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Tuesday's Tip - Splitting a File (Advanced)

 Splitting a File

Tuesday's Tips provide brief how-to's to help you learn to use the Legacy Family Tree software with new tricks and techniques.

Splitting a File (Advanced)

“To split or not to split, that is the question.” A common question that comes in to Legacy is asking how to split a file. Most people that want to split their file want to have their information in one file and their spouse’s family in another. My question is, why would you want to do that? It is much easier working with one file for three reasons.

  • You won’t have to switch back and forth between files while researching
  • You won’t have duplication between the files (your spouse and descendants). If you update one file you will have to go in and update the other one
  • If you end up finding some sort of link between your family and your spouse's, you will want to combine the file anyway. My husband is my 9th cousin so there you go

That doesn’t mean I only have one. I have my main file that has my personal family research in it. I also have a file for my One-Name Study. Technically these people are attached to my family tree but it is just easier to deal with this group of people separately because I use different research tactics and I have to look at all of this data in a different way. I am also capturing a lot of people that I can't connect to my line. I have a file for everyone that is buried in my church cemetery showing how everyone is connected. It is a very old cemetery and most everyone is connected in some way. I did this so that the church would have this information. I rarely take on private clients anymore but when I do their information goes in separate files. I have several test files because of my work with Legacy but most people won’t have that. The only time you must split your file is if you start approaching the 2 GB file size limit. Most people will never get close to this size. However, f you still want to split your file you can.

Dave Berdan (Legacy developer) wrote a comprehensive article explaining how to split a file using the Split Screen view.  You can read the article HERE. I use a different method and I wanted to explain how I do it so that you have two different ways to choose from. 

Before you get started you will want to do a few things:

  • Make sure that you don't have any broken media links. It is better to deal with them now than later
  • Go to View > Trees. Click Refresh over on the right. You are going to need to pay attention to this screen. In theory you will have one tree but most of the time you will have added isolated mini trees of people who you are not sure how they fit in. For now just make a mental note of what is there
  • Do a check/repair on your file
  • Backup your file

Now you can get started. Find the couple where you want to make the split and break the bond. For example, let's say you want your information in one file and your spouse's information in another. Break the marriage link between the two of you. 

Now go back to View > Trees and click Refresh again. You will see a new isolated tree pop up. Tag everyone in this new tree on an unused tag.  Now you are going to go to File > Export > Export to a new Legacy Family File. Export only the tagged individuals (use the Record Selection button at the bottom). Make sure you give this new file a distinctive name so that you know what is in it, something like James Sanders Lewis Family.

Open this new file, look around, make sure everything looks good and then check your media links, do a check/repair, and backup this file.

Now open your original file. You will want to rename this file to better reflect what is in it, something like Michele Lynn Simmons Family. Before you delete the tagged people out of this file, you might need to go back and relink the two people you unlinked and UNtag that base person IF you want them to remain in your file. If not, don't worry about it. Now you can delete the group of tagged people you just exported by going to Tools > Advanced Deleting. Make sure you choose the right tag. Again, you will want to check the media links, do a check/repair and then backup this file.

NOTE: One thing you have to watch out for is if the two lines you are breaking apart are related to each other in more than one way. For example, if the husband and wife in our example also happen to be 5th cousins, twice removed and you have that relationship in your file you will need to break that relationship too.

I like this method better than Dave's because it makes more sense to me. I use searching and tagging all the time but I rarely use split screen so I am not an expert with it. Just remember to think twice before you split and have a good reason to do so. 


Find tech tips every day in the Facebook Legacy User Group. The group is free and is available to anyone with a Facebook account.

For video tech tips check out the Legacy Quick Tips page.  These short videos will make it easy for you to learn all sort of fun and interesting ways to look at your genealogy research.

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.



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Note if this doesn't work for you, then there are more links between the two families you are trying to divide and you'd need to find them all and unlink them all.
This doesn't work for me to divide my paternal and maternal lines.
A quicker way for me to get the basic tree for a particular branch is to Set Relationships to a person in the branch I want to export and then do a detailed search for Individual - Relationship - equal to - Related.
Tag and export that tag group. Choose to include the surrounding family using the checkboxes in the export options once you've chosen to export the tag group.

Excellent tip! For those that do not know who Cathy is, she is one of our top beta testers and has been with Legacy a very long time.

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