GEDCOM File Finder Version 1.0.1

GEDCOM File Finder can find and classify all the GEDCOM files on your computer.
GEDCOM File Finder is freeware by Behold Genealogy (Louis Kessler).

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GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) is a file format for containing genealogy data.
Many genealogy programs can save your genealogy data to GEDCOM files.
Most genealogy programs can input a GEDCOM file and extract much of the data.
GEDCOM File Finder is useful if you have have to work with more than a few GEDCOM files.
It will locate, classify and let you view the raw GEDCOM or load it into your default genealogy software.
GEDCOM File Finder can find and identify GEDCOM versions back to version 1.0
and also FTW TEXT, Event GEDCOM, embedded GEDCOM, and other variants.
GEDCOM File Finder has the following simple interface in a single window.
GEDCOM File Finder Version 1.0.1


I'm Louis Kessler, the author of Behold, a genealogy program that is a flexible GEDCOM reader that produces an "Everything Report" in a useful form for genealogists. Version 2 of Behold will include data editing that will edit directly on the Everything Report, making your data entry efficient and easy. Imagine a word processor customized for genealogy. If you want more information about Behold, check it out at:
GEDCOM File Finder was originally written as the "Find Files" function in Behold. During the development of Behold, I had to find data files that would act as good tests for whatever specific feature I was programming. With over 650 test GEDCOM files in my collection, I needed a customized tool to quickly classify and find the files I could use.
I found the tool so useful, I no longer wanted it embedded within Behold since that took an extra step to get to, and with it embedded, it would close whenever I closed Behold, and I often wanted it open longer. This made me decide to turn the "Find Files" function into a standalone program.
I doubt if many people realized the power of this "Find Files" routine that Behold had, as it was somewhat hidden away. So I decided to let everyone use the standalone program that I'm calling GEDCOM File Finder and I'm making it freeware.
I hope by releasing GEDCOM File Finder, more people will find out about Behold.


For Questions, feature suggestions, reporting a problem, or general discussion about GEDCOM File Finder, you can use the Behold User Forum at: If you have feedback, or maybe even some good words about GEDCOM File Finder, then you can use the Behold Feedback page at: Or you can email me. My email address is at the bottom of this page.

Version History

Version 1.0.1, 09 Nov 2014 - Added Open, View and LogFile on right-mouse-click menu. Added All Files except *.ged, *.bho as selection options. Made buffer larger to handle larger headers.Fix installation to say GEDCOM File Finder rather than Behold. Fix "view" so it opens the GEDCOM using the user's default text file viewer rather than always using Notepad.
Version 1.0, 05 Nov 2014 - Initial release.

Details of GEDCOM File Finder


Type of File to Find

1. Type of File to Find
The default selection is to select all files with .ged extensions. Usually they will be GEDCOM files. GEDCOM File Finder will always look in all .ged files when this is selected and will indicate in the Type column of the Results Area what they are.
There are other choices on the dropdown box:
All Files: Sometimes, GEDCOM files may have been renamed and have an extension other than .ged. Selecting "All Files" will look at the beginning of every file to see if it is actually a GEDCOM file. Only those files found to be GEDCOM files will be listed in the Results Area. Searching for All Files will take longer than the GEDCOM Files search because every file will need to be opened to see if it is really a GEDCOM file.
All Files except *.ged:  Use this to find just those files that may have been renamed or have an extension other than .ged.
Behold Organize Files:  This option only will appear if you have the program Behold installed on your computer, and will allow you to search files with names ending in .bho which should be Behold Organize Files.
Behold & GEDCOM FIles:  This option will only appear if you have the program Behold installed on your computer, and will allow you to search files with names ending in .bho or .ged.
All Files except *.bho and *.ged:  This option will only appear if you have the program Behold installed on your computer, and finds the files containing GEDCOM data that have non-standard extensions.

Directories to Look in

2. Directories to Look in
This is the directory you want to start looking in.  Click on the Browse button to help you find the directory you want. Use the dropdown to select a directory you previously used.

Text in the Filename

3. Text in the Filename
If you know the name of your file, or part of the name, but just don't know where it is, you can enter that in this box and only filenames with that text in the name will be listed. Use the dropdown to select text you previously used. To select files of a given extension, e.g. .txt files, then enter the extension here.

Only Files Containing

4. Only Files Containing
If you specify something in the "Files Contain" box, then the Results Area will only include files containing the specified text string somewhere within the file. You may also add conditions to the text (match case and/or whole word). You can use the dropdown to select text you previously used.
The "In What" selection will only appear if you have the program Behold installed on your computer. It allows you to search for the text in Data Files (GEDCOM or Behold Organize files), in Behold Log Files, or in any kind (All Files). If Behold is not installed, then you likely don't have any Behold log files to search and this option is not required.
The text is a simple string with spaces allowed in it. There are no wildcards. It can be names, places or any text that might or might not be in the files.
Specifying containing text will reduce the search speed since it every file will have to be scanned to see if it contains the desired text.

Control Buttons

5. Control Buttons
Press "Find" to start the search. While searching, the "Stop" button becomes active and you can use it to interrupt the search. Use "Clear" to clear the selection options and the search results area. Use "Help" to display this help page.
Help is also available on the menu that appears if you click the right mouse button.


6. Animation
This little flashlight will move side to side while searching. This was just a fun thing I added and I liked it so I kept it.

Results Area

7. Results Area
The results area include a number of fields with information about each file. This was actually created to help find test files of certain types for Behold, and was left in to be a useful tool for anyone using Behold.
You can sort by any column by clicking on the column header. Clicking the same header again will sort in reverse order. The small arrow up or down (shown above at the right of the Path section of the column header) tells you what is currently the sort column and whether it is sorted up or down.
You can make columns wider or narrower by grabbing and moving the small line between the column headers, or you can double-click on that line to quickly make the column the right size to show the widest entry.
There are other columns to the right. Use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the Results Area to view those columns. For the above example they look like this:
Each row contains:
1.     Name: the file name.
2.     Path: The folder it is in.
3.     Size: The size of the file.
4.     Date modified: The same as what Windows explorer gives you.
5.     Log File Date:  This column will only appear if you have the program Behold installed on your computer. When you read a file with Behold, Behold creates a log file. The date and time the log file was created will be in this column. This allows you to see the last time you loaded that file into Behold.
6.     Type: Tells you the type of file. The determination of the type of file is non-trivial, and makes use of many of the best practices developed by Tamura Jones on his Modern Software Experience website at: The type will identify and display important information about the file. Some genealogy software may have trouble reading or not be able to some of these types of files. Type information includes:
GEDCOM - if it is a standard GEDCOM file
FTW TEXT - a file created by early versions of Family TRee Maker that used full-word descriptive tags instead of short GEDCOM tags
Event GEDCOM - an alternative to GEDCOM created by CommSoft
GEDCOMsp - is a GEDCOM file, but the first line "0 HEAD" has a space at the end of the line, which is technically illegal
Embedded GEDCOM - is a GEDCOM file where the file contains data prior to the "0 HEAD" line that should be first. These files can be created by saving a web page that displays a GEDCOM file to one's computer, or through other accidents.
Version number  - The version number of the above file types is displayed. GEDCOM File Finder can display versions right back to GEDCOM 1.0 using the rules of Tamura Jones.
(Not Version number) - The program may claim in its GEDCOM header to be one version, but it sometimes states the wrong version. If this is so, then the incorrect version it states will be listed in parentheses after the correct version, e.g.:  5.5.1 (Not 5.5) - GEDCOM File Finder only searches the header section of the file and if it cannot disagree with the claimed version, then it will not be corrected, e.g.:  5.5. If the program did not claim its version when it should have, then GEDCOM File Finder will display:  (not provided)
LINEAGE_LINKED: The GEDCOM header should state in a specific place that it is LINEAGE-LINKED (case does not matter, but the dash does). Some programs mispell the word. If they do, this is displayed after the version number.
Nothing found - is displayed if none of the above is found in a file with a .ged extension.

7.     Program: This program and the version number of the program that created the file.
8.     Dest: This is the program that the GEDCOM was destined for. Some programs can export their GEDCOM into slightly modified version of GEDCOM that will allow intended programs to read some data in extended formats, but few do this properly. That doesn't really matter though, because most programs do not do take into account the Dest value when reading the data.
9.     Char: This is the character set that the GEDCOM specifies it is using. Behold can read all the different character sets. Legal character sets specified in GEDCOM files are: ANSEL, ASCII, UNICODE and UTF-8. Illegal character sets include ANSI, IBM, ISO, LATIN, MAC and variations of both the legal and illegal sets. Typically, most genealogy programs will read files with illegal character sets. Most illegal character sets use the same coding for the basic alphabet, numbers and punctuation. But they may incorrectly display accented characters and other special characters not in common with ASCII. 
10.     BOM (Byte Order Mark): These are extra characters that are added at the beginning of some files to indicate the encoding of the characters in the file to the operating system. Unicode files usually require these to allow correct interpretation of the particular Unicode format being used. BOMs for most GEDCOM files include: none, UTF-8, UTF-16 big-endian, and UTF16 little-endian. The BOM may or may not conflict with the character set specified in the GEDCOM file if the file was modified in some way, as the BOM and overall encoding of the file can be changed by text editing, emailing, or other means. Usually the BOM can be ignored because the operating system handles it invisibly, but it can cause problems for some genealogy programs.

Selected File

8. Selected File
Click on a filename with your mouse, and that will select it and it will be highlighted. 
Double-click on the filename and you will open it.  See the "Open button".

Open button

9. Open button
Opens the selected file with the program that is the default program on your computer for opening and displaying the data in .ged (GEDCOM) files. You can also double-click on a file in the Results Area to open it.
Typically the genealogy software you use will set itself as that default program. If no default program is set then GEDCOM File Finder will inform you. In that case, see if there is a way to set your genealogy software to be that default program.
Open is also available on the menu that appears if you click the right mouse button.

View button

10. View button
Opens the GEDCOM file for the selected file in your default text file viewer. This way, you will see the actual GEDCOM file. If no default is set on your computer, then Notepad will be used.
View is also available on the menu that appears if you click the right mouse button.

Log File button

11. Log File button
This button will only appear if you have the program Behold installed on your computer. It will opens the Behold log file for the selected file in your default text file viewer. If no default is set on your computer, then Notepad will be used.
Log File is also available on the menu that appears if you click the right mouse button.

Status bar

12. Status bar
Shows the progress during the search and shows final statistics after the search is completed. If you specify something in the "Files Contain" box, then the status bar will additionally show how may files out of the files found had that text.