Thursday, September 23, 2021

FTM2019 - File Naming

File Naming that works for me:

Each of us needs to determine what Filenaming scheme works for us. Mine has certainly changes a bit over time, but as I work through my Media Files I am making sure that I have been consistent.

There are two things to remember about Family Tree Maker and it's sorting of Media Files. Sort by Filename OR Sort by Caption. Keep in mind that when you Sync to an Ancestry Member Tree (AMT) File Names are NOT involved. Ancestry sorts by Caption.

Here is a example of a Record for a Profile:

File Name

Caption (for the same record)
Firstname Middlename Surname Suffix - YYYY - Event

Same information but the order is different

But, what  about same named people. This works, at least in my database. The biggest reason is the Date and Event, in both the Filename and the Caption. My grandfather, father, and I all have the SAME Name. My Dad would be a Jr, and I would be a III. Those are the preferred Names, that are documented that way. So, the Preferred Name is in the Filename and Caption. Yes, they may change over time. So, I just Rename the File (within Family Tree Maker) and redo the Caption.

What about Females ?

I ONLY use Maiden / Birth Surnames.

But, I don't know her birth surname ! -  ALL Unknown names, I use 5 Underscores [ _____ ] for both Firstnames and Lastnames or Surnames. I have blogged about this in the past.

Place Names:

Smallest to Largest in the Place Name field for a Fact.

City / Town, Township, County, State, County

I ADD the word Township and County, as appropriate that meet the Place Name Authority in Family Tree Maker. The exception is Historical Place names, again, I have blogged about that.

Now, I have Pictures, in the "Cemetery" Database. What about them?


Cemetery Name, City / Town, Township (if appropriate), County, State (no Country, if it is in the USA)



The caption is smallest to largest, the Filename is Largest to smallest.

This works great, for me, using either way of sorting in Family Tree Maker.

There is a Trick, that may or may not be obvious.

My Goal is for the filenames or captions to be Readable. People's name or Place names.

A DASH separates the pieces of the Name, as described here. AN UNDERSCORE keeps the fields together. For example, the Firstname and Middlename are separated with an Underscore. I want those to be a different part of a person name, from the Surname. (I do NOT use ALL Caps anywhere).

The filename for a Cemetery, where I want to spell out the word County, is


State - County - City - Cemetery

No spaces in a Filename, Normal Spaces in the Caption.

Another example: I add the Time that I do a Back Up


My Master File, in FTM2019, backed up in 2021, September 23 at 1507. 


ln my Custom Back Up folder my Back Up files are in Filename order date and time order, so I know which is the most recent.

I have a Fan_Club Family Tree Maker file, so it's filename is Fan_Club.

The use of the Underscores replace a Space, the Dash separates the elements of a Filename.

The choice for the Sort by Filename or Caption is in the Tool, Options, General Tab

Again, it is your choice, but this one works for me. Not just in Family Tree Maker, but ALL of my computer Filenames. I don't have to think about 'what to call this file'?

Copyright © 2021 by Cousin Russ


  1. Thank you for sharing this once again. I adopted your file naming scheme several years ago and it has been of tremendous help! I highly recommend spending the time to make sure your media file names are consistent and logically planned out.

    1. Priscilla,

      Thank you. I am not sure that I was clear enough in any earlier file naming post. But while working on my clean up. I thought about what I was really trying to say and do.

      Glad it helped. And, you are right about planning out the scheme that works for you.


  2. I've been adapting a lot my naming convention over the past twenty years. Today here is what works for me:

    e.g. for my sosa 112:

    This allows me to have quickly navigate per individual and have a timeline of the records. I'm using .01, .02... when the records contains multiple pages. I'm using ND [No Date] when the record or artifact date cannot be identified.


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