OBJE (for media links)
MAP (if it contains TYPE DEGREE)
NOTE (not part of the standard but very useful)

Notes on relationship sources

This section explains how GEDexplorer shows sources for relationships between people and the recommended way to enter your relationship sources (which will make them as accurate as possible).

In the GEDCOM data structure, there are two principal kinds of relationships. They are a) the relationship between the parents in a family and b) the relationship between a child and its parents. GEDexplorer uses the sources stored in the family and individual records in the GEDCOM file as the sources for these relationships.

If you have a single source for an entire family (a census record, for example) then you should add that source to the family record and leave the sources in the children's individual records empty. GEDexplorer will show that source for the parent-to-parent relationship and also for each child-to-parent relationship.

However, often there is no single source that documents an entire family. This means that you need to enter several sources. Typically, you will have one source for the parents' marriage and one source each for each child's birth. In this case you should store the source for the marriage in the family record and the source for each birth in the individual record of each respective child.

In other words, the source that GEDexplorer will show for a child-to-parent relationship is the source(s) found in the child's individual record or if that doesn't exist, the source(s) found in the parents' family record.

Note: GEDexplorer uses the source(s) found in a birth event for that event only, i.e. for the time and place of the birth but not for the identity of the parents. (This distinction is needed because of cases where a birth record is missing or incomplete. In such cases one source is needed for the birth and another one is needed for the parentage.)